MLS

Caps Corner: Mercifully, Chivas USA in Whitecaps' rear view

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Peter Schaad, TEAM 1040
8/18/2014 11:54:52 AM
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The Whitecaps might have mercifully played their last-ever game against Chivas USA on Saturday.  With the lame-duck and weakest link MLS franchise on the block, hopes are high that an ambitious, deep-pocketed owner can come in, rebrand the club and then eventually move it to downtown Los Angeles. 

While the match-up has produced three four-goal games at BC Place, the games at Stub Hub Center have generally fallen under the file labelled "drudgery."

Saturday night was a perfect example.  Neither team wanted to lose and both were desperate to win...just not desperate enough.

There were moments, particularly in the second half after the Goats introduced Mauro Rosales and Leandro Barrera on the wings, when the game threatened to open up, but it never really did. Clear-cut chances were non-existent.

If the Whitecaps do miss the playoffs this season, they won't have to look any further than the three games against Chivas where they collected a paltry two points.

For many supporters a six-game unbeaten streak with three-straight clean sheets and a league-lowest four losses from 23 games would be viewed as an achievement by a young side, but that's not how Whitecaps fans viewed their team's fourth 0-0 draw of the season, which was only slightly less disappointing than the scoreless effort at home with Montreal following the World Cup break. 

The was plenty of social media backlash over squad selection, which I think is a bit unfair.  Gershon Koffie was ruled out as early as last Thursday, while playing Pedro Morales would have been a risk given his tight hamstring.

Darren Mattocks deserved the chance to extend his goal-scoring exploits, but he, along with Omar Salgado, never showed the guile and conviction when they got in the front third.  Sebastian Fernandez and substitutes Erik Hurtado and Kekuta Manneh seemed to struggle with the same issue.  Once the ball was at their feet, they always looked of two minds.  Hurtado was also caught offside once too often for anyone's liking.   

One obvious bright spot was Russell Tiebert's performance.  He huffed and he puffed but he also sprayed the ball around and at least forced Chivas to work laterally.

But against a team without its two starting centre-backs and a cloud of uncertainty hanging over it...and no support whatsoever, it was another draw that felt more like a loss for Vancouver. 

Players and coaches shrug off the notion that the Whitecaps are incapable of winning at the Stub Hub Center in Carson, but through 12 games in Southern California, the Whitecaps have amassed a meagre seven points out of 36, all of which have come came against Chivas.  Vancouver has never taken even a point off of the Galaxy, their next opponents, in six tries there.

What Vancouver wasted by not finding that one critical goal was a chance to close some ground on the teams above them, while distancing themselves from the those in the rear-view mirror.   The out-of-town scoreboard was relatively kind over the weekend with Seattle, Colorado and the Galaxy all losing, while Portland managed a only single point at New England. 

If Chivas USA was in fact the Whitecaps' nemesis team, then at least they can take comfort in not having to play them again under that moniker, but Vancouver did little to dispel the belief that they rise to bigger occasions and fall to the lesser ones.

We'll see if that theme comes to pass this Saturday against the Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane and company.

David Ousted (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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