VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Whitecaps aren't taking anything for granted as they prepare to face a team in the midst of a slump this weekend.
The Whitecaps head to California on Sunday to face the L.A. Galaxy, who dropped their sixth decision in a row with a loss to the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday.
L.A. may be going through a rough spell, but the Galaxy still possess big talents, including midfielder Sebastian Lletget, who has six goals this year, striker Cristian Pavon, who has added another six.
“To take this game lightly would be a huge mistake for us and we’re in no position to be doing that," Vancouver 'keeper Evan Bush said on a video call Friday.
The Galaxy (4-9-3) may be going through a rough run of play right now, but the club has also had major success this season, including two shutout wins over LAFC, noted Whitecaps coach Marc Dos Santos.
L.A.'s losing skid has nothing to do with the game that will be played on Sunday, he said.
“We think this is going to be a very difficult game," Dos Santos said. "We’re not looking at standings, we’re not looking at form of the opponent. We’re looking at what do we have to do and what do we want to be about as a club.”
While L.A. has struggled recently, the Whitecaps (7-11-0) are on the upswing after beating Los Angeles FC 2-1 Wednesday to post their second win in a row.
The performance earned striker Lucas Cavallini and defender Ali Adnan places on Major League Soccer's "Team of the Week." Forward Fredy Montero was also recognized with a place on the bench after registering two assists in Wednesday's victory.
Cavallini scored a brace in the win, marking his fourth and fifth goals in MLS play. Three of the tallies have come in the 'Caps last two games.
Midfielder Russell Teibert has known Cavallini for years and isn't surprised by his recent output.
“I know he can score goals and he’s in form right now," Teibert said. "As a team, we’re going to look to keep giving him the ball, keep giving him chances and we know he’s going to finish them off.”
The goals are nice, but scoring isn't what makes Cavallini special, Dos Santos said.
“Even my grandma that doesn’t watch soccer, she understands that if a guy scores, it’s good, if he doesn’t score it’s not good," he said. "You don’t need to be an expert to know that goals are good.”
What the coach likes more about the 27-year-old Toronto-born forward is how Cavallini is constantly engaged and involved in the play, even without the ball. The result is a player who's even better offensively, Dos Santos said.
“It’s like if memory chip stays always aware and ready," he said. "It makes him more aware of everything he has to do on the field.”
The Whitecaps are 4-0-0 this season when Cavallini scores.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (7-11-0) AT L.A. GALAXY (4-9-3)
Sunday, Dignity Health Sports Park
ADNAN DISCIPLINE: The MLS Disciplinary Committee has handed Vancouver's Ali Adnan an undisclosed fine for "simulation/embellishment" after he went down in Wednesday's win over LAFC. Erik Duenas tackled the defender along the sideline in second-half stoppage time, sending Adnan diving and rolling several times. The committee has also absolved Duenas of the yellow card he was shown for the play.
HISTORY BOOKS: Teibert is expected to make his 180th MLS appearance for the Whitecaps, setting a new club record. "It's an achievement I could never have dreamt of as a 15 year old coming to Vancouver," the 27-year-old midfielder said of the milestone. "This club has given me everything I need to succeed and … playing in a game like this is just a way of giving back a small amount of what they've given me."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 16, 2020.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press