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Whitecaps experience a Rocky Mountain low against the Rapids

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Ahead of Saturday’s match between the Colorado Rapids and the Vancouver Whitecaps at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, the big stories focused on the debuts of Rapids players Gabriel Torres and Vicente Sanchez.

Instead, the Rapids claimed their 2-0 victory through a rookie and a veteran, as Deshorn Brown and Edson Buddle scored efforts for the victorious home side.

Brown scored the opener on 36 minutes, converting a header from close range from a pinpoint Sanchez cross from the right hand side. Whitecaps defender Lee Young-Pyo wasn’t tight to Brown, and the player was allowed a free header from the left which he headed across goal to beat a helpless David Ousted in the Whitecaps goal.

Following the match, Vancouver attributed that goal to an unwillingness or inability to play the ball to feet rather than kick it long. Throughout the match, the ‘Caps struggled to keep the ball, only holding it for about 45 per cent of the match.

“We had a chance to build out of the back, and when we were doing that, we were actually creating some good chances behind their midfield, and we looked dangerous,” head coach Martin Rennie told the radio broadcast. “So, first thing is I would like to have seen us do that but we decided to play long.

“When we did that, we didn’t win the second ball — which is obviously a major part of it — any time you play long you have to win the second ball.”

Buddle, coming off the bench, sealed the deal for the Rapids with a bit of a fortuitous effort, slamming a shot which ricocheted off Whitecaps centre back Johnny Leveron before going into the Vancouver goal 79 minutes in.

“That’s just one of those goals you have to shake your head at and say ‘that’s unlucky,'” keeper David Ousted said on the radio broadcast following the game. “But sometimes that’s what happens in soccer. We need to defend as well as possible. Johnny did well get to get there and we were unlucky on that one and we’ll keep working hard on it.”

While the Whitecaps were well in the match for long stretches, the Rapids looked the better team for large portions of the night.

Just four minutes in, Hendry Thomas narrowly missed an effort with a header — then on 19 minutes Torres nearly showed his quality but fired over the target.

Vancouver had their chances too in the opening frame, with Russell Teibert finding himself denied from close range by Clint Irwin from close range in the 26th minute. Irwin, who played in the Canadian Soccer League with Capital City FC, once again denied Vancouver in the 35th minute, pushing out his leg to prevent Camilo scoring his 15th goal of the season.

Substitute Darren Mattocks, making his first appearance in over a month for the ‘Caps after undergoing meniscus surgery on his right knee, looked good — especially in the 67th minute when he accelerated past Marvell Wynne before Irwin once again stood tall in the Colorado goal.

“I thought he looked very lively,” Rennie said of Mattocks’ performance. “Even on that one where he was running with Marvell Wynne, he did get away and did get the shot off, but Clint Irwin managed to make a big save.

“It was just one of those nights for us, where with those three or four clear openings, if you score one of those, especially if you score the first one, then you’ve really got a great chance to hold on to something. But when you lose the first goal, then you really need to take those next chances when they come along.

“Tonight we didn’t manage to do that, so it’s something that we’re disappointed about but when we analyze the whole game we’ll certainly see things we want to improve on and that’s really our main focus.”

The Whitecaps are back in action against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday at BC Place.

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