09/07/2014 12:12 EDT | Updated 11/06/2014 05:59 EST

Whitecaps fail to score in 4th straight game, settle for 0-0 draw with United

VANCOUVER - Make it 411 minutes and counting for the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Darren Mattocks had two great chances in the first half Saturday, but again failed to connect along with the rest of his teammates as the Whitecaps were shut out for a fourth straight game in a 0-0 draw with D.C. United.

The Whitecaps have not scored since Mattocks' effort in the 39th minute of a 2-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City on Aug. 10.

That's more than nine halves of soccer, or nearly seven hours of play.

"I wouldn't say it's frustrating. We created some very good chances. Unfortunately we didn't put one away. That's the game sometimes," said Mattocks. "Sometimes it goes in, sometimes it doesn't. We've just got to keep doing what we're doing and it's going to go in eventually."

But it hasn't in almost a month for a Whitecaps side that earned a point against the best team in Major League Soccer's Eastern Conference, but dropped to 1-3-6 in its last ten.

The lack of finish has been to blame most nights during that stretch for Vancouver (7-6-13), and this one was no different.

"It's tough," said Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson. "But it's tough for them as well because we put in a good 90-plus minutes — a hard-working performance. I'm proud of them tonight, because they gave me everything but we didn't come out with the result. We've just got to keep going.

"You do go through periods. You go through winning streaks and losing streaks and tough streaks."

Saturday was the fifth 0-0 draw of the season for Vancouver, which has been shut out in five of its last six while tumbling down the Western Conference standings after a bright start to the season.

The scoreless tie does temporarily move the Whitecaps level on points with Portland for the fifth and final playoff spot in the West, but the Timbers host the San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday.

Meanwhile, United (14-8-5) padded its lead atop the East and improved to 3-1-1 over its last five.

Following a spirited first half where both teams had chances, Vancouver midfielder Pedro Morales fired a shot from outside the penalty area moments after the break that D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid handled.

Whitecaps defender Jordan Harvey then sent a diving header just wide in the 50th minute from in close that almost brought the crowd of 18,116 at B.C. Place Stadium to its feet.

The game lost much of its energy from there, with both sides running out of ideas, although Vancouver did show a bit more initiative moving forward.

"I thought we played well. I thought we were the only team that was going to win tonight," said Harvey. "Other than in front of the (D.C.) net, I thought it was a solid performance, just couldn't put it in."

Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted said the scoring drought is a topic of conversation in the locker-room, but one the entire team has to battle through.

"Disappointed. I think we did well. I can't fault the guys out there for the effort," said Ousted, who picked up his eighth clean sheet. "They put in a lot of hard work and I thought we were almost there, but almost doesn't get the biscuit."

Looking for an answer to his team's scoring woes, Robinson elected to go with Mattocks and Sebastian Fernandez up front to start the game, and a four-man diamond midfield featuring Morales at the top.

That left strikers Erik Hurtado and Kekuta Manneh — who both started in last weekend's 3-0 home loss to Portland but are mired in long scoring slumps — on the bench. Manneh was subbed on for Fernandez in the second half but failed to make an impact.

"Hopefully we'll get a break or we'll take one of the number of chances we missed tonight," said Robinson. "I thought we played very well. I think at times we played some very good stuff, at times we looked a little bit open but that's going to happen with the shape we played."

After a timid opening, Vancouver started to create chances off the break and had the game's first opportunity in the 12th minute when Mattocks skied a shot over Hamid's goal from in close after some good build up from Morales and Fernandez.

Vancouver defender Kendall Waston, making just his second start since being acquired last month, then completely missed a free header in front of the United goal in the 31st off Morales' free kick.

D.C. striker Fabian Espindola fired a shot from outside the penalty area that Ousted pushed over the bar with his finger tips in the 37th minute, and Espindola was at it again moments later, but his chip went over the Vancouver goal after Ousted came out to challenge the unmarked United man.

Mattocks headed another effort at Hamid in the 42nd, before breaking in down the right in added time and ripping a shot that Hamid did well to keep out.

Vancouver doesn't have long to dwell on the result or its continued lack of finish with San Jose coming to town on Wednesday night for another key game.

"It's just going to be a battle down the stretch," said Harvey. "We've got to win more than we lose and get some points. We're playing well, we just need to be a little bit more clinical in front of the net — and that includes everybody. Everybody on the field I feel like had a chance tonight."

Notes: Hamid also picked up his eighth shutout of the season. ... Whitecaps defender Ethen Sampson, 20, made his first appearance for the club, starting at right back in place of Steven Beitashour (hip). Sampson was subbed out in the 54th minute for Sam Adekugbe after suffering cramps. ... Vancouver midfielder Gershon Koffie (foot) missed his fourth straight game. ... D.C. was without midfielder Chris Rolfe, who broke his forearm in training on Wednesday and will miss up to six weeks. Rolfe has six goals on the season. ... United striker Eddie Johnson, who has five goals on the year, sat out with a concussion. ... Kimberly Caldwell, Harvey's fiancee and a finalist on season two of American Idol, sang the national anthems. ... D.C. visits the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday.