BY ADAM H. BEASLEY
Even north of the border, short-tempered Miami FC could not keep its cool -- or its collective head.
Trailing by a goal to the Whitecaps late in the first half Friday night, midfielder Leo Inacio Nunes slammed Vancouver's Martin Nash to the pitch, earning his second yellow card of the match and an early exit.
Down a man, the Blues had essentially no chance to rally and fell to the Whitecaps 3-2 at Swangard Stadium.
It was the fourth time in eight games Miami FC had a player sent off this season, which is in danger of slipping out of playoff contention. The Blues' winless streak stretched to six games, not including its 2-1 victory over amateur team Lynch's FC in U.S. Open Cup action.
While the first half ended poorly, the Blues looked primed for the fight in the game's opening moments.
With Miami FC playing every other day for the next two weeks, just 14 players made the trip to Western Canada.
Leading scorer Diego Serna was not among them. Miami FC coach Zinho trotted out a brand new lineup, with rarely used players like goalkeeper Kenny Schoeni, Zourab Tsiskaridze and Danny Vasquez earning starts.
In the 10th minute, Tsiskaridze rewarded Zinho for the opportunity. He first powered a free kick on goal, but it was swatted away. On the ensuing corner kick, Tsiskaridze headed in a well-placed effort by Walter Ramirez, handing the Blues their first goal in more than 400 USL-1 minutes and a 1-0 lead.
It did not last long.
Six minutes later, Charles Gbeke recorded the equalizer when he thumped through a long throw-in from Wes Knight with his forehead.
Then in the 34th minute, Gbeke scored again -- this time on a goal that likely should not have been allowed.
On a 50-50 ball in the air, Gbeke appeared to collide with Schoeni, and then jarred the ball free with his head and pounded it through the posts.
Officials allowed the play, incensing the Blues. Eleven minutes later, the frustrations boiled over, and Nunes sent Nash -- brother of Phoenix Suns NBA star Steve Nash -- to the ground.
The Whitecaps (4-4-2) stretched the lead to 3-1 when Marco Reda kneed through a header from Gbeke in the 76th minute.
The Blues (2-5-1) responded two minutes later, when Richard Perdomo cleaned up a free kick by Ramirez, which hit the bottom of the crossbar. But, Miami FC would get no closer.
The Blues return to Miami Saturday, and then face the Austin Aztex Sunday. The match is set for 6 p.m. at Lockhart Stadium.