Sports Soccer

Whitecaps midfielder vows to keep hands off the ball

By Hosea Cheung, 24 hours Vancouver

It wasn't the smartest of decisions. Matias Laba knows it, having played Saturday's incident over in his head "thousands of times" already.

The Vancouver Whitecaps defensive midfielder's second yellow card — a deliberate hand ball at the 77-minute mark — against the Colorado Rapids ultimately cost his team the game.

Up 1-0 at that point, the 10-men 'Caps then gave up a pair of goals not long after to suffer their first defeat of the season — a 2-1 loss at BC Place.

So what exactly was Laba thinking by grabbing the ball after what he thought was a foul that sent him to the ground?

"I clearly still think it's a foul and in the future I won't touch the ball," Laba said through a translator Monday. "It was instinctive because I thought guaranteed it would be called a foul."

About 23 minutes earlier, Laba had been booked for a clean-cut foul. And while based on the referee's slow reaction in drawing out the red the second time, until prompted by the Rapids, it's debatable that maybe he had forgotten about the earlier yellow before issuing a second one to Laba.

Then again, the 22-year-old Argentine didn't do himself any favours with that ill-timed infraction to force the official's hand, especially since he was playing a great game up to that point.

Unfortunately, it means he won't be available on Saturday when the Whitecaps will look to rebound from their first 2014 defeat against the Los Angeles Galaxy — the first of a home-and-home series with the California club.

"It's a great shame," Laba said. "I'm starting to feel very good physically and tactically as well. We've continued to grow as a team and it's a shame I can't play this weekend."





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