VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Vancouver Whitecaps were left questioning what could have been after turning in what they deemed was mostly a quality performance in a “bitterly disappointing” 3-1 defeat at the hands of Chivas USA.
The Whitecaps watched a 1-0 halftime disappear – and then some – as the visitors continued their impressive form at the cost of a lively BC Place crowd.
"I don't think we deserved to lose," Carl Robinson told reporters after the match. "We were very comfortable in the first half, going one goal ahead. We played the way I wanted us to play without probably the lack of that cutting edge in the final third.
"We did everything correctly, and then the final little details in the give and gos at the edge of the box weren't there. Disappointing. A kick in the teeth for me, for the guys in there after the work they put in, but I'll take the positives."
The Whitecaps thought they had tied the game up in stoppage time when Pedro Morales bundled the ball over the line but referee Armando Villareal ruled it out for a foul on Chivas keeper Dan Kennedy as he had both hands on the ball while off the ground.
Villareal was a focal point in the second half after sending off Whitecaps defender Jordan Harvey, but Robinson wouldn't be drawn too much on any refereeing controversy.
"I spoke to Jordan, he's apologized," Robinson said. "Whether he's left his feet, if he's left his feet it's a red card. I think there was one in about the 90th that I thought was a similar challenge. I don't have to make calls on decisions whether they're controversial or not. I'll support my player either way.
Defensive lapses in the first two minutes of the second half let Chivas back into the game when Agustin Pelletieri headed home a corner to equalize and spur the visitors on.
"I think we started slowly at the start of the second, and I think that was the most disappointing thing in the game," Robinson said. "I didn't feel under any threat really in the first half.
"The 10 minutes after halftime are always key in any game. Obviously they got the goal, and they got the bit between their teeth.”
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Of course, losing Harvey didn’t help matters – leading to Erick “Cubo” Torres’ fifth goal in his last five games on an 81st-minute header and then the final dagger when Leandro Barrera scored on an empty goal in stoppage time.
“Even going down to 10 men, I thought we were the better team and we controlled possession,” Robinson said. “We had a number of chances, but we didn't take those chances. Fair play to Chivas, they take the three points and they get out of here."
Facing two road games in a four-day span, starting Wednesday at Toronto FC, the Whitecaps won’t have much time to dwell on their disappointment. Despite the loss, Vancouver still remain in the fifht and final Western Conference playoff spot with 25 points from 17 games.
"Like I've said all along, you've got to win at home and try and pick up points on the road,” Robinson said. “I've just said to them in there we need to try and win an extra away game now. I'm confident we will. We're not bad on the road; we can catch teams on the break. We've got to make up a game now. Disappointed, but we've got a busy week ahead."