VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Vancouver Whitecaps playoff hopes are hanging by a thread following another lackluster performance that saw them giving up a goal in each half before falling 2-1 to the San Jose Earthquakes at BC Place on Friday night.
Both teams headed into the match knowing how important the three points would be to their postseason aspirations, but Vancouver found themselves outplayed and out-thought by a San Jose side who came away with their first road win of the season.
The defeat made it five games without a win for Vancouver, who have now lost their last three matches and are falling rapidly down the Western Conference standings.
"We need to be better," Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson admitted after the loss. "We're all involved, collectively, individually. It wasn't a great performance today, but we still had a number of chances. If you don't hit the target, if you don't take your chances, you don't win games of football.
"Having said that, we conceded two bad goals as well, which has been a common theme this year. It is what it is. All we've got to do is get back to work, but we give ourselves a little bit more of a mountain to climb. Do we need to be better? Yeah. One hundred percent."
Robinson put out what on paper looked to be his strongest available lineup, but with so much at stake, the players failed to rise to the occasion. Frustrating for the 'Caps coach, but another tale of Vancouver's season so far.
"All I can control is my players who I pick," Robinson mused. "When they step on the field, they need to perform. We haven't performed the last couple of games. We have to accept it and take responsibility for it and move on."
With games running out, next week's trip to Sporting Kansas City, who sit four points above the Whitecaps in the standings ahead of their game on Saturday against FC Dallas, takes on added importance, and Robinson hinted that changes to his lineup would now appear to be inevitable.
"There'll be personnel [changes]," Robinson said. "There comes a point where you look at your team and try and pick the players who deserve to play... I will look at a number of things. There's players itching to play. I left some players out today that probably shouldn't have been left out based on I had a feeling with some of the guys.
"Some guys took their chance, some didn't, so I'll watch it again over the weekend, although it'll hurt me watching it, and then we'll regroup on Tuesday. Every game's a cup final now. We know that. We've got nine games left and we've got to claw points from somewhere."
Robinson is far from writing off Vancouver's chances of making the playoffs for the third straight season, but he knows there needs to be a massive and quick improvement from his side if they are to achieve that. And it starts with not giving up two goals a game, as has been the norm for the 'Caps in four of their last five matches.
"We probably need to score three to win a game, and we've scored one goal in four games," Robinson admitted. "It does become worrying. But football's a funny game. You just need to get back to work. That game's gone and we move on. Do we address some issues? Yes, we do.
"It's not been one or two games, it's been a number of games this season. But the group of players that I've got are the group of players that are with me till the end of the year. I'll assess it then, but individually and collectively, we haven't been good enough this year."