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It was a bad night all around for the Vancouver Whitecaps. Bad luck, bad defending and a bad result.
But, in the big picture, it’s not all bad.
The Caps fell 4-1 to the Houston Dynamo Wednesday night at Shell Energy Stadium, with their quest for a top-four finish in the West put on hold for now.
Vancouver had come into the game on a four-game away unbeaten streak, but it was unrealistic to think the good times would roll forever. The Dynamo (12-10-7) were on a six-game unbeaten run of their own, and have the best home record in the West.
The Caps (11-9-8) have won just once in 11 tries in Houston, and that win came five years ago.
Does it excuse the loss? No. Two of the goals came off Charmin-soft defending, and some usually impactful Whitecaps were all but invisible. The Dynamo went up on Vancouver early and never let off the gas, while the Caps appeared to have little in the tank from the start.
A very questionable foul call against Richie Laryea 12 minutes in gave the Dynamo a free kick just outside the top left corner of the box. Houston’s Héctor Herrera took the kick, his dipping effort deflecting off of Brian White’s head past a wrong-footed Yohei Takaoka. A bad call by referee Fotis Bazakos put Vancouver under the cosh.
Houston’s Griffin Dorsey potted the second for the home side, taking advantage of Tristan Blackmon’s unwillingness to challenge him in the box to curl one top corner past Takaoka just moments before halftime. The Caps’ keeper made his displeasure over the lax defending known as the ball was plucked out of the net.
The third goal saw Iván Franco sprint unchallenged and unchecked from midfield between Pedro Vite and Laryea to put the game to bed in the 73rd minute, tucking home Brad Smith’s cross with a diving header.
Brooklyn Raines added a fourth in the 86th minute, the first time this season the Caps have conceded four goals.
The Dynamo lead the league in clean sheets with 12, but the Caps put one past Steve Clark in the 90th minute. It appeared Sebastian Berhalter had gotten a touch for his second goal of the season, but it was officially credited as an own goal to Erik Sviatchenko.
BY THE NUMBERS
11: Shots by Vancouver, to Houston’s six — though the Dynamo put five of them on goal.
12: Touches by Vancouver’s leading scorer, Brian White, in his 67 minutes on the field. He had nine at the half. It was indictment of how the Caps couldn’t build up at all, nor find him with any decent service. He did put one free header wide, a touch he’d definitely want back.
2: Number of passes more by Vancouver than Houston (416-414), in a physical and evenly possessed contest.
Brian White’s Whitecaps legacy has already exceeded that other guy, even if his goals total hasn’t
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