Call it scrappy, call it gritty, call it another draw. The Vancouver Whitecaps were able to grab another point on the road thanks to a scoreless draw with the Chicago Fire, but it's doubtful anyone will come away feeling like that was a good outing; The 'Caps were listless for large stretches of time, and while they picked up their socks in the second half, the knockout blow was still missing. Given the Whitecaps horrific road history, another point isn't the worst thing in the world that could've happened. However, with the 'Caps right in the middle of a jam-packed Western Conference playoff race, it's two points they could've really needed, flushed down the drain.
While the Whitecaps pumped 30 shots at home against FC Dallas over the weekend, the start against Chicago was far more conservative. Both sides seemed unwilling to get a flow going to the game, with missed pass after missed pass. Carl Robinson went with the exact same lineup as the Dallas match, with Darren Mattocks sitting up top as the lone striker, with Sebastian Fernandez, Pedro Morales and Erik Hurtado in midfield. On the backline, Robinson showed trust in the much-recently-maligned center back Carlyle Mitchell by keeping him in the starting 11. While Mitchell produced arguably the gaffe of the season for his handball against Dallas, he had a good bounce back match here.
The attack was largely stifled through the first 45 minutes, however it looked much better in the second half. Pedro Morales kicked things off with a beautiful chance to score in the 46th minute, taking a clever chest pass from Erik Hurtado and trying from distance. He curled it well wide right, but it was a good way to set the tone and gain some momentum for the final 45.
Just a few minutes later Hurtado would get a glorious chance of his own, taking a lob from Gershon Koffie deep in the Fire end. Hurtado had some room to move and came barreling in on Fire Goalkeeper Sean Johnson, but he mishandled the ball a bit and Johnson was able to come out and make the save.
The Fire had a few chances of their own, although they certainly helped the Whitecaps by squandering them. In the 52nd minute, midfielder Alex dipsy-doodled through the Whitecaps defense before playing a ball off to Chris Ritter, but he shot it directly at David Ousted. Quincy Amarikwa had a beautiful chance to score from just outside the box in the 80th minute, but shot it high.
With neither side ready to step up and take the match, it ended as many had predicted it would; A draw. That makes an MLS high twelfth for the Fire, while the Whitecaps claimed number 11.
Carl Robinson himself has said he's sick of draws, and while the club can pride itself on remaining a .500 club on the road, they now sit outside the playoff picture, if the post-season were to begin today. Call me Captain Obvious, but if this club has a dream of considering themselves an actual contender, even for just a playoff spot, they've got to start finishing teams and closing out matches.
Lineup: Ousted, Beitashour, Mitchell, Leveron, Harvey, Koffie (Teibert 57'), Laba, Fernandez (Salgado 58'), Morales, Hurtado (Manneh 77'), Mattocks