With the MLS playoffs looming for both clubs, Real Salt Lake and the Vancouver Whitecaps were unable to generate the energy, focus or creativity to create that one moment of brilliance that could put the ball in the back of the net. In the absence of that, the two sides played to a 0-0 draw at a sold-out Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday night.
Vancouver know their next destination: Southern California, where they will take on the Galaxy in the Western Conference Knockout match on Thursday.
TEAM1040 pre-match show at 6:00, kickoff at 7:30.
With the single point, the Whitecaps secure the top seed in the Amway Canadian Championships, which will give them a favorable match-up in the opening round against Edmonton.
The Whitecaps started a more familiar lineup, switching in forward Dane Richards and Darren Mattocks as they have been apt to do as of late.
With the game remaining scoreless the first 15 minutes, Real became the second team (Houston in 2009 was the first) in MLS history to go an entire season without surrendering a goal in the opening quarter-hour.
It was only a minute after that mark when Richards nearly got the opening goal. The speedy Jamaican received the ball on the left side of the penalty area, and after a couple of quick moves on defender Tony Beltran, fired a right-footed shot that hit the side-netting.
While the home squad dominated with 69 percent possession, neither Knighton nor RSL goalkeeper Kyle Reynish had much action for long spells. Reynish made a nice save on a free kick, and Knighton saved a Saborio blast from the left side, but otherwise the sides didn’t create many clear-cut scoring chances before the break.
The Whitecaps believed they should have taken the lead in the 57th minute. On a free kick taken from the right side, Mattocks headed in a near-impossible angle cross to beat Reynish, only to have it disallowed for a very questionable offside call.
Real continued to tinker with their lineup in the second half as Sebastian Velasquez and newly acquired David Viana, making his home debut, entered for the final 27 and 20 minutes, respectively. Vancouver countered with inserting Barry Robson for Mattocks and Kenny Miller for Richards.
The coaches were searching for a way to pull out a full points, but regardless of who was on the pitch, the offense never seemed to get clicking for either side and a scoreless draw was almost the inevitable result.