VANCOUVER, B.C. – Score first against the Vancouver Whitecaps and you’re guaranteed at least a point. Most likely, you’ll claim all three.
That’s been the harsh reality this season for the Canadian expansion team, but on Sunday being the new kids on the block wasn’t an excuse. Fellow new boys and Cascadia cousins Portland Timbers won 1-0 after scoring first through a long-range effort from Kenny Cooper, keeping Vancouver buried at the bottom of the table.
WATCH: Full Match Highlights
The goal marked the 17th time the ‘Caps have conceded the opener, and their record after conceding first now stands at 0-13-4.
“You never make it easy on yourself if you let a goal in, obviously you’re trailing,” interim head coach Tom Soehn told MLSsoccer.com following Sunday’s loss. “Especially for us, who lack experience as a first-year team, getting behind the 8-ball isn’t good, so that’ something that – obviously scoring first brings a lot more of a positive attitude.”
The goal came not through a piece of brilliance from the Timbers, but from a giveaway by ‘Caps veteran centerback Alain Rochat. The Canadian-born Swiss international’s weak pass to Davide Chiumiento was intercepted by Diego Chara at the halfway mark of the first period of play.
The Colombian countered quickly before finding Cooper, who controlled well before blasting past ‘Caps ‘keeper Joe Cannon.
“You look at responsibility and fundamentals – look at all the goals across our season – have they been good goals? Have they cut us apart? No,” captain Jay DeMerit said. “A lot of times it comes from our own mistakes, and that’s the disappointing thing.”
Rochat, for his part, took full responsibility for the error.
“It’s a very bad turnover and I thought I could get it quick enough to Davide, but we know a team like Portland brings pressure by going out,” Rochat said. “I should have just kicked the ball away, but it’s happened and now it’s behind me.”
Attitude was also a key talking point in the dressing room after the match, with some senior players suggesting it wasn’t simply a mental issue, but a lack of commitment from certain individuals.
“To put that out in front of the greatest fans in the league is irresponsible of us,” Cannon said following the match. “In the future we’ve gotta find out who has that heart – who wants to play for the Vancouver Whitecaps?
“I’m not going to point any fingers, and I’m not different from any other guy on this team, but we need more heart and that’s the bottom line.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @martinmacmahon