VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Whitecaps lost their coach, and a chance to gain ground on a playoff spot Saturday.
Bradley Wright-Phillips scored to give the New York Red Bulls a 1-0 victory over the Whitecaps on Saturday in a match that Vancouver coach Carl Robinson was ejected shortly before halftime for protesting a throw-in awarded to New York.
The Red Bulls prevailed despite having few legitimate scoring chances while the Whitecaps had several.
"We could have, and probably should have beat them, but we didn't," said Robinson. "We just didn't take any of the numerous chances we had."
Robinson faces an automatic one-game suspension for his ejection.
Wright-Phillips chipped a shot home after Whitecaps defender Jordan Harvey bounced a clearing attempt off him while falling down in the box. The goal was the 17th of the season for Wright-Phillips and moved him into a tie for the Major League Soccer scoring lead.
The Red Bulls (12-9-7) extended their unbeaten streak to a club-record 10 games as they moved into a tie for second place in the Eastern Conference with Toronto FC. New York earned its first-ever win against the Caps in seven all-time meetings.
"From a table perspective, (it's) very big because it keeps us in the race for first in the East," said New York coach Jesse Marsch. "It keeps us on our roll."
The Whitecaps (8-13-7) went winless for the eighth straight game and saw their hopes of making the playoffs become even more difficult. Vancouver has only scored one goal in its past seven league games. The Caps have now been blanked in three straight contests and failed to put a single shot on target Saturday. They were credited with 12 shots, including blocks.
"It's a (microcosm) of our season, I think, and it is what it is," said Robinson, referring to missed opportunities. "We can't sugar-coat it, and we don't. We need to do better."
Striker Erik Hurtado recorded seven shots, shooting wide on a number of dangerous chances. He also put a header over the crossbar. Robinson said Hurtado was "distraught" and "in tears" after the game and his bad luck coincided with the team's misfortune.
Referee Sorin Stoica ejected Robinson in first-half added time for protesting the decision to award New York a throw-in after a Red Bulls player kicked the ball out of play. A second ball was thrown on the field while the original ball came back and a Whitecaps player booted one ball to the sideline. Seconds after an animated Robinson complained, the official sent him off.
When asked whether he would appeal the ejection, Robinson said he will check the rules first. Meanwhile, Red Bulls coach Marsch disagreed with the official's decision.
"For me, I don't think (Robinson) was acting egregiously or obnoxiously," said Marsch. "He was trying to make a point about a couple of calls, but I didn't think that warranted a tossing. The league is making this emphasis about bench behaviour and coaches. So I guess we have to find a way to be altar boys on the bench."
Three minutes into the second half, Hurtado missed the net for the third time after he was in the box alone against Robles. The miss proved costly as Wright-Phillips scored for New York in the 50th minute.
Wright-Phillips said he was fortunate to capitalize after some ricochets of the ball.
"When (the ball) broke free, I just thought hit the target, try to hit the target," he said. "I kind of blacked out, I don't remember too much. (I'm) just happy to get a goal and three points on the road."
The Red Bulls earned only their second win in 15 away games this season.
"We had enough chances to win two games, I thought, to be honest, but right now it's not going our way," said Caps rookie midfielder Fraser Aird.
Notes: Assistant Martyn Pert ran Vancouver's bench in Robinson's absence. … Both teams used all three of their allowed substitutes. … The officials were slow coming on to the field for the second half. They jogged on to the pitch together while players from both sides were already lined up... David Villa of NYCFC also has 17 goals.