Vancouver's quest for first suffers setback
Special to the Sun
The Vancouver Whitecaps chances of overtaking Puerto Rico for the USL First Division title suffered a blow when they misfired in a 0-0 draw with the Minnesota Thunder at Swangard Stadium Sunday.
Teitur Thordarson's side played almost half the game with an extra man, after Minnesota defender Andres Arango was sent-off in the 41st minute.
However, Vancouver was unable to take advantage in front of a sell-out crowd of 5,288 and almost suffered a sucker punch when Thunder substitute Brian Cvilikas hit a post in the dying seconds of extra time.
The home side got off to a lively start, with head marksman Eduardo Sebrango missing a good opportunity to open the scoring when he screwed a shot wide from the edge of the six-yard box.
It was hearts-in-mouths time for home supporters in the 11th minute when Thunder forward Nate Knox just failed to connect with a Melvin Tarley centre after the visitors got behind the Vancouver defence.
However, Vancouver went back on the offensive midway through the half when Justin Moose neatly set up Charles Gbeke with a chipped cross. The forward timed his leap nicely, but failed to nail the required combination of power and direction. Thunder keeper Nic Platter easily scooped up his downward header.
Vancouver suffered a setback in the 33rd minute when centre-half Omar Jarun received his eighth booking of the season, meaning he will likely miss the trip to Seattle on Sept. 20, the last regular game of the season.
However, the officiating then went in the Whitecaps favour just before the break, when Arango was shown a second yellow card for a second clumsy challenge and sent for an early shower.
Recognizing his side needed a bit of extra zip from midfield, head coach Thordarson threw on Lyle Martin in the 58th minute, before fellow substitutes Mason Trafford and Nick Addlery also joined the action. The move created some late opportunities.
Moose had the best chance to score a winner in the dying minutes after a Steve Kindel cross fell kindly for him; however, the midfielder lifted the ball over the net.
Home fans then breathed a collective sigh of relief when Cvilikas's volley struck the post and bounced to safety with literally seconds remaining.
Whitecaps vs Montreal Impact
at Swangard Stadium
© The Vancouver Sun 2008