When a team gets a man advantage 13 minutes in, anything less than a win will register as a disappointment.
It's no different for the Vancouver Whitecaps after Sunday's 1-1 draw against Chivas USA at StubHub Center, a game in which the visitors not only failed to capitalize on Agustín Pelletieri's dismissal for a tackle on Pedro Morales, but nearly lost after conceding a 45th-minute goal to Erick Torres.
“One man up, it's a great opportunity to pick three points up, but the first half, I thought we came out a bit flat,” center back Jay DeMerit told Vancouver radio station TEAM 1410 following the match. “Everyone knows on the road, it's never an easy thing. Any time you get an opportunity to get points, you should take them, but it's a good learning experience.”
“I told Nigel it was a suicide pass,” Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson told TEAM 1410 following the match. “I don't think it was needed. When [Chivas] went down to 10 men, they seemed to roll their sleeves up and work for each other.
“I don't think we did work for each other. We thought it might be an easier game – that's not always the case when you're playing against 10 men.”
Chivas' lead held up for half an hour before substitute Kekuta Manneh salvaged a point for the 'Caps. The speedy Gambian continually beat his markers on the dribble, and was the beneficiary of a well-worked setup from Darren Mattocks, finishing smartly in what turned out to be the equalizing goal in the 81st minute.
Robinson's moves to bring Manneh on in the 60th minute and switch to a 4-4-2 from the club's default 4-2-3-1 formation at that stage both appeared to provide impetus to a 'Caps attack that looked stale for the first hour.
“I wasn't surprised by Kekuta,” Robinson said. “I know what he can do. He's bright, he's young, he's energetic. One thing I was concerned about was his fitness levels ... I wanted to give him enough minutes so he could have an effect on the game, and obviously he did.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.