Let me start with a couple "F" words: Frustration and Finish. We saw plenty of the former this evening at BC Place, and absolutely none of the latter, as the Vancouver Whitecaps extended their club record scoreless streak in a 0-0 draw with DC United.
How bad was it, you ask? Well there were only two real highlights of the night. Pedro Morales drilled Fabian Espindola dead in the numbers on a free kick after the Argentine - playing the shit disturber role - took his sweet time yielding enough room for the kick. And if you watched on the match on TV, the replay of Willie Johnston's 1979 beer swig and corner.
While Vancouver deserved its 3-0 thrashing at the hands of Portland last weekend, the Caps generated enough opportunities to have easily won 5-0, if only there was someone on the club who could finish. Darren Mattocks, who played up top along with Sebastian Fernandez in a 4-4-2 diamond formation, plumbed new depths this evening, missing at least three Grade A chances. Kendall Waston, who played relatively decently aside from the odd positional miscue, missed point blank with a header opportunity off a Morales free kick. Jordan Harvey, too, missed a near-post power header effort on a Russell Teibert cross.
While the result was disappointing, optimists could point to a few things: the Whitecaps at least generated scoring chances - something the blue-and-white failed miserably to do last weekend. The midfield of Teibert, Pedro Morales, and Mauro Rosales re-ignited to some degree, getting far more involved than they were versus the Timbers. Finally, holding midfielder Matias Laba rebounded from a sub-par outing last week to again assert himself pretty much at will against Espindola and strike partner Luis Silva.
Which leads to another "F" word: Future. If there was, indeed, a reason for optimism, it was the play of developing Fullbacks Ethen Sampson (playing in relief of injured Steven Beitashour), and Sam Adekugbe, who subbed on for Sampson, who went out just before the hour mark with what looked to be cramp issue. Both youngsters acquitted themselves very well. Not mistake free, but we saw more than enough to feel that RB/LB won't be an issue down the road.
But optimists would also tend to overlook the somewhat muffled boos that sounded at the final whistle. Much of the fan frustration must be reserved for Darren Mattocks, who looks as if he may have scored his last goal as a Whitecap, if not as a professional. Not only did his finish continue its extended absence, but the Jamaican's work ethic seems to have devolved again. How long will the Whitecaps be content to wait for him to develop into the kind of player they seem to think he's capable of being?
After all, the Whitecaps are waiting on three attacking options to break out of the cocoon: Kekuta Manneh, Omar Salgado, and Mattocks. That may be one too many, and the Caps might be well advised to cut that number down to two. Assessing their potential, and the degree to which they approach it - Mattocks has got to be holding the short stick.
With the point, Vancouver draws even on points with Portland, but remains mired in sixth in the Western Conference. It's a short turnaround this week for the Caps, with San Jose coming to town on Wednesday.