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Still Can't Win on the Road (Again)

Kekuta Manneh saves a point for the Caps against 10-man Chivas USA

Chivas striker Erick Torres (L) and Jay DeMerit (R) battle for the ball in MLS action at the StubHub Center this afternoon
Chivas striker Erick Torres (L) and Jay DeMerit (R) battle for the ball in MLS action at the StubHub Center this afternoon
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

CARSON, CA - despite having the advantage of an extra attacker for almost 80 minutes of the match, the Vancouver Whitecaps were not able to find a way to defeat Chivas USA.

The Starting Lineups

Whitecaps FC:

David Ousted * Jordan Harvey * Jay DeMerit * Andy O'Brien (Christian Dean 77') * Steven Beitashour * Matías Laba * Nigel Reo-Coker (Kekuta Manneh 59') * Sebastian Fernandéz (Erik Hurtado 75') * Kenny Miller * Pedro Morales * Darren Mattocks

Subs not used: Paolo Tornaghi (GK), Gershon Koffie, Bryce Alderson

Chivas USA:

Dan Kennedy * Tony Lochhead * Carlos Bocanegra * Bobby Burling * Eric Avila * Leandro Barrera (Matthew Fondy 71') * Agustin Pelletieri * Oswaldo Minda * Mauro Rosales * Erick Torres * Thomas McNamara (Daniel Fragoso 80')

Subs not used: Trevor Spangenberg (GK) * Kristopher Tyrpak * Luke Moore * Adolofo Bautista * Eriq Zavaleta

After last weekend's resounding win over the New York Red Bulls, the Whitecaps traveled down to SoCal to face MLS foster child, Chivas USA.  One question fans have had about Carl Robinson and his team is how, or if, they could improve on the Whitecaps' abysmal road record since joining MLS.  The answer, it would seem, is that the Caps' form away from home is still a work in progress.

While this match was not as poor as some of the road performances we have seen in the past, the Caps looked sluggish and often struggled to solve their their opponents, who were forced to play with only ten men for almost 80 minutes of the match.

The First Half

With no Russell Teibert available for today's match due to injury (hamstring), Robinson had to slightly alter his attack.  As expected, newcomer Pedro Morales drew into the starting lineup in the number ten spot between Kenny Miller and Sebastian Fernandéz.

The opening ten minutes of the match were fairly uneventful as both teams settled into the game, but in the twelfth minute referee Carlos Hernandez gave Chivas' Agustin Pelletieri a red card for his reckless tackle on Morales.  Despite having Pelletieri stomp on his standing leg, the Caps' prize new signing was no worse for wear and played the rest of the match.

Chivas was given an opportunity to take the lead just five minutes later when the Goats were awarded with a free kick just outside the Caps' penalty area.  Referee Hernandez also showed Andy O'Brien a yellow card for his studs-up foul on Erick Torres.  Former Seattle Sounder, Mauro Rosales, drove the free kick into the Whitecaps' defensive wall and the danger passed.

By the twentieth minute the Whitecaps seemed to show some signs of life as Morales tried to spring Miller down the right flank, but his touch was a little too heavy, and Chivas 'keeper Dan Kennedy was easily able to step in and collect the ball.

Just before the stroke of half-time disaster struck for the Whitecaps when Nigel Reo-Coker turned the ball over to Rosales in the middle of the park.  Rosales and Torres raced down the field and Torres' shot deflected off Jay DeMerit's backside into David Ousted's goal to give Chivas the advantage right before the break.

The Second Half

Neither manager made a change in personnel to start the second half, and the proceedings picked up right where they had left off: the Caps looked slow and lacked imagination in their attack while Chivas seemed content to send only a few players forward and collapse around their own goal whenever the Whitecaps came into Chivas' third of the pitch.

In the fifty-second minute Chivas had a chance to make the score 2 - 0 when Torres and Barrera raced in on the Caps' goal, but a well-positioned Ousted was able to deny Berrara and the shot instead went out for a corner kick.

When Reo-Coker, who has been fighting a cold all week, fouled Torres just outside the Cap's eighteen-yard box Robinson decided to bring him off so he could introduce the speedy Kekuta Manneh in hopes of jump-starting the Whitecaps' lethargic offense.  In addition to introducing the young Gambian, Robinson also decided to abandon his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation and switched to a conventional 4-4-2 with Manneh joining Darren Mattocks up top.

Manneh's speed down the left side immediately started to cause problems for the Chivas defenders, but it was Mattocks who almost got the Caps on the score sheet first in minute sixty-five when he raced onto a through ball from Morales, but he could not find a finish and had to watch his ball skip out of harm's way.

In the waning minutes of the match Robinson tried twice more to find a way back into the game and by the eightieth minute both Erik Hurtado and rookie Christian Dean (who was in the lineup because Johnny Leverón was out suffering from concussion) were brought on to replace Fernandéz and O'Brien respectively.

In the eighty-first minute Mattocks intercepted an errant pass from Chivas substitute Daniel Fragoso and raced up the left flank.  He then cut into the box and neatly passed the ball back so Manneh could calmly side-foot it into the Chivas net to draw the Caps level.

Manneh again had a chance to claim victory for Vancouver in the dying moments of the match, but he could not hit the ball cleanly and a forgettable game between the Whitecaps and Chivas ended in a 1 - 1 draw.

The Final Word

After last week's scintillating performance against New York, the Whitecaps struggled to find similar form this afternoon at Chivas.  While this performance was not nearly as poor as some of the matches we have seen the Caps play on the road over the years, Robinson and his staff will evaluate the Whitecaps' short-comings in order to learn and improve for next weekend's match.  After today's result, the Whitecaps all-time record versus Chivas USA is now W3-L1-D4.

The Whitecaps will next play on Saturday March 22nd when they travel to the East Coast to play a New England Revolution team which includes former Whitecaps Brad Knighton, Daigo Kobayashi and Lee Nguyen.


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