BRIDGEVIEW Ill. – The Chicago Fire couldn’t take advantage of numerous golden opportunities and a large possession advantage Saturday night, tying the Vancouver Whitecaps 0-0 in front of 11,680 at Toyota Park.
The tie gives the expansion-Whitecaps their first-ever point on the road.
Chicago dominated the early possession, but it was Vancouver that had the first chance. The Whitecaps picked off Fire midfielder Daniel Paladini’s pass in the attacking third in the 13th minute, swinging the ball to defender Alain Rochat on the left flank for a 25-yard shot that rolled just wide of the far post.
Rochat’s shot was Vancouver’s only real opportunity of the half. The Fire controlled the rest of the opening 45, holding the ball for long stretches and creating numerous chances.
Chicago’s first opportunity came on an 18th-minute counter. After some quick build-up by midfielders Corben Bone and Gaston Puerari, winger Dominic Oduro picked out forward Diego Chaves in the box with a low cross. But the unmarked striker couldn’t quite corral the ball, giving Rochat the split second he needed to recover and make a saving slide tackle.
Oduro should have put Chicago ahead in the 32nd. Winger Marco Pappa played a beautiful long ball over the top of the Vancouver defense and the Ghanaian winger ran onto it, darting into the box and sidestepping a defender before disappointingly sailing his eight-yard shot over the crossbar.
Chicago had another chance just four minuets later. Chaves played a square ball to Pappa on the left side and Pappa immediately looked to goal, taking a touch before hammering a low left-footer that Whitecaps 'keeper Jay Nolly saved at the near post.
With a minute left before the halftime whistle, Chaves failed to give the home side the lead. After collecting a Marco Pappa ball just outside the left side of the box, the striker dribbled into the area and let loose a right-footed toe-poke that beat Nolly but not the far post, cruelly glancing off the front of the upright and out of danger.
In the second half – just like at the start of the first – it was the Whitecaps who launched the initial threat. Vancouver forward Eric Hassli had a half-chance in the 62nd minute, picking up a loose ball just outside the 18 and firing a hard right-footed shot that Fire 'keeper Jon Conway did well to control.
The Fire responded with a chance of their own just two minutes later. Bone gathered a bouncing ball in the Whitecaps area after a Pappa cross, taking it down nicely before sending a nine-yarder over the bar.
The tone of match turned after Bone’s chance, with the Whitecaps taking more control and nearly the lead on several occasions.
In the 73rd minute, Whitecaps substitute Nizar Khalfan had a shot to put his team up on the scoresheet. Conway whiffed an attempted corner kick clearance and the ball fell to Khalfan, who had his 10-yard shot blocked by a Chicago defender.
Soon after, Hassli again had a chance to put Vancouver up when midfielder Davide Chiumiento released him behind the Fire back four with a lovely long ball. The big forward ran into the box unimpeded but failed to dribble past Conway, who slid in and took the ball off Hassli's foot.
The Whitecaps had one final chance in stoppage time, as Hassli and Khalfan had a two-on-two break that ended with Khalfan sending a 30-yard screamer inches over the crossbar.
With the tie, Chicago move to a 1-3-4 record. Their next match will be away at Toronto on May 14.
Vancouver, meanwhile, move to 1-4-4. The will hit the road again, this time to face New England also on May 14.
CHI -- Josip Mikulic (caution; Tactical Foul) 4
VAN -- Terry Dunfield (caution; Reckless Tackle) 25
VAN -- Davide Chiumiento (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 61
CHI -- Diego Chaves (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 61
CHI -- Dan Paladini (caution; Tactical Foul) 76
CHI -- Baggio Husidic (caution; Reckless Tackle) 83
Vancouver Whitecaps -- Jay Nolly, Jonathan Leathers, Greg Janicki, Mouloud Akloul, Alain Rochat, Davide Chiumiento, Terry Dunfield, Gershon Koffie, Blake Wagner (Shea Salinas 58), Eric Hassli, Camilo (Nizar Khalfan 72).
Substitutes Not Used: Michael Boxall, Jeb Brovsky, Omar Salgado, Russell Teibert, Joe Cannon.
Chicago Fire -- Jon Conway, Jalil Anibaba, Josip Mikulic, Yamith Cuesta, Gonzalo Segares, Dominic Oduro, Gaston Puerari (Bratislav Ristic 84), Dan Paladini, Corben Bone (Baggio Husidic 74), Marco Pappa, Diego Chaves.
Substitutes Not Used: Orr Barouch, Pari Pantazopoulos, Davis Paul, Dasan Robinson, Alec Dufty.
Referee: Andrew Chapin
Referee's Assistants: -George Gansner; Ian Anderson
4th Official: Alex Prus
Weather: Partly Cloudy and 55 degrees