Home MLS Vancouver Whitecaps Rennie pleased with the Whitecaps’ effort, but team can’t score in San Jose

Rennie pleased with the Whitecaps’ effort, but team can’t score in San Jose

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The Vancouver Whitecaps didn’t lose any ground in a scoreless draw with the San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium Saturday night, but they didn’t gain any either.

Both teams remain five points back of the fifth and final Western Conference MLS Cup playoff spot currently held by the Portland Timbers, who sit on 43 points, sitting tied for seventh in the nine-team division.

This result means the ‘Caps now just have one win in their last nine matches – a spell which has seen the team string together a dire 1-5-3 run.

Still, the Whitecaps showed strongly for periods on the night, and came close to stealing a win in the 91st minute, as substitute Darren Mattocks narrowly missed the left post from the top of the area.

The Quakes too, had chances in the dying minutes. Jay DeMerit, who played his first match since rupturing his Achilles tendon on opening day, nearly scored an own goal in the 87th minute by deflecting a Martin Chavez free kick against the woodwork.

Perhaps the best chances of the game came earlier, with San Jose’s Clarence Goodson missing a gilt-edged chance in the 19th minute after Whitecaps keeper David Ousted parried an Alan Gordon header straight back into traffic. Goodson reacted quickly to the ball but fired well over the target when it looked easier to score.

As with any close match in a playoff-like game, there was a bit of controversy, as Earthquakes midfielder Ramiro Corrales went down in the area in the 24th minute after appearing to get clipped by Carlyle Mitchell. Ultimately the referee ran toward Corrales in an unusual manner and told the player to get back up, to the dismay of the Buck Shaw crowd.

Miller nearly fired Vancouver into the ascendancy right before the half, beating Victor Bernardez near the goal line and firing a tight angle shot at Jon Busch from the left. The goalkeeper got down well to save the Scot’s initial effort, but the ball went right back to Miller. Fortunately for Busch and the Quakes, Vancouver’s Designated Player fired well over the target from close range.

“I definitely view it in a very positive way,” Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie said following the match on the radio broadcast. “Today was an excellent performance from us. It was a complete team performance. There was great determination and togetherness.

“I thought at times we played some very good stuff. Maybe in the final third we would have liked to have been a little more deadly. We didn’t have too many chances but if you could be really clinical, you could have got a goal there.”

While Vancouver did seem to lack incision when it came to the attack, at the back the Whitecaps held things together resolutely despite plenty of adversity.

Andy O’Brien and Johnny Leveron, who both started last weekend at centre back, were left in Vancouver due to back and calf injuries, respectively. That meant Brad Rusin started his first game since suffering a severe ankle sprain against the Portland Timbers on August 3.

Rusin didn’t last the whole game though, limping off in the 31st minute. That allowed DeMerit to return to action for the first time since opening day. The captain was excellent in his first match back, days after Rennie had indicated his skipper was perhaps done for the season.

“Sometimes you just have to go out there and play,” DeMerit said on the postmatch broadcast. “Thankfully I was able to do that tonight. A bit of a baptism of fire but I’m on the bench for a reason.

“I knew that if I was called upon I’d go out there and try to do my job. Thankfully the guys around me did theirs as well and we were able to get a good away point.”

The Whitecaps, now 10-10-8, return to league play next weekend, as they travel to Montreal to face the Impact.

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