When Minnesota United brought in a new front office and new coaching staff this season, they were intending to find people who could help the club do things that it had never done before.

They didn't mean this.

For the first time in the team's MLS history, the Loons have lost five consecutive games, after dropping a 3-1 result to the Vancouver Whitecaps at Allianz Field.

After briefly sitting among the leaders in the Supporters' Shield race, the Loons have plummeted nearly out of the playoff spots, and sit just two points above tenth-place Austin FC. Over its past nine games, Minnesota has just one win and five points.

Minnesota got off to perhaps its worst start of the season — beginning with a terrible moment for the most experienced Loon. Michael Boxall, attempting to knock a simple pass back to goalkeeper Alec Smir, left his attempt about eight yards short. Vancouver's Ryan Gauld picked it off, gave it to wide-open forward Brian White, and the Whitecaps were ahead after barely three minutes.

"All the fingers should be pointed at me," said Boxall. "I don't think anyone else really made glaring mistakes that led us to not picking up points tonight."

Less than a quarter-hour later, it was 2-0 for the visitors. The Whitecaps took a corner short, leading to a cross from Gauld, and defender Mathias Laborda was all alone for an easy header to double Vancouver's advantage.

In the 30th minute, it looked like everything that could go wrong for the Loons was going to go wrong. Wingback Joseph Rosales stepped up to take a penalty, awarded after a cross had glanced off the arm of a Whitecaps defender in the penalty area — but his effort was tame, too close to goalkeeper Yohei Takaoka and at a good height for the keeper, and easy for him to punch clear.

Just seconds later, though, the Loons were back in the game anyway, directly from the resulting corner kick. Hassani Dotson headed Rosales's corner down, and Bongokuhle Hlongwane was there to poke the ball past Takaoka.

It was the South African's third goal in four games, giving him six for the year after what was something of a slow scoring start.

BOXSCORE: Vancouver 3, Loons 1

Right on the hour mark, though, Sebastian Berhalter restored Vancouver's two-goal advantage. A pass from Gauld — who had assists on all three Whitecaps goals — found Berhalter at the top of the penalty area, and he bent a right-footed shot off the left-hand post and in.

Smir, making his first MLS appearance, couldn't have done much on any of the three Whitecaps goals. Still, it will have to go down as a night to forget for him, as the Whitecaps scored with their first three shots on target. On the other end, the Loons took 17 shots, 14 from inside the penalty area, but consistently endangered the health of the fans behind the goal rather than finding the target.

Minnesota is missing plenty of players, especially at goalkeeper and center forward. But it's still a team that contains an All-Star in Robin Lod, and one that's playing almost exclusively established MLS players, not second-team fill-ins. Losing five games in a row, none against particularly good teams and including two games at home, means that the Loons need more to change than just the return of a handful of players.

"If we felt that we were absolutely at our limit and the club was pushing on all fronts and we were firing on all six cylinders from the perspective of player availability and we were right at the limit and having these results, it would be tough to swallow," said Ramsay. "Obviously, that isn't the case for us."