Conceding goals at key moments is a recurring storyline for Vancouver Whitecaps FC in their first Major League Soccer season, and it was more of the same on Saturday in a 4-0 loss to D.C. United at RFK Stadium.
While there’s no good time to concede goals, allowing D.C.’s Chris Pontius to score in time added on at the end of the first half and then conceding another shortly after the break killed any chance Vancouver had of claiming a road victory.
“It’s those big momentum swings that have been giving us trouble,” captain Jay DeMerit told Vancouver radio station TEAM 1040 following the match. “You look at those x-factors throughout a game, whether it’s a clearance on the defensive end, or the finish on our offensive end. We seem to be on the short end of the stick too many times for that this year, and that means guys need to step up and be more accountable when it matters.
“You look at general play throughout this season, we’ve been fine - it’s those x-factor moments that have cost us, and we need to continue to recognize when those happen and avoid them moving forward.”
While Pontius’s stoppage-time goal in the first half after a wonderful piece of individual play from Dwayne De Rosario hurt Whitecaps FC going into the break, Andy Najar’s 48th-minute goal was infinitely more damaging.
Not only was the timing terrible for the ‘Caps, but the nature of the goal made it all the more demoralizing, as Jay Nolly allowed Najar to score from what should have been an impossible angle.
“Those are crucial moments when teams need to shut the door,” head coach Tom Soehn told MLSsoccer.com. “If we went in 0-0 at the half, it would have been a good result and would have forced them to open up. But letting one in like that just gave them confidence and put us on our heels.
“I actually thought we came into the second half and started to take the game to them, but then we let in an awful second goal, and the rest is history.”
Whitecaps FC were pretty tame offensively, but one play could have changed everything. D.C. United goalkeeper Joe Willis, making his MLS debut, made a brilliant save on Camilo midway through the first half.
The rookie did well to stop the Brazilian’s curling effort, and showed great bravery and focus to gather the rebound in a crowd of players at the foot of his goal.
“It sums up our whole season on a mentality type of issue,” DeMerit told TEAM 1040. “We get one cleared off the line, then [they come back and score on us].”
Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @martinmacmahon