Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath said all week he didn't want to make excuses no matter what happened Saturday night at Allianz Field with six starters gone to international duty and another two absent.
But he, his players and others in the organization were counting minutes and seconds at game's end when Vancouver scored the tying goal in a 1-1 draw more than seven minutes into stoppage time.
Whitecaps second-half substitute Simon Becher's sliding, stretching goal at the far post in those final gasping moments of stoppage time sent both teams home with a point.
The Loons flailed their arms, pleading that the six minutes of stoppage time added by the referee had expired by the time Becher finally scored.
Heath said he was told afterword from his team's management that the two teams played an extra 7:23.
Asked if he received an explanation from the referee, Heath just shook his head no. "We played 7:23, probably," he said.
Referee Rosendo Mendoza told a pool reporter, "A minimum of 6:30 was going to be played, but there were further extended stoppages for which more time was added."
Heath was asked if he felt it was a hard way to lose on that last tying goal.
"You do when it's so late," Heath said. "We knew it was going to be a tough game today. I just wanted the players to get the reward of getting it over the line because there were five or six of them running on fumes at the end. I thought they deserved to take something from it. It's always disappointing when it's the last kick of the game."
The Loons now are 2-0-2 to start the season after beating FC Dallas and Colorado on the road and drawing with New York Red Bulls and the Whitecaps at home.
After mentioning a thing or two his team could have done better, Heath said, "I think I'm nit-picking at this minute in time. I'm really, really pleased with the effort of a lot of players. I thought the crowd was fantastic. They tried to get us over the line.
"They were probably as disappointed as we were."
Becher redirected a cross from near the right sideline that was flicked on in front of the goal from a leaping, tangle of players from both teams. It bounded all the way to Becher at that far post.
His short sliding shot went off veteran MLS goalkeeper Clint Irwin's leg and just crossed over into the goal's corner.
Asked about his thoughts on allowing that tying goal no matter the time, Heath said, "No, not at the moment. I have to take a look. Talk to me Monday, Tuesday."
The tying goal came after Vancouver pushed forward, applying more and more pressure as it sought the tying goal as the clock ticked away.
"You see the team, we're dying out there," Becher said in a post-game television interview. "Every single guy fought to the end in a place where it's pretty tough to play, in Minnesota where it's pretty cold out. It's big."
Loons striker Mender Garcia's goal in the 40th minute – his second goal in four games this season – stood as the difference until Becher's late goal sent the Loons and their fans home stunned.
"It's tough," Loons veteran defender Zarek Valentin said. "I don't know exactly what the timing was. I'm never going to play any blame on that because it just shifts it away. I look internally first and foremost, how I could have affected the end of the game, whatever it might be. I'm not going to look at the ref and say we went over or not because ultimately that's not in our hands."
Garcia's stretching header from just inside the 6-yard box eluded Whitecaps keeper Yohei Takaoka after Valentin delivered a curving cross from the right sideline.
The Loons drew on a night when they played without seven regulars – six of them starters – who were gone on international duty. Star Emanuel Reynoso remained suspended and absent on Saturday as well.
Heath in the week leading up to Saturday's game criticized what he called Garcia's lack of aggressiveness in last week's victory at Colorado.
Heath substituted fellow striker Luis Amarilla into last Saturday's game at halftime and Amarilla tied the game early in the second half. He successfully converted a penalty kick in the 49th minute, just five minutes after the Rapids had scored the night's first goal.
Both Garcia and Amarilla were in Saturday's starting 11 on a night when Heath rearranged his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation into a 4-4-2 intended to compensate for all those absent players.
Garcia played into the 64th minute before he was subbed out of the game for reserve-team forward Emmanuel Iwe, the former St. Cloud State player who along with MNUFC2 teammate Zaydan Bello was signed to short-term loans earlier Saturday so they could play that night.
Bello came into the game for Dunbar in the 75th minute with the Loons still grasping that 1-0 lead.
The Loons played with those eight players missing.
Versatile midfielder Robin Lod left to play for his Finland, goalkeeper Dayne St. Claire's Canada team play Curacao Saturday night while defender Michael Boxall is with New Zealand for two games against China.
Also gone is attacker Bongokuhle Hlongwane to his South Africa team, Hondurans Kervin Arriaga and Joseph Rosales to theirs and veteran defender Kemar Lawrence to the Jamaica national team. Second-teamer Molik Jesse Khan also was called to play for Trinidad and Tobago.
So Heath put 20-year-old wing attacker Cameron Dunbar — acquired in a trade with L.A. Galaxy last November at such a young age – in the 11 alongside Franco Fragapane, Hassani Dotson and Wil Trapp.
Veteran defender Brent Kallman took Boxall's starting spot on the backline and Garcia and Amarilla started together up top.
Heath filled out his bench with Iwe, Bello and other young players Devin Padelford, Tani Oluwaseyi, Mikael Marques, Patrick Weah and veteran defender Doneil Henry.
Iwe, Bello and Marques all made their MLS debuts on Saturday. Irwin started Saturday as well.
He was signed in December precisely for occasions like Saturday, when starter St. Clair was away with his Canadian national team. He made his 134th career start.
• Both Loons supporters and newly signed forward Sang Bin Jeong stood and applauded each other when Jeong was introduced to the Allianz Field crowd before the game. He is scheduled to fly to Canada Sunday for a Monday appointment at a South Korea embassy to process his work visa. Heath on Friday was hopeful he'd be back and cleared to play by next week's game at St. Louis CITY.
• Original Loons play-by-play voice Callum Williams is one of many broadcasters who moved from calling games for franchise to joining Apple TV's new 10-year deal with the league for the new MLS Season Pass.