Seeking their first win in this year’s competition, Teitur Thordarson’s side worked hard to try and find a way past the Voyageurs Cup holders. Yet, as it has been in the past two home matches, the Blue and White were unable to find the decisive breakthrough, despite creating several decent goalscoring opportunities. It is the first time in the 36 years of the Whitecaps that the club have registered three consecutive 0-0 draws. Wednesday’s result also extends Vancouver’s unbeaten home record versus TFC to three matches (1W-0L-2D).
The result keeps Vancouver’s hopes of winning the Canadian Championship alive, though the ‘Caps must now claim victories in their final two tournament matches away to Montreal Impact on May 26, and Toronto FC on June 2. The winner of the 2010 Canadian Championship will move on to face Club Deportivo Motagua of Honduras in the Preliminary Round of the 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League.
While the Whitecaps were unchanged from the starting XI that faced the Impact in USSF D-2 Pro League action on Saturday, TFC made a notable switch in their line-up, as former New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Jon Conway replaced Stefan Frei in the visitors goal. There was also a first appearance at Swangard for former Whitecaps defender Adrian Cann, as he partnered Nana Attakora at centre back.
Though wind warnings and a heavy late afternoon rain shower may have dampened things in Burnaby, BC, a Swangard crowd of 4,928 saw a solid first-half display from the ‘Caps, who showed more urgency to try and break the deadlock.
Vancouver’s intent to show they were far from out of this competition came as early as the seventh minute. However, stand-in captain Nelson Akwari was unable to properly connect with Ricardo Sanchez’s inswinging corner at the far post. On 14 minutes, Marcus Haber neatly slipped a forward ball to central midfielder Luca Bellisomo, who then drilled a low shot just wide of goal. Then on 19 minutes, the hard-working Sanchez caused panic in the TFC box with a dangerous free kick from the left that was eventually cleared.
In a position to win the tournament with a victory in Vancouver, TFC struggled to penetrate through the Whitecaps backline, with midfielder Nick LaBrocca and captain Dwayne De Rosario striking half chances wide of Jay Nolly’s goal.
Fittingly, the last chance of an intriguing opening half fell to the ‘Caps on 42 minutes. The industrious Cornelius Stewart did well on the left flank before driving a cross that eluded the head of strike partner Haber at the far post.
It meant that both clubs went to the halftime break tied at 0-0.
With the Whitecaps attacking their favoured south goal in the second half, Thordarson’s side picked up where they left off at the break, as they showed a continued desire to find the back of the net. In contrast, TFC seemed content with the goalless scoreline after the restart, despite playing the dangerous duo of De Rosario and second-half substitute Chad Barrett in attack.
On 51 minutes, TFC goalkeeper Conway had to collect Haber’s dangerous byline cross from the streaking Justin Moose, as the winger just missed making a connection with his head. Moments later, Sanchez drilled a left-footed shot just wide of Toronto’s goal. Then on 58 minutes, former Puerto Rico Islanders midfielder Dan Gargan did well to clear Sanchez’s well-struck free kick for a corner, as Bellisomo looked set to redirect the ball on target in the TFC box.
Looking to turn the tide of the contest their way, Thordarson used his three substitutions, with Takashi Hirano, Martin Nash, and Randy Edwini-Bonsu all entering the action. Though all three subs brought fresh impetus to the Whitecaps attacking play, the decisive goal remained as elusive as ever. On 67 minutes, Haber chipped a shot right across the face of the TFC goal before Stewart made an incisive run that resulted in a shot that also failed to test Conway moments later.
As the match entered the final stages, TFC then gave the home fans a scare. On 79 minutes, Gambian midfielder Amadou Sanyang powered a half-volleyed strike just over the Whitecaps crossbar, while three minutes later, De Rosario had a point-blank effort blocked away by the assured hands of Nolly.
Yet, most of the action in those dying stages took place at the other end, but as the ‘Caps kept knocking on the door of the TFC goal, Vancouver were still unable to walk their way through that door and register a priceless goal. Substitute Hirano had the best of those late opportunities, but the Japanese defender’s header from Stewart’s cross was well saved by Conway at the far post.
Even four minutes of time added on could not change the ultimate course of proceedings, as TFC looked more satisfied with the resulting stalemate at the final whistle. For Vancouver, only victories will do at this late stage of this year’s Canadian Championship.
90 FULL MINUTES
The Whitecaps will complete their five-match home stand on Saturday night when they host former head coach Bob Lilley and his Rochester Rhinos side at Swangard. Toronto FC, meanwhile, are back in MLS action on Saturday afternoon, as they host New England Revolution at their BMO Field home.
BY Nathan Vanstone