Defense Holds Strong
Head Coach Jim Curtin praised the Vancouver attack leading up to the match, and the Union back line rose to the occasion. The Union held the Whitecaps scoreless in the draw, maintain poise under pressure and making life difficult for the Vancouver attack. In total, the Whitecaps had 12 shots in the match, but only one of them found its way on target. That shot came off a corner in the 65th minute, and Keegan Rosenberry blocked it on the goal line, preserving the clean sheet. The Union blocked five Vancouver shots, while the other six presented no danger to Andre Blake. Add in 21 clears on the night, and the back line kept the Whitecaps in check.
Saves by Dre
While he had a great deal of help from the back line, Blake earned his clean sheet. Blake routinely came off the goal line to punch out crosses or to stop a potential Whitecap scoring chance. In the 65th minute, Rosenberry made a stop on the goal line, which Blake would have made the save had he not been there. And in the 85th minute, Blake punched out a cross while diving through the box to prevent what would have been a quality shot on net for the Whitecaps. As the final line of defense for the Union, Blake stood on his head.
Quite possibly the best player on the pitch for the Union was also the youngest. Derrick Jones started for the Union, becoming the first player ever to start for the Philadelphia Union Academy, then Bethlehem Steel FC before suiting up for the Union. And he showed he belonged out with the starting XI. Jones made two tackles in the box in the 24th minute, ending what could have been a dangerous chance for the Whitecaps. When Haris Medunjanin pressed up with the Union attack, Jones stayed back with the defenders to prevent any counter attack. But when he did join the attack, Jones made smart decisions. Multiple times Jones made outlet passes to Alejandro Bedoya, who then sent Fabian Herbers on runs for scoring chances. Unfortunately for Jones and the Union, he couldn’t get his name on the scoresheet in his debut.