By Marc Weber
Martin Nash was stoic. He didn't sulk. But he did call Roberto Brown a baby.
Nash, the Vancouver Whitecaps captain, was dealt a straight red card in the Caps' 3-2 loss to the Montreal Impact in the first leg of the USL-1 final Saturday at Swangard Stadium. He'll miss the return leg Saturday in Montreal.
Nash faced the media after, accepted his fate, put on a brave face and expressed his belief in his teammates. And then took a shot at his victim.
"There's nothing I can do about it," he said. "I'm disappointed, but I missed the Toronto game here [June 2] and the guys stepped up and won that, so I have all the confidence in the world, especially the way they played in the second half here.
"He fouled me seconds before. I went in for a tackle. I don't think there was much in it. He cried like a baby and the referee [Carol Anne Chenard] bought it. She bought into his squealing." The replay showed Nash coming in late. It seemed like a payback tackle, though not overly harsh. Brown's could have been a foul, too.
Brown was taken off on a stretcher, only to come back in a minute later and almost scored twice.
The crowd gave Nash a light round of applause as he headed down the tunnel. Brown was booed mercilessly.
All that matters now is how Vancouver gets on without its leader and best passer. They'll be buoyed by their 4-1-1 mark without him in the lineup this season.
"We were in a similar situation before Toronto and guys stepped up then," said head coach Teitur Thordarson. "So I just expect the younger guys to fill in that place again." Nash needed to play 66 minutes Saturday to reach 20,000 for his Caps' career.
Saturday's rematch was to be his 250th game for the club. He'll reach neither milestone this season.
Thordarson might be more concerned with how ineffective Nash and Kenold Versailles were through 50 minutes against Montreal's midfield, a group that includes three former Whitecaps in David Testo, Joey Gjertsen and Tony Donatelli.
Thordarson's options to replace Nash include Tanzanian youngster Nizar Khalfan, who was pulled from the wing at halftime Saturday, and Chris Pozniak, normally a centreback.
Winger Ansu Toure (thigh) is expected back for the second leg, while defender Lyle Martin left Saturday's game limping.
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