D.C. United’s playoff chances suffered a severe setback Wednesday with a 2-1 away loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps, MLS’s worst club.
United (9-11-11) conceded goals in the first minute of each half and lost its third straight, leaving it in need of victories in the final three games — all at RFK Stadium — to maintain realistic hope of earning a postseason berth.
The Whitecaps (6-16-10) went ahead after just 43 seconds when Jordan Harvey swung a high cross from the left wing deep into the box. Brazilian forward Camilo beat Marc Burch and one-timed a seven-yarder past goalkeeper Bill Hamid for his 12th goal of the season.
Without MLS co-leading scorer Dwayne De Rosario, who played for Canada’s national team on Tuesday night in a World Cup qualifier, United was uninspired and lacked attacking cohesion throughout the half.
The Whitecaps, who lost 4-0 in Washington in August, struck again at the start of the second half. At the 57-second mark, on a sequence eerily similar to the first goal, Alain Rochat served a high cross that Chinese striker Long Tan headed over Hamid and off the underside of the crossbar for his first MLS goal. Daniel Woolard lost his mark and Hamid didn’t come off his line.
United answered in the 57th minute. With his back to the target, Brandon McDonald headed Santino Quaranta’s long free kick into the left side of the net.
United had a legitimate claim for a penalty kick in the 76th minute when Burch’s shot struck Jeb Brovsky in the arm, but play continued. Quaranta narrowly missed with a glancing header in the 79th.
United will host Chicago on Saturday, Portland next Wednesday and Kansas City on Oct. 22.
Updated MLS playoff standings are available here.