Vancouver Whitecaps shut out by Real Salt Lake

Luis Gil ended a scoring drought with a header just minutes into the second half and Javier Morales also scored to lead Real Salt Lake to a 2-0 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday night at Sandy, Utah.

RSL played without its top 3 forwards

Real Salt Lake forward Joao Plata (8) works hard against Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Gershon Koffie (28) right in front of the referee on Saturday night. RSL won the game 2-0. (Kim Raff/Associated Press)

Martin Rennie's frustrations boiled over after Vancouver's winless streak stretched to seven games with a 2-0 loss Saturday to Real Salt Lake.

"The club does everything for them," fumed the Whitecaps coach. "They've got everything set up for them to train, to recover, to play. They live in a beautiful city. They've got some of the best fans in the MLS, who always get behind them and support them."

Vancouver has not won a Major League Soccer game since March 9, and has not won on the road in nine months.

"I understand my job is to always take the criticism, and 99.9 per cent of the time I do that," Rennie said. "But to be honest sometimes they've got to look at what they've done recently and they've not done enough."

Salt Lake midfielder Luis Gil snuck behind Whitecaps defender Andy O'Brien and headed a shoulder-high cross into the back of the net for the game's first goal in the 47th minute.

The play began when RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando found forward Jaoa Plata sprinting on the right side of the field. The small and speedy Ecuadorian, who played 10 games last season for Toronto, threaded a pass past Whitecaps defender Lee Young-Po to set up the score.

"I just don't think we worked hard enough to get enough men behind the ball," O'Brien said. "To be fair to Real Salt Lake, I think they were at the races."

EPL veteran

O'Brien, a 33-year-old veteran who spent the majority of his career in the Premier League and represented Ireland at the national team level, said he understands that "there's a massive contrast between home and away" for every team. "But when you go away from home, you try to make it difficult. And we possibly aren't doing that enough."

Vancouver came inches from equalizing in the 60th minute when forward Corey Hertzog drew the RSL defence, including Rimando, to its left then managed to push back a dribbling shot that danced along the goal plane until defender Nat Borchers caught up to swat it away.

It was a bit of redemption for Borchers, who slipped and fell, hands first, atop the ball inside the penalty box three weeks earlier at B.C. Place, resulting in a penalty kick that Caps forward Camilo Sanvezzo then converted to equalize a game that ended in a draw.

But Sanvezzo and his teammates had no such luck on Saturday, managing just three shots on target, all in the second half. Hertzog, whose 35-yard strike during Wednesday's Canadian Championship semifinal was a sign that he was back in game shape following a head injury, was subbed out in the 74th minute and the Caps had trouble mounting an attack thereafter.

Plata would earn a second assist in the 71st minute when he found RSL midfielder Javier Morales, who had sprinted unmarked into the goal box and drilled Plata's short pass past Caps 'keeper Joe Cannon.

In both scores, the RSL shooter had lots of room to operate in the box.

"We didn't stop the cross," Rennie said of the first score. "We had three people in the box and they had one and it went to them."

Rennie's team will have a chance to redeem itself on May 15 and 29 when it faces Montreal in the two-game Canadian Championship final.