It was a game where we were all waiting for a moment of inspiration. Unfortunately, for the first time in three weeks, fans of the Vancouver Whitecaps would be disappointed. Last night's tie between the Portland Timbers and Real Salt Lake meant that the Whitecaps only need four points from their final two games to get into the playoffs. Only one of those points was taken home tonight.
In the very early going there were promising signs: Erik Hurtado cut in from the left and had a shot, Kekuta Manneh gave Pablo Pintos all sorts of trouble down the wing, and a couple of corners were won. However, without Kendall Waston smashing his way through the opposition penalty box, the Whitecaps set pieces seemed rather tame.
One pro to take away from the game was the Whitecaps' third clean sheet in three games. There was a scary moment in the first half when David Ousted seemed to have been knocked unconscious by an Atiba Harris elbow, but the Danish keeper brushed himself off and continued on.
Johnny Leveron came into the lineup in place of the suspended Kendall Waston. The Honduran was nowhere near as commanding of the box as the big Costa Rican has been, but he helped to shut down Chris Wondolowski all the same. The two fullbacks, Jordan Harvey and Steven Beitashour, were definite bright spots in a sea of mediocrity. Both made the effort to stream up the touchline to put in crosses, and both diligently tracked back to break up San Jose attacks.
Gershon Koffie made his first appearance in just over two months, coming on for Matias Laba in the 61st minute. The Ghanaian didn't look out of place, though I doubt he'll earn back his starting spot over Russell Teibert any time soon.
Darren Mattocks came on for Erik Hurtado in the 64th minute and made a couple of exciting runs. The Jamaican was still unable to find the back of the net, and so I doubt he'll manage to crack the starting XI next weekend.
Surprisingly, Kekuta Manneh and Mauro Rosales were both left in for the full 90 minutes. The two attackers usually see the bench at some point during the game due to a lack of stamina. Fortunately any questionable fitness problems the two may have didn't manifest themselves at Buck Shaw Stadium.
As a whole, the Whitecaps looked uninspired. At halftime, Carl Robinson was interviewed quickly and stressed that the Whitecaps needed to "take it to (the Earthquakes)". Perhaps he forgot to relay the same message to his team in the dressing room, or perhaps they just didn't quite understand. Either way, as forgettable as tonight's performance was, the Whitecaps are still in a comfortable position heading into the final week of regular season games.