The Vancouver Whitecaps hosted Eastern Conference cellar-dweller DC United, with an opportunity to move into a tie for 2nd in the Western Conference. The Caps were without Matias Laba for this match, due to yellow card accumulation. This led to hypotheses about whether Carl Robinson would simply replace Laba with Russell Tiebert, or insert Nicolas Mezquida as a playmaker for Christian Bolanos and Cristian Techera on the wings. Robbo elected to start Alphonso Davies, after his one goal and one assist performance on Tuesday against Montreal Impact in the Amway Canadian Championship.
The first chance of the match came for the visitors, requiring David Ousted to be his usual heroic self and pushing away the shot from Luciano Acosta, after some strong build-up play.
After the initial opportunity for DC United, the Vancouver Whitecaps were fairly dominant the rest of the half, controlling the run of play and having opportunity after opportunity.
Despite hitting the crossbar twice in quick succession, and requiring Bill Hamid to make two solid saves from a Tim Parker header and Fredy Montero shot, the Whitecaps were unable to acquire a lead and went into the halftime break even.
When you have plenty of opportunities in the first half and are unable to capitalize, there is always concern that it will come back to ‘haunt’ the team. Sure enough, that happened to the Whitecaps, thanks to a terrible call by referee Stoica in the 60th minute. After Ortiz’ dive in the box, Lamar Neagle buried the ensuing penalty kick and put United up 1-0.
The Whitecaps would press for the final 30 minutes, looking for the equalizer. The match though would come down to the final minutes in a very weird, but seemingly appropriate, finish. After Brek Shea hits the ball off the crossbar, but is punched in the face by keeper Bill Hamid, Stoica and his assistant referee discuss the play and choose to award Vancouver with a penalty kick. After Montero failed on his first two penalty kick attempts of the season, Techera was given the opportunity to pull out a draw for the home side. However, his shot hit the inside of the post and somehow stayed out. That sealed the match for DC United and handed the Whitecaps a home loss against the worst team in the Eastern Conference, who had not scored in more than 330 minutes prior to the penalty kick goal.
DC were sloppy throughout the match, consistently being dispossessed, kicking balls directly out of bounds on goal kicks, and even stepping over the line on a throw-in. While Stoica’s poor penalty call obviously led to the winning goal, the Whitecaps have no one to blame in this match but themselves. They hit the crossbar three times, struck a penalty kick off the post, and had two good chances saved by Hamid. This match was theirs for the taking but the team slipped on the banana peel. Hopefully they can quickly shake this off as they face Montreal on Tuesday with a spot in the Amway Canadian Championship final on the line.