VANCOUVER, B.C. – It wasn’t the win the Vancouver Whitecaps were hoping for, but Saturday’s scoreless draw against the Seattle Sounders was the first clean sheet in quite a while.
In fact, the club hadn’t kept a shutout since July 7 in a 0-0 tie with Chivas USA.
“It’s been too long,” captain Jay DeMerit said following the match. “If we do try to stay positive, it’s about that clean sheet and that comes from the 11. It’s not just us four at the back, it’s a team effort.
“You look at the guys – there were a lot of tired bodies out there because we got behind the ball, we did our work and kept a good Seattle team scoreless, and that’s the main thing. We’ve got to keep going for the final three games of our season, but now we got to go find the net.”
A big part of the strong defensive performance was the partnership between DeMerit and Andy O’Brien. O’Brien stepped into the lineup for Martin Bonjour after recovering from an adductor issue. The two won key headers and made vital interventions throughout the match, often extinguishing potentially dangerous situations before they escalated.
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“For never playing together really since the Portland game [on Aug. 25], I thought we played very well together as a partnership,” DeMerit said.
Still, with Camilo missing a sitter with the game’s final kick of the game, there was a sense in the Whitecaps locker room that there was an opportunity missed at all three points.
“From a defensive point of view, we kept a clean sheet which is always your objective before the game,” O’Brien said. “I think we limited them to few chances and I suppose we’re disappointed we didn’t nick it in the last few seconds, but that’s soccer and we move on now to the game on Wednesday [against Chivas USA at BC Place].”
While the clean sheet was a positive, the club was dealt a blow in the 38th minute when rookie forward Darren Mattocks went down in the Seattle penalty box after appearing to get the better of Sounders defender Jeff Parke with a burst of pace.
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Following the match, Rennie revealed that his Jamaican striker suffered a hamstring muscle strain, and Mattocks took things a step further, ruling himself out of Wednesday’s clash against Chivas USA.
“Hopefully the week goes well,” Mattocks said. “Probably I’ll be out for [Wednesday’s game], but there’s plenty of time for the 21st.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.