LAFC look to put away Whitecaps in Game 2

League: MLS

Posted on: 04 Nov, 2023 at 11:04 PM

Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles FC had a secret advantage heading into their first-round MLS playoff series with Vancouver.

Assistant coach Marc Dos Santos was the head coach for the Whitecaps for 2 1/2 seasons before being fired in August 2021.

So it's safe to say Dos Santos knew a thing or two about the Whitecaps, especially their approach to defending against set pieces.

Host LAFC scored goals on four set pieces, including three on corner kicks, in winning the opener of the best-of-three series 5-2 last Saturday. The series moves to Vancouver on Sunday, with the defending MLS Cup champions from Los Angeles hoping to avoid a Game 3 at home.

"Marc is on top of set pieces all season long and we've worked with the guys," LAFC head coach Steve Cherundolo said. "In the end, it comes down to consistency of the service and the timing of the runs. And the third factor in set pieces in any league around the world is the will to go get the ball first. And our guys showed that they were hungry and they took advantage of set pieces."

MLS Golden Boot Award-winner Denis Bouanga and defender Ryan Hollingshead both scored twice for LAFC (15-10-10) and Jesus Murillo tallied the final goal.

Brian White and defender Sam Adekugbe scored in the first half for the Whitecaps (12-11-12), sending the teams to the locker rooms tied at 2-2.

"Of course it's pretty simple to make an analysis that we have to do much better on defending set plays," Whitecaps coach Vanni Sartini said. "We concede three goals on a corner, guys. I think it's impossible to win games if you concede three goals from the corner. It's a big lesson that we need to be perfect to win these games."

Cherundolo said he doesn't plan to make any changes for Game 2.

"Certainly I would love to end the series in Vancouver and that'll be our objective," Cherundolo said. "We want to go out and play the exact same way we play here. And I'm 100 percent positive Vancouver will play a little more aggressively and try to press us a little more, like they did when they were down (Saturday), and I'll expect that from minute one. But we want to play the same way. We would prefer a similar result."

--Field Level Media