FRISCO, TEXAS – Vancouver Whitecaps FC saw their season come to a heartbreaking end after suffering a hard-fought 2-1 loss to FC Dallas in the Western Conference Knockout Round Wednesday night at Toyota Stadium.
Playing in their second-ever MLS Cup Playoff match, the visiting ‘Caps erased a first-half deficit through a 64th-minute Erik Hurtado equalizer before a controversial late penalty sealed their fate.
It was a gutsy road performance from the Blue and White, who outshot FC Dallas 11-8 and dominated play after Tesho Akindele put the home side ahead just before halftime.
The result brings Whitecaps FC’s fourth season in MLS to a close – a season in which Vancouver set a new MLS club record with 50 points, won the Cascadia Cup for the second straight year, and qualified for the CONCACAF Champions League for the first time in club history.
FC Dallas, meanwhile, move on to face Seattle Sounders FC in the Western Conference Semifinal.
Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson made three changes to his starting lineup after Saturday’s regular season finale. Right back Ethen Sampson stepped in for an injured Steven Beitashour (right hamstring strain), Gershon Koffie replaced Russell Teibert in midfield, and Hurtado returned as a striker in place of Darren Mattocks.
Wednesday’s single-game knockout match got off to a tentative start at Toyota Stadium, where Dallas had posted a 12W-4L-1D record in the regular season.
Dallas saw more of the ball and had a few set pieces from dangerous areas, but the ‘Caps defended well and kept the league’s fourth best offensive side in check for most of the half.
Breaking down Wednesday's match. Click to enlarge.
At the other end of the park, Vancouver had a few half-chances both through captain Pedro Morales. In the 27th minute, the Chilean gave goalkeeper Chris Seitz some trouble with a heavy strike from distance and he came close again on a free kick in the 36th minute.
But Dallas struck first in the 40th minute, when Mauro Diaz found some space in midfield before playing in Akindele. The rookie striker took a touch and slotted it in off the shin of a sliding Andy O’Brien to give Dallas a 1-0 lead.
Desperate for an equalizer, the visiting ‘Caps came out on the front foot after the break. And they nearly drew the game level in the 47th minute, when Mauro Rosales curled a right-footed free kick off the crossbar. The Blue and White hit the woodwork again at the hour-mark.
This time, it was substitute Kekuta Manneh, who made an immediate impact after replacing Morales in the 58th minute. A cleared corner fell to Manneh at the back post but his left-footed attempt trickled off the post after Seitz made the save.
Vancouver kept coming though and they found the back of the net in the 64th minute. Manneh was involved again, as he went for goal from distance after a Rosales free kick was cleared. The Gambian’s long-range attempt bounced around in the box before falling to Hurtado, whose shot was also deflected in past a sprawling Seitz.
Just five minutes later, Manneh nearly put Whitecaps FC ahead with a strike from the top of the box but his right-footed effort missed just wide right.
Dallas didn’t really have a sniff at goal in the second half until the 84th minute, when they were awarded a controversial penalty after Kendall Waston was called for a handball in the box.
The 'Caps appealed the decision, as Waston appeared to have his arm by his side when it made contact with the ball, but to no avail. Michel finished the ensuing penalty, regaining the lead for FC Dallas.
Michel’s 84th-minute penalty proved to be the winner, as FC Dallas held off a late ‘Caps charge to secure the victory.
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TWEET OF THE GAME
STAT OF THE GAME
Budweiser Man of the Match Matias Laba had a game-high 12 tackles on Wednesday, the highest total of any player in MLS this season.
Budweiser Man of the Match: Matias Laba
Referee: Mark Geiger
40’ – DAL – Tesho Akindele (Mauro Diaz)
64’ – VAN – Erik Hurtado
84’ – DAL – Michel (penalty kick)
Shots: Dallas 8 – Vancouver 11
Shots on Goal: Dallas 2 – Vancouver 4
Saves: Dallas 3 – Vancouver 0
Fouls: Dallas 17 – Vancouver 25
Offsides: Dallas 0 – Vancouver 1
Corners: Dallas 3 – Vancouver 3
14’ – VAN – Gershon Koffie
35’ – DAL – Je-Vaughn Watson
45’ – VAN – Pedro Morales
57’ – VAN – Kendall Waston
85’ – VAN – Sebastian Fernandez
85’ – DAL – Mauro Diaz
85’ – DAL – Andres Escobar
90’+6’ – VAN – Sebastian Fernandez
18.Chris Seitz; 27.Je-Vaughn Watson, 24.Matt Hedges, 25.Walker Zimmerman, 17.Zach Loyd; 28.Victor Ulloa (23.Kellyn Acosta 76’), 31.Michel; 13.Tesho Akindele, 10.Mauro Diaz (91.Andres Escobar 79’), 11.Fabian Castillo; 7.Blas Perez (12.Ryan Hollingshead 90’+1’)
Substitutes not used:
44.Jesse Gonzalez, 3.Moises Hernandez, 5.Jair Benitez, 9.David Texeira
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.David Ousted; 27.Ethen Sampson, 40.Andy O’Brien, 4.Kendall Waston, 2.Jordan Harvey; 15.Matías Laba, 28.Gershon Koffie (29.Nicolás Mezquida 87’); 30.Mauro Rosales, 77.Pedro Morales (23.Kekuta Manneh 58’), 7.Sebastián Fernández; 19.Erik Hurtado (11.Darren Mattocks 78’)
Substitutes not used
70.Paolo Tornaghi, 3.Sam Adekugbe, 16.Johnny Leverón, 31.Russell Teibert