VANCOUVER - Barry Robson has looked quite comfortable at B.C. Place Stadium since joining the Whitecaps.
The Scottish midfielder scored in his second straight home game with a penalty kick in the 63rd minute Sunday to give Vancouver a 2-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes.
After joining the club on the road for four games, the designated player scored his first in Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with the L.A. Galaxy, the Whitecaps' first home game in almost a month.
"It feels really good," said Robson. "You don’t really get time to settle ... (the fans are) judging you right away."
In the 61st minute, Robson's initial shot deflected to Camilo but the Brazilian was tripped in the penalty area. Robson stepped up and put the ball in the top corner, bringing 20,112 fans to their feet.
"(I wanted to) just hit it as hard as I can," said Robson. "If you hit it hard, even if the goalie picks the right side it’s still got that power on it and they might still not be able to save it."
When Camilo went down the referee initially did not call a foul, but after a brief word with the assistant referee, a penalty was awarded. During that moment, Robson picked up the ball for himself.
"Barry Robson’s scored in some really big games and Camilo’s scored for other teams as well," said Vancouver head coach Martin Rennie. "But Barry Robson wasn’t going to give the ball away once he got it."
"I kind of sneaked up and grabbed the ball," said Robson. "I’ve took penalties wherever I’ve been…and it was available for me to take it. Thankfully I was able to score a goal."
That call was a sore spot with Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop after the game.
"The referee decided the game, well, undecided it," said Yallop. "His first reaction was ‘get up’ and then he looks over and he gives a penalty kick. We had chances after that to score but it was a bit of a game changer, a big moment in the game. I was disappointed we didn’t get at least a point."
Dane Richards scored in the 20th minute for the Whitecaps (9-6-7).
Alan Gordon responded in the 38th minute for the first-place Earthquakes (13-5-4), who were coming off back-to-back wins at home.
Despite just two wins in its past eight games, Vancouver took sole possession of third in the Western Conference.
"It was a big confidence booster for us as well," said Rennie. "San Jose are having a great season…and we’ve managed to beat them twice and were a little unfortunate in the first game against them."
Asked why B.C. Place has been inhospitable to his club this year, Yallop, who lived in Vancouver much of his life, said it is a combination of the field itself and also regular road woes.
"It’s a difficult surface, indoor, a different feel," he said. "It’s not easy playing on the road. We looked weary in the 60th to 75th minute. Our legs weren’t under us. But we got a bit of a second wind after that and … took the ball into their area a lot."
Vancouver's Joe Cannon stopped two shots in the win while Jon Busch made one save in the loss.
Richards got the opener when Young-Pyo Lee fed him a great ball up the right wing. The Jamaican beat his man Justin Morrow and fired a right-footed blast past Busch.
It was Richards' first goal in Vancouver since coming over from New York Red Bulls in a July 13 trade that sent striker Sebastien Le Toux the other way.
The visiting Earthquakes tied the game against the flow of play in the 38th minute. Gordon won a physical battle in front of the Whitecaps goal and headed home a Marvin Chavez long ball for his ninth goal on the year.
Vancouver began to pour on the pressure after that. Richards had the best chance when his shot flew high and wide of the left post, just after Darren Mattocks narrowly missed a pass from Camilo that would have given him an open net to shoot at.
But when Vancouver was awarded the penalty kick, Robson made no mistake.
"I thought it was a penalty for sure," said Rennie. "We haven’t had a penalty all season, which is incredible. We definitely deserved it. It could have been…more because Camilo was about to shoot."
After blown leads in some of their recent games, the Whitecaps were a bit nervous until the referee’s final whistle blew.
"It was a very important game for us," said Rennie. "Especially learning from the L.A. game, holding on much better, limiting the chances we gave up. Obviously there’s pressure when you’re winning the game but I was really pleased."
The Earthquakes have only lost five games all year, and two of them were in Vancouver.
NOTES: It was the first game for Vancouver’s Scottish international Kenny Miller, who came into the game in the 78th minute for Mattocks. ... Vancouver visits Real Salt Lake Friday, while San Jose play host to the Chicago Fire Saturday.