Caps Still Building a Mystery

Vancouver centerback Andy O'Brien tangles with New England forward Dimitry Imbongo Boele.

Well, it wasn't all voodoo dolls and razor wire this weekend for the Vancouver Whitecaps on the road in Foxborough. But after today's scoreless draw with the New England Revolution, it's becoming more apparent that this is definitely a team that's very much a work in progress.

Nil-nil. It's a fair scoreline for a match that - in the first half anyways - featured one side failing to make good on their chances, and the other pretty much failing to generate any chances at all of their own.

For the second week in a row the Whitecaps opened rather badly on the road, only to improve just enough in the second half to secure a draw. If you're a denizen of the dark side, yeah the Caps still haven't figured out how to impress on the road. Optimists, however, will point to the fact that the Caps remain undefeated on the road so far in 2014. In the end, the Caps return to Vancouver with a pair of singles - which just might come in handy sometime in October.

The cold blustery wind whipping across Gillette Stadium certainly had an impact today - on both sides. But it was the Caps, who inexplicably spent an inordinate amount of time hoofing long balls downfield in the first half, only to see them gobbled up by the Revolution back line.

Darren Mattocks spent the first half growing frustrated - getting not much in the way of service, and not really finding himself able to do anything once he did manage to bring a ball down. Sebastien Fernandez, who was replaced by Pedro Morales at the half, spent the opening 45' looking for places where he could be manhandled. He succeeded.

And again, the holding mid tandem of Nigel Reo-Coker and Matias Laba looked  out of synch today. Neither could be said to have played a great match, with Laba having the better of the two outings. After last week's gaffe vs Chivas, Reo-Coker again served up a gift turnover in the early stages, but recovered enough to win the ball - and a yellow from referee Hilario Grajeda. Both Laba and Reo-Coker had difficulty putting Vancouver's transition to attack into gear, with neither managing to put their stamp on the match with a surge or memorably incisive feed.

To be fair, a good deal of the credit for Vancouver's disjointed midfield play and reversion to long-ball in the first half is down to the heavy pressure from the Revs central midfielders Kelyn Rowe and Lee Nguyen.

The Revs almost took an early lead thanks to Andy Dorman on a corner just five minutes in. Dorman made a great run to the near post to get his head onto Chris Tierney's ball just a couple yards in front of Caps 'keeper David Ousted, but the Dane somehow swatted the ball over the bar with a top-notch reaction save.

Not even 15 minutes later, Revolution RB Andrew Farrell - my vote for man of the match - easily turned Fernandez to break into the Caps box. His cutback found Saer Sene at the top corner of the penalty area, but Ousted again denied New England, as he dived left to gather Sene's grounder.

In time added in the first half, Kenny Miller got a sniff after a nice interplay between Fernandez and Mattocks, but Miller's spin 'n shoot effort couldn't quite curl past Bobby Shuttleworth.

Vancouver had a decent opportunity to jump out in front at the 56' mark on a Pedro Morales free kick effort. Morales' attempt from 26 yards out and slightly to Shuttleworth's right dipped curled, but with not enough bend - as it bounced just inches wide of the far post.

Diego Fagundez, Kelyn Rowe, and Daigo Kobayashi all had respectable opportunities to score in the second half, but either failed to pull the trigger, or shot wide.

Kekutah Manneh came into the match at 67', replacing Russell Teibert, but aside from one ambitious effort from distance, wasn't able to produce much this day for Vancouver - largely due to the lockdown defensive work from Farrell.

Coach Carl Robinson managed to work Gershon Koffie - who showed very well in practice this week - into the game, as he closed out for Reo-Coker over the final 20-odd minutes.

Caps man of the match? Take your pick of Ousted for his performance - never putting a foot wrong, stoning Dorman early, as well as fearlessly getting to the ball in front of a streaking Teal Bunbury - or Andy O'Brien, who won just about every aerial battle and plugged lanes all day long.

Vancouver remains undefeated at 1-0-2, and heads home to prepare for the Houston Dynamo next week. Can they post another 3 points at BC Place? Game time on Saturday is 4:00 p.m. We'll see then if that's when the energy comes.

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