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Whitecaps take advantage of another ice-cold opponent

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Long Tan
For the second week in a row, the Vancouver Whitecaps took advantage of a team in a tailspin.

Last week, the Whitecaps dominated a depleted Real Salt Lake side on a long losing streak. On Wednesday, a Dwayne De Rosario-less D.C. United, losers of two in a row coming in, went to B.C. Place. And D.C United lost their third in a row — a 2-1 decision as Long Tan scored the winner for the ‘Caps.

After a season of bad breaks and winless streaks, the Whitecaps have finally got a run of games — OK, well, two games — against ice-cold teams.

Just two weeks ago, D.C United, with a bunch if games in hand on everybody else in MLS, looked to be a shoo-in to make the playoffs. De Rosario was scoring goals in bunches, the offence was clicking, the results were coming.

But, with three losses in a row — D.C. United have squandered the games in hand and remain five points back of a playoff spot.

And if there are any doubters of Dwayne De Rosario’s influence on D.C. United, his absence was proof of how important he is to the team.De Rosario played in Canada’s 0-0 draw with Puerto Rico the previous night,and wasn’t available for his MLS side. D.C. United got a goal from Brandon McDonald, but for the most part struggled to put together any sort of sustained attack. Without De Rosario, the D.C United of 2011 looked a lot like the hapless D.C. United of 2010.

With just two games left in the Whitecaps’ regular season, the win pulls the club out of last place in the MLS table. It now has 28 points, one more than the New England Revolution. And the Whitecaps have done well to feast on clubs that have struggled.

It’s also why it’s tough to read too much into the Whitecaps’ two-game win streak; the teams they have beaten are in the worst stretches of their seasons. They haven’t beaten teams at the tops of their games.

How bad was D.C.? With just 43 seconds gone, the back line totally fell asleep, allowing Whitecaps’ forward, Camilo, to run unmarked into the penalty area. He latched onto a cross from Jordan Harvey, giving the Whitecaps a 1-0 lead.

And, what’s worse than giving up a goal less than a minute into the first half? How about giving up goals in the first minutes of, ahem, both halves?

Just 53 seconds into the second half, Tan scored his first MLS goal as DCU defender Daniel Woolard totally lost his mark on the Chinese forward. Tan was able to head home an inviting cross from Alain Rochat. Questions could also be asked of DCU keeper Bill Hamid — on such a long, lofting cross, could he have not come off his goal line to claim the ball?

Desperate, DCU provided some offensive threat as the second half went on. McDonald’s 57th-minute marker — a header off a set piece from the big defender — made things interesting.

But DCU’s best chance out of open play, a shot from Marc Burch from the left side of the box, was blocked by a sliding Jeb Brovsky. The shot did strike Brovsky’s arm, but he was in mid slide and actually was showing his numbers to the shooter when the contact occurred. The referee ruled that it was a case of ball to hand — and simply gave DCU a corner.

Vancouver’s next game is at FC Dallas — which, on Wednesday won its first game since the end of August. FCD has a key CONCACAF Champions League match just 72 hours after the Whitecaps match, so it might rest players for the MLS match.

Will the schedule be kind to the Whitecaps for the third game in a row?

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