VANCOUVER, B.C. – Giving up one two-goal lead is unfortunate. Giving up two in two matches, in the space of four days, is concerning.
That was the fate that befell Vancouver Whitecaps last week. First came their 2-2 draw with the Montreal Impact in last Wednesday’s Amway Canadian Championship final first leg, that saw them concede goals in the 84th and 85th minutes.
That was quickly followed by Saturday’s woes in Kansas City that saw the home side come back from 2-0 and 3-1 down to stun Vancouver with three goals in the last 10 minutes to take all three points.
Worrying? Perhaps, but Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson isn’t reading too much in to it.
"You can call it that if you want,” Robinson told reporters when asked about the defensive collapses. “At certain times we switched off. We've had two different teams out there. I'm sure people will say 'they concede goals,' but prior to Saturday we had the best defensive record in the league, so it's a new question this week. We've just got to concentrate a little bit more.”
Saturday’s game was the first time Vancouver have conceded four goals since a 4-1 defeat at New England in May 2012, and it was an unusual feeling for goalkeeper David Ousted.
The Dane has recorded 22 clean sheets for the Whitecaps over the past two seasons and feels there were several factors behind the two recent late collapses and shouldered some of the blame himself.
"I think there was a number of things going the wrong way,” Ousted told MLSSoccer.com. “We missed some marking and let some people score. The whole 10 minutes, the whole moment of it, them getting the momentum, them getting going.
“I thought we lacked the leaders on the field, myself included, to step in and calm everything down, get everything together and kill the game out. It was one of those situations where you were unfortunately the spectator to their pressure.”
It was certainly a tough loss to take, and the Whitecaps looked shocked as they headed off the Sporting Park pitch, but Ousted feels that not only can the defeat be taken as a wake-up call, it will also teach the squad some valuable lessons.
"It can lead to a positive for us,” Ousted said. “I think we can learn from this. We will be in that situation again, with that kind of pressure, and this hopefully will push us in the right direction."
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How damaging that Sporting KC loss will be to the Whitecaps’ psyche, and their playoff positioning, remains to be seen. They won’t have much time to think about it, with another massive match with postseason implications coming up this weekend when FC Dallas head to Vancouver (10 pm ET; TSN1 in Canada, MLS LIVE in US).
With the games coming thick and fast, Robinson was keen to put the last two games to bed, and the squad had a lengthy meeting on Tuesday to analyze the matches and take the positives out of them.
"We had a very constructive meeting,” Robinson said. “Football's tough. It's about winning and losing. On Saturday, we played as well as we have done away from home for 81 minutes. Fantastic. They did everything I asked and more, and we should have been out of sight at that time. We weren't, and we gave them a little bit of hope.
"Let me tell you, it hurts. But we're over that disappointment. You can see the intensity in the training, it's great. To enjoy the success, you've got to deal with heartbreak sometimes. It was a tough one to take on Saturday, it really was, but you get on with it. You wake the next day, the sun shines and [there’s] smiles on faces."