VANCOUVER, BC - In their second home match of the 2012 Major League Soccer season, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (2W-0L-1D) were held to a goalless draw by Eastern Conference club D.C. United (0W-2L-1D) on Saturday evening.
In a game that saw few chances at both ends, Whitecaps FC could not unlock their visitors from the American capital, as United worked hard to earn their first point of the season following two straight defeats to start their 2012 campaign. While the Blue and White will be frustrated not to have claimed a third-straight MLS win in front of a passionate crowd of 19,394 on Bell Pitch at BC Place, they set new club records by registering a third-straight clean sheet as an MLS club and extending their undefeated streak in the league to three games. For a third-straight match, resolute defending and more fine goalkeeping from Joe Cannon meant Vancouver have still to concede a goal in regular season play this year.
“A little bit disappointed that we couldn’t take advantage of a few opportunities that we had,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie. “But I thought it was quite an exciting game. I thought that D.C. United certainly played well and made it difficult for us. I know they’d had a couple difficult results, they certainly were up for the game, and worked hard for their point.”
After claiming their first away win in MLS last weekend, Rennie named an unchanged side from the starting XI that earned the 1-0 victory at Chivas USA. United head coach Ben OIsen, meanwhile, played a potent attack in his 4-3-3 formation. Designated Player Hamdi Salihi, former Toronto FC striker Maicon Santos, and captain Dwayne De Rosario all started up front for the visitors.
A beautiful spring evening saw Whitecaps FC open the BC Place roof for the first time this season, though the open air had little impact on the level of vocal support that ‘Caps fans gave their home side during the weekend contest. The first half was a scrappy and competitive affair, illustrated by the bookings to Whitecaps FC striker Eric Hassli and United’s Brazilian forward Santos before the break.
Vancouver had two half-chances in the first 45 minutes. Argentine centre back Martin Bonjour, who put in an excellent defensive display, headed Camilo Sanvezzo’s free kick over the United crossbar just five minutes in before Hassli struck the D.C. side-netting with a low header from Camilo’s pin-point cross on the half-hour mark.
United closest effort to a first-half goal came from Albanian international Salihi, but his header from a Nick DeLeon corner flew over the ‘Caps crossbar on 32 minutes. It resulted in a goalless scoreline at halftime.
While the effort was there from both sides, a decisive goal remained elusive in the second half. Whitecaps FC midfielder Matt Watson had two efforts after the restart, with the Englishman’s best strike coming on 59 minutes, as he volleyed a powerful shot wide of the United goal.
Credit must go to D.C. for their attempt to claim their first win of the season. The visitors had the best chance of the match on 67 minutes, as United’s two Designated Players combined from a D.C. corner. Substitute Branko Boskovic’s set-piece found Salihi in the six-yard box. His close-range header was brilliantly saved by Cannon on the goalline before the danger was cleared by Davide Chiumiento and Bonjour. The Vancouver number one will surely be in line for another MLS Save of the Week honour after that reflex stop. United captain De Rosario then threatened with three opportunities, but Cannon and his lack of accuracy to hit the target meant the Canadian international would not be on the scoresheet at BC Place.
Both sides kept battling away to the end, with a further five minutes of time added on played by match referee Kevin Stott. His final whistle, however, confirmed a share of the spoils in this lone regular season meeting between Vancouver and D.C.
Whitecaps FC will now head out on the road for two games, starting next Saturday when they visit Chester, Pennsylvania, for their lone regular season clash with winless Eastern Conference club Philadelphia Union. United, meanwhile, return home to Washington, D.C., for two matches, starting with their lone regular season meeting versus Western Conference side FC Dallas next Friday night.
Budweiser Man of the Match: Jay DeMerit
Shots: Vancouver 8 - D.C. United 12
Shots on Goal: Vancouver 0 – D.C. United 3
Saves: Vancouver 3 – D.C. United 0
Fouls: Vancouver 11 – D.C. United 15
Offsides: Vancouver 4 – D.C. United 3
Corners: Vancouver 3 – D.C. United 5
33' - VAN - Eric Hassli
35' - DC - Maicon Santos
70' - DC - Chris Pontius
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.Joe Cannon; 12.Young-Pyo Lee, 15.Martin Bonjour, 6.Jay DeMerit, 4.Alain Rochat (3.Jordan Harvey 57'); 20.Davide Chiumiento (23.Long Tan 86'), 16.Matt Watson, 27.Jun Marques Davidson, 37.Camilo Sanvezzo; 7.Sebastien Le Toux, 29.Eric Hassli
Substitutes not used: 18.Brad Knighton, 17.Omar Salgado, 19.Carlyle Mitchell, 26.Floyd Franks, 28.Gershon Koffie
31.Joe Willis; 3.Robbie Russell, 4.Brandon McDonald, 19.Emiliano Dudar, 21.Daniel Woolard; 2.Danny Cruz, 11.Marcelo Saragosa, 18.Nick DeLeon (13.Chris Pontius 57'); 7.Dwayne De Rosario, 9.Hamdi Salihi (16.Josh Wolff 80'), 29. Maicon Santos (8.Branko Boskovic 80')
Substitutes not used: 50.Andrew Dykstra, 5.Dejan Jakovic, 20.Stephen King, 22.Chris Korb