Considering the Carolina RailHawks have never won a game when they've allowed the first goal, spotting league-leading Vancouver a 2-0 lead in the first 10 minutes Friday made for a tough night.
The Whitecaps struck for three goals in the first half, and despite playing a man down the entire second half dealt the RailHawks a 3-2 defeat in Cary, extending Carolina's USL First Division winless streak to 13 games.
"We gifted them three goals in the first half," Carolina coach Scott Schweitzer said. "In the first half, we still played some of our best soccer attacking. The three early mistakes, it's hard to come back from that against a veteran championship team like Vancouver."
Before the mostly orange-clad 3,856 denizens could get comfortable at WakeMed Soccer Park, the Whitecaps (10-4-4) took a 1-0 lead. In the second minute, Alfredo Valente's free kick into the box was knocked down to Omar Jarun on the touchline. His centering pass found Charles Gbeke just inside the 6-yard box, and he redirected it into the goal.
In the 10th minute, Vancouver had another free kick deep in the RailHawks' end. Carolina goalkeeper Chris McClellan dropped Martin Nash's shot on frame, and Jarun hammered in the rebound.
Carolina midfielder Santiago Fusilier cut the deficit in half with his fourth goal of the season in the 18th minute. The ball popped out to him 25 yards from goal, and his looping shot dipped just under the crossbar.
But Carolina (4-7-9) couldn't build on the momentum, and Vancouver went up 3-1 in the 35th minute. Jeff Clarke's throughball sprung Eduardo Sebrango free, and Sebrango slotted the ball under McClellan, his third goal in as many games against Carolina this season.
After Martin Nunez poached a goal in the 83rd minute -- redirecting a ball in at the near post on a corner kick -- the RailHawks nearly evened the match in the 86th. On a free kick from 30 yards, Chris Lemons' blast glanced off Frankie Sanfilippo and trickled wide of the goal.
"It's tough because we really played some good soccer against a team that is in first place," Schweitzer said. "I think we were the better team in the flow of the game, but not the better team in the most important part, which would be finishing and not giving up goal."
RAILHAWKS ACQUIRE GUTIERREZ: The Carolina RailHawks traded forward Connally Edozien to Miami FC for young defender Eddie Gutierrez on Friday, pending league and USSF approval. Gutierrez is expected to join the RailHawks next week when they return from Puerto Rico.