Playing the final away match of their inaugural Major League Soccer season, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (6W-17L-10D) suffered a 2-0 defeat at Western Conference rivals FC Dallas (15W-11L-7D) on Saturday evening.
Goals by Marvin Chavez and Brek Shea gave The Hoops their ninth win of 2011 at Pizza Hut Park, with defeat in Frisco, Texas, confirming Whitecaps FC will end their first season in MLS without a victory on the road (0W-12L-5D). The weekend loss also ended Vancouver's winning streak in the league at two matches, while victory for The Hoops keeps them in the hunt for one of the Western Conference's three playoff spots.
"I felt like the soccer wasn’t there," said Whitecaps FC head coach Tom Soehn. "We held the pressure down quite well, created some counter-attacks, but in the flow of the counter-attack, we turned possession over. We really caught them short-handed, so it was unfortunate that even their first goal was against the run of play when we had the better chance. That wasn’t just the first half, I felt like it was the entire game. A lot of credit goes to FC Dallas. They made it hard for us to play."
Coming only three days after the midweek home win over D.C. United, Soehn freshened up his starting XI by making three changes. Michael Boxall replaced the injured Carlyle Mitchell at centre back, while Texas native Shea Salinas got a start on the left-hand side of midfield, as Jordan Harvey filled in for Alain Rochat at left fullback, with the Canadian-born Swiss international starting on the substitutes' bench. In attack, Mustapha Jarju was partnered with Camilo for the first time this season, as Chinese youngster Long Tan and Designated Player Eric Hassli also started the game as substitutes.
Though they secured a postseason berth at Chicago Fire in midweek and face a crucial CONCACAF Champions League game at home on Tuesday, FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman played his strongest line-up against Vancouver. That experience and understanding made a difference in the outcome of this weekend contest, as a Pizza Hut Park crowd of 10,222 enjoyed what unfolded on a warm and pleasant Texas evening.
FC Dallas controlled proceedings in the early stages, as The Hoops used good possession and pace to try and penetrate the Whitecaps FC backline. 'Caps goalkeeper Joe Cannon needed to make saves from Chavez and Daniel Cruz, while Jackson blasted a shot high and wide of the target before the break.
Though they struggled to have the possession and tempo that was seen in their home wins over Real Salt Lake and D.C. United, Whitecaps FC had a spell of pressure just after the midway point of the first half. Salinas bounced a shot wide of the target on 26 minutes, while FC Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman made a fine save to Camilo's well-struck free kick on goal seven minutes later.
It was FC Dallas that drew first blood on 35 minutes from Hartman's forward clearance. As the home side counter-attacked, Shea flicked Hartman's clearance into the path of the speedy Chavez. The Honduran international raced into the Vancouver box before eluding the challenge of Whitecaps FC captain Jay DeMerit and striking a right-footed shot past Cannon to make it 1-0 to the Texas-based outfit. It was the Central American's sixth goal of the season.
It was another familiar road scenario for the Blue and White, as the 'Caps needed to turn around a deficit. There was an immediate response from Nizar Khalfan, who forced another good save from Hartman with his low drive on 37 minutes. It resulted in FC Dallas having a one-goal advantage at halftime.
The second half saw little of a turn in momentum towards Whitecaps FC, as FC Dallas looked dangerous again after the restart, with Chavez having a second goal called back for offside, while the versatile Jackson had a run and shot drift wide of the far post on 52 minutes.
Though Rochat, Tan, and Hassli entered the match to try and turn things around for Whitecaps FC, FC Dallas sealed a second win over Vancouver this season from captain Daniel Hernandez's free kick into the 'Caps box on 54 minutes. The visitors struggled to clear their lines, with the ball falling kindly to an unmarked Shea on the edge of the six-yard box. The young United States international struck an excellent volley past Cannon for his 11th goal of the season and a 2-0 FC Dallas lead.
That second goal effectively ended the match as a contest, as FC Dallas looked comfortable enough to see the game through to the final whistle, with Shea and substitute Fabian Castillo having late chances to add a third goal for the home side. In fact, following Shea's goal, the second-half proceedings were relatively uneventful, despite Khalfan testing Hartman again with a solid strike on 67 minutes and substitute Hassli sailing a shot over the FC Dallas crossbar in the dying stages.
The closest Vancouver came to finding the scoresheet in the second half was in the two minutes of time added on. Hassli's neat backheel on the edge of the FC Dallas box allowed Harvey to break in on goal, but Hartman was on hand to ensure his 13th clean sheet of the season. The final whistle from match referee Alex Prus confirmed victory for FC Dallas.
Whitecaps FC will now return home and prepare to end their 2011 campaign on Bell Pitch at BC Place, as they host Western Conference rivals Colorado Rapids next Saturday afternoon. FC Dallas, meanwhile, will turn their focus to qualifying for the quarterfinals of the 2011-12 CONCACAF Champions League, as they host another Canadian MLS club in Toronto FC on Tuesday evening. The Hoops conclude their MLS regular season campaign at San Jose Earthquakes next Saturday.
35' - FCD - Marvin Chavez (Brek Shea, Kevin Hartman)
54' - FCD - Brek Shea
Shots: FC Dallas 13 - Vancouver 6
Shots on Goal: FC Dallas 5 - Vancouver 4
Saves: FC Dallas 4 - Vancouver 3
Fouls: FC Dallas 10 - Vancouver 19
Offsides: FC Dallas 4 - Vancouver 3
Corners: FC Dallas 2 - Vancouver 2
38' - FCD - Marvin Chavez
54' - FCD - Jackson
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.Joe Cannon; 26.Jordan Harvey, 2.Michael Boxall, 6.Jay DeMerit, 12.Jeb Brovsky; 22.Shea Salinas (4.Alain Rochat 52'), 28.Gershon Koffie, 11.John Thorrington, 16.Nizar Khalfan; 37.Camilo (29.Eric Hassli 69'), 7.Mustapha Jarju (23.Long Tan 57')
Substitutes: 18.Jay Nolly, 8.Peter Vagenas, 15.Philippe Davies, 17.Omar Salgado
1.Kevin Hartman; 5.Jair Benitez, 3.Ugo Ihemelu, 14.George John, 12.Zach Loyd; 20.Brek Shea, 11.Ricardo Villar, 18.Marvin Chavez (15.Fabian Castillo 70'), 2.Daniel Hernandez; 6.Jackson (9.Maicon Santos 79'), 7.Daniel Cruz (4.Andrew Jacobson 70')
Substitutes: 30.Chris Seitz, 8.Bruno Guarda, 17.Jeremy Hall, 25.Jack Stewart
Budweiser Man of the Match: Jeb Brovsky