The numbers heading into Saturday’s match between DC United and the Vancouver Whitecaps showed the teams to be pretty evenly matched. The biggest difference being DC’s 14 wins compared to Vancouver’s 12 draws.
While that is a major difference in how the teams will be viewed, the skill level of the two teams seems to be pretty well even. DC has been the more efficient team when it comes to scoring which has lead to more wins but Vancouver is undoubtedly a tough match. DC has also struggled with heading out West this season, dropping games to both Real Salt Lake and the LA Galaxy in embarrassing fashion.
Vancouver started off the match controlling the pace of the game but their inability to finish was quickly on display. In the 11th minute the Whitecaps took a 3-on-2 advantage into the box only to come away with a poor kick over the cross bar. After that, DC United began to regain some possession and the game quickly deteriorated into a match of teams looking to not lose.
Or DC looking to not lose and Vancouver simply incapable of winning.
The pre-game stats proved true in the post-game stats as well. Possession was nearly even. Scoring chances comparable. Saves even. Both teams put three shots on goal. Neither team could score.
However, DC will walk away from the game feeling better about themselves than the Whitecaps do for sure. DC is sitting atop their conference table, where-as Vancouver is still fighting frantically for a playoff spot. With DC starting a stretch of road games that sees them bouncing around the country (cross country to Vancouver back to the East to New York then halfway back again to Chicago) they will happily take any result. With Sporting KC having lost earlier in the day, DC United was still able to increase their lead despite a less than stellar outing.
Wednesday brings another match with the New York Red Bulls and I would not be surprised if again DC United was looking ahead to that match-up. The last time United met up with the Red Bulls it was following their 4-0 drubbing at the hands of the LA Galaxy. DC United won that match with New York 2-0. Hopefully a similar results awaits again.
It is never a good feeling to watch a team practically take a night off during a game but the need for rest is real. DC United is still involved in the CCL Champions League play and with their MLS playoff spot pretty well secured, Ben Olsen and company do have to start prioritizing games to make sure the team is healthy and ready to play when the playoffs come around.
As long as the nights of rest do not lead to complacency or a breakdown in chemistry, a draw against Vancouver can be forgiven for a chance at making a solid run at the MLS Cup.