The Vancouver Whitecaps have lost five league matches in a row for the first time in the MLS era.
After seemingly riding out a rocky final 15 minutes or so, clearing scramble after scramble as FC Dallas piled on the pressure, the fourth official held up the board.
Six minutes of added time.
And then, disaster struck, as Canadian international Julian de Guzman scored a sure AT&T Goal of the Week contender from the edge of the area on a half-volley in the 96th minute.
“It’s heartbreaking,” goalkeeper Brad Knighton told Vancouver radio station TEAM 1040 following the loss. “We felt like we deserved something from the game. Everyone’s just gutted right now. I felt like we put together a good performance overall and it was one lapse at the end and it’s 1-0 for them.”
Even though the ball went in, Knighton appeared to initially react well – making the agonizing conclusion to the play all the more painful.
“I think I was super close,” Knighton said. “I thought, well, he just struck it really well. I was just a half-step late.”
Knighton, who was perhaps his club’s best player for the second consecutive game and manager Martin Rennie confirmed after the match that he will keep his starting place in goal over veteran Joe Cannon, “unless anything changes during the week.”
The 'keeper's most memorable stop came on a David Ferreira penalty 16 minutes in, leaping to his right to deny the Colombian.
“I felt like he is a pretty technical player who likes to put a bit of spin on the ball,” Knighton said. “I felt like he was going to try and curl it in, so I just guessed and got a hand on it.”
As for the six minutes of stoppage time, Knighton wasn’t too pleased.
“Six minutes of injury time for one stoppage in the second half – there’s always going to be questions,” Knighton said. “There’s definitely not six minutes of stoppage time to fix a corner flag, so that’s a big question mark but ultimately we didn’t finish our chances.”
The match puts Rennie and his team under even greater pressure, as the result means the Whitecaps cling to the fifth and final Western Conference playoff spot by just one point over FC Dallas, although Vancouver still have a game in hand.
“There’s a lot of things that were good about the performance and a lot of things we can take from it,” Rennie said. “I think at this moment in time the disappointments and the defeats have to make us stronger. There’s not much chance of the Whitecaps getting to where they want to get to without stumbling along the way. There’s a lot of hard work to do.
“We want to be the first Canadian team to make it into the MLS playoffs.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.