Mar 24, 2012; Vancouver, BC, CANADA; D.C. United midfielder Marcelo Saragosa (11) pushes off Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Gerson Koffie (28) as he runs with the ball during the second half at BC Place Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-US PRESSWIRE
The funny thing is that the Vancouver Whitecaps played better, and against a better opponent, than they did last week.
There were fewer moments of real terror; yet another fantastic Joe Cannon save, of course, but Vancouver had a few superb chances of their own wasted on the final ball. The balance of play was very even, perhaps slightly in the Whitecaps' favour. They faced considerably better attackers than Casey Townsend and Ryan Smith and shut them down magnificently. And they drew 0-0, and that was probably fair.
Despite losing Alain Rochat in the second half to a knee injury, the Whitecaps played decently for most of the 90 minutes. There were a few sketchy moments late when both teams pushed forward for a winner and possession went against Vancouver, but that was all. There was nothing, really, to be concerned about, except the usual bugbears of "Camilo Sanvezzo should learn when to pass and when to beat two defenders by himself" and "Eric Hassli should be luckier."
Right now, I see Whitecaps fans are a little disappointed and maybe even upset. It was a boring game, aside from the DC players getting indignant and bitchy every time a Whitecap walked within three feet of them, so I can understand that. But, after those two wins to start the season, expectations were a little bit higher than they should have been; that's what I was ranting about on Friday.
So while I may not be as happy as some when we win, at least I'm not as miserable as others when we draw. That really wasn't such a bad game.
0-0 sounds about right. The possession was even, the passing accuracy was equal (still a touch poor, and this time we can't blame the surface; Davide Chiumiento had some lovely balls but also a nasty case of giveawayitis). The Whitecaps failed to put a single shot on goal, which is highly worrying, but it wasn't on account of wastefulness: they just had shots blocked, or a bit of bad luck, or poor decisions on the final ball. DC, even without Dejan Jakovic, played very tenacious defense and Vancouver was unable to adapt.
Chiumiento deserves credit for defensive effort. For the second week in a row he tried to discharge the defensive responsibilities of his position. After last year, where he was bored a good 75% of the time in games like this, that's entirely welcome. But let's not give Chiumiento too much love: yes, he tries to play defense, but he isn't actually any good at it. He could stay up field the entire game if he put in a consistent offensive effort while he was there, in my books.
Now, we all knew this team's improvement was going to be a process, right? Even those of us who thought we'd make the playoffs had to have known there'd be nights like this where we just couldn't get anything going against a team we feel, not necessarily for any rational reason, we should be able to blow out of the water. We have seven points in our first three games; last year our seventh point came in our ninth game. And a 0-0 draw at home to DC would have looked pretty good compared to some of the actual results we got at home, or compared to that 4-0 loss away they handed us on August 13.
DC, with plenty to prove after a crappy start, came out and played Vancouver very hard. There were very few easy balls, except down the flanks, and both Chiumiento and Camilo struggled to cross. When a team is stuffing up the middle of the field as well as FC did it becomes difficult for a team without true wingers, like the Whitecaps, to find space: everybody's cutting in and looking for their shot and you haven't got anyone who can spread the field, run down the touchline, and look for a killer cross. Rochat can do that sometimes, but obviously he was hurt. Lee Young-pyo can do it, but for whatever reason didn't.
The Vancouver defense, particularly centrally, did well. I like Martin Bonjour a little more with every game. He wins headers spectacularly, but he also places them so well. He'll go up to fight with a forward for a header, win it, and knock it right to a fullback's feet seven times out of ten. We hear so much about how good Argentine players are with the ball at their feet, but I'd watch an hour-long video that's just Martin Bonjour headers.
What do I want to call this? Not a great game; no, not even good enough. But Vancouver got a point and yet another clean sheet. They have work to do and now that's been vividly demonstrated to every player on that team. But they also have a great position. These first three games made the easiest stretch on Vancouver's calendar, and getting seven out of a possible nine is a success.
Man of the Match: You saw me throwing Martin Bonjour some love up there, right? He didn't put a foot wrong and largely forced DC's attack to come from the outside or down the wings, which is what you want. De Rosario was looking active and ornery but, ultimately, had no clear scoring chances; Bonjour (and Jay DeMerit) get the credit for that.
Most Disappointing: I expect to see more from Camilo. No good shots despite being in a good position a few times: he failed to pass the ball, passed it inaccurately, or wasted time trying to beat entire defenses and get on Goal of the Week. When Camilo's on, he's a hell of a lot of fun. When he's off, and he was off yesterday, he stops entire offenses in their tracks.