By Cory Ritzau
Wednesday night on the 4th of July the Home Depot Center played host to a series of figurative and literal fireworks. And Saturday night there was anything but, as Chivas USA played the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps to a scoreless draw in a game that would politely be described as uneventful.
After a long two week layoff for Chivas USA, the opening minutes served as more of a feeling out process as neither team looked sharp nor decisive with minimal chances generated in the first quarter hour. That would quickly become a theme until late in the match as neither team could really put their imprint upon the match as each midfield stymied the attack of their counterparts and little passing rhythm coming to fruition.
Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser noticed the passivity of his players, but seemed more pleased with the effort in the second half:
“I thought we were probably a little too passive in the beginning of the game, not urgent enough. Certainly, when we’re playing against a team who has traveled a bit and played a couple of games, we want to be able to push the tempo and push the pace. First half I thought things were a little bit too slow, we didn’t move the ball quickly enough, we didn’t make it difficult for them at all. I felt in the second half our urgency was much better. Certainly the second half of the second half I thought it was very good. Obviously pleased with creating a number of chances. Ultimately, obviously we need to finish one of those. More than anything we just come out of it as a group realizing that we have to [be urgent]. The urgency that we saw in the second half is what we need to see more of.”
The first chance for visiting side came in the 13th minute when Davide Chumiento’s drive from distance took a deflection off Danny Califf that forced Dan Kennedy to scramble back to the far post to clean up the skidding deflection.
The midfield trio of Alain Rochat, Gershon Koffie, and Sebastian Le Toux did well to dictate pace and possession in the early going but Chivas USA was game in defense getting numbers behind the ball and clogging the passing lanes in the final third preventing any dangerous opportunities.
Chivas USA forward pairing of Juan Pablo Angel and Jose Correa were quiet for much of the first half as they failed to link with their midfield supports, but much of that was due to back for the Whitecaps who looked well organized.
Chivas USA best chances of the half came from a pair of Jorge Villafana shots after made a nice pass to spring loose Nick LaBrocca before taking the return feed in the area to unleash a first shot that Martin Bonjour got in front of and moments later after collecting the rebound got another chance at goal but that too was blocked by the numerous Vancouver bodies in front of goal.
Vancouver seemed content to afford the Goats space out wide, but won most every cross in the area as Jay Demerit and Bonjour were well positions for the aerial clearance time after time.The second half was more of the same for both teams with neither team really able to stamp their authority upon the game in the early going. Ryan Smith was brought on for Laurent Courtois
The best chance for Chivas USA came in the 71st minute as the home side earned a free kick just outside the area after a cynical challenge by Bonjour on Paolo Cardozo. Angel sent a shot on frame that bounced just in front of Joe Cannon and was spilled back into play. But the Vancouver defense did well to recover just inches before the onrushing Correa, poking the ball to safety. Cannon would then atone 60 seconds later making a nice save on near corner from a Cardozo free kick that would preserve the scoreless tie.
Camilo entered for the Caps just after the hour mark for the tired Eric Hassli, pushing Le Toux up to the target forward position as the Brazilian slid out wide and Designated Player Barry Robson tucking inside to the midfield.
Things got physical late in the game, especially for Vancouver as they earned for second half yellow cards. The visiting side resorts to tackles on the ground as their legs grew weary sometimes proving fruitful but at other times earning themselves a yellow card.
Chivas USA had two great late chances to steal the points in the waning moments. Ben Zemanski got behind the line to take cross inside the six yard box but could only bundle his attempt up and over the goal in what was clearly the best opportunity of the match for either team. And in injury time multiple Goats had a look at goal in a goal-mouth scramble but Cannon was on point to preserve the scoreless draw in the end.
Perhaps the Caps were sufficed with the away point, especially given the late game momentum. Jay Demerit noted as much postgame:
“It’s a decent away point, any time you go away from home on these road trips any time you get a point is a positive, but I think the way we possessed the ball in the first half I think if we did the same in the second we would have had more”
It would be fair to say that Chivas USA had the more numerous and quality chances throughout the match, especially late in the game, but the draw seemed fair as neither team acting as consistent aggressor throughout the match.
Chivas USA now heads north to take on the Seattle Sounders for the US Open Cup semifinal clash this Wednesday while Vancouver will head east to take on their Canadian rivals Toronto FC.
Scoring Summary: None
Chivas USA — Dan Kennedy, James Riley, Danny Califf, Rauwshan McKenzie, Jorge Villafaña, Ben Zemanski, Paolo Cardozo, Laurent Courtois (Ryan Smith 46), Nick LaBrocca, Jose Correa, Juan Pablo Angel.
Subs not used: Tim Melia, John Valencia, Blair Gavin, Alejandro Moreno, Cesar Romero, Casey Townsend
Vancouver Whitecaps FC – Joe Cannon, Lee Young-Pyo, Martin Bonjour, Jay DeMerit, Jordan Harvey, Barry Robson, Gershon Koffie, Alain Rochat, Davide Chiumiento, Eric Hassli (Camilo Sanvezzo 69), Sebastien Le Toux
Subs not used: Brad Knighton, Greg Klazura, Carlyle Mitchell, Jun Marques Davidson, Michael Nanchoff, Russell Teibert
CHV – Nick LaBrocca (yellow, dissent) 45
VAN – Alain Rochat (yellow, foul) 63
VAN – Eric Hassli (yellow, dive) 64
VAN – Martin Bonjour (yellow, foul) 71
VAN – Gershon Koffie (yellow, foul) 87
CHV – Danny Califf (yellow, foul) 90+3
Referee: Juan Guzman Referee’s Assistants: Corey Parker, George Gansner 4th Official: Daniel Radford
Attendance: 11,659 Time of Game: 1:52 Weather: Clear, 69 degrees