MLS Preview: Vancouver Whitecaps vs. LA Galaxy

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  • Donovan, Keane with back-to-back hat tricks.
  • Vancouver 8-1-3 at home this season.
  • Whitecaps won last meeting at BC Place, 3-1.

Back-to-back weeks, Los Angeles has got a hat trick from a Designated Player. Landon Donovan’s three goals in Dallas helped the two-time defending champions take a point from Dallas two weeks ago, while Robbie Keane’s second half explosion against Real Salt Lake saw the Galaxy crush the Western Conference’s leaders. Given this trend, surely Omar Gonzalez, Los Angeles’s new Designated Player, is ready for an offensive explosion Saturday at BC Place?

Obviously, that’s unlikely, and not only because of Gonzalez’s position (central defender) or the sure improbability of having any player score a hat trick. The Vancouver Whitecaps, LA’s Saturday opponent, are 8-1-3 at home this season, their only loss coming in a game where Jun Marques Davidson was sent off in the eighth minute. The only other teams to take points out of BC Place have been Real Salt Lake, FC Dallas, and Portland, the last of those draws coming on May 18. Since then, the only blemish in the Whitecaps’ six home games has been Philadelphia’s 1-0, 11-on-10 win.

Given the nature of their home ground, it’s easy to see what the Whitecaps have such an advantage. It’s like playing on the surface of a pool table, the fast artificial field allowing balls to roll forever across the BC Place pitch. Though there are other artificial surfaces in the league, Vancouver’s may be the only one that makes no attempt to even emulate natural grass. It’s a rug, and although it’s not as bad as Astroturf, games at Vancouver often harken back to the early days of MLS, when it was far more common to see a touch pass from midfield roll out of bounds when a surprised fullback forgets the ball’s seeing no resistance.

If you play on that field 17-or-more times a year, you become used to it. You know how to weight your passes. You know the effort it will take to run down a ball. You know the speed at which the game’s going to be played.

If you’re not used to it, you have to adjust. You’re at a steeper disadvantage than you’d see face on any other road trip. And you’re facing a team with talents to take advantage of the pace.

Los Angeles certainly have the ability to adjust. Robbie Keane is old, but he’s not slow, and although Landon Donovan isn’t World Cup 2002-fast anymore, speed is still his ally. Marcelo Sarvas and Juninho are quick enough in the middle, while the thoroughbreds Bruce Arena can choose from on the outside are capable of keeping up with most.

But with Vancouver coming close the last time the two teams played (a 2-1 loss in Carson) and LA having won only three road games this season, Galaxy hat tricks are unlikely. On that slab at BC Place, LA biggest worry is keeping up.

The Galaxy will go into Saturday’s game in fourth place, holding 37 points after 24 games. The Whitecaps are in fifth with 36 points in 24 matches.

What they are saying

LA Galaxy forward Landon Donovan: “It’s pretty crazy, and, really, in the whole league. Because at the end of the day, teams that get to the final, if you want the game at home, there might be a point or two separating you from the other teams. Not only do you want to get in the playoffs and hopefully win the West, but you want to keep an eye on the East, too, and see if you can pass all those teams.” [source]

LA Galaxy left back Todd Dunivant: “When you factor in games in hand, it’s a virtual tie among a lot of teams. Fortunately, eight of our 10 games are against conference opponents. You can make up points. And then, obviously, other teams are playing a lot of conference teams.” [source]

Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie: “”We’re the home team, and we need to put the other team under pressure. We’ve been doing very well at home and scoring quite a lot of goals. We need to keep that going.” [source]

Prediction

LA’s last visit to Vancouver ended in a 3-1 loss, Russell Teibert scoring twice in the second half. This game could play out similarly. There’s no combination of LA defenders that look like a good matchup on BC Place’s field against Tiebert, Camilo, and Kenny Miller, and with Nigel Reo-Coker playing well, it may take an off day from the Whitecaps to keep them from climbing the West’s standings.

