Whitecaps question Laba red card in 2-1 loss to Rapids

The Whitecaps lost 2-1 at home to the Colorado Rapids on Saturday. After the match, the 'Caps openly questioned referee Ioannis Stavridis' decision to dismiss Matias Laba.
VANCOUVER, B.C. — Did referee Ioannis Stavridis blow it for the Vancouver Whitecaps in their 2-1 loss to the Colorado Rapids at BC Place on Saturday?

Well, the Whitecaps didn't hold much back when asked about the game's decisive moment, when Stavridis reached into his back pocket and dismissed Matias Laba for handling the ball illegally in the 77th minute — the player's second caution of the match.

Laba was clattered by Nick LaBrocca, but Stavridis ruled there was no foul on the play. Laba assumed a foul would be called, and put his hand on the ball. Out came the yellow, and within five minutes, the Rapids had scored twice through Jose Mari to nullify Darren Mattocks' opener.

“We all feel like we've been punched in the gut a little bit there,” center back Jay DeMerit told reporters following the match. “Unfortunately that happens in our sport, some things you can't control. I thought the things we could control was enough to win, unfortunately that didn't happen tonight, and everyone gets assessed on their performances, including the referee.

“So hopefully people look at that, and assess it in the right way.”

When asked about the call, Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson was on the same page as his captain, stating Stavridis should have called a foul on the play.

“It's obviously a foul,” Robinson told reporters following the match, suggesting the referee missed the initial call on the play. “He sent him off for a decision that I think he's got wrong, in my opinion, and ultimately it's cost the game.”

Perhaps just as important a play in this loss was a Pedro Morales miss in the 68th minute. Moments after Vancouver took the lead through Mattocks, the Chilean designated player found himself set up by the Jamaican on a counterattack, but fired right at Clint Irwin from about 6 yards out.

“One nil up, should be two-nil up,” forward Kenny Miller said of Morales' missed chance. “It's probably game over if that goes in. When I'm walking off with 15 minutes to go, I could never have envisioned that we were going to lose that game, because we were so comfortable.

“But obviously the red card has turned the game on its head.”