VANCOUVER, B.C. - For the first half of Sunday's game with FC Dallas, it looked like the Vancouver Whitecaps had found their attacking swagger again with a dominating performance against their Western Conference rivals.
After going ahead from Darren Mattocks' third goal in three games, it was the Vancouver from more recent games that came to the fore, letting their opponents back into the game and into the break with a 2-1 lead. The Whitecaps eventually fought back in the second half for a 2-2 draw, but for head coach Carl Robinson it was more two points lost than one gained.
"Disappointed that we lost two points," said Robinson. "There was only one team that was going to win that game. Even at half time I had full confidence in the guys.
"We played very well for the first half hour of the game but we switched off mentally twice. Concentration levels weren't good enough last 15 minutes of the first half. We dug ourselves a little bit of a hole. Second half we had numerous chances to win the game, not just tie the game, and we're disappointed."
The Whitecaps had a staggering 30 attempts on goal but only managed to convert two of them. That was costly, but another case of the club shooting itself in the foot started their undoing.
Poor marking allowed Dallas to tie things up before Carlyle Mitchell jumped with his arm raised in the 18-yard box to get to a harmless long ball, giving away a penalty kick and the visitors the lead.
"I think it's a mistake," Robinson said of Mitchell's blunder. "Whether it's communication or a mistake or whatever, it's a bad decision. I think he knows it, we got punished for it, but we'll take it on the chin. It's not ideal [but] it's how you rebound and how you react, and in the second half I thought he was excellent."
Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted was coming out to collect the ball and the miscommunication between he and Mitchell cost Vancouver dearly and resulted in the veteran netminder angrily chewing out his defender. The Dane was still frustrated about the incident after the match.
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"That's a mild word for it," Ousted told reporters in the locker room. "I tired to hit a quick one up to Pedro [Morales] and they read it and put it back in high. I go out and call for it but Mitchell doesn't hear me and we concede a PK on that. Just the small things again that we can't allow."
An unfortunate trend for Vancouver this season has been their tendency to be the masters of their own downfall, letting opponents back into games through penalty kicks, ejections and poor defensive marking. That continued against Dallas, much to the chagrin of Robinson.
"I don't know, good question. If you know, let me know," Robinson replied when asked how he can stop such mistakes from happening. "It's one of them, I try to remain calm. It's a fine line in this game between winning and losing. You see that today. We're that close, but we're that far. We'll just move on.
"It was a big game. I'll learn, I'll analyze the game tonight. I probably won't sleep until 3 o'clock in the morning because I'll watch it and probably think we should have scored five, six goals but we haven't so we'll get back to the drawing board tomorrow."