VANCOUVER, British Columbia - As if the circumstances going into Brian Sylvestre's first-ever start in Major League Soccer weren't already strange enough, add this to the mix: It came against the Vancouver Whitecaps, the team that brought him into the pros four years ago.
Although Sylvestre made some fine saves, he and the rest of the Union's defense were simply overwhelmed in a 3-0 loss at BC Place.
"It was frustrating," Sylvestre said. "We lost as a group. It's not on any individual performance."
It was the fourth straight defeat for the Union (1-7-3, 6 points), tying a club record.
Pedro Morales opened the floodgates in the 30th minute, Octavio Rivero doubled the lead in the 44th, and Darren Mattocks put the icing on the cake in the 81st.
All three plays started from mishaps by Sylvestre's teammates in front of him, a factor that Union manager Jim Curtin acknowledged afterward.
"We hung him out to dry," Curtin said. "He made some good saves for us. He did everything we could have asked for."
The Union's only good chance to score came in the 14th minute, when Andrew Wenger fired a shot straight at goalkeeper David Ousted of Vancouver (6-3-2, 20 points) from mere inches off the goal line. It was the latest in a series of costly misses by the Lititz, Pa., native, who has struggled to recapture last season's strong form.
"It's confidence with Andrew," Curtin said. "If we're going to be a good team, Andrew is going to have to get going, and we're going to have to find a way to get him going."
The cherry on top was served in the 78th minute, when promising Union rookie defender Richard Marquez was ejected for landing a cleat in Whitecaps winger Cristian Techera's right shin.
Sylvestre goes in the history books as the 10th goalkeeper to play for the Union in their six-year history. When he went down hard after catching a corner kick in the 62d minute, it seemed that backup Trey Mitchell - summoned from the leaguewide emergency goalkeeper pool - might become the 11th. But Sylvestre was able to stay in the game.