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Whitecaps ousted from playoffs after tough loss to Galaxy

The Vancouver Whitecaps saw their Major League Soccer season end Thursday night with a 2-1 playoff loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Landon Donovan’s penalty-kick goal in the 73rd minute gave the defending-champion Galaxy the come-from-behind win at the Home Depot Center.

L.A., which finished fourth in the Western Conference, will now meet the first-place San Jose Earthquakes in a two-game, total-goals series.

Mike Magee also scored for Los Angeles. Darren Mattocks scored Vancouver’s lone goal.

The Whitecaps posted just three victories in the second half of the 34-game regular season, but looked like they would pull off a major upset after Mattocks scored when the game had barely begun.

L.A. had earned home-field advantage in the do-or-die game by finishing fourth in the Western Conference. The Whitecaps placed fifth, getting into the playoffs as a result of a Seattle victory over Dallas.

Donovan was awarded the spot kick after Whitecaps second-half substitute Martin Bonjour knocked him down from behind. The foul came just a minute after Bonjour entered the game for injured captain Jay DeMerit.

Magee tied the game in the 69th minute as he volleyed a cross behind Vancouver goalkeeper Brad Knighton from the centre of the 18-yard box.

L.A. pressed several times in the first half, but the scoring attempts were either thwarted by timely Vancouver defensive plays, including a number of blocked shots, or saves by Knighton.

Mattocks opened the scoring in just the fourth minute. Midfielder Matt Watson broke down the left flank with the ball and put a slight-angle pass back to Mattocks in the middle of L.A.’s 18-yard box. The Jamaican striker then put a low shot into the right corner of the Galaxy net.

The goal was the first Whitecaps’ first-ever goal against the Galaxy at the Home Depot Center. Vancouver had gone seven games without an away goal before then.

Mattocks left the game in the 59th minute, limping off with an apparent leg injury. Scottish striker Kenny Miller, who has come under criticism for his lack of scoring, took his place.

After Donovan scored, Whitecaps assistant coach Paul Ritchie was ejected for heckling referee Siliviu Petrescu from the bench.

CBC | Sports News