Season's first road loss, but Vancouver still tops league
In their first away defeat of the season the Vancouver Whitecaps also lost Alfredo Valente to a red card during Friday night's 3-0 defeat by the Rochester Rhinos in upstate New York.
In fact both sides had a player sent off in the game at PAETEC Park, as Rochester's John Ball also received his marching orders for throwing a punch at Whitecaps midfielder Steve Kindel, while Valente's ejection was for a second yellow.
Two goals by Mauricio Salles led the Rhinos to only their second win of the season, with Johnny Menyongar striking the killer blow with a decisive second goal just seconds after the start of the second half.
The result ended Vancouver's undefeated run on the road and upset Whitecaps head coach Teitur Thordarson.
"I'm very unsatisfied with our performance tonight, as it was definitely the worst game that we have played this season," he told whitecapsfc.com
"We made far too many mistakes tonight and we got punished for them. I can assure you that everybody here is disappointed."
Thordarson stayed mainly with the lineup that beat the Portland Timbers 3-1 at Swangard Stadium last Saturday.
Rhinos head coach Darren Tilley introduced former Aston Villa youngster Danny Earls to his starting midfield, while former Whitecaps midfielder Ze Roberto also lined up to face his former club.
On 32 minutes, Rochester opened the scoring with a deflected opening goal from Salles. Ze Roberto fed his fellow Brazilian before his strike deflected off the foot of Omar Jarun and beat a sprawling Jay Nolly.
The USL leaders' hopes of making a positive start to the second half were dashed right from the restart.
A long ball forward found Salles, and his neat flick freed Menyongar in the Whitecaps box. The talented Liberian struck a first-time shot past Nolly to give the Rhinos a 2-0 lead.
Moments later, Vancouver was reduced to 10 men, as Valente received a second yellow card for what looked to be a harmless challenge along the Rochester byline.
Thordarson introduced substitute Takasho Hirano at left fullback for Diaz Kambere on the hour mark, but the Japanese defender failed to inspire a comeback, as Salles completed an impressive night with his second goal of the game on 62 minutes. Ze Roberto was again in on the play, as he lobbed the ball into his fellow South American before the former Montreal Impact player finished comfortably for 3-0.
The Rhinos lost their man advantage on 66 minutes when Ball was sent off after striking Kindel's face, as the two challenged for the ball along the sidelines.
Despite the defeat, Vancouver stayed atop USL Division 1 after Charleston Battery also lost on Friday. Montreal Impact recorded their first goal and win at their new Saputo Stadium to beat the second-place South Carolina club 1-0.
Vancouver will look to rebound from Friday's defeat when it takes on the Impact in Montreal in a bid to make the CONCACAF Champions League.
© The Vancouver Province 2008