Even after going down to 10 men with the score tied 1-1, the Vancouver Whitecaps kept pressing for a winner that looked inevitable.
Then one of Major League Soccer’s most ruthless goal poachers made the most of his only real chance of the night.
Erick Torres headed home the winner off a pinpoint cross from Marky Delgado in the 81st minute Saturday as Chivas USA downed the frustrated Whitecaps 3-1.
Second-half substitutes Nigel-Reo Coker and Darren Mattocks both had great chances to give Vancouver the lead after Whitecaps defender Jordan Harvey was sent off in the 69th minute, but neither man could find the range, leaving the door open for Torres’ winner.
The 21-year-old Mexican has now scored in five straight games for Chivas (6-7-5), which picked up its fourth straight victory and is unbeaten in six.
“The boy’s a good player. Torres, make no doubt about it,” said Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson. “We had three defenders in the box. It was a super cross but we can’t give him opportunities because he’ll take them and that’s what he did.”
Vancouver did a good job containing Torres until that critical moment, which made the end result even more maddening.
“He spins off one time and makes a good header and scores the goal that kills us a little bit,” said Ousted. “I’m disappointed conceding that kind of goal.”
Despite being down a man, the Whitecaps had great chances to grab a winner of their own before that goal, but Reo-Coker missed a sitter in the 74th minute before Mattocks failed to connect moments later in front of Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.
“Another day that could have gone in,” Reo-Coker said of his opportunity that flashed just wide. “Obviously it didn’t go in today and that’s that. We still had some other chances but this is going to be a tough game to swallow.
“I think we have to be proud of how we played and performed. Even after going down to 10 men we probably had the two best chances in the whole game.”
Torres, meanwhile, now has 13 goals on the season for a Chivas team that has scored just 20 times.
Agustin Pelletieri and Leandro Barrera had the other goals for the visitors, while Carlyle Mitchell scored his first in MLS for Vancouver (6-4-7).
“Disappointed. Gutted is another word,” said Ousted. “I said before the game we shouldn’t take this lightly. I don’t think we did but we didn’t get the result.”
Vancouver led 1-0 at half-time but allowed a free header off a corner to Pelletieri two minutes after the break before things went from bad to worse when Harvey was sent off by referee Armando Villarreal in the 69th minute for his two-footed challenge on Chivas midfielder Oswaldo Minda.
Harvey had already left the locker-room by the time it was opened to the media.
“I think we started slow at the start of the second half,” said Robinson. “That was probably the disappointing thing from the game because I didn’t feel under any threat really in the first half. The 10 minutes after halftime is big in any game and they got the goal and got the bit between their teeth.”
Vancouver will be disappointed with the dropped points at B.C. Place Stadium after a strong showing in last week’s 1-0 victory over the Seattle Sounders.
“I’ve said all along you’ve got to win at home and pick up points on the road,” said Robinson. “I just said to them in there we just need to try and win an extra away game now.”
After Torres nosed his team in front, Vancouver had one last gasp in stoppage time, but Villarreal gave a free kick to Chivas after Pedro Morales poked a shot past Kennedy that the ‘keeper had a hand on just in front of the goal-line.
Barrera then scored on a rush with the last kick of the game after the Whitecaps sent Ousted forward on a corner.
“It was a very tough game,” said Chivas head coach Wilmer Cabrera. “Difficult team, quick, with young players with quick transition.
“We didn’t lose our composure. For the second half we tried to adjust a few movements — try to move the ball a little bit wider, try to move the ball a little bit quicker.”
Things started brightly for Vancouver on the night, with Mitchell’s header from six yards out in the 27th minute marking not only a personal milestone, but also the Whitecaps’ first goal off a corner in 2014.
Robinson had talked about wanting a quick start, like the one the Whitecaps got against Seattle seven days earlier, but Vancouver couldn’t get anything going until about 10 minutes into Saturday’s match.
Once the Whitecaps got their legs moving in midfield they started to boss the game, but were unable to find that final pass, which would eventually cost them.
“I won’t fault any of my players today because they performed what I asked, they did everything I asked,” said Robinson. “Obviously we came out on a bad result.”
Notes: Saturday was the first of three games in eight days for Vancouver, which visits Toronto FC on Wednesday before travelling to Utah to take on Real Salt Lake on July 19. ... Mitchell has found a home in Vancouver’s starting lineup in recent weeks with the injuries to captain Jay DeMerit and Andy O’Brien in the heart of the Whitecaps’ defence. The 26-year-old from Trinidad and Tobago — who started his fourth game of the season — has been with Vancouver since 2011, but was making just his 24th MLS appearance for the club on Saturday. DeMerit is still out with an ankle injury, while O’Brien has a hip problem. ... The teams played to a 1-1 draw on March 16, with Torres and Kekuta Manneh trading goals. ... Vancouver and Chivas meet for the third and final time on Aug. 16 in Carson, Calif. ... Chivas’ next game is July 20 at D.C. United. ... The Whitecaps’ next home game is July 27 against FC Dallas.Report Typo/Error