VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Whitecaps gave up goals about 16 minutes apart in the first half to drop a 3-1 decision to New York City FC Saturday night, losing their third Major League Soccer game in eight days.
Alexandru Mitrita scored one goal and set up another for New York City (14-5-8), which won its fourth consecutive game. Heber and Gary Mackay-Steven, an early first half substitution, also scored.
Forward Yordy Reyna scored in the 64th minute for Vancouver.
The game had an eventual first half. A crowd of 17,512 at BC Place Stadium watched New York City score twice and two Whitecaps assistant coaches get ejected for arguing a disputed call.
Mitrita made it 3-1 in the 77th minute when his free kick from about 25 yards out squeezed in between the post and Whitecaps goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau. It was his eighth goal of the year.
New York City used a turnover in the 10th minute to go ahead 1-0 on Heber’s 14th goal of the season. Midfielder Tony Rocha took the ball off the foot of Vancouver midfielder Jon Erice, then passed it to Mitrita. He sent it to Heber who scored on a low, hard shot. It was Mitrita’s league-leading 19th assist.
Heber limped off the field in the 21st minute after going down in a heap and was replaced by Mackay-Steven.
A pretty play by captain Maximiliano Moralez set up Mackay-Steven’s goal in the 26th minute. Moralez threaded a perfect pass through the Vancouver defence to a charging Mackay-Steven who chipped the ball over the Whitecap goalkeeper.
Tempers flared in the 31st minute when referee Marcos de Oliveira initially signalled a penalty kick should be awarded to Vancouver after New York City goalkeeper Sean Johnson appeared to foul Whitecaps forward Tosaint Ricketts. The call was reversed on a video replay, resulting in both goalkeeper coach Youssef Dahha and assistant coach Vanni Sartini being ejected for arguing the decision.
Dahha didn’t go quietly. He rallied the booing crowd to their feet while being escorted off the pitch.
Reyna got the Whitecaps fans back into the game when he took a pass from Ricketts and took a shot from the right side of the box that curled just inside the left post.
The Whitecaps (6-15-9) were coming off a 2-1 loss to Montreal Wednesday and are (1-4-0) in their last five games. They have been outscored 11-5 in this stretch and sit last in the MLS Western Conference.
The win moved New York City into second place on the Eastern Conference, one point behind the Philadelphia Union.
NOTES: Vancouver defender Jake Nerwinski left the game 15th minute with an injury. He was helped off the field not putting any weight on his right leg. … The Whitecaps have travelled 14,000 kilometres to play three games in eight days. … Vancouver centre back Erik Godoy missed the game with a right calf strain. … Both defender Ronald Matarrita and midfielder Alex Ring missed the game for New York City due to suspension. … The Whitecaps play three of their remaining four games at home.
Jim Morris, The Canadian Press