Call it another 'choke' if that floats your boat. Another missed opportunity by a club that just oozes talent yet fails to win the big matches, the matches that could define them as a serious threat in MLS. The Whitecaps did not lose tonight, but boy was it ever close as they tied Chivas USA by a score of 2-2.
They were missing a key part of their team in Nigel Reo-Coker, but other than that the Whitecaps were fielding a relatively healthy squad that seemed miles ahead of their California rivals on paper. Andy O'Brien was in again, Camilo and Kenny Miller were in, and the Whitecaps were trotting out an exciting new formation for themselves, the 4-4-2. That meant Kekuta Manneh would get a chance to show off his stuff, as would Matt Watson for a second consecutive match. While fans may have been expecting a ferocious attack from their home town team, it was just the opposite. Unable to sustain any type of pressure or even mount an attack, the Whitecaps found themselves down by a goal early, when Erick Torres scored an absolute cracker at 3'. It was a bicycle kick that fooled David Ousted, started by a poor defensive header by Andy O'Brien that Torres took full advantage of.
While the 'Caps may have been favored to mop up the floor with Chivas, they would have to spend the rest of the match chasing. That problem only got worse just over 10 minutes later, when Torres headed in his second goal of the match to make it 2-0. Again, O'Brien was weak on the goal, as Torres was able to wedge himself between Leveron and the former Irish International and head a nice cross home.
Down to a bad club, in a must win match? It was a plot Vancouver fans seemed destined to relive over and over again, as their boys futilely tried to put some goals on the board. They got close at 58', when Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy came charging out to play a ball in his box, but slid while grabbing the ball and eventually ended up outside his lines. Camilo came in and won the ball from Kennedy, but was given a ridiculous foul for his efforts. While Camilo looked on in disbelief, it was just another reminder of the poor level of officiating MLS has.
The 'Caps began working harder to create their chances, and were finally rewarded at 64', when karma came to bite Dan Kennedy's behind. Again he found himself wandering to get a ball, but this time was pressured by Matt Watson. His ensuing goal kick was weak and landed at the feet of Gershon Koffie, who quickly fired the ball back and into the goal. Kennedy, scrambling back managed to get his hand on it, but not enough as Koffie halved the deficit.
The 'Caps continued to press, bringing in Erik Hurtado, Daigo Kobayashi and Tom Heinemann in the second half in a desperate effort to get more scoring. Hurtado showed plenty of jump in his step, but his shortcomings were once again painfully clear; his first touch is horrendous, and he can't seem to hit the net with any of his shots. Still, he was making things happen as he shot around the field like a Greyhound on coffee. The 'Caps did show tremendous resolve in the closing minutes of the match, as fans screamed for a point. Their wishes would be granted by, of all people, Heinemann, who took a Hurtado ball from in close and made no mistake.
The whistle blew soon after, and while the 'Caps should be very proud of their hard work, a tie to Chivas at this point in the season is unforgivable. They needed three points and thanks to some sloppy defending walked out with just one. Is this the end of the world? No, it's a good character draw and the team can try and learn from it. However, it's pretty late in the season to be learning lessons, and this should've been a win, end of story.
LINEUP: OUSTED, LEE, O'BRIEN (HEINEMANN 80'), LEVERON, HARVEY, WATSON (KOBAYASHI 65'), KOFFIE, TEIBERT (HURTADO 55') , CAMILO, MILLER, MANNEH