Caps can't douse the Fire

There are some in the Rain City who view Chicago as one of Vancouver's chief rivals. Sadly, that is not the case in MLS. In four years, we've played them five times, winning twice, drawing twice, and losing an away match back in 2012. In the NASL, Vancouver did very well against the old Chicago Sting, winning 11 matches, and losing a mere six. But there is no real animosity between these two sides, no point of contention.

The worst thing that we can remember between Chicago and Vancouver was that Mike Magee won last year's Golden Ball, while one of our players won the Golden Boot. Hardly cause for consternation.

The match did feature Matt Watson, who started his ninth match for the Fire since moving from the Caps during the close season. A favourite among supporters, Weasel as he's known is still in search of his first goal in MLS. And while we're thankful that it didn't come today, we wish him all the best in his Windy City adventures.

Vancouver manager Carl Robinson named an unchanged side, although Nigel Reo-Coker's omission from the bench was notable due to the Sun's, that would be The Sun, not The Vancouver Sun, suggestion that he had been offered the chance to return to England with Leeds United AFC. This is a situation that will bear watching in the coming days.

 Pedro Morales wore the captain's armband for the second game in a row. Could he be Vancouver's next permanent captain? We think so.

Pedro Morales wore the captain's armband for the second game in a row. Could he be Vancouver's next permanent captain? We think so.

With 21 draws between them this year, it's not surprising that the first half ended with everything level. There were chances, of course, but both sides seemed a little hesitant to start, as if both were more worried about going behind than going for the win.

Vancouver's usually potent attack, which currently sits sixth in the league and only four back of Seattle, didn't really come alive until the thirtieth minute. But when it did, it came with a bang. Erik Hurtado, Darren Mattocks, Pedro Morales, and Sebastián Fernández all had their opportunities, but none of them could bury them.

Jeff Larentowicz, whom many of us will remember from his days with the Rapids, had a cracking attempt in the 38th minute. We're not sure who was supposed to be marking him, but he did well to make space for himself before he received the corner.

In the 41st minute, Watson took on Carlyle Mitchell near the touchline, and seeing an opening, took a long distance shot that Daivd Ousted was able to deal with nicely. A nice effort by the man from Redditch, but it would take more than that to beat the Great Dane on this day.

Exactly nine seconds into the second half, Pedro Morales had an excellent chance that went just wide. From that point on, the Whitecaps set the tempo. They did not want to draw, and they certainly were not going to lose.

A few minutes later, Hurtado did well to stay on side, but his first touch was as heavy as a brick. Naturally, he was faced with a spring to the ball, and although he was faster than Chicago's Sean Johnson, he gave the goalkeeper to get in position to deal with the shot.

 Erik Hurtado will have to wait at least one more week to start his next great goalscoring streak. Rufio! Rufio! Ru-Fi-OOOOOOOOOOOOOh!

Erik Hurtado will have to wait at least one more week to start his next great goalscoring streak. Rufio! Rufio! Ru-Fi-OOOOOOOOOOOOOh!

Once again, he played like a muscle car, while Robinson's been trying to tune him up like a Maserati. He has all the same parts. We know he can do it. We saw him score five goals in five games. But for now, he needs a lot of maintenance. It's often been the case with young players.

Robinson decided to make a double substitution in the 57th minute, replacing Fernández with Omar Salgado, and Gershon Koffie with Russell Teibert. Salgado in particular showed signs of improvement, making a few runs and getting a number of chances over the course of the match.

Jordan Harvey saw red in the 63rd minute, for two yellows, but it was a case of mistaken identity. Johnny Leverón was the intended recipient, and fortunately, referee Fotis Bazakos corrected the mistake before any harm was done. The boys in white were lucky that Leverón was not carrying a yellow from earlier in the proceedings the way Harvey was.

With the Whitecaps pressing for the winner, Quincy Amarikwa got a near breakaway, but the shot never troubled Ousted, heading high and over the crossbar. We understand that Chicago Equipment Manager Charles Raycroft is still waiting for the ball to come down.

  Jordan Harvey came close to seeing red in Chicago, though he had little to with it this time.

Jordan Harvey came close to seeing red in Chicago, though he had little to with it this time.

With the draw, Vancouver's 11th of the season, they move up to 29 points, good for 6th place in the West and 8th overall. And while some might see their playoff hopes slowly, ever so slowly, slipping away, we take heart that they didn't lose, something that has happened only four times this year. Only Los Angeles and Salt Lake have been as stingy in conceding three points.

So take heart and consider that Vancouver's next match is at home on August 10th, when they will play host to the reigning MLS Cup winners, Sporting Kansas City.  If they can't get up for that one, we don't know what they will. And after that, they head on a California adventure for a pair of matches against CD Chivas and Los Angeles Galaxy, before returning home for a Cascadia Cup match with Portland.