Vancouver is a city of traditions. We make the most of all two weeks of summer. We riot when we lose the Stanley Cup Final. And every year, we have a foolish red card.
In 2011, Baldomero Toledo issued Eric Hassli a second yellow. The Frenchman had removed his shirt after scoring against New England. Upon scoring, Hassli took off his shirt to reveal an identical shirt beneath, and proceeded to toss the outer shirt into the crowd. By the letter of the law if not the spirit, it was a yellow card offence, and with two yellows, Eric was gone.
In 2012, Darren Mattocks was given a yellow card for simulation, and a second for a late tackle against Colorado. These two cautions happened a mere 54 seconds apart.
Last year, Jun Marques Davidson was fouled by Keon Daniel. As he tried to get up from the turf, he was pushed back down, and then while on his hands and knees, he was kicked in the face by Daniel. Referee Baldomero Toledo did not see anything wrong with this, but he did find a problem when Davidson in a moment of madness, head-butted Daniel. The Whitecaps played the last 82 minutes with ten men.
And now they've gotten over this nonsense for another year. With the Whitecaps leading by one goal in the seventieth minute, Matías Laba was fouled from behind by Nick LaBrocca. Referee Ioannis Stavridis did not blow the whistle, but Laba, while still on the ground, grabbed the ball as if he had been awarded a free kick. Starvridis then issued him a yellow card, and ten seconds later, after it had been pointed out to him that Laba had already received a yellow card, the Argentine midfielder was sent off.
New England went on to find a stoppage time equaliser; Vancouver's ten men went ahead against Colorado in 2012; Philadelphia scored the winner in the 85th minute; and on Saturday, Colorado scored two inside the first four minutes after Laba's ejection.
Before the red, Vancouver were in control, making penetrating runs, showing some good attacking instincts. Vancouver manager Carl Robinson even brought on Sebastián Fernández for Gershon Koffie in search of the opening goal.
Today, we could be talking about a good game. We could be talking about the continuing improvement of Darren Mattocks, the solid partnership of Andy O'Brien and Jay DeMerit, the positives to Laba's play, of which there are many, or the efforts of Pedro Morales, but we're not.
Laba was sent off, and two goals were scored from the position he would have covered. Koffie had already come off. Reo-Coker was unfit. That meant that Robinson's only options were to move Teibert there, which may one day be his eventual role, or to bring on Johnny Leverón.
Unfortunately, before the team could really adjust to Laba's absence, Jose Mari had already equalised. And while the Caps were reeling, he banged in another one.
At that point, there was no longer any reason to bring in a defensive option. Vancouver needed to score. But we don't want to pin this all on Laba.
Pedro Morales had a fantastic chance, which he put wide. Darren Mattocks had a goal ruled off side. Vancouver had its chances before the turning point, and they had them after.
Carl Robinson was frank in his assessment of the game's turning point. "If he misses the decision, the first one; you can’t penalise the guy on the second one."
"It is disappointing. I said we win as a group and we lose as a group. Today was our first loss, but it is important that we bounce back the correct way." While he felt it was a 'kick in the teeth', he knows that "things don’t always go your way in football."
Next Saturday the Caps head to Los Angeles where they'll face the Galaxy at 7:30 PM PST. Click here to open our fullscreen slideshow.