Action-packed, but still a tie - The Province

Jim Jamieson

Miami FC 1 Whitecaps Men 1. Coach rues team's defensive lapses

Given that Miami FC was riding a six-game shutout streak and then decided to make nine roster changes after a 0-0 tie in Seattle on Friday -- including goalkeeper Josh Saunders -- you knew the game with the Vancouver Whitecaps wasn't going to be ordinary.

It wasn't.

Both teams traded scoring chances throughout, with luck and lack of finish skewering most of them and the game ending in a highly entertaining 1-1 tie.

The result left the 7-3-2 Whitecaps -- who had been shut out their previous two games -- at the top of the United Soccer Leagues standings.

But that didn't do much for the demeanor of head coach Teitur Thordarson, who was already looking ahead to Wednesday's must-win return match with visiting Montreal in the Nutrilite Canadian Championships.

"Oh yeah, I think it was an open game, entertaining, but that game can give some people heart attacks too," said Thordarson.

"We've got to cut out some of the defensive problems we were making here today. We were making some really big mistakes. We have to get better on that or we won't win games. The first goal here, we were dominating the game and they get one counter and they score on it."

Miami scored early -- in the 20th minute -- after a giveaway by Whitecaps midfielder Tony Donatelli. Miami forward Willie Sims made a good run with the ball and then floated a pass into Juan Pablo Galavais for a perfect header past Vancouver goalkeeper Jay Nolly.

Vancouver came out with much more purpose in the second half and was rewarded with the equalizer by defender Chris Pozniak in the 51st minute. Pozniak, a short-term signing whose contract is up after the Montreal game, hammered a 16-yard bomb past Miami goalkeeper Sam Reynolds that hit the crossbar and bounced down into the goal.

The game was full of close calls, with Reynolds robbing Martin Nash on a 25 yard free kick in the 33rd minute and then stopping Jason Jordan from 10 yards on a great chance for the Caps to go ahead in the 54th minute.

But Miami also failed to capitalize on their own opportunities, the most notable being Sims stepping on the ball after getting in clear in the 69th minute.

It almost seemed appropriate that Eduardo Sebrango chipped a chance inches over the crossbar with seconds left in extra time from six yards.

"We couldn't find the space in the first half, we weren't sharp enough -- that's the reality," said Sebrango, back from a one-game absence with an ankle injury. "We tried to go harder in the second half. Sure, we got chances, but I think our play wasn't good enough. It's everywhere. We're too slow in our build-up, as forwards we're not finding our spaces. Every second ball they were winning it and that means we're not sharp."

CORNER KICKS - It's believed Miami's roster changes were due to a combination of fatigue and visa issues. It's shutout streak stopped at 641 minutes. Miami hadn't surrendered a goal since the second half of a 3-1 loss at Minnesota on May 24.

© The Vancouver Province 2008