07/14/2012 11:00 EDT | Updated 09/13/2012 05:12 EDT

Vancouver Whitecaps fall 1-0 to Chicago Fire after Pavel Pardo's early goal

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. - There were no late-game heroics for the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.

Vancouver had a man advantage for the final 21 minutes of its MLS clash with the Chicago Fire, but couldn't find the back of the net in a 1-0 loss at Toyota Park in Chicago.

Chicago midfielder Pavel Pardo scored on a early free kick and the Fire defence shut down Vancouver and hot-scoring Darren Mattocks for the remaining 81 minutes.

Mattocks made a spectacular leap to score in stoppage time on Wednesday in Toronto. But on Saturday, Chicago limited him to just two shots.

"He can jump high, but we (can) too," said Chicago defender Arne Friedrich.

The Fire were reduced to 10 men in the 69th minute when Friedrich was issued his second yellow card in two minutes for tripping Mattocks outside the box.

The loss was the second straight and the third in a five-game road swing for the Whitecaps (8-6-5, 30 points) while the Fire (9-6-4, 31 points) snapped a 221-minute scoreless streak.

"In the second half we were very strong, we were on top and we were pressing them," Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie said. "It was just disappointing to not get more from the game tonight.

"After four games on the road in really quick succession it would have been easy to throw the towel after (conceding) the goal after eight minutes, but nobody did that."

Chicago was awarded a free kick in the ninth minute when Whitecaps midfielder Jun Marques Davidson tripped Fire midfielder Patrick Nyarko on a run outside the box.

Pardo lined a 23-yard kick into the left corner, just past the reach of Whitecaps goalie Joe Cannon. It was Pardo's first goal of the season and second of his MLS career.

Mattocks, Vancouver's scoring leader with six goals, had a solid try on Fire goalie Sean Johnson in the 25th minute, but Johnson made a diving save.

Even with a man advantage, the Whitecaps only managed a 6-5 edge in shots on goal. Chicago led 12-9 for the game.

Johnson had four saves on the way to his fourth shutout while Cannon had two saves.

The Whitecaps flew directly to Chicago following Wednesday's 3-2 loss at Toronto FC and trained at a downtown university campus on Friday.

Mattocks scored twice in that Toronto contest and was named man of the match. He came into Saturday's game with a team-best six goals, all in the past nine games.

The Whitecaps were without midfielder and former Fire veteran John Thorrington (quad injury) while Matt Watson was out with a right ankle sprain.

Chicago has struggled offensively in recent weeks, with just one goal in three games and back-to-back scoreless decisions. Last Sunday, they dropped a 2-0 home loss to Los Angeles to snap a four-game unbeaten streak.

The Fire were also missing attacking midfielder Sebastian Grazzini, who was recently granted an indefinite leave to attend to family problems at home in Argentina.

But Chicago coach Frank Klopas said his team had backup options for the playmaker role and slotted 23-year-old Brazilian midfielder Alex in a starting role on Saturday.

Saturday's game was the third all-time meeting between the teams. Vancouver had a win and tie in last year's home-and-home series. The Fire and Whitecaps won't meet again in the 2012 regular season.

The Whitecaps resume MLS action at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at B.C. Place against the Los Angeles Galaxy.