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Soccer

Galaxy can’t muster an offense in 0-0 tie with Vancouver

Galaxy can’t muster an offense in 0-0 tie with Vancouver

Galaxy tk Ashley Cole, right, kicks the ball away from Vancouver tk Nicolas Mezquida during the first half of a game on April 2.

(Darryl Dyck / Associated Press)

Over the last three seasons, no Major League Soccer team has had a better record at home than the Galaxy. It’s been a different story on the road, though, where the team has won only 11 times since 2012.

The Galaxy split the difference Saturday, visiting Vancouver and playing the Whitecaps to a scoreless draw. But it was a result that should probably be considered a win for Vancouver and a loss for the Galaxy since the visitors played the final 62 minutes with a man advantage and the Whitecaps went most of the game without captain Pedro Morales, the league’s leading scorer, who left early in the first half with an injury.

“It was an opportunity that was missed,” Galaxy midfielder Nigel de Jong agreed. “You come against 10 men and you can’t finish it off. It is a point at the end. But I’d rather have three points.

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“You’ve got to score to win. You’ve got to do better if you win games, especially on the road.”

The Galaxy has done neither of those things this season, failing to score or win on the road in two tries. At home they’re unbeaten, having scored seven times.

“It’s a bit frustrating,” midfielder Mike Magee said.

A crowd of 27,038, the largest ever for a regular-season game at BC Place, came out to see a Galaxy team featuring Steven Gerrard and Robbie Keane. Only Gerrard, sidelined with a calf injury, and Keane, who had arthroscopic knee surgery Thursday, didn’t make the trip. Nor did Mexican midfielder Giovani dos Santos and first-choice goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, who have been out with injuries since the season opener.

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In their absence, Ariel Lassiter and Emmanuel Boateng made the first starts of their MLS careers and Baggio Husidic made his first start of the season.

“It is a factor, of course. They bring a lot of experience and with their technical skills they are very important,” De Jong, who wore the captain’s armband Saturday, said of the missing starters. “But it is what it is. Sometimes you have to deal with the situation.”

Remember all the way back to February, when a spate of international signings made the Galaxy the best team money could buy? The lineup Coach Bruce Arena started Saturday will combine to earn less this season than Gerrard will earn in the next three months.

A lot less.

That did little to change the team’s fortunes, though. The Galaxy, who haven’t scored a first-half goal all season, were shut out in the opening 45 minutes again Saturday despite the fact the Whitecaps had two starters -- Morales and Kekuta Manneh -- go out before the break with injuries while a third player, Matias Laba, was ejected after a dangerous studs-up tackle on Magee in the 28th minute.

“I was kind of pleading for a yellow [card],” Magee said. “And he got a red.”

As a result, Vancouver spent most of the rest of the night hunkered down on defense. And the Galaxy spent the entire night unable to solve that defense.

“We’re looking for the last pass to walk the ball into the goal,” said Arena, whose team enjoyed a 15-5 advantage in shots, but put just four of those on target. “We need to shoot more from distance. We’ve got to deliver balls in front of the goal a lot earlier. And just be better.”

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Magee agreed.

“We’ve definitely got to take our chances,” he said. “In the grand scheme of things a point on the road is good. But I think we missed an opportunity to get the three points tonight.”

The Galaxy might not even have earned the one point if not for another outstanding performance from goalkeeper Brian Rowe, who inherited the starting job when Kennedy went down in the first half of the first game. Against the Whitecaps he was both decisive and athletic, twice charging off his line to break up Vancouver rushes.

And in first-half stoppage time, he leapt to his right to make a splendid one-handed save on a blistering shot from Andrew Jacobson that was headed for the far corner.

In four games Rowe has given up only two goals, with one of those coming deep in stoppage time in the only game the Galaxy (2-1-1) has lost.

Vancouver keeper David Ousted was just as good, with his best stop coming in the 70th minute after a Sebastian Lletget cross bounced off Gyasi Zardes’ thigh and dropped to his right foot.

The resulting volley from point-blank range struck Ousted in the face and ricocheted harmlessly over the net.

“I was already celebrating,” Magee said. “Then not only does he get his face on it, but somehow it goes out of the goal.”

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Zardes shrugged.

“We were just unlucky,” he said.

Maybe. But given the Galaxy’s history on the road, Arena will take the tie.

“I think the draw is fair,” he said. “A point on the road is still important.

“I’ll sleep tonight.”

Follow Kevin Baxter on Twitter @kbaxter11


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