Vancouver players are watching their playoff life flash before their very eyes. Yet again, they failed to close out a match Sunday – and they could eventually pay the ultimate post-season price for this season-long pox, this inability to finish matches.
Martin Rennie’s men were sitting so pretty a few weeks ago before it all started unraveling about two months ago.
Still, even then, the second-year club appeared to have done enough early in 2012 to stay ahead of the peloton. They had, right?
But they keep leaking goals at the worst, most awful times.
Last week it was in Dallas, where a goal deep, deep into stoppage time kept the fifth-place Whitecaps from splitting the points. (And more importantly, allowing sixth-place Dallas to grab all the points.)
Sunday night, back home, they did it again. Leading 2-1 over Colorado, about set to twist the knife in Dallas’ lingering playoff hopes, they conceded a late goal and walked away with just one point rather than all three. Jamie Smith’s 86th-minute equalizer was enough for a 2-2 draw for Colorado.
Smith took the goal well, but the chance never would have materialized had the home team’s defense dealt with a fairly routine clearance. Instead, it was chaos and quickly went to you-know-where when Vancouver defenders ran into each other instead of clearing a ball.
So, add it up – the Whitecaps have lost four points in the waning minutes of their last two matches. Those are same four points that might have been just enough to put the boys or BC Place clear of Dallas at this point.
It’s hardly the first time such a thing has happened.
- Back in May, the Whitecaps gave up a late goal to Canadian rival Toronto in an Amway Canadian Championship match. That 83rd minute strike cost the Whitecaps the two-leg series.
- Then there was Terry Dunfield’s 95th minute goal (again) for Toronto back in July, a dramatic strike that gave the Reds a memorable 3-2 win over Vancouver at BMO Field.
- Shortly after that Los Angeles cranked out two goals after the 82nd minute to earn a tie at BC Place.
- Then the 96th minute goal in Dallas, followed by Sunday’s deflating draw.
Even more disconcerting from the ‘Caps’ side, Colorado looked the more likely to grab a third goal following Smith’s strike. Omar Cummings shook loose in added time but couldn’t beat Vancouver ‘keeper Brad Knighton.
So, yes … fair to say this is not a new problem for Rennie’s club. But it certainly is a big one.
Here are highlights from Sunday’s draw with the Colorado Rapids: