Superior ball control proved pointless for the Vancouver Whitecaps against Major League Soccer’s most surprising team.
The Whitecaps lost their second consecutive game on the road to Chivas USA, 2-1 on Saturday night, despite outshooting their opponents 22-12 and controlling possession for 52 per cent of the game.
“When you look at the last half hour of the game, we had a lot of chances — a lot of good chances,” said forward Kenny Miller, who scored for the Whitecaps (2-2-0). “We played pretty well, created a lot of chances and only end up with the one goal.”
Vancouver coach Martin Rennie said his team faced similar problems in another 2-1 loss in Houston on March 23.
“That’s two games in a row where if we take our chances, we win the game,” Rennie said. “We easily could’ve scored three or four goals — maybe even five or six tonight.”
Instead, Chivas USA (3-1-1) took a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute. Juan Agudelo pounced on a misplayed ball and passed to Carlos Alvarez, whose shot from the left edge of the penalty area glanced off the right shoulder of Whitecaps defender Jun Marques Davidson and into the net.
Vancouver had a chance to tie in the 23rd minute. But after goalkeeper Dan Kennedy dived to deflect Alain Rochat’s 33-yard line drive from the left flank, Daigo Kobayashi chipped the rebound over the crossbar from nine yards.
Eric Avila extended Chivas USA’s lead to 2-0 in the 55th minute by redirecting a left-wing cross from Jorge Villafana from eight yards.
“We didn’t defend second balls well, and twice it cost us,” Rennie said. “I feel like too many players had an off night.”
Miller, who played for Scotland in World Cup qualifying March 22, scored in the 64th minute. Kennedy dived to his right to deflect Eric Hurtado’s shot to Miller, who also dived to head the ball into an open net from 11 yards.
But Kennedy preserved the lead in the 90th minute, when he charged out of the penalty area to tackle the ball away from Kekuta Manneh on a breakaway.
Chivas USA extended its unbeaten streak to four games. The team won only seven games last year while scoring a league-low 24 goals, and finished last in the Western Conference two of the past three seasons.