Stoke City 1-2 Bournemouth: Cherries secure huge road win

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  • Surman, Stanislas put Bournemouth ahead
  • Stoke have only won one of their last 8 games in all comps
  • Diouf’s goal not enough for a point

Bournemouth beat Stoke City 2-1 at the bet365 Stadium on Saturday as the Cherries secured their first away win of the season.

Early goals from Andrew Surman and Junior Stanislas was enough to grab Bournemouth all three points as Mame Biram Diouf’s goal in the second half wasn’t enough to launch a Stoke comeback.

With the defeat Stoke slip into the bottom with Bournemouth.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]  

Bournemouth got off to the best possible start as Stanislas set up Surman who fired home to make it 1-0 after 15 minutes.

Three minutes later after it was 2-0 as Stanislas slammed home a penalty kick following Benik Afobe being hacked down in the box.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Stoke struggled to recover after that awful start but they did grab a goal midway through the second half.

Diouf made it 2-1 with just 17 minutes gone in the second half as a long ball forward caused havoc in the box with Choupo-Mouting knocking it down for Diouf to finish.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Stoke threw plenty of long balls at Bournemouth late on but the Cherries held on for a crucial three points to leave Stoke in plenty of trouble.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ] 

Afobe and others came close to sealing the win late on for Bournemouth with Stoke pushing forward but the Cherries were well worth their victory.

Huddersfield Town 2-1 Manchester United: Monumental win!

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  • Town’s first win over United since 1952
  • Mooy, Depoitre score
  • Rashford pulls one back
  • United’s first PL loss

Aaron Mooy and Laurent Depoitre scored to give Huddersfield Town its first win over Manchester United in 65 years, a 2-1 win at the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday.

Marcus Rashford pulled a goal back for United, which has lost its first PL match of the season and drops five points behind Man City.

Town leaps 10th, with 12 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Anthony Martial collected an early yellow card for United, and a clever move from Tom Ince to Steve Mounie called up Red Devils backstop David De Gea for his first collection of the match.

And Mooy put Town a head when he played Ince in for a shot, then put the rebound behind De Gea.

The keeper wouldn’t be relieved when a Jonas Lossl goal kick sailed over Victor Lindelof‘s jumping intervention, and Depoitretw danced around De Gea to make it 2-0.

Nemanja Matic‘s stoppage time effort through traffic almost pulled one back for United, but Town dealt with a corner kick to get to the break unscathed.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

But how many have?

Rashford lifted the hopes of the visitors with a goal with just under 15 minutes to play.

WATCH LIVE: Southampton vs. West Brom

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Southampton and West Brom seek three points which would move them into the top half of the Premier League table when they meet Sunday at St. Mary’s (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE HERE

As a bonus, Joe Prince-Wright is on the scene to give you a “proper match day experience” from the run-up to the final whistle at St. Mary’s.

LINEUPS

Southampton: Forster, Cedric, Van Dijk, Yoshida, Bertrand, Lemina, Romeu, Davis, Tadic, Long, Gabbiadini. Subs: McCarthy, Hoedt, McQueen, Ward-Prowse, Boufal, Redmond, Austin.

West Bromwich Albion: Foster, Gibbs, Hegazi, Evans, Dawson, Livermore, Krychowiak, Chadli, Barry, Rodriguez, Rondon. Subs:

Matchday experience: Behind-the-scenes at Southampton

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What is a proper “matchday experience” really like in the Premier League?

For fans of the Premier League in the USA, you’ll no doubt be curious as to exactly what goes on over in the UK around every single game.

[ LIVE: Stream Saints v West Brom ] 

And for all of you who have ever wondered what it’s like, good news: we have a complete 360 experience lined up for Southampton vs. West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

We will be on site at Southampton to give you special access at St Mary’s Stadium before, during and after the game.

You will not want to miss this.

Make sure to follow Joe Prince-Wright’s journey behind-the-scenes by checking out the updated videos below as he spends time in pubs in the South Coast city before the game, joins the fans in the stands and will be closer to the action than ever before in the tunnel area and up close and personal with players.