KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Even before losing right back Jordan Smith to a straight red card late in the first half, the Vancouver Whitecaps were in serious trouble in their own end of the pitch.
Undone by a giveaway in the fifth minute and a badly lost mark in the 41st, both leading to goals from Sporting Kansas City's Dom Dwyer, the Whitecaps were in a 2-0 hole – on the way to Saturday night's 2-1 loss – by the time Smith was sent off for a bad foul from behind on Sporting's Graham Zusi.
“I thought the urgency wasn't there,” goalkeeper David Ousted told MLSsoccer.com after the Whitecaps lost for the second time in as many games this year. “I thought we needed to be, to use a phrase, to be at the races more. We started slow and we let them dictate a little too much. We know it's tough to get into KC and play. It's a tough place to play. But if you give away a goal in the fifth minute, then it's going to be even tougher.”
Manager Carl Robinson was less critical of his defense, even though Sporting held almost 65 percent of the possession in the first half.
“I think it was a fairly even half,” he said during his postmatch news conference. “They took their chances, we didn't. They're a good team. You're going to come up lucky against good teams. You have to take your chances, and we didn't.”
Still, he acknowledged how quickly the game turned on Dwyer's early opener, a strike from distance after a giveaway deep in Vancouver territory.
“Goals change games, unfortunately for us, and we were on the wrong end today – especially in the first half,” Robinson said. “We started well and then gave up a bad goal, but it was a great finish by him. It was a mistake by us. We don't take our chances, and then, obviously, the game changes.”
“That showed the desire to get in the box that Dom has,” Ousted said. “We need to have that desire, both in their box but also in our own, to defend. That's the urgency that I'm looking for, the urgency that we're looking for to improve.”
Robinson did take some consolation in the fact that his shorthanded side didn't concede after the break and made things interesting when Pedro Morales pulled back a goal from the spot in the 70th minute.
“The character and the pride that they showed for the second half is outstanding,” he said. “That doesn't surprise me, with the group in there. I'm disappointed that they didn't get anything out of the game, but we gave ourselves a mountain to climb in the first half and we were down to 10 men as well.”