As they headed into the break for the World Cup, the Whitecaps had earned for themselves a respectable 5-6-2 record, which was good enough for eighth in the league table, and tops among the Canadian clubs. They had scored eleven goals in their previous four matches, although they had conceded nine. Still, they were able to carve out two wins and two draws during that spell.
So when the Impact came to town, it was widely expected that Vancouver would make short work of the basement dwellers. It was what the script called for. Except, nobody bothered to tell Montreal that. Despite being without the services of Marco Di Vaio, Justin Mapp and Felipe, the Impact were organised and prepared for their countrymen.
While Vancouver managed close to 60% possession after the first half, they were unable to translate that time with the ball into many chances, with most attackers sputtering just outside the Montreal penalty area. Right from the start, it was clear that Vancouver hoped to use its speed to run the Montreal defence ragged, while the Impact focused on positional play.
On another night, this strategy might have worked for the Caps, but as the sell-out crowd of 21,000 saw, Montreal was able to tie up the Caps, leaving few passing lanes open, and forcing them to make the difficult cross.
In the second half, Montreal pressed on the counterattack, hitting the woodwork twice, though Vancouver did manage the feat once.
Frustratingly, referee Drew Fischer appeared to have a difficult night, as neither side seemed to understand what would be allowed, and what would be deemed a foul.
Gershon Koffie, whose performance happened to be one of the truly bright spots in an otherwise tepid affair, was twice brought down from behind by Montreal's Gorka Larrea.
The first time, Koffie was felled and the ball was lost. Fischer judged it to be a fair tackle and let play continue.
The second time, Koffie was able to right himself, regaining control of the ball, and looking to create a scoring chance. But Fischer decided not to play the advantage. Instead, he broke up the play, issuing a yellow card to Gorka, and the Impact were able to put eleven men behind the ball. In both instances, the Whitecaps were the victims of a Montreal misconduct, and in both instances, Fischer's decision benefited the Impact.
The second time, it was simply a free kick. And yet there were other such instances where no call was made. Clearly, the players weren't the only ones who had picked up some rust during the break for the World Cup.
Vancouver's best chance of the night came off a Pedro Morales corner, which was flicked on by Carlyle Mitchell, and then headed into the crossbar by Jordan Harvey in the 74th minute.
But it was not to be. As the match progressed, the Impact began to defend in numbers, feeling that a draw was a very respectable result considering that they were playing away from home, and missing some key personnel.
The Whitecaps didn't see it that way, pressing on and looking for the winner. In one notable move down the left flank, Omar Salgado was knocked off the ball, and his feet, but rather than look for the call which never came, he got back to his feet and won it back. If he can keep up a work ethic like that, he may earn himself a start before too long.
The Caps are back at it this Saturday in Colorado when they face the Rapids.