Vancouver Whitecaps’ coach Carl Robinson didn’t mince his words.
"Awful," is how Robinson described a dubious call which resulted in D.C. United defeating the Whitecaps 1-0 on a penalty kick in a Major League Soccer game Saturday.
The Whitecaps outplayed United all game but fell behind in the 61st minute after forward Lamar Neagle scored on the penalty kick. The win snapped a three-game United losing streak.
The penalty was awarded after Whitecaps’ defender Kendall Waston was called for hauling down United’s Jose Oritz in the box. The crowd of 20,905 at B.C. Place Stadium booed loudly when replays showed Ortiz tumbling to the ground without Waston touching him.
Referee Sorin Stoica wasn’t swayed and Neagle calmly sent the ball into the top corner for his sixth goal of the season.
Ortiz was fined earlier this week by MLS for embellishment in United’s loss against Chicago last weekend.
"It’s an awful call and it had a major impact on the game," said Robinson. "Usually I don’t criticize anything the officials do because they have a hard enough job, but this official seems to cost us a lot.
"It’s unfortunate. We should score on one of our chances. I think D.C. United came with a game plan tonight to try and get a point and they were gifted three by a wrong call. I could say it’s OK but it’s not OK. We’re talking about professional sports now."
The Whitecaps and Stoica have history. He tossed Robinson out of a match in New York last year.
Vancouver had a chance to tie the game against United in injury time thanks to another questionable call.
Vancouver was awarded a penalty kick following a collision between United goalkeeper Bill Hamid and the Whitecaps’ Brek Shea. Forward Cristian Techera took the shot but hit the post.
United coach Ben Olsen wasn’t happy with the call but pleased with the result.
"Bill got a pretty good piece of Brek," said Olsen. "Whether it’s a natural goalkeepers’ play or a PK, the linesmen seemed to talk the ref into a PK.
"If our PK was a little dubious, maybe it all evens out and the post was on our side today."
The win gives United 14 points (4-6-2) and moves them out of the Eastern Conference basement, one point ahead of the Montreal Impact.
Vancouver (5-6-1) remains hovering around the Western Conference playoff line with 16 points. The Whitecaps have lost two of their last three MLS games but have wins in three of their last five.
The Whitecaps dominated most of the game and had several golden scoring chances. Late in the first half defender Tim Parker headed a shot that Hamid managed to stop. Soon after, forward Fredy Montero drilled a ball just wide.
Techera had two good opportunities in the 19th minute, both set up by Montero. First, Techera took a cross from Montero and headed a ball that hit the cross bar. A few seconds later he sent another Montero pass just past the open corner of the net.
Goalkeeper David Ousted said the Whitecaps needed to convert their opportunities.
"We created the chances we needed today," he said. "We had them but just didn’t take them. When you don’t take them, you let teams in the game.
"D.C. did well to hang on and got their goal off a penalty. At the end of the day if you don’t take your chances it’s going to be hard to win games."
Robinson said his team played well enough to win.
"We should have got three points," he said. "We missed our opportunities. D.C. United took the one gift they had."
NOTES: Whitecaps midfielder Matias Laba missed the game due to yellow card accumulation. â€¦ Shea substituted into the match in the 63rd minute to appear in his 150th MLS game. â€¦ The Whitecaps were playing their third home game in eight days. â€¦ Vancouver takes a 2-1 lead into Montreal Tuesday night in the second leg of their Canadian championship semifinal series.