While it wasn’t the full three points they were looking for, D.C. United battled the previously unbeaten and confident Vancouver Whitecaps to 0-0 draw last night at BC Place in British Columbia. Joe Willis got his second consecutive shutout against the Canadian side as the defense for the Black-and-Red help the Whitecaps without a shot on goal for the entire match. United, mired in a poor slump to start the season, didn’t do themselves any favors either as their offense continues to struggle.
However, they certainly gave Vancouver goalkeeper Joe Cannon some worry in the second half. Cannon’s brilliant one-handed diving save of a Hamdi Salihi goal-bound header in the 66th minute kept the game scoreless. United managed to carve out a few more dangerous chances but nothing came closer than that chance from United’s Albanian striker. United showed vast improvement in possession and ball movement in the second stanza that belied their terrible start to the season with back-to-back losses to Sporting Kansas City and the Los Angeles Galaxy. In those matches and in the first half tonight, United were sloppy in possession and showed no real initiative to move forward, seemingly settling to get to halftime.
After the break however United were the better side and probably deserved the full three points if not for the heroics of Cannon. Head coach Ben Olsen shifted the lineup once again giving starting debuts to Danny Cruz, Nick DeLeon and Emiliano Dudar. All three played well, particularly the 6-foot 4-inch central defender Dudar, who won every aerial challenge and also showed a soft passing touch when he set up Dwayne De Rosario for a close chance late in the match that Cannon saved as well.
Perhaps United can now take the confidence found in their second-half performance and bring it home and gain their first victory of the season against FC Dallas this Friday night at RFK Stadium.
– Chris Pontius started the match on the bench alongside Designated Player Branko Boskovic. Both came on after halftime to good effect
– Bill Hamid and Perry Kitchen may be back with United sooner than expected as the United States suffered a 2-0 loss to Canada in the group stage of the CONCACAF U-23 Olympic qualifiers in Nashville, TN last night. The US has to beat El Salvador on Monday and then has to win their semi-final match (most likely against Mexico) just to advance to the London Olympics later this summer. A draw or a loss against El Salvador should have Hamid and Kitchen available to United on Friday night.