L.A. Galaxy down Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1, retake top spot in Western Conference

VANCOUVER — The L.A. Galaxy climbed back to the top of Major League Soccer's Western Conference standings Saturday, downing the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1.

The Whitecaps (4-2-1) held a one-point lead on the Galaxy (4-1-3) heading into the game.

Joseph Paintsil had a goal and an assist for L.A., while Dejan Joveljic and Diego Fagundez also scored. Riqui Puig contributed a pair of helpers.

Brian White replied for the Whitecaps, who saw their two-game win streak snapped.

Vancouver 'keeper Yohei Takaoka had two saves and John McCarthy made six stops for L.A.

The Galaxy controlled 58.1 per cent of the possession across the match, though each side had five shots on net.

The two sides traded chances across the first half, starting with L.A. testing Vancouver early.

Paintsil fought off a pair of 'Caps defenders at the top of the penalty area in the ninth minute and got a pass off to Gabriel Pec. The Brazilian launched a left-footed shot from near the penalty spot and Takaoka jumped to his right to punch the ball away.

White got his first chance of the night in the 28th minute, collecting a long ball from Ryan Gauld, getting a step on L.A.'s Martin Caceres and unleashing a shot that sailed just wide of the post.

The Galaxy dominated much of the play across the first half, controlling 68.2 per cent of the possession and putting up the lone shot on goal.

L.A. broke the scoreless deadlock in the 56th minute off a rebound.

Takaoka stopped a bullet of a shot from Pec but the ball bounced out to an unmarked Joveljic on the opposite side of the six-yard box. The Galaxy attacker tapped in a right-footed shot for his sixth goal of the season to put L.A. up 1-0.

Five minutes later, White seemed poised to get Vancouver on the board when he picked off a pass at midfield and appeared to have a clear pass to the net until McCarthy came up high to challenge and sent his shot wide of the net.

White finally beat the netminder in the 61st minute off a corner kick.

Gauld curled a ball into the penalty area and White put a blistering header down into the far corner to knot the score at 1-1.

It was the American striker's third goal of the season.

The Whitecaps' focus seemed to lapse after the tying goal.

Some lax Vancouver defence allowed Puig to put a pass on Paintsil's foot at the top of the six-yard box and, although Takaoka came off his line to challenge, Paintsil sent a right-footed shot in to put L.A. up 2-1 in the 80th minute.

The Galaxy padded the lead two minutes later when Paintsil sent a pass to Fagundez and he fired a right-footed shot in past Takaoka from centre of the box to seal the score at 3-1.

The Whitecaps will return to the road next week, visiting the Seattle Sounders on April 20. The Galaxy will welcome the San Jose Earthquakes on April 21.

NOTES

The Whitecaps lost a key offensive piece in the 15th minute when striker Fafa Picault left the game with a lower-back muscle spasm. … Vancouver's Takaoka, and L.A. defenders Miki Yamane and Maya Yoshida all played, marking the first time three Japanese players started an MLS game. … An announced crowd of 25,026 took in the game at BC Place.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 13, 2024.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press