Whitecaps FC keeper Joe Cannon

'Caps defence steps up to start the 2012 MLS season

Three games, three clean sheets for Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

The Canadian squad played D.C. United to a scoreless draw on Saturday night, but it all could have been different had Joe Cannon and Davide Chiumiento not teamed up to prevent Hamdi Salihi scoring a 67th-minute header from a corner kick.

The Albanian connected well from the set piece, but Cannon’s hand and Chiumiento’s head combined to clear the danger.

“I’ll give him a kiss, or maybe take him to [Italian restaurant] Cioppino's,” Cannon quipped to reporters when asked to describe Chiumiento’s goalline clearance. “It was great. Davide and the rest of the guys played well, and I wish we could have rewarded our fans with a goal.”

That lack of a goal led a number of players and the coach to suggest a draw wasn’t quite good enough against a D.C. United team that opened the season with two defeats.

“D.C. United certainly played well and made it difficult for us,” head coach Martin Rennie said. “I know they’ve had a couple of difficult results, and were certainly up for the game, and worked hard for their point.

“A couple of times in each half, we got our momentum going and we looked quite dangerous, but we didn’t get enough of that. We didn’t get behind enough, didn’t put enough balls in the box, and didn’t make their goalkeeper make any saves.”

Chiumiento, who played hero on the night to preserve the point and made a few more tackles than usual in midfield, felt his performance offensively fell a bit short of his usual standards, despite his impressive defensive effort.

Along with Eric Hassli, Sebastien Le Toux, and Camilo Sanvezzo, Chiumiento suggested Vancouver's offensive four could have done better.

“We did easy mistakes,” Chiumiento said. “Last balls, easy passes – everybody did easy mistakes. Even easy one-twos, or balls we put on the inside; we made bad decisions and bad passes. At this level, you have to play well and make good passes, otherwise it’s difficult to score.”

Still, for a club that often lost matches in 2011 when things didn’t always flow on attack, the point is still a positive.

“There’s lot of room for improvement, but when you’re not connecting in all those areas, you want to make sure you’re hard to beat,” Rennie said. “Sometimes, when you’re not doing those things, you lose a sucker punch at the other end. Who knows? That point could end up being important for us in the long run.”

Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @martinmacmahon

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