Ben Fisk Blue
Photo by Bob Frid/Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Whitecaps FC U-18 Residency fall 3-2 to FC Dallas in USSDA championship

HOUSTON, TX - They left everything on the pitch, but Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-18 Residency fell just short of their first league title Sunday in Houston, Texas.

With the United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) title up for grabs, Vancouver’s miracle run to the championship final came to an end with a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat to FC Dallas at BBVA Compass Stadium.

"When we disrupted their tempo and got after them a bit, we had spells of good stuff," Whitecaps FC Residency head coach Craig Dalrymple told "Unfortunately, Dallas controlled more of the game than we did. They’re a fantastic team and we tried to take them down, but on this night we couldn’t."

Appearing in their third straight Academy Finals Week, the experienced FC Dallas side came into Sunday’s encounter with Vancouver undefeated in eight matches.

Dalrymple’s side knew they were in for a challenge as the 2011 USSDA runners-up posted the lowest goals against average in the entire league and lost just four matches this season.

From the opening whistle, it was clear that there was not much to give between the two USSDA finalists. It was an evenly played opening 45 minutes, but it was not uneventful by any stretch.

The first real chance from either side came in the 16th minute, and it was once again ‘Caps midfielder Ben Fisk who was in the middle of it. Fisk’s long-range left-footed effort beat FC Dallas goalkeeper Eduardo Cortes but not the far post as the ‘Caps came within mere inches of notching the opening goal.

It soon became clear that Fisk would not be kept at bay. The Vancouver native showed his class with a slick first-touch strike just minutes later, scoring his league-leading seventh goal of the week and giving Whitecaps FC a 1-0 lead.

But no lead is safe at this level of competition, as it took FC Dallas just seven minutes to respond after a collision between ‘Caps goalkeeper Callum Irving and Dallas midfielder Daniel Garcia resulted in an FC Dallas penalty.

To his credit, Irving made a brilliant save off Garcia's attempt from the penalty marker, but the midfielder grabbed his own rebound and slipped it in to get FC Dallas the equalizer they desperately needed in the 31st minute.

Dallas nearly took the lead just minutes later, but this time it was Whitecaps FC who had the woodwork to thank after 16-year-old midfielder Kellyn Acosta’s effort sailed off the crossbar.

In an unexpected turn of events, Vancouver re-gained the lead in the 42nd minute after FC Dallas midfielder Flavio Guzman inadvertently played the ball into his own goal.

Down 2-1, FC Dallas came out in the second half looking energized and motivated to get back into the game. But as he did all night, Irving made a number of spectacular saves off striker Jonathan Top to keep the ‘Caps ahead. Although he allowed three goals, it was no doubt one of Irving’s greatest performances of the season.

Dallas eventually beat the ‘Caps shot-stopper in the 69th minute after second half substitute Jose De La Tejera was sent in all alone, and De La Tejera was at it again in the 84th minute, notching the go-ahead marker off a shortly played corner.

Despite a long ball from Irving that was nearly misplayed by Cortes and a Fisk free kick in time added on, FC Dallas held on for a 3-2 victory and their first USSDA title in program history.

When it was all said and done, Vancouver’s first season in the USSDA ended in heartbreak, however, looking at the big picture, it could not have been much better.

As the lone Canadian club in the league, the ‘Caps have dominated their competition, losing just seven matches outright and posting the highest goals-per-game average this season.

Qualifying for Academy Finals Week, let alone the championship final, is no doubt one of the program’s greatest accomplishment to date.

"I don’t think words can describe some of positives we’ve seen this season," Dalrymple said. "They’ve got to hold their heads high. This experience will be valuable to them as they move on to the next
stages of their career."

Scoring Summary
24' - VAN - Ben Fisk (Caleb Clarke)
31' - DAL - Daniel Garcia
42' - VAN - Flavio Guzman (own goal)
69' - DAL - Jose De La Tejera (Daniel Garcia)
84' - DAL - Jose De La Tejera