The Vancouver Whitecaps extended their frustrating losing streak to four as they dropped the match to the Columbus 1-0. While the Caps were missing their top goal scorer, playmaker and captain, and unlike the previous three games, where the Caps lacked a sustained effort for a full 90 minutes, this game saw the Caps carry the play. Unfortunately a missed penalty kick by Terry Dunfield and a late goal by Jeff Cunningham gave the visitors from Ohio the victory and the three points.
The first half saw the Whitecaps start with some promising chances as they pressured the Columbus backline causing turnovers. Early in the half, after a turnover, Omar Salgado was sent on a forty yard run but was only able to fire his left footed strike wide of the net. Camilo had a couple opportunities in the first half as he attempted two shots on goal but was denied each time by Will Hesmer.
Even when the Crew had scoring chances, great defensive plays by Knight, Leathers and Koffie denied the visitors a shot on goal. Just before halftime the Caps had their best chance of the first when Salinas was set up by Camilo but the winger’s shot found the post instead of the back of the net.
It looked as though the Caps would give up an early goal in the second half as Rodgers fired his shot wide and then Cannon came up with a big save off a shot by Mendoza within the first five minutes of the half. The Whitecaps then had a glorious chance when Camilo was sent in alone on goal but his blast was saved by Hesmer keeping the game scoreless. With less than twenty minutes to go in the game the Caps earned a penalty kick when Alain Rochat was pulled down in the box on a free kick.
With the crowd on its feet Terry Dunfield, recently subbed on, stepped up confidently and took the shot but he telegraphed the placement of the ball and Hesmer was able to stop it. It got worse five minutes later when Shea Salinas was sent off with a red card after a late challenge on a Crew defender. It seemed at that point Columbus gained momentum which eventually paid off with Cunningham’s historic 133rd MLS goal, which may have been offside, in the 90th minute.
The backline played well even with DeMerit absent with an injury as they helped build up the play when the Caps were moving forward. There was also good solid play from the wing as there were a number of crosses that were much more accurate than in previous games. Individually Camilo had a terrific game as he tested Hesmer regularly and even showed some playmaking ability while Michael Boxall may have had a breakthrough game for the Caps on the backline.
It was the same old story for the Whitecaps in this game, even before the missed penalty kick by Dunfield, as the Whitecaps failed to finish their chances. With the way the team carried the play the Caps could have had a goal or even two on the scoreboard by the time the penalty kick was awarded. There were some encouraging performances in this disappointing 1 goal loss to the Columbus Crew but the result is all that matters at this point of the season for the Whitecaps.