Camilo converted twice from the penalty spot and Nizar Khalfan added a late volley to give Vancouver a 3-0 victory over Real Salt Lake at B.C. Place.
Both penalty kicks arrived with a hint of controversy. Referee Chris Penso's suspect decision to send Collen Warner off for an alleged handball two minutes before halftime altered the game and permitted Camilo to coolly open the scoring from the spot. The Brazilian striker added his second eight minutes into the second half after Chris Schuler saw the ball unfortunately deflect onto his arm just inside the RSL penalty area and Penso then pointed to the spot.
Khalfan punctuated Vancouver's first win since Aug. 27 with a well-taken volley from outside the penalty area with two minutes remaining and sent RSL sliding to its fourth consecutive defeat.
The Friday Five watched the match and supplied its observations to start off this week's Forecast:
1. The circumstances didn't really favor a result for RSL: This fixture appeared star-crossed from the start when rain (and a waterlogged temporary grass field at Empire Field) forced MLS to postpone the match on July 16. By the time the game finally arrived, RSL played with half of its regular starting XI (including influential captain Kyle Beckerman) unavailable and coach Jason Kreis (food poisoning) marooned in a radio booth. Add in a couple of odd factors – RSL's inability to triumph in its gold jerseys in MLS play (0-1-3 after this match) or win anywhere on Canadian soil (0-4-3 after this match), plus its general ineptitude on turf (3-13-8 after this match) – and this match represented a major issue for a RSL side that would have normally expected to secure at least one point in this contest.
2. Before the red card, the game really didn't offer up much one way or the other: In fact, the first half played out just as one might expect: RSL dominated the possession without looking particularly dangerous, while Vancouver attempted to catch the visitors on the counter with Camilo and Long Tan.
3. RSL will feel aggrieved about a poor dismissal, but its shoddy set piece marking might have led the Vancouver penalty anyways: Warner did not deserve the red card he received for handling (the ball hit off his shoulder) from the always perplexing Penso, but he probably should have given away a penalty anyways for dragging Jeb Brovsky to the ground as the two men attempted to latch onto Camilo's dangerous set piece service from the left flank.
The sequence changed the game and showed how momentary lapses have undone RSL at the back during this troublesome patch (12 goals conceded in four consecutive losses). During a barrage of post-game Tweets, RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando noted that his side needed to get back to basics, play simply and shore up its efforts in set piece situations like this one.
“Oh and getting our (stuff) together on set pieces! Killing us! Details details details! Such a crucial part of soccer. Time 2 step up and be men,” Rimando Tweeted.
4. Vancouver's young guns show a little pride: Questions about the character and the heart in the Whitecaps locker room have festered over the past couple of weeks, but Vancouver showed up to play with its revised lineup. Camilo and Tan formed a dynamic and effective front two with Eric Hassli absent through suspension, while Khalfan took his late chance with aplomb. Throw in solid performances from the likes of Jay DeMerit and John Thorrington and the Whitecaps possessed enough quality on the field to take advantage of RSL's errors and those penalty kick opportunities to seal a victory.
5. Seattle may owe a debt of gratitude to its Cascadia Cup counterparts: RSL's defeat gives Seattle the opportunity to clinch the second seed in the Western Conference with a draw against Philadelphia on Saturday night. If Sounders FC could seal up home-field advantage with a couple of matches remaining on the MLS docket, it could give Sigi Schmid the opportunity to rest a few of his key players and shepherd Mauro Rosales (knee) back into the first team picture with care.
Most importantly, it gives Seattle an edge heading into its probable first-round pairing with RSL. The Claret-and-Cobalt may not mind playing the first leg at home after its second-leg troubles at Rio Tinto Stadium against FC Dallas and Monterrey, but the odds still favor Sounders FC in the series if the second leg takes place at CenturyLink Field.
Last week: 5/9 (56%)
For the season: 92/235 (39%)
San Jose @ New England – 7:30p.m.
Both sides enter this match with their focus firmly on 2012. Application likely won't desert either side, but New England must cope without Matt Reis (hamstring) and A.J. Soares (ankle surgery) and San Jose can't seem to turn decent, Wondolowski-reliant performances into a full complement of points with its injury-decimated squad. In these sorts of meaningless matches, it's fairly difficult to predict how the game will unfold. Given the way the season has progressed for both clubs, a stalemate seems about right.
Philadelphia @ Seattle – 10:00p.m.
Seattle will hope to avoid a letdown in this tricky affair after Tuesday's Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final triumph over Chicago. Sounders FC definitely won't have Fredy Montero (one-match suspension) in its squad and likely won't have Alvaro Fernandez (concussion) or Rosales available to ward off the hangover, though Fernandez did Tweet optimistically about his availability for the contest. Philadelphia will try to keep Seattle from playing neatly in the attacking third and push for a goal on the counter, but Sounders FC should have enough in the tank to collect three points anyways.
Prediction: Seattle win.
Kyle McCarthy writes the Monday MLS Breakdown and frequently writes opinion pieces during the week for Goal.com. He also covers the New England Revolution for the Boston Herald and MLSsoccer.com. Contact him with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter by clicking here.