The Vancouver Whitecaps continued their unbeaten streak at home as they played Chivas USA to a scoreless draw. While the match lacked the drama that Empire Field has been known for, it didn’t lack scoring opportunities for the Caps as the home team came close to gaining the full three points. The match also saw the home debut of the first overall pick in the Super Draft as Omar Salgado came into the game in the 83rd minute to a rousing ovation. Despite some more line up juggling, which saw another new player in the starting eleven, the Caps played with more energy than they displayed against Houston in their 3-1 defeat last week.
It almost turned into an early deficit for the Whitecaps as Chivas came very close to converting a corner kick in the 2nd minute. The header by Marcus Mondaini was cleared off the line by goalkeeper Jay Nolly in what turned out to be the visitor’s most dangerous opportunity in the half. While Chivas had the a slight edge of possession in the first half, the Caps had more opportunities with Wes Knight first hitting the post off a strike outside the box in the 9th minute and then being robbed by Simon Elliott off the line in the 21st minute. The temperamental striker Eric Hassli came within inches of giving the Caps a lead in the 34th minute with a great strike off his left foot that found woodwork.
The second half opened with the Whitecaps missing another opportunity as Wes Knight was unable to connect with a cross from Hassli. After almost setting up Camilo on another cross, The Frenchman was handed a yellow card in his third straight game for what looked like a clean tackle. For the first 20 minutes of the second half, the visitors controlled the ball and hardly allowed the Whitecaps any real touches. Vancouver coach Teitur Thoradson then started using his subs as Nizar Khalfan came on for Davide Chiumiento and gave the home side some speed down the left side and some dangerous crosses into the box. Near the end of the match the Caps were able to muster a couple of chance to collect the win as Khalfan’s wicked shot forced Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy to make a spectacular save and a Salgado header off a corner just sailed over the bar.
It was clear from early on that the Whitecaps were missing the midfield combination of Terry Dunfield (injured) and Gershon Koffie (international duty) for the second straight game as the home squad had their fifth and sixth choices for the centre midfield positions. The visitors from the south were able to maintain possession and, especially in the second half, control the tempo of the game. The Caps were unable to establish an attacking rhythm with the central midfield being so compact as well as the lack of luck in the final third. On a positive note for their designated player, Hassli, it marked the first game since the opener that he was able to avoid ejection from the game for disciplinary actions. The Whitecaps must now prepare to face the MLS Cup runners up, FC Dallas, at home and hope that some of their walking wounded will be ready for the starting eleven.