Scoreless in soggy Saputo - Vancouver Sun

Defence rules as Impact, Whitecaps play to draw at new stadium

Pat Hickey

MONTREAL -- A steady rain put a damper on the inaugural game at the Saputo Stadium on Monday, but the bigger disappointment for fans of the home team was the Montreal Impact's continuing inability to score goals.

Fortunately for them, the Vancouver Whitecaps couldn't score either in a 0-0 draw.

"I thought we did some things well, but I'm disappointed that we couldn't give the fans and the administration who worked so hard to get this stadium built a win," said coach Nick De Santis. "You have to give Vancouver credit because they have a very sound defensive system."

No chance was bigger for Montreal than the one fashioned by Antonio Ribeiro with two minutes remaining in regulation time. Ribeiro, who came off the bench in the 81st minute, broke past a defender and had goaltender Srdjan Djekanovic at his mercy when he was pulled down from behind by Vancouver's Omar Jarun.

Referee Dave Gantar signalled a foul, which would have provided Ribeiro with a penalty shot, but the attempt -- and the foul -- were wiped out because one of the sideline officials ruled that Ribeiro was offside.

Montreal has now played 277 minutes since its last goal. "We have to be patient," said De Santis. "Goal scorers have a tendency to score in bunches. We just have to get that first one."

The Impact controlled the play for most of the first half, but Vancouver had the best scoring chances when Martin Nash tested Impact goalkeeper Matt Jordan with a bouncing shot in the 39th minute. Eddy Sebrango deflected the shot as it came through the box, but Jordan managed to dive and deflect the ball, which then bounced off a goalpost.

Jordan stopped eight shots, but it was Djekanovic who had the toughest saves of the day. In the 72nd minute, forward Joey Gjertsen broke in alone, but was foiled when the keeper got his hand on a rising shot and directed it over the crossbar.

"I tried to go behind him for the top corner, but he did a good job of reacting," said Gjertsen.

A minute later, Dwight Barnett had a breakaway, but his shot went wide of the net.

Attendance was announced as 13,034, although there were no more than 9,000 fans when the game started and most of the fans in the exposed east end and south-side stands left at halftime. Celebrities in the crowd included Martin Nash's younger brother, two-time NBA most valuable player Steve Nash.

The Whitecaps improved to 3-1-1 on the season, while extending their undefeated streak to three games.

The Whitecaps women opened their W-League season Saturday with a 2-2 tie against the Ventura County Fusion at Swangard. All the goals came in the final 12 minutes, as the Whitecaps took the lead through Jonelle Filigno, then threw it away, and then battled back for a dramatic injury-time equalizer by defender Emily Zurrer.

© The Vancouver Sun 2008