The Vancouver Whitecaps were positive in the first half, but could not overcome a penalty and a red card, eventually falling 1-0 to the Colorado Rapids.

The Whitecaps have now gone three MLS matches without a goal. Their last one was Brian White’s record-breaker away against the New York Red Bulls.

Whitecaps head coach Vanni Sartini said he thought he played well considering the additional defending they had to do in the second half.

“I thought it was a very good match,” he said. “We knew it was going to be kind of a little bit vertical. They are a very aggressive team.”

Sartini introduced several changes to the starting XI from the match against LAFC. Issues at the back in particular prompted Javain Brown and Bjørn Inge Utvik to come in and flank Ranko Veselinović.

Pedro Vite drew in beside Andrés Cubas and Luis Martin was at left wing-back with Ali Ahmed switching over to the right.

Levonte Johnson was given a start as well after his recent form, pairing with Ryan Gauld and sitting behind Brian White who led from the top.

The first half played out fairly even. Kévin Cabral was finding dangerous positions in between the Whitecaps centre-backs, but he could not get his head on the ball.

For Vancouver, Johnson was constantly giving Rapids defenders as well as Zack Steffen problems. He had three shots in the half with 0.42 xG coming from them. 

“I think [Johnson] did the game that we expected. You know? Being a handful when winning the ball and 1v1. He had two chances to score. He was always a threat on the left side. And I think he was very, very, very good for the 60 minutes that he played,” Sartini said.

But while it looked as though it would end with both sides heading to the locker rooms with a nil score, controversy ensued.

What looked like a good block from Utvik, VAR called the referee over to the monitor and showed the ball hit the centre-back’s arm.

It was a penalty to be sure, but in a moment of double jeopardy, Utvik was sent off for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity (DOGSO). 

Sartini did not want to comment too much on the play. But he did mention he thought there had been a rule change to remove their doubly penalized on a single play.

It was an unbelievably harsh red card, and the entire Whitecaps lineup argued profusely.

“It’s kind of a double penalty, a penalty against and one man less. And it is what it is,” the head coach said.

But it was to no end. Rafael Navarro stepped up to the put and sent Yohei Takaoka the wrong way to put the home side up by one at the half.

The second half forced the Whitecaps on the defence. Not having even numbers with their opponents, the visitors constantly found themselves hemmed into their 18-yard box.

With substitutions such as Fafà Picault and Ryan Raposo, they were able to slowly get back their comfortability in passing up the wings, but Colorado’s back line kept their end clean.

It was two losses on the road for Vancouver as they were left wondering if the outcome may have been different without the sending-off.

Up next

The Whitecaps are back in Vancouver for a couple of days of training before they head back out on the road. This weekend, they are in Seattle for their second match of the season against their Cascadia rivals.

The match is on Saturday, May 18. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.