In their second away match of the 2012 Major League Soccer season, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (2W-0L-2D) claimed a second-straight goalless draw after a hard-fought 0-0 result at Eastern Conference side Philadelphia Union (0W-3L-1D) on Saturday afternoon.
Though no goals were registered by either side in front of 17,189 at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania, the ‘Caps and the Union contributed to an intriguing contest, with both sides creating several chances. Once again, the story for Whitecaps FC will be an extension of two club records in their MLS era. The drawn result extends Vancouver’s unbeaten streak to four matches, while they remain the only MLS club not to concede a goal this season, taking their shutout streak in the league to the 360-minute mark.
“I think it was a good, solid performance, and I think that we did pass the ball well at times,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie. “But it doesn’t matter how far you travel or how you get here, there’s no excuses when you get to the game. And we do think we could’ve done a little bit more today. I think that shows some progress with the club, that there’s not satisfaction with a point on the road, even though it’s a long trip. Four clean sheets in a row, those are all positive things, but to build the kind of team we want to build, we’ve got to have higher expectations than that, and we didn’t quite do it today.”
With injuries to three senior players, Rennie made three changes to the starting XI that faced D.C. United last week. Former Union defender Jordan Harvey replaced Alain Rochat at left fullback, while a fit-again John Thorrington earned his first start of the season in midfield, as he replaced Camilo Sanvezzo. In attack, Atiba Harris replaced Eric Hassli for his first competitive start in nearly a year, as he partnered former Philadelphia favourite Sebastien Le Toux up front. Harris’ last MLS appearance came during Vancouver’s 3-1 defeat at Houston Dynamo on April 10, 2011.
On a wet and windy day in Delaware County, the first half was a battling affair, with Whitecaps FC looking comfortable in possession through large parts of the opening 45 minutes. Chances were exchanged inside the first quarter of an hour, with Union defender Carlos Valdes forcing Whitecaps FC captain Jay DeMerit to block his cross-shot away in Vancouver’s six-yard box before Harris neatly sent Le Toux through on the home side’s goal, but Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath did well to clear the danger after rushing out of the Philadelphia box.
Like last weekend, the ‘Caps did well to get into dangerous positions. On 27 minutes, Harris nearly freed Le Toux again with a ball over the top of the Union backline, while midfielder Matt Watson was unlucky to find the target with a central run and shot from the left flank two minutes later. It resulted in a scoreless stalemate at halftime.
With the Union attacking the River End of PPL Park for the second half, Peter Nowak’s squad showed the urgency to make a breakthrough shortly after the restart. Valdes hit the far post from a Keon Daniel corner on 47 minutes before Brian Carroll rolled a shot into the hands of Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Joe Cannon two minutes later. Cannon had a fine second half, as he made important saves to earn a third clean sheet of the season. On 55 minutes, the experienced shot-stopper denied Daniel before Union striker Lionard Pajoy struck the rebound wide of the target.
While winless Philadelphia were looking increasingly frustrated with proceedings, the Blue and White created chances in the final half-hour through DeMerit and Harris, who forced MacMath into an important clearance of a dangerous cross by Budweiser Man of the Match Young-Pyo Lee on 67 minutes. Then on 83 minutes, Le Toux was presented with the opportunity of a storybook ending against his former club. The Frenchman breached Philadelphia’s defence to get on the end of Davide Chiumiento’s fine through ball into the Union box. However, good pressure from MacMath resulted in Le Toux putting his shot high and wide of goal.
The visitors finished the match strongly, with Vancouver substitutes Gershon Koffie and Long Tan striking at goal. In the end, a 0-0 draw had to settled for by both clubs.
Whitecaps FC will return home and prepare for another away match, as they visit Western Conference rivals San Jose Earthquakes next Saturday afternoon. After earning their first point of the season on Saturday, the Union will take two weeks off before hosting Eastern Conference rivals Columbus Crew on Saturday, April 14.
Budweiser Man of the Match: Young-Pyo Lee
Shots: Philadelphia 9 – Vancouver 9
Shots on Goal: Philadelphia 2 – Vancouver 0
Saves: Philadelphia 2 – Vancouver 0
Fouls: Philadelphia 20 – Vancouver 13
Offsides: Philadelphia 3 – Vancouver 2
Corners: Philadelphia 5 – Vancouver 4
43′ – PHI – Gabriel Gomez
56′ – PHI – Brian Carroll
65′ – VAN – Atiba Harris
77′ – PHI – Michael Farfan
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.Joe Cannon; 12.Young-Pyo Lee, 15.Martin Bonjour, 6.Jay DeMerit, 3.Jordan Harvey; 11.John Thorrington (28.Gershon Koffie 59′), 27.Jun Marques Davidson, 20.Davide Chiumiento, 16.Matt Watson; 7.Sebastien Le Toux, 9.Atiba Harris (23.Long Tan 70′)
Substitutes not used: 18.Brad Knighton, 17.Omar Salgado, 19.Carlyle Mitchell, 26.Floyd Franks, 32.Greg Klazura
18.Zac MacMath; 25.Sheanon Williams, 4.Danny Califf, 2.Carlos Valdes, 24.Porfirio Lopez (21.Michael Farfan 45′); 6.Gabriel Gomez, 7.Brian Carroll, 26.Keon Daniel (10.Danny Mwanga 86′); 15.Gabriel Farfan, 23.Lionard Pajoy, 12.Chandler Hoffman (9.Jack McInerney 51′)
Substitutes not used: 32.Chase Harrison, 3.Chris Albright, 14.Amobi Okugo, 17.Josue Martinez