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Associated Press
Vancouver Whitecaps' Camilo Sanvezzo, center, is congratulated by teammates after scoring on a penalty kick against Real Salt Lake during the first half of an MLS soccer game in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Real Salt Lake went into Thursday's game against the Vancouver Whitecaps missing a pile of players, so getting a man sent off was the last thing they needed.

But that's exactly what happened at the newly refurbished B.C. Place in downtown Vancouver when midfielder Collen Warner stopped a sure goal from Whitecaps captain Jay DeMerit by whacking the American international's header onto the post in the 43rd minute with his hand.

Referee Chris Penso didn't hesitate, sending Warner off before pointing to the penalty spot, and up stepped Camilo.

Nick Rimando, the one U.S. international who asked to stay behind with his team to play in this match, was sent the wrong way by the Brazilian and the Whitecaps scored what would end up to be the winning goal in Real's 3-0 loss to the Whitecaps in front of 20,113 fans.

The one word being thrown around the Salt Lake dressing room following the match was "debatable" over referee Penso's decision to send off Warner on the game-deciding play.

"It's debatable on the call," captain Nat Borchers said. "I didn't get to see the replay, but it didn't seem like Collen was trying to prevent the ball going into the net.

"It's disappointing when the referee doesn't talk to his linesman, but we put ourselves in the situation, and we'll have to dig ourselves out of this hole."

Assistant coach Jeff Cassar also questioned the decision, mainly with regards to the sending off.

"We saw the review of (the penalty)," Cassar said. "It definitely hits Collen's hand. The call is fine — it's a little bit debatable, but the red card ejection is a bit harsh. I talked to the fourth (official) and he said he felt Collen intentionally did it. We feel differently, but that's how it goes."

The pain didn't end there for Salt Lake, who conceded a second penalty just seven minutes after the half. This time it was Chris Schuler at fault, as the ball ricocheted off a teammate before striking his hand.

Up stepped Camilo once again, this time scoring into the bottom right corner. Rimando guessed right and managed to get a hand on it, but the placement and power of the shot meant the California native could only push it into the corner of his goal.

Offensively, Salt Lake didn't muster much throughout the match, with their best first-half chance coming in stoppage time shortly after Warner's sending off. Paulo Araujo Jr. found himself one on one with Whitecaps 'keeper Joe Cannon, but the big netminder came out well to negate the chance.

Nizar Khalfan added some late misery for Salt Lake with a long-range goal with just two minutes left on the clock. Rimando once again managed to get a hand on the shot, but the Tanzanian's shot had too much sting, and the Rimando could only push the ball into the corner of his net.

RSL's best chance at a consolation goal came in the 82nd minute, as substitute Cody Arnoux found Luis Gil in the box. Gill got off a strike, but was directed right at Cannon, allowing the goalkeeper to gather the ball safely.

Winger Andy Williams' weak attempt from distance in the 87th minute that Cannon handled easily summed up the night for Real who struggled after going a man down.

The loss marks the fourth consecutive defeat for Salt Lake, and with the playoffs fast approaching the time is far from ideal.

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"It's definitely disappointing," Borchers said. "We need a better response next Friday (against the Colorado Rapids). We need to get a good week's worth of training in. Guys have to show they want it, and we have to be hungry. Playoffs are just around the corner, and we can't go into the playoffs in this kind of form.

"We can't have any excuses for the way we're playing right now. It's up to us to come together now and work on the details and get this right, because it's just not good enough right now."

The loss means RSL's record now stands at 15-11-6, and they sit in third place in the Western Conference with 51 points. They take on the Colorado Rapids on Oct. 14 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in their next match.