The Vancouver Whitecaps put on another gritty defensive show Thursday and escaped Puerto Rico with a scoreless draw against the Islanders in the first leg of their two-game, total-goal USSF D-2 semi-final playoff.
Game two will be played Sunday at Swangard Stadium.
The Whitecaps started the same lineup and formation that worked well in the last series against Portland, with captain Martin Nash playing as a withdrawn striker behind lone striker Cody Arnoux.
But the Islanders pressured Vancouver early and threw a big scare into the Whitecaps five minutes into the game when forward Kendall Jagdeosingh hit the post with a shot from the left flank.
Arnoux had Vancouver’s best first-half scoring chance when he took a through ball from Nash, beat a defender and fired a shot just wide of the Islanders net.
But Arnoux was injured late in the half and had to be replaced by Kyle Porter.
Whitecaps goalkeeper Jay Nolly kept the game scoreless in added time in the first half when he made the save of the game – stopping a free kick from Islanders forward Josh Hansen that was deflected twice before reaching the Vancouver goal.
It was the second straight road playoff game for the Whitecaps, following last Sunday’s match in Portland, and Vancouver seemed content to play a smart road game – defending at all costs and counterattacking when possible.
Puerto Rico had 10 shots compared with Vancouver’s two during the game
Playing in 28-degree heat with 84-per-cent humidity at Bayamon FC Soccer Complex, Whitecaps head coach Teitur Thordarson used all five of his substitutes to get fresh legs on the field late in the game.