FRISCO, Texas - After watching helplessly as a corner kick bounced off his teammate's back and into the net less than 30 minutes into Saturday night's match at FC Dallas, Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper Joe Cannon kicked the goalpost in frustration.
It was going to be one of those nights.
A combination of bad bounces and what coach Martin Rennie called "poor play" doomed the Whitecaps to a 2-0 defeat against MLS-leading Dallas, extending their winless streak to five games.
"We just made it too easy for them," Cannon said. "Unfortunately for us, we picked a tough night to have a tough night."
That it was going to be a tough night was apparent very quickly. Dallas (6-1-1) dominated possession and pressed the attack in the first half, leading to a 7-4 advantage in shots and six corner kicks before intermission.
Dallas's fifth corner finally drew blood from the Whitecaps (2-3-2). Assigned to mark Dallas defender George John, centre back Brad Rusin did his job, getting between John and the net. But the powerful John simply bulled his way into Rusin, pushing him backward — and right into the ball, which caromed off Rusin's back and past Cannon.
Vancouver defender Lee Young-Pyo, stationed on the near post, cleared it away, but not before it had crossed the line to put the Whitecaps behind 1-0.
And things went downhill from there.
"I thought at that point we had weathered a storm," Cannon said. "I felt bad for our guys. They fought, and to have an unlucky bounce like that, it was kind of demoralizing at the time. For some reason it took us a while to react."
Indeed, the Whitecaps never really did react. Dallas's attackers consistently punched holes in the Vancouver defence, finishing with 13 shots and six on goal.
Cannon kept the Whitecaps in it with five tough saves, but Dallas cemented its dominance in the 50th minute when Kenny Cooper fired a shot that glanced off Young-Pyo before striker Blas Perez redirected it with his head past Cannon for a 2-0 lead.
Meanwhile, the Vancouver offence, weakened by the absence of forwards Kenny Miller (hamstring) and Corey Hertzog (concussion), generated few real scoring chances. The best came late in the first half when midfielder Matt Watson took advantage of a dropped ball by Dallas keeper Raul Fernandez and slipped a shot that appeared to be going in before John raced back to kick it away in the nick of time.
"We didn't really click early on and you could see that," Watson said. "We were a little bit off our game, maybe a little low on confidence.
"All over, we weren't very good. We didn't close them down as quick as we could, gave them too much time. Things become easy for them when they have time on the ball. We're very disappointed in ourselves and our performances."
For the Whitecaps, who haven't won since March 9, the challenge is in how they react to their performance. They face FC Edmonton on Wednesday in the Amway Canadian Championships, then return home to meet FC Dallas again next Saturday.
"Is it a setback?" Cannon said, repeating a reporter's question. "That's up to the guys and how we react (to determine) if it's a setback or just a kick in the ass."