FRISCO, TEXAS – They came within minutes of walking away with at least a point, but Vancouver Whitecaps FC (10W-10L-7D) couldn’t withstand a late FC Dallas (10W-7L-10D) onslaught as they suffered a heartbreaking 3-1 defeat Saturday in Frisco, Texas.
Midfielder Daigo Kobayashi opened the scoring in the fourth minute but FC Dallas scored three unanswered goals – two in the dying stages of the match – to secure the victory.
With the loss, Whitecaps FC drop to seventh place in the Western Conference – three points shy of sixth-place Dallas and five behind both Colorado and Portland.
With Russell Teibert away on international duty, Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie made three changes to his starting lineup after last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Chivas USA.
Back from suspension, midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker replaced Young-Pyo Lee at right back, Kobayashi took the place of Kekuta Manneh at right wing, and defender Carlyle Mitchell slotted in at centre back, moving Johnny Leveron into the holding midfielder position alongside Gershon Koffie for the first time this season.
Although he did not figure in the action, Jay DeMerit also made a return to Vancouver’s 18-man squad on Saturday. It was DeMerit’s first selection since suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon in Vancouver’s March 2 season opener.
Saturday’s contest got off to a frantic start in Frisco, as both sides pressed in search of the all-important opening goal. Dallas had the first chance less than a minute into the match, but it was Vancouver who struck first just a few minutes later.
Possession was hard to come by for Whitecaps FC in the first half, but their new-look attacking trio had no trouble keeping the ball in the build-up to Kobayashi’s fourth-minute tally.
After receiving a pass from Kobayashi in midfield, Camilo found fellow striker Kenny Miller open down the right wing. The Scotsman then sent a perfect low cross into the box and Kobayashi finished first time with a nifty side-footed effort to give the visiting ‘Caps an early advantage. It was the Japanese midfielder’s first MLS goal since Vancouver’s second match of the season.
It was a dream start for Whitecaps FC, who had never scored a road goal at Dallas coming into the match, but their lead didn’t last long.
Things took a turn in the eighth minute when Dallas equalized through a blistering strike from Jamaican midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson. Watson’s equalizer seemed to inspire the Texas outfit, who enjoyed several extended spells of possession throughout the next 35 minutes.
With strikers Blas Perez and Kenny Cooper out of the lineup, it was Fabian Castillo and David Ferreira creating most of the offence for FC Dallas. The two nearly combined in the 35th minute when Castillo found Ferreira inside Vancouver’s area, but the Colombian flicked the ball just wide of the target.
Ferreira had another opportunity in the 41st minute, but Andy O’Brien’s sliding clearance saved the day before the halftime whistle sounded with the score 1-1.
The ‘Caps came out of the interval looking more settled. Dallas continued to enjoy most of the possession, but for the most part Vancouver managed to keep them from away dangerous areas.
In fact, Kobayashi had the first real chance of the second half in the 49th minute. After receiving the ball out wide, the lively Japanese midfielder tiptoed around two defenders before going for goal from the top of the box. Nothing came of it, however, as Dallas 'keeper Chris Seitz smothered the ball to keep things level.
Dallas didn’t have much of a sniff at goal until the 57th minute, and it was the usual suspects involved in the action. First, Castillo found himself in a one-on-one situation with O’Brien inside the box, but the dependable ‘Caps centre back did well to block the Colombian’s effort. The ensuing rebound fell to Ferreira, and this time it was Leveron who cleared the ball from danger.
Hurtado made a few promising runs, but couldn’t break through. The single goal the 'Caps had on the board was not enough in the end, as Dallas scored the eventual winner in the 87th minute through a superb volley from substitute Mauro Diaz.
Fellow substitute Jair Benitez delivered the dagger in the 89th minute with a wonder-strike from just inside the halfway line to secure the important victory for FC Dallas.
"It shows you how cruel the game can be," said Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie after the match. "We started off the game really well and got an excellent goal. But at the end of the day, Dallas scored three incredible goals on the night and that’s disappointing for us because I think that if you look at overall performance, we played well. They had three shots on target and they had three goals. They were unbelievable goals against us so it’s disappointing... But as disappointing as that is, we can bounce back from it. It’s a performance we can definitely build on."
While the result sees the 'Caps remain out of a playoff position, they’re certainly far from out of it. They have seven matches remaining in the regular season, starting next Saturday, September 14, at San Jose Earthquakes.
They conclude their road trip the following week at Montreal before hosting first-place Real Salt Lake on Saturday, September 28 at BC Place.
Referee: Kevin Stott
4' - VAN - Daigo Kobayashi (Kenny Miller, Camilo Sanvezzo)
8' - DAL - Je-Vaughn Watson (Fabian Castillo)
87' - DAL - Mauro Diaz (Fabian Castillo)
89' - DAL - Jair Benitez (Mauro Diaz)
Shots: Dallas 13 - Vancouver 9
Shots on Goal: Dallas 3 - Vancouver 4
Saves: Dallas 3 - Vancouver 0
Fouls: Dallas 14 - Vancouver 13
Offsides: Dallas 2 - Vancouver 1
Corners: Dallas 3 - Vancouver 4
30.Kyle Zobeck, 22.Stephen Keel, 25.Walker Zimmerman, 32.Jonathan Top
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
22.David Ousted; 13.Nigel Reo-Coker, 40.Andy O'Brien (29.Tommy Heinemann 89'), 24.Carlyle Mitchell, 2.Jordan Harvey; 8.Matt Watson (19.Erik Hurtado 78'), 16.Johnny Leveron, 28.Gershon Koffie; 14.Daigo Kobayashi (12.Young-Pyo Lee 64'), 7.Camilo Sanvezzo, 9.Kenny Miller ©
Subs not used
18.Brad Knighton, 6.Jay DeMerit, 23.Kekuta Manneh, 27.Jun Marques Davidson