Talles Magno stretches for the ball. (Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
By Michael Lewis
Two games, no goals, one point.
Not exactly what the defending MLS champions had planned as they just can’t buy a goal.
New York City FC failed to find the net for the second successive encounter, a scoreless draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps in BC Place in Vancouver, British Columbia on Saturday.
That made it two goalless matches in a row for City after dropping a 1-0 decision at the LA Galaxy last week.
City certainly created chances in Saturday’s match, but it was thwarted by solid saves by goalkeeper Thomas Hasal, poor finishing, blocked shots and sometimes some questionable shots, the visitors came up short.
“I think we were much better than them,” head coach Ronny Deila said. “We created, six to eight chances, but we didn’t take our chances. We gave them maybe one or two, and that’s good when we are on the road. The guys had a lot of really good energy, that had some good fight. The subs brought energy onto the team. But we didn’t take our chances today. When we do that, we just have to keep on defending well and keep creating chances because we know we have players that will score.”
The visitors enjoyed a great territorial advantage in the opening half, possessing the ball 69 percent of the time, but holding the ball doesn’t always win games as we have discovered.
NYCFC did have a few interesting chances, including in the 11th hour when Hasal parried Thiago Andrade’s shot over the net in the 89th minute.
In the seventh minute, Talles Magno’s attempt from the right side of the penalty area was stopped by Hasal before Andrade was denied a minute later.
Center back Alex Callens hit the crossbar on a head via a close-range shot in the 15th minute and Taty Castellanos side volleyed a Maxi Moralez corner kick just over the crossbar in the 23rd minute. The MLS Golden Boot winner had another chance blocked and Castellanos sent a one-bouncer from distance to Hasal on the half hour.
It seemed that Castellanos was trying too hard, attempting a few shots from outside the area that didn’t quite make it.
Lucas Cavallini had Vancouver’s best opportunity in the first half, but goalkeeper Sean Johnson snared his header in the 23rd minute.
NYCFC could not muster anything dangerous for a good portion of the second half and by the 64th minute Deila had seen enough. He pulled Keaton Parks, Castellanos and Magno for Gideon Zelalem, Heber and Santiago Rodriguez, respectively.
“It was a difficult game, on a tough pitch, a turf field that is new, that is very difficult to play on,” Moralez said. “But I think we controlled the game. We deserved a lot more, at least [to] score a goal, but the one point works for us. First of all, playing away from home, taking a point home, and now shifting our focus to the great game on Tuesday and then to our home opener on the weekend.”
The club hosts Comunicaciones FC (Guatemala) in the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals in East Hartford, Conn. on Tuesday night.
Moralez was confident the team could turn things around.
“As long as we create chances, the goals will come,” he said. “It’s a long season. We’ve got to be focused every game.”
City lost right back Tayvon Gray to an apparent leg injury in the 22nd minute as Andres Jasson replaced him. Deila said it was too early to determine the severity of the injury.