Penalty kicks doom Real Salt Lake to fourth straight loss
Vancouver, British Columbia •Â Might as well have just played in the monsoon, for all the good a postponement did Real Salt Lake.
Venturing shorthanded to play the game that was washed out by heavy rains nearly three months ago, RSL suffered another crushing defeat this time 3-0 to the last-place Vancouver Whitecaps, by virtue of two penalty kicks and a controversial red card at renovated B.C. Place on Thursday night.
"We've done this too many times this year," defender Nat Borchers said.
It was the fourth straight loss for RSL, which was reduced to 10 men late in the first half when midfielder Collen Warner was sent off for a handball in the box, though video replays seemed to show the ball hit his left shoulder after he had fallen to the turf in a tangle with one of the Whitecaps on a free kick.
"I don't think the ref saw it," goalkeeper Nick Rimando said, "and he reacted to the players on their team. And it changed the game."
Indeed, Camilo easily converted the ensuing penalty kick for the Whitecaps playing without suspended leading scorer Eric Hassli and added another after RSL's Chris Schuler obviously handled at the edge of the box in the 53rd minute.
Vancouver's Nizar Khalfan added a long-range blast past Rimando in the 88th minute after the RSL defense "just fell asleep" on a long goal kick, according to assistant coach Jeff Cassar.
"That's just inexcusable," he said.
Even before Warner was ejected a decision by referee Chris Penso that Cassar called "a bit harsh" RSL was short-handed, with nine players either hurt, suspended, away on international duty or tending to family matters.
Even coach Jason Kreis barely made it to the game while battling food poisoning, coaching from a radio booth above the field rather than the sideline.
Cassar said the fourth official on the sideline told him that Penso believed Warner handled the ball intentionally, warranting the team's seventh red card of the season five of them in the first half.
It did not receive a single one in the regular season, last year.
"It's frustrating for sure," Borchers said. "It's debatable, the call. But we put ourselves in that position" with a "silly foul" that led to the free kick. "Then we're chasing the game in the second half, and it's tough to do. We've been doing it too many games now."
RSL had not lost four in a row in four years, and the slump is coming at an awful time, with the Major League Soccer playoffs barely three weeks away. The team is 15-11-6 and probably locked into a first-round match-up with the Seattle Sounders, but doesn't want its poor play to linger.
"At this moment, for us, everything is difficult," RSL's Javier Morales said.
Vancouver 3, RSL 0
R IN SHORT • Short-handed RSL suffers a fourth straight loss for the first time in four years.
KEY STAT • RSL has been outscored 12-2 during its four-game skid.
KEY MOMENT • RSL's Collen Warner is red carded in the 43rd minute and the Whitecaps convert a penalty kick.