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Vancouver ties it up with shorthanded Red Bulls

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Greg Sutton: Canadian keeper made key save for Red Bulls in the second half off of Eric Hassli's effort.
The script was reversed on Saturday. The fireworks came early at Empire Field, and then the Vancouver Whitecaps and New York Red Bulls played out a tense chess match in the second half as the club drew 1-1.

When the Whitecaps play at home, Canadian soccer fans have become used to seeing last-second comebacks, second-half momentum changes and thrills right before the final whistle.

On Saturday, the DP-less Red Bulls were held largely in check by the Whitecaps back line. If not for one slip on the artificial surface from Whitecaps fullback Alain Rochat, which cleared the path for Red Bull Luke Rodgers score the equalizer, Jay Nolly would have earned only his second MLS clean sheet at home this season.

After Camilo’s redirected a Rochat cross into the Red Bulls goal behind Canadian keeper Greg Sutton — only to have it ruled out for offside, the Brazilian striker was created the opening goal of the game.

A well-worked give-and-go with Davide Chiumiento saw Camilo sprung free in the New York penalty area. Defender Carlos Mendes clipped Camilo’s heels, and Eric Hassli beat Sutton with the ensuing penalty, even though the keeper guessed the right way.

Before Hassli struck the shot, Chiumiento and Camilo were embracing each other for winning the penalty. No, they are far from being the first players to celebrate the earning of a penalty kick as if they had scored a goal. But it’s never something fans want to see.

The Whitecaps held New York in check for much of the first half, but the hard work came undone when Rochat fell in the penalty area as a cross was played to Red Bulls’ midfielder Jan Gunnar Solli. Solli would have been Rochat’s man, so central defender Jay DeMerit had to leave his mark — Rodgers — to close down Solli. Solli made a hard low pass that Rodgers was able to direct home before the striker could be closed down by DeMerit’s central defence partner, Greg Janicki.

Clearly, though, Vancouver’s man of the match was Demerit. Now fully recovered from a groin problem that sidelined the central defender for much of the early portion of the season. Late in the game, Dwayne De Rosario cut into the Vancouver penalty area, but DeMerit’s perfectly timed sliding challenge saw him rip the ball from the Canadian national teamer’s feet.

Lucklily, for Whitecaps’ fans, DeMerit will remain with the club through the Gold Cup, as he wasn’t called to the American national team — likely because he has been back for less than a month, and doesn’t have enough games in to impress U.S. coach Bob Bradley.

Sutton, who looks to have won the No. 1 job in New York, made a fine second-half save on Hassli, sliding to get to a shot with his foot.

Terry Dunfield was free behind the New York backline after a long, lofted pass from Chiumiento, but it took several high bounces on the artificial surface, and Dunfield never got the chance to get a decent shot away as defenders chased him down from behind. A wild effort went well wide.

New York was without injured Designated Player Thierry Henry, and DP Rafa Marquez is already with the Mexican national side, as it drew Ecuador 1-1 Saturday in Seattle. Marquez didn’t play in that game, which has to burn Red Bulls’ coach Hans Backe just a little bit. As well, midfielder Dane Richards is already with the Jamaican national side as it prepares for the Gold Cup.

The Whitecaps are winless in 11 matches.

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