For a game that came with plenty of hype, with much of it clearly revolving around David Beckham, every fan at BC Place Wednesday got their money’s worth. That was a given.
But while the Vancouver Whitecaps could have sent everyone home happy — and with something else to talk about other than the Los Angeles Galaxy superstar — they couldn’t pull off what would have been a terrific victory.
Whether it was because they felt the footsteps of L.A. creeping up on them in the standings or that they were just sick of being humiliated by the Galaxy in MLS action, Vancouver came out inspired. And it paid off in a big way early as the second-year club jumped out to a two-goal lead. However, they squandered the spirited showing, giving up two late goals to the Galaxy as the teams played to a 2-2 draw in front of a sold-out crowd of 21,000.
For most of the match, the Whitecaps not only kept the three big international stars Beckham, Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan off the scoresheet, they also made L.A. look like any other club in the league. But goals by Beckham, whose shot was deflected in the 81st minute and teammate Jose Villareal, who blasted a gorgeous goal from distance in the 87th minute left the Vancouver crowd stunned.
"I'd much prefer playing a winning role but it's nice to get a goal," Beckham said. "Two months ago we wouldn't have been able to come back from a two-goal deficit. They played well but we were able to capitalize on the hard work that we've got in towards the end of the game."
With that tie comes one point for either side, moving the Whitecaps into a tie with the Seattle Sounders with 31 points in the Western Conference and still just four up on the fifth-place Galaxy.
While L.A. managed to generate some early offensive momentum, including a Beckham free kick from 23 yards out, it was the Whitecaps who struck first.
At the 18-minute mark, Gershon Koffie’s shot from outside the box, although redirected by the fingertips of goalkeeper Josh Saunders, found the back of the net for his second goal of the season. It was also Vancouver’s first goal against L.A. in the MLS, with the latter holding a 10-0 advantage heading into the match.
Less than 10 minutes later, the Whitecaps scored again.
Barry Robson, making his home debut with Vancouver, finished a header off a terrific cross by Y.P. Lee to score both his first goal with the club and his 100th professional career goal.
"For me, winning the football match is the most important thing," Robson said. "I hope I can score a lot more for this club and I hope I can go and win points."
The hosts had other opportunities to pad the lead, including a shot fired wide by Dane Richards and several glorious free kicks by Robson, but failed to do so.
Beckham, who was jeered more than cheered and also faced taunts of “Olympic reject,” finished with two shots.
"I love hostile crowds, that's the way it should be in the game," he said. "It brings excitement and it brings passion."
The Whitecaps will host the league-leading San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday.