SPORTS

Vancouver Whitecaps lose Laba and the game as D.C. United takes advantage

04/26/2015 12:43 EDT | Updated 07/27/2015 02:59 EDT
VANCOUVER - The Vancouver Whitecaps ended the day as they started — with the most points in Major League Soccer.

But there were also regrets as the Whitecaps, reduced to 10 men after 42 minutes, failed to convert several late chances to secure a probably deserved point and lost 2-1 to D.C. United on Saturday night.

"Sometimes you don't get things you deserve. And I think that's what we got today," said Vancouver coach Carl Robinson.

Chris Rolfe's 64th-minute goal was the winner, extending D.C. United's unbeaten streak to five games.

Bobby Boswell scored for D.C. United (4-1-2) in the ninth minute after Whitecaps captain Pedro Morales put Vancouver (5-3-1) ahead just 70 seconds in.

While Vancouver is off to its best start ever, it has dropped eight points in its five games at home (2-2-1) and has yet to beat an Eastern Conference team at B.C. Place Stadium. The Whitecaps are 3-1 on the road.

The game turned late in the first half when referee David Gantar showed influential holding midfielder Matias Laba a second yellow for clipping the foot of an onrushing Fabian Espindola, who made the most of the contact. Laba had also been shown a card in the 34th minute for a handball.

"Moments change games and, as I said, it wasn't our day today," said Robinson, who added he was proud of his team's second-half performance.

Espindola was making his return from a six-game suspension for shoving an assistant referee in last year's playoffs.

Despite being outmanned, the Whitecaps outshot the visitors 9-5 in the second half but only put two of those shots on target to D.C.'s four.

"I think it's an opportunity that slipped away from us today," said goalie David Ousted.

Gantar gave out six yellow cards, four to Vancouver and two to D.C. United. Robinson only hinted about his thoughts on the officiating when asked if he saw anything on the pitch that concerned him.

"No," he said, before adding: "Well there was, but not from my team."

Given he had just congratulated the visitors for their performance, the comment seemed aimed at the referee.

Rolfe's goal came after a fine run but he benefited from a good bounce as Steven Beitashour's tackle separated the ball from a D.C. teammate only to see it slide over to Rolfe who banged it home.

Despite being down a man, the home side kept probing at the D.C. defence with six minutes of extra time adding to the tension. Vancouver striker Octavio Rivero, with Ousted joining the attack, drove the ball wide from a corner in stoppage time.

Sam Adekugbe put the ball wide soon after as the Whitecaps finished strong.

"I think we made wrong decisions," said Robinson.

There were second-half chances at both ends.

Ousted made wonderful back-to-back saves off Espindola and Rolfe in the 54th minute. Seconds later Vancouver's Mauro Rosales, with a delightful turn, hit the goalpost and Morales' shot off the rebound was blocked by defender Sean Franklin.

D.C. had to resort to third-string goalie Travis Worra after Andrew Dykstra left with an ankle injury in the 58th minute. Starter Bill Hamid sat out for the second game in a row due to a thigh contusion.

"A little nervous. A little sloppy. But BLESSED to have made my @MLS debut!" Worra tweeted afterwards.

Uruguayan Cristian Techera, a five-foot-two winger, made his MLS debut for Vancouver in the 76th minute.

The soldout crowd of 21,000 chose to watch soccer over hockey, with the Canucks in Calgary for Game 6 of their playoff series. They missed a playoff-ending loss for the local hockey team.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

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