VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Whitecaps and Montreal Impact played to a dreary 0-0 draw on Wednesday as both teams failed to inspire in their first game following Major League Soccer’s World Cup break.
Vancouver (5-2-7), which pushed for the win late, stretched its unbeaten run in the league to eight despite a sluggish performance.
Montreal (2-7-5) entered the night last in MLS and remains winless on the road in 2014, but gutted out a hard-fought point.
The result will be seen as a disappointment for the Whitecaps, who occupy a Western Conference playoff spot and have games in hand on every other team currently in a post-season position. Vancouver travels to Colorado on Saturday to take on the Rapids, one of the teams battling with the Whitecaps in the standings.
After a first half that showed some considerable rust on hosts, Vancouver came out with renewed vigour after the break.
Whitecaps midfielder Kekuta Manneh fired a shot from outside the box that Troy Perkins had dive to keep out a minute in before Pedro Morales nearly snuck a free kick home on a shot that needed a finger-tips save from the Montreal goalkeeper.
Things then really started to open up with 20 minutes to go as the teams finally found some inspiration.
Vancouver striker Darren Mattocks flashed a shot wide of goal in the 72nd minute before Impact midfielder Maxim Tissot hit the crossbar behind Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted moments later.
Whitecaps defender Carlyle Mitchell then forced a fine save from Perkins off a corner five minutes later, and Jordan Harvey’s follow up hit the crossbar.
Montreal found the woodwork again in the 83rd when striker Jack McInerney headed off the post following a free kick.
The Whitecaps had not played a game since June 7, while the Impact had been off since June 11. The time away no doubt contributed to a sloppy first half that saw Montreal perhaps unlucky not to be ahead.
Ousted was forced to make a one-handed save off a deflection in the fourth minute that easily could have found its way over the line.
Mattocks had his team’s only real chance of the first half in the 16th minute, but after skipping past Impact defender Hassoun Camara, he sent his effort wide.
McInerney then sent a shot into the side netting of Ousted’s goal in the 26th minute, before Mattocks fizzed a ball towards Perkins from a distance that didn’t cause any trouble five minutes later.
Ousted then took an inadvertent kick to the head from Andres Romero in the 33rd, a play that earned the Impact midfielder a yellow card.
Montreal’s best chance to take the lead came in stoppage time when Ousted had to scramble to make two saves to keep things level heading to the locker-rooms.
Notes: Whitecaps striker Erik Hurtado saw his streak of goals in five straight games come to an end. … Mitchell started in place of Vancouver captain Jay DeMerit, who tore a ligament in his left ankle in the game on June 7. … Montreal’s next game is Sunday at home against the Houston Dynamo. … Montreal has had a disastrous MLS campaign so far, but did win this year’s Amway Canadian Championship. … Vancouver’s two losses in MLS play is tied for second lowest with Real Salt Lake. … Attendance at B.C. Place Stadium was 21,000.