BRIDGEVIEW, ILLINOIS – David Ousted earned his career-high fifth clean sheet of the season as Vancouver Whitecaps FC (6W-4L-11D) and Chicago Fire (3W-5L-12D) played to a scrappy scoreless draw Wednesday night at Toyota Park.
Playing their sixth and final match in a busy month of July, the ‘Caps simply couldn’t crack a stingy Fire defence and it was a similar story at the other end of the park.
It was a sound defensive performance from the Blue and White, thanks in part to the play of Budweiser Man of the Match Matias Laba, who had a game-high seven tackles.
The result was Vancouver’s fourth straight draw – three of which came on the road. As a result, Whitecaps FC remain .500 on the road (2W-2L-7D) and undefeated against Eastern Conference opponents this season.
Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson didn’t make any changes to his starting lineup after Sunday’s 2-2 draw with FC Dallas – the fourth time this season he kept an unchanged squad. Johnny Leveron and Carlyle Mitchell made their eighth straight start together at centre back, while Darren Mattocks started his fourth straight match up top.
There wasn’t much between the 'Caps and Fire in the early going at Toyota Park. Vancouver looked comfortable in possession but Chicago had the first real chance in the ninth minute through a 25-yard Mike Magee free kick that curled into the side netting.
Chicago began to control possession from that point forward, but didn’t really pose much of a threat in the attacking third. Both teams looked organized defensively, which made for some scrappy and congested play in midfield.
The ‘Caps did start to come on towards the end of the half though. In the 34th minute, Jordan Harvey found Sebastian Fernandez in the middle of the box with a low cross from the left but the Uruguayan saw his first-time attempt blocked by a sliding Jeff Larentowicz.
All the stats from Wednesday's match. Click to enlarge.
Neither goalkeeper was really tested in the first half, though Ousted did smother a decent long-distance strike from former Whitecaps FC midfielder Matt Watson in the 41st minute.
After a fairly uneventful first half, Vancouver came out of the break with some new life. Pedro Morales sent a half volley wide less than a minute in, while Erik Hurtado came close from in tight after a nice flick by Gershon Koffie in the 49th minute.
It was much brighter stuff from the Blue and White, who brought on substitutes Russell Teibert, Omar Salgado, and Kekuta Manneh in the second half with the outcome of the game very much up in the air. Chicago quickly tightened things up at the back, however, and the game quickly reverted to a midfield chess match.
The Fire nearly broke through on the counter in the 80th minute, when Magee teed up Quincy Amarikwa just inside the ‘Caps box. But the young striker saw his first-time effort sail over the goal.
A goal was simply not in the cards on this night, as the evenly contested affair appropriately ended in a stalemate. The draw increases Vancouver’s point total to 29 on the season, just one point shy of LA Galaxy, Colorado Rapids, and FC Dallas, who currently occupy the final three playoff positions in the Western Conference.
The ‘Caps aren’t back in action until Sunday, August 10, when they host defending MLS Cup champion Sporting Kansas City at BC Place. Tickets are still available at whitecapsfc.com/tickets.
It’s not too late to participate in the best sporting experience in Vancouver. Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including prorated season tickets, 5-packs, student season tickets, and a youth soccer half-season ticket. Single-match tickets start at $22, subject to applicable fees. For more information on all Whitecaps FC ticket options, call 604.669.9283 ext. 2 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.
Stat of the Game
Budweiser Man of the Match Matias Laba had a game-high seven tackles, increasing his league-leading tally to 101 on the season. The Argentine also leads all midfielders with 51 interceptions.
Tweet of the Game
Matias Laba for the Whitecaps can flat out ball. IMO he’s currently the second best def. midfielder in the Western Conf. behind Beckerman— Finn (@Finn_aka_Jeremy) July 31, 2014
Budweiser Man of the Match: Matias Laba
Referee: Fotis Bazakos
Shots: Chicago – 10 Vancouver 13
Shots on Goal: Chicago 2 – Vancouver 2
Saves: Chicago 2 – Vancouver 2
Fouls: Chicago 13 – Vancouver 12
Offsides: Chicago 0 – Vancouver 3
Corners: Chicago 5 – Vancouver 3
28’ – CHI – Chris Ritter
36’ – VAN – Jordan Harvey
63’ – VAN – Johnny Leveron
69’ – CHI – Lovel Palmer
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.David Ousted; 33.Steven Beitashour, 24.Carlyle Mitchell, 16.Johnny Leverón, 2.Jordan Harvey; 28.Gershon Koffie (31.Russell Teibert 57’), 15.Matías Laba; 19.Erik Hurtado (23.Kekuta Manneh 77’), 77.Pedro Morales, 7.Sebastián Fernández (17.Omar Salgado 58’); 11.Darren Mattocks
Substitutes not used
70.Paolo Tornaghi, 8.Medhi Ballouchy, 29.Nicolás Mezquida, 40.Andy O’Brien
25.Sean Johnson; 5.Lovel Palmer, 20.Jeff Larentowicz, 6.Patick Ianni, 13.Gonzalo Segares; 8.Grant Ward (19.Harrison Shipp 62’), 21.Chris Ritter (30.Razvan Cocis 62’), 22.Matt Watson, 7.Alex; 9.Mike Magee, 24.Quincy Amarikwa (15.Matthew Fondy 82’)
Substitutes not used
28.Kyle Reynish, 4.Bakary Soumare, 12.Logan Pause, 34.John Kennedy Hurtado