Whitecaps, Rapids battle to scoreless draw in MLS

·3 min read

VANCOUVER — Whitecaps goalkeeper Yohei Takaoka gave a small fist pump after saving a penalty that could have been a potential match winner as Vancouver and the Colorado Rapids played to a scoreless draw on Saturday night.

Vancouver has not conceded a goal in 355 minutes of action at BC Place, with Saturday’s tilt marking the latest shutout for the Canadian side.

“I think we were the best team, the team that attacked more. We had a lot of chances” head coach Vanna Sartini said after the match.

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But he admitted his team — which recorded 19 total shots in the game — “needs to be better” at capitalizing on their goal scoring chances.

“Performance-wise, I think I’m satisfied.”

Despite dominating the majority of the attacking play in the Major League Soccer match, the Whitecaps (2-6-2) nearly went behind after defender Javain Brown conceded a penalty in the 78th minute.

“I think Javain was a little naive (in conceding the penalty),” said Sartini.

But after a brief delay, goalkeeper Takaoka guessed correctly, diving to his left to deny Rapids (1-7-3) attacker Diego Rubio.

“We need to score goals,” Takaoka said. “I think we played well but it’s about the details.”

The Whitecaps came into the match after a two-week rest, but Takaoka denied any suggestion that his team was rusty.

Vancouver was close several times to breaking the deadlock, including a half volley from defender Luis Martins that was tipped over the net, as well as midfielder Ali Ahmed being denied by goalkeeper William Yarborough in a one-on-one situation.

“I think Yarbrough made three fantastic saves,” said Sartini. “We created enough chances, it’s now time to capitalize on those chances.”

Vancouver recorded 19 total shots, five of which were on goal, compared to Colorado’s six and two, respectively.

The Whitecaps came into the match looking for a win after a CONCACAF Champions League heartbreak to Los Angeles FC and a regular-season draw with Austin FC.

Centreback Tristan Blackmon was labelled as the best American defender playing in the Western Conference of MLS by Sartini after the match, who praised his work with fellow centreback Ranko Veselinovic for keeping clean sheets at BC Place.

“I think it’s obviously another shutout for us, which is the biggest thing. You have a bunch of individual performances that come together and obviously that translates to the clean sheet,” said Blackmon.

Saturday’s game marked the first time in MLS history there were three female officials in a game.

Colorado is back in action next Saturday against L.A. Galaxy while Vancouver tangles with Minnesota United at BC Place on the same day.

Sartini stopped just short of promising a win next week but maintained his team is "close" to turning the plethora of draws into wins.

“I told the guys that every point counts,” he said.

This report was first published by The Canadian Press on April 29, 2023.

Nick Wells, The Canadian Press