The Vancouver Whitecaps continued their unbeaten streak at home and picked up their first clean sheet of this season as they played Chivas USA to a scoreless draw. While the match lacked the drama that Empire Field has been known for, it didn’t lack scoring opportunities for the Caps as the home team came close to gaining the full three points. The match also saw the home debut of the first overall pick in the Super Draft as Omar Salgado came into the game in the 83rd minute to a rousing ovation.
Despite some more line up juggling, which saw another new player in the starting eleven, the Caps opened the game with more energy than they displayed against Houston in their 3-1 defeat last week. It almost turned into an early deficit for the Whitecaps as Chivas came very close to converting a corner kick in the 2nd minute. The header by Marcus Mondaini was cleared off the line by goalkeeper Jay Nolly in what turned out to be the visitor’s most dangerous opportunity in the half.
While Chivas had the a slight edge of possession in the first half, the Caps had more opportunities with Wes Knight first hitting the post off a strike outside the box in the 9th minute and then being robbed by Simon Elliott off the line in the 21st minute. The temperamental striker Eric Hassli came within inches of giving the Caps a lead in the 34th minute with a great strike off his left foot that found woodwork. Chivas counted themselves lucky to go into the half in a tie game as the Caps were close on multiple chances. If one had gone in the Chivas would have had to open up their game to take more chances which would've given the Caps more opportunities on the counter attack.
For the first 20 minutes of the second half, the visitors controlled the ball and hardly allowed the Whitecaps any real touches except for a couple of chances. The second half opened with the Whitecaps missing another opportunity as Wes Knight was unable to connect with a cross from Hassli. The designated player looked to get into more trouble as after almost setting up Camilo on another cross, The Frenchman was handed a yellow card in his third straight game. On first look it seemed like it was a clean tackle as Hassli got to the ball before the Chivas defender.
Teitur Thoradson then started using his subs as Nizar Khalfan came on for Chiumiento and gave the home side a much needed spark as he used his speed down the left side to deliver some dangerous crosses into the box. Near the end of the match the Caps were able to muster a couple of chance to collect the win as first Khalfan unleashed a lethal shot that forced Dan Kennedy to make a spectacular save. In injury time Salgado came close to becoming a hero in his debut at home as his header off a Khalfan corner just sailed over the bar.
It was clear from early on that the Whitecaps were missing the midfield combination of Terry Dunfield (injured) and Gershon Koffie (international duty) for the second straight game as the home squad had their fifth and sixth choices for the centre mid positions. The visitors from the south were able to maintain possession and, especially in the second half, control the tempo of the game. The Caps were unable to establish an attacking rhythm with the central midfield being so compact as well as the lack of luck in the final third. Despite a couple of hiccups the backline and Jay Nolly did not concede a single goal and thus earned their first clean sheet in MLS. On another positive note for their designated player, Hassli, it marked the first game since the opener that he was able to avoid ejection from the game for disciplinary actions. The Whitecaps must now prepare to face the MLS Cup runner ups, FC Dallas, at home and hope that some of their walking wounded will be ready for the starting eleven.