VANCOUVER — The return of several key players wasn’t enough to get Orlando City back on track.
Striker Dom Dwyer and centerbacks Chris Schuler and Amro Tarek got their first MLS minutes in a while for the Lions, and still the slumping club came up short. Despite an early goal in the second half while playing down a man, the Lions were pummeled 5-2 by the Vancouver Whitecaps Saturday night at BC Place. The game drew an announced sold-out crowd of 22,120.
“For me, at the moment, you can’t play 90 percent well,” Orlando City coach Jason Kreis said. “I’ve been saying it now for five games in a row: We’re playing 90 percent well. The problem with that thinking is it tends to make you forget about the 10 percent. For me, that’s the difference right now.”
For a moment, it looked like the return of Dwyer would be enough to power Orlando City to at least a draw. He came on in the 63rd minute and Orlando City scored seconds later. Midfielder Josué Colmán found an overlapping Tony Rocha, who sent in a cross for Sacha Kljestan, who finished the sequence and leveled the match at a goal apiece.
The goal was scored after left back Mohamed El-Munir picked up his second yellow card of the match and was sent off in the 58th minute.
“I thought that that was going to be the moment,” Kreis said. “I really thought that that was going to be the difference-maker, when we scored that goal, being a man down. I thought that we would really bunker down and right the ship and walk out of here with a point.”
That was the lone bright spot for Orlando City, which completely unraveled late in the match.
“We need players to step forward,” Kreis said. “We need players to decide that enough is enough.
“I think that we’re going to talk to some individual players about the performances that we’re seeing and we’re going to have to expect more. We’re going to have to demand more. That’s not to say everything’s bad, because it’s not. A lot of positive things. At the end of the day, we need that extra 10 percent.”
The Whitecaps scored four goals in 14 minutes to run away with the win. Winger Alphonso Davies spent most of the match blowing by Orlando City’s players and finished the match with a goal and a Whitecaps-record three assists.
Davies scored in the 76th minute off a rebound to put the Whitecaps up 2-1. That goal was the first of an avalanche that buried Orlando City.
The Lions once again conceded first.
Defensive midfielder Cristian Higuita couldn’t handle a pass from rookie winger Chris Mueller and lost the ball in the middle of the pitch to Davies, who raced by centerback Chris Schuler and got into the penalty area.
Davies had little trouble breaking down right back Will Johnson and then sent a cross to Vancouver captain Kei Kamara, who provided a clinical finish for the goal in the 36th minute.
“I think, again, another night where we start off the game and we were just dictating things,” Kreis said. “We’re bossing things on their field. And then we give the ball away one time in the middle of midfield, we’re disorganized with where our players are and they go right down the field and score the very first chance that they have.
“For me, it’s too many times. It’s too many times we’re making critical mistakes at critical moments. It’s too many times that critical decisions are going against us at critical moments. Maybe that’s what we need to be focused on right now, is that 10 percent.”
Johnson was subbed off soon after the goal for RJ Allen. Club officials said Johnson was dealing with tightness in his hamstring.
Dwyer did manage to score a goal during his return in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time. It was his seventh goal of the season, which leads the Lions. Mueller and Colmán assisted on the goal.
The Whitecaps third, fourth and fifth goals were scored, in order, by Kamara off a penalty kick in the 85th minute after VAR review determined a challenge from Tarek in the penalty area was worth of a kick from the spot, Yordy Reyna in the 87th minute and Nicolás Mezquida in the 90th minute.
Orlando City has a short week on the road before it plays the Montreal Impact on Wednesday in Stade Saputo. The Lions won’t return to Orlando before the match — they’ll fly straight from Vancouver to Montreal.
Vancouver Whitecaps' Kei Kamara, left, is upended by Orlando City's Will Johnson during the second half of an MLS soccer game in Vancouver, British Columbia, Saturday June 9, 2018. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)