If it wasn't for a late goal from Kekuta Manneh, the Whitecaps would have left California empty-handed.
Despite playing with a one-man advantage for 77 minutes, Vancouver needed Manneh's goal in the 81st minute, to forge a 1-1 tie with Chivas USA, and salvage a point in front of 6,684 at StubHub Center.
Vancouver (1-0-1) played its first road game after opening the season Mar. 8 with a 4-1 victory over the New York Red Bulls at B.C. Place.
"There are a lot of disappointed people in this locker room, including myself," said defender Jay DeMerit, the Whitecaps' captain. "Any time you go one man up on the road, it's a great opportunity to pick up three points."
Chivas USA (1-0-1) had to play with 10 men after midfielder Agustin Pelletieri received a red card in the 13th minute for tripping Pedro Morales at the midfield stripe.
Erick Torres put Chivas USA ahead in the 45th minute. Mauro Rosales dispossessed Nigel Reo-Coker at midfield and passed to Torres, whose 23-yard shot deflected off DeMerit's right thigh and inside the left post.
"I think we took our foot off the gas and thought it might be easy playing against 10," Vancouver coach Carl Robinson said. "We weren't working at 100 per cent. It was important that we kept a calm head in the second half and attacked."
Manneh, who replaced Reo-Coker in the 60th minute, used his right instep to deflect Darren Mattocks' cross from the left side of the penalty area into the net from 13 yards.
"He had a big effect on the game," Robinson said of Manneh, a 19-year-old forward from Gambia. "He's bright, he's direct and he's pacy."
Goalkeeper David Ousted kept Chivas USA from scoring in the 85th minute. Ousted leaped to his right to catch Matthew Fondy's 8-yard header off Rosales' corner kick.
Vancouver's offence did not take a shot until the 61st minute and did not have a shot on goal until the 70th. Against New York, the Whitecaps amassed 14 shots, 10 on goal.
"It's a good learning experience for us," DeMerit said. "We knew we came out flat. We didn't really get at them, as far as trying to create. The mentality on the road needs a bit more energy than we gave."