VANCOUVER, B.C. - Vancouver Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson called it "disappointing." David Ousted, Robinson's goalkeeper, opted for "frustrating."


Whatever the word, Sunday's match against a bruised and battered visiting Portland Timbers side looked to be there for the taking.


But it was the depleted visitors who deservedly came away with the three points following a 2-1 victory. And Vancouver's downfall was again their own making, once again giving up soft goals defensively and lacking the offensive penetration to break down Portland's defense.


"My attacking players were a little bit off," Robinson admitted. "The final balls weren't great. We didn't actually beat any of their defenders 1v1. The quality in the final third just wasn't right. Sometimes you just have to accept that, and we will."


That was a view echoed by Ousted, who couldn't understand why the Whitecaps appeared flat for a big rivalry game, citing a lack of "energy" and "spark" as concerning for such a big match.


"We lacked composure on the ball in the final third," Ousted said. "I thought we lacked what got us the win on Wednesday [against LA], that defensive side of the ball, but there’s nothing more to do now than get back onto it."


That poise in the attacking end has been missing for much of the season, and continued Sunday with giveaways and short passes plaguing the Whitecaps throughout.


Vancouver's only goal came from another set-piece play, with Andrew Jacobson poking home Tim Parker's header from close range following Christian Bolaños' corner. 


That set piece sharpness has been enough though to get the Whitecaps results at times on the back of solid defense. When that backline falters, however, the obvious cracks appear.


"We just can’t give up soft goals," defender Jake Nerwinski said. "That’s what it was. Two soft goals and [Portland] punished us for it. We only had one goal. We had a lot of chances, but we just couldn’t finish."


Robinson hopes with Yordy Reyna close to making his first start for the Whitecaps that the Peruvian will help unlock Fredy Montero and others in front of goal, so that his side aren't so reliant on restarts. Vancouver's 26 goals scored are the second-fewest among any of the 12 sides that entered Week 21 above the playoff line.


But Robinson also knows that an offensive improvement will all count for nothing if they revert to last season's defensive form. Vancouver's 52 goals allowed last season was second-worst in the Western Conference, and a stat that likely cost the 'Caps a playoff place.


"I'm disappointed defensively all round for the two goals [against Portland] because they are very avoidable," Robinson said. "We'll go back to the drawing board, we'll rest up, because we have three very difficult away games in a row now and we need to make up an away game for dropping points at home."