Saturday, May 7, 2011

Whitecaps Escape Chicago With A Point

It took four games into their first MLS season before the Whitecaps FC were able to earn their first result away from Empire Field as Vancouver played to a scoreless draw with the Chicago Fire.  It was a tale of two halves as the Caps came close to giving up the first score to the Fire in the first half but were helped out by a post. Late in the match they almost pulled out a victory but weren’t able to capitalize on their own chances as Hassli missed on a breakaway and Khalfan just missed on a blast from outside the box. 

The Whitecaps started out strong as less than five minutes into the match Camilo was sent in on goal but was brought down by Fire defender Mikulic on a foul that could have easily put the home team down to 10 men.  About ten minutes later Alain Rochat came close as he fired a shot from outside the box just wide of the net.  The next 30 minutes belonged to the Fire as they controlled possession and had three glorious chances to take the lead.  The first was by Dominic Oduro who beat both Janicki and Akloul only to sail the ball over the bar which was followed by a great save by Nolly off of a strike by midfielder Marco Pappa.  Finally Diego Chaves was sent in alone by Pappa but the Uruguayan poked the ball off the post as both teams went into halftime scoreless.

The Fire continued their control of the ball to start the second half but were unable to generate any serious threat to Nolly and the Whitecaps.  Most of their attempts on goal were either sent wide of the net or were easily scooped up by the goalkeeper.  The final twenty minutes belonged to the Whitecaps especially after Khalfan was brought on for Camilo up front and Salinas was brought in for Wagner in the 57th minute.  With 15 minutes left in the match Chiumiento was able to send Hassli in on goal all alone but the Frenchman was unable to get by goalkeeper Jon Conway as there was no shot attempted.  The Caps continued pressuring the Fire into injury time as Khalfan almost earned the visitors the full three points as his strike from 25 yards out went just over the bar.

After failing in their first three attempts on the road, the Whitecaps were finally able to pick up a result on the road.  It was noted after the match that the Caps were not trying to play a conservative game but it seemed like it was the case until the last twenty minutes.  One thing that is clear is that the Whitecaps need Shea Salinas to be ready for insertion into the starting eleven as his pace and skills change the look of the team for the better.  The backline was exposed in the final 15 minutes of the first half as the Fire found space and almost scored the first goal.  Despite the breakdowns in the first half the Caps did earn their second cleansheet as Nolly did not allow anything to get behind him.  After the draw the Whitecaps will continue their tough stretch as they now return home Wednesday to face a San Jose Earthquakes club that will be well rested as they did not play this week.

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