The Vancouver Whitecaps hadn’t experienced a loss in over two months before falling to the Colorado Rapids 2-0 on Saturday.
Dillon Powers and Vicente Sanchez both scored in the first half as the Rapids snapped the Whitecaps (5-3-7) franchise-best unbeaten streak at eight matches.
But as head coach Carl Robinson saw it, it wasn’t that big of a deal.
“We’ve lost one in nine,” Robinson said. “I won’t get carried away.”
Despite the loss, Vancouver had reason to celebrate as Whitecaps Mehdi Ballouchy, Steven Beitashour and Nigel Reo-Coker all made their returns after various lengths of absences.
Ballouchy played 20 minutes in his first game in nearly 11 months since tearing his right ACL last season. He tore his left ACL two years ago, and played only five games for the San Jose Earthquake before the most recent injury.
“It’s been a long time,” Ballouchy said. “When you do an ACL, you come back, and you do it again, these are long-term injuries. A lot of players don’t come back. It’s been a steep, steep hill and I’m happy to be playing again.”
Reo-Coker was back in action after missing Wednesday’s scoreless draw against Montreal to be in New York for the birth of his first child, while Beitashour was back after a long trek back from Brazil, where he played for Iran’s national team in the World Cup pool play.
Vancouver hadn’t lost since falling to Los Angeles 1-0 on April 19. It was the second of a brief two-game losing streak that started with a home loss to Colorado a week earlier.
“We’ve lost three games out of 15. It’s not bad,” said Reo-Coker. “Every team has spells like this — even the top teams. We’re going through it now. We have so much belief and confidence in this team that we’re going to bounce back. It’s a sign and test of how good we are.”
Reo-Coker said the birth of his daughter Scarlet changed his life “completely.”
“It’s fantastic,” he said. “It’s something you can’t put into words until you go through.”
He had a less memorable moment late in the first half when he fouled Sanchez in the box, leading to a penalty kick. Sanchez easily beat goalie David Ousted in the 36th minute to give the Rapids their second goal.
“It was just miscommunication between David and myself,” Reo-Coker said. “I saw David coming out and we kind of hesitated amongst each other, no one really took command of the full situation.”
Robinson had no issue with the call.
“Second goal, it was a blatant penalty,” he said.
Powers hit the bar in the 17th minute and put a shot through the legs of a Vancouver defender three minutes later to give Colorado a 1-0 lead.
The Rapids had another chance in the 27th minute, but were turned away by Ousted.
Vancouver had two solid chances in the second half but Pedro Morales put a shot wide in the 63rd minute and Johnny Leverson’s laser in the 77th minute was saved by Clint Irwin.
Colorado had 19 shots overall to Vancouver’s five.
“We’re going to win games where we don’t deserve to and we’re going to lose games we deserve to win,” Robinson said. “Tonight we got what we deserved.”
Robinson didn’t play Beitashour, opting instead to give him a rest after a long period of travel.
“Beita’s had three flights and in total it’s probably 16 hours of flying,” Robinson said. “What I didn’t want to do is risk an injury to him. I made the decision before the game.”