An inability to keep the ball, and an unwillingness to play it short rather than hoof it long ended up costing the Vancouver Whitecaps in a 2-0 loss to the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
Keeping just 45 percent of the ball and finding themselves chasing for large portions of the game – especially in the second half when the altitude seemed to catch up to them, the Whitecaps looked a far contrast from the team that controlled the midfield just a week ago in a 2-0 win against the San Jose Earthquakes.
"I think we had a tough start where we didn't keep the ball much," goalkeeper David Ousted told Vancouver radio station TEAM 1410 following the game. "I definitely think we should be seeing that. Keeping the ball at the back and keeping the ball – good possession.
"I think we're trying to work on that and develop it ... today's game, we had too many long balls and we lost them too easily. We got to running after it and I think it was a big problem."
That long-ball approach ended up costing the Whitecaps for their opener, as a Route 1 clearance ended up giving the Rapids the ball back instantly, allowing for their quick counter toward the Vancouver goal – a situation that led to Deshorn Brown's opening tally in the 36th minute.
"We had a chance to build out of the back, and when we were doing that, we were actually creating some good chances behind their midfield, and we looked dangerous," head coach Martin Rennie told TEAM 1410. "So, first thing is I would like to have seen us do that but we decided to play long.
"When we did that, we didn't win the second ball – which is obviously a major part of it – any time you play long you have to win the second ball."
As for the Edson Buddle's 79th-minute effort which bounced off Johnny Leveron before sealing the Rapids' 2-0 win, the 'Caps seemed to concede it was simply an unfortunate occurrence rather than any sort of defensive meltdown.
"That's just one of those goals you have to shake your head at and say 'that's unlucky,'" Ousted said. "But sometimes that's what happens in soccer. We need to defend as well as possible. Johnny did well get to get there and we were unlucky on that one and we'll keep working hard on it."
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.