Vancouver Whitecaps made it three clean sheets in a row, increasing their unbeaten run to six MLS matches following a goalless draw at Austin FC on Saturday evening.
Neither side was able to find their clinical finishing in this one and while both goalkeepers had 11 saves between them, both teams had their chances, and Austin hit the post, it was the kind of match that felt destined to be scoreless at times, and so it proved to be the case.
Playing their 5th match in 15 days, Vanni Sartini made six changes to the team that started the midweek Champions League defeat at LAFC, with a very attack minded looking side.
Austin had the first close call, with Alexander Ring sending the ball off the woodwork in the 11th minute from close range after a Sebastian Driussi cross into the back post.
Maxi Urruti flashed a shot goalbound in the 19th minute, which Yohei Takaoka easily dealt with.
Vancouver responded with a couple of chances from Julian Gressel, the first was a well taken shot that was parried away by Brad Stuver, then a rocket of a free kick that didn’t miss the postage stamp corner by very much from the edge of the box.
There was a lot of huffing and puffing, but not very much offensive output at the end of it all to round out the first half, with Vancouver’s best chance coming in the 45th minute as Simon Becher was played in but denied by Stuver.
That’s how things continued to start the second.
Stuver came up with another huge save for Austin to deny Brian White on the hour mark. The ‘Caps striker bore down on goal, took a nice touch inside to make room to get a shot off, and drilled one on target, thwarted by a sprawling save from the big ‘keeper.
Neither side were looking clinical in front of goal, with far too many attacks breaking down in the final third.
Takaoka hadn’t had a lot to do, but produced a fantastic acrobatic save to turn away a fierce Daniel Pereira strike from the edge of the box in the 86th minute.
Takaoka was called into action again in the last minute, easily getting down to a long range Driussi effort, as Austin pushed for a late winner.
While the Whitecaps may feel they had some chances to take all three points, they’ll be happy with another point on the road and a third clean sheet in the process. The team is starting to look like the cohesive defensive unit it needs to be if they are to be playoff contenders.
They need to find some real rhythm and chemistry in attack and while it is there fleetingly, they need to be a lot more productive. Ryan Gauld has had a quiet season so far and needs to find the spark that we know he has.
The good news for the Whitecaps after a congested period of matches is that they now have a bye week to recuperate, regroup, and work on some of that chemistry. Let’s hope they can.
FINAL SCORE: Austin FC 0 – 0 Vancouver Whitecaps
Possession: ATX 57 % – VAN 43%
Shots: ATX 18 – VAN 13
Shots on Goal: ATX 7 – VAN 4
Saves: ATX 4 – VAN 7
Fouls: ATX 9 – VAN 14
Offsides: ATX 2 – ATX 1
Corners: ATX 6 – ATX 2
Brad Stuver; Jon Gallagher, Alexander Ring, Leo Väisänen, Nick Lima; Daniel Pereira, Owen Wolff (Sofiane Djeffal 84’); Emiliano Rigoni (Rodney Redes 73’), Sebastián Driussi, Diego Fagundez (Ethan Finlay 55’); Maximiliano Urruti (Gyasi Zardes 73’) [Substitutes not used: Matt Bersano, Jhojan Valencia, Ethan Finlay, Hector Jimenez, Adam Lundkvist, Will Bruin]
VANCOUVER: Yohei Takaoka; Javain Brown, Ranko Veselinović, Tristan Blackmon, Luís Martins; Julian Gressel, Andrés Cubas, Ali Ahmed (Sebastian Berhalter 90’+5′); Brian White, Ryan Gauld (Cristian Dájome 80); Simon Becher (Pedro Vite 69’) [Substitutes not used: Thomas Hasal, Mathías Laborda, Déiber Caicedo, Karifa Yao, Ryan Raposo, Russell Teibert]
On the match:
“I think it was a very good game against a very good team to be honest. I think I would say hands down the best team we faced the entire season. They’re really good and here it’s very hard to play with a lot of fans and, it was, I would say an open game. I think the tie is a fair result in the end. I think we had probably the best chances with Brian [White] and Simon [Becher] basically 1v1 against the goalkeeper. But in terms of play, we played, they played, we had to make adjustments, they had to make adjustments. It was again a very open game and we take the point and we go from there. We know that now we have a bye week and then we have two very important games at home. So if we win those games, we’re going to be in a position that is very good. So we’re happy, we go into the break with the awareness that we’re doing well.”
On the upcoming bye week:
“That’s four days now we are off. So we are completely off till Thursday. We’ll get back and we’ll work in, I would say in a way that is going to be even heavy in the sense because we need to build form because May is going to be packed with games. Hopefully because we have the Canadian Championship that we want to go of course in the next rounds and a couple of MLS midweek fixtures. Some of the guys when they will come back, guys that played a little less, I’m thinking Karifa [Yao], J.C. [Ngando], Déiber [Caicedo] too, he needs to play 90 minutes. They will be with WFC2 the following week against Minnesota. So I know that there’s no Whitecaps game next week, but there’s actually a Whitecaps game so, fans can come to Swangard and see and support the players that can come and get minutes there.”
On the match:
“We played well, we worked hard for all 90 minutes, we defended well. It was a tough game, the atmosphere was excellent. We almost scored, it’s a point for us, we rest a little bit and focus on the next game.”
On transitioning and communicating to a new team:
“I try to communicate with them, that’s why I [did] not perfectly adjust more quickly. The coaching staff and players help me a lot. They gave me important information on how they attack and how we play, how we attack, how we defend. Everyone helps me a lot so that’s why I play well.”
On starting in the midfield:
“Like I said last time, you guys might not know but I grew up playing there, so a bit of the old me starting to come out a little bit. But when I got Vanni who makes my job easier, he lays out the tactics and what he wants from there and then of course, I got Andrés [Cubas] right there behind me. I can say a lot about that. Then I got Julian [Gressel] to my side. So those guys are making it ten times easier for me and it’s just about getting comfortable and just trying to play.”
On the upcoming bye week:
“Again, I think we’ve got to work on our finishing during our break. We got this point, right now we’ve just got to look forward against Colorado and we’ve got two games at home. We’ve got to enjoy these four days off, come back mentally and physically ready and make sure we’re ready to grab six points at BC Place, and work our way up the standings because we want to be a top three team. We want to win.”