Making their first Major League Soccer visit to America's capital, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (3W-12L-9D) suffered a 4-0 away defeat to Eastern Conference side D.C. United (7W-6L-9D) on Saturday evening.
Two goals by Chris Pontius led United to just their third home win of the season, with Andy Najar and substitute Stephen King also getting on the scoresheet for D.C. Facing Whitecaps FC for the third time with a third different club this season, Canadian international Dwayne De Rosario led by example as United captain, as he recorded two assists in Saturday's match at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.
It was a humbling setback for the Blue and White, who never recovered from United goals either side of halftime, as D.C. made the most of their potent counter-attack to seal all three points in the second half. Vancouver's quest for a first-ever away win in MLS continues, with the 'Caps now 0W-9L-4D away from Empire Field this season. United, meanwhile, extend their unbeaten league run to three matches with Saturday's win.
"I am very disappointed," Whitecaps FC head coach Tom Soehn said after facing his former club. "I think we spent a lot of time this week talking about the job we did against Chicago at home and how we did the little things. Last weekend, we worked, we competed, and did all the things that are even required more on the road. Tonight, I thought we let ourselves down in that category. If we got to 0-0 at halftime, that's a good result on the road, but we let in a bad goal in a spot where De Rosario gets through two defenders, and we get beat on the weak side. We talked about it and addressed it at halftime and I think we came out with some energy, but then we give a poor goal up to start the half, and the rest was history."
Soehn made one change to the side that started last weekend's home win over Chicago Fire, as captain Jay DeMerit replaced injured Alain Rochat at centre back. It was the United States international's first start for Vancouver in six weeks. 'Caps goalkeeper Jay Nolly got the start against his former club. United, meanwhile, opted for 2011 MLS SuperDraft pick Joe Willis in goal, with the youngster claiming a clean sheet on his MLS debut versus the 'Caps.
A typically hot and humid D.C. evening greeted both sets of players on Saturday, and despite a competitive first half, United took their chances and secured a comfortable home win in the end.
The first half saw both clubs have spells of play, with the home side taking the initiative in the early stages. United's Santino Quaranta rifled a shot just wide of the target on 14 minutes before Nolly made assured saves from De Rosario and Clyde Simms. After a slow start, Whitecaps FC worked their way into the match and created half-chances through Camilo's run and cross on 17 minutes, while Eric Hassli was unlucky not to get on the end of Jordan Harvey's fine cross from the left two minutes later.
Vancouver's best opportunity before the break came from a Camilo free kick on 40 minutes. The 'Budweiser Man of the Match' has been in excellent form with his set-pieces, and this attempt at goal brought the best out of United goalkeeper Willis. The D.C. keeper deflected Camilo's strike off his own crossbar before a melee ensued in front of the United goal. Harvey had a shot blocked in the six-yard box by United defender Daniel Woolard before Willis saved attempts from Jonathan Leathers and Gershon Koffie.
It proved to be a turning point in the match for Vancouver, as United scored their winner in the two minutes of time added on before the break. Some good work by De Rosario on the right-hand side of the Whitecaps FC box allowed the D.C. captain to play over a fine cross to Pontius at the far post. Though Nolly got a hand to De Rosario's cross, a sliding Pontius converted into an empty net for a 1-0 D.C. lead at the break.
It was a disappointing end to a first half that saw Whitecaps FC battle well to make inroads in the match. As Vancouver looked to rebound to falling behind, United effectively sealed the win with a fortunate second goal from Najar on 48 minutes. The Honduran youngster took Quaranta's cross-field ball before reaching the Vancouver byline. From what looked an impossible angle, the young Central American drilled a shot through the legs of Nolly and into the net to make it 2-0 to D.C.
With the task of a turnaround seemingly more daunting, Soehn brought on Davide Chiumiento and Mustapha Jarju to try and spark things in attack, though a change in formation made life difficult for the Whitecaps FC backline, as they faced a dangerous and determined United counter-attack. Vancouver's best chance of the second half came on 66 minutes, but Willis was on hand to stop Hassli with his legs at the far post after the big Frenchman connected with Leathers' cross from the left.
As the 'Caps struggled to generate chances, United made the most of open space in Vancouver's third to score a third goal on 70 minutes. From another break into the 'Caps box, King's initial shot deflected to Pontius, who put home his second goal of the match and seventh of the season for a 3-0 United lead.
With their tails up, D.C. were hungry for more goals, as the 'Caps struggled to cope with United's counter-attack. After hitting the post and missing another chance himself, De Rosario capped another fine performance for his current club by setting up King's first goal of the season on 81 minutes. The substitute's low shot beat an outstretched Nolly to cap a convincing four-goal victory for the home side.
Whitecaps FC will now look to regroup from this latest setback, as they head to The City of Roses next Saturday for a Cascadia Cup derby clash with 2011 MLS expansion cousins Portland Timbers. United, meanwhile, will look to build on this weekend's win over Vancouver, as they visit Eastern Conference rivals Chicago on Thursday evening.
45+2' - DCU - Chris Pontius (Dwayne De Rosario)
48' - DCU - Andy Najar (Santino Quaranta)
70' - DCU - Chris Pontius
81' - DCU - Stephen King (Dwayne De Rosario)
Shots: D.C. United 19 - Vancouver 9
Shots on Goal: D.C. United 8 - Vancouver 7
Saves: D.C. United 6 - Vancouver 4
Fouls: D.C. United 13 - Vancouver 8
Offsides: D.C. United 2 - Vancouver 1
Corners: D.C. United 3 - Vancouver 2
15' - VAN - Camilo
39' - DCU - Brandon McDonald
45+1' - VAN - Michael Boxall
60' - DCU - Charlie Davies
31.Joe Willis; 21.Daniel Woolard. 5.Dejan Jakovic, 2.Brandon McDonald, 23.Perry Kitchen; 13.Chris Pontius (4.Marc Burch 77'), 25.Santino Quaranta (20.Stephen King 63'), 19.Clyde Simms, 14.Andy Najar (3.Austin da Luz 74'); 7.Dwayne De Rosario, 9.Charlie Davies
Subs not used: 1.Steve Cronin, 15.Ethan White, 16.Josh Wolff, 29.Blake Brettschneider
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
18.Jay Nolly; 26.Jordan Harvey, 6.Jay DeMerit (20.Davide Chiumiento 62'), 2.Michael Boxall, 25.Jonathan Leathers; 22.Shea Salinas, 33.Peter Vagenas (7.Mustapha Jarju 71'), 28.Gershon Koffie, 11.John Thorrington (12.Jeb Brovsky 70'); 37.Camilo, 29.Eric Hassli
Subs not used: 1.Joe Cannon, 3.Bilal Duckett, 13.Michael Nanchoff, 23.Long Tan
Budweiser Man of the Match: Camilo