Top o' the West to You Vancouver

It has been two weeks since the season began, and for the second week in a row, Vancouver Whitecaps FC has stood at the top of the Western Conference, second only to the Eastern Conference's Houston Dynamo.

On days such as these, it is important to remember that. For there are many who could say, who would say, and who should say, that Vancouver could have done better. Last week, a goal that came in stoppage time took some of the shine off of their 4-1 triumph over the Red Bulls at BC Place.

This week, they found themselves up a man against Chivas, the worst club in the Western Conference two years on the trot, and playing in formidable weather conditions.

After the display against New York, they should have used the man advantage to stretch the Goats, to hold possession, and tire them out in the heat. You may remember the strategy. It's the same plan that was worked to perfection against Portmore United FC three weeks ago.

Andy O'Brien shepherds the ball away from the danger of Oswaldo Minda and Erick Torres.

Then, as now, the Whitecaps saw themselves concede the first after the ejection. But while they were able to score minutes later against the Jamaicans, the Mexicans proved to be a far sterner test.

Shortly after Chivas' Agustín Pelletieri was sent off for a two footed challenge on Pedro Morales in the 13th minute, Andy O'Brien was given a yellow for a 50/50 challenge. It's quite possible that the referee had reconsidered and was trying to make amends. But as every schoolboy knows, two wrongs do not make a right.

On the day, Chivas were organised and resolute. They played a compact style, closing down the Whitecaps, and limiting their attacking options. By the time the final whistle blew, Chivas had outshot Vancouver 15-8, and 5-2 of those on target. Impressively, the Goats managed six corners, while the Whitecaps did not earn a single one.

Conversely, Vancouver were called offside eight times to Chivas's two. As you can expect, Vancouver were all about the speed. With so little space in the middle of the park, they would fire long ball after long ball, hoping to reach one of their speedy attackers.

ChivaFighter thinking about eating a can after the draw with the Whitecaps.

In the 81st minute, Darren Mattocks drove to the byline, dragging two defenders with him, and knocked the ball back towards the penalty spot, where Kekuta Manneh had space. The Gambian buried it, becoming the fourth Vancouver player to score this year.

With the draw, Vancouver improved its all-time record to 3-5-1 against the Goats. Next, the Caps head to New England for a date with the Revolution.

Former Whitecaps who may feature in the 11:00 AM PST kick-off include midfielders Kobayashi Daigo, Lee Nguyen, and goalkeeper Brad Knighton. New England are also the beneficiaries one-time "Director of Soccer Operations" Tommy Soehn, now an assistant coach with the Revolution.

It might not have been brilliant, it might not have been pretty, but for another week at least, Vancouver are top of the Western Conference and second in the league. Now you can go out and enjoy your Saint Patrick's Day. Just remember to drink responsibly.