Report and Reaction: Vancouver Whitecaps back from the brink to earn battling point in Dallas

Report and Reaction: Vancouver Whitecaps back from the brink to earn battling point in Dallas

This is why you don’t leave or switch off football matches before the end.

How do you have one shot on target in a match, yet score two goals and earn a draw? Read on!

Vancouver Whitecaps headed to Dallas looking to become the first team to beat the Texans in Frisco since the ‘Caps went there last July and demolished them 4-0. History wasn’t to repeat itself, but the ‘Caps battled bravely to earn the unlikeliest of points in a 2-2 draw when they looked down and out and give the squad a much needed confidence boost after a string of poor performances and results.

A first MLS goal five minutes from half time by Reggie Cannon and a second with 12 minutes remaining from Maxi Urruti seemed to have Dallas comfortably on their way to three points.

A Maynor Figueroa own goal in the 82nd minute gave Vancouver a lifeline, and their first away goal in 261 minutes, and as the game ticked into the eighth minute of stoppage time, they were handed another when Jimmy Maurer clotheslined Anthony Blondell in the box. The Dallas keeper nearly made amends by keeping out Kei Kamara’s effort from the spot, but it just sneaked past and the ‘Caps sneaked a draw in the most dramatic and unexpected fashion.

Carl Robinson rang the chances once again, especially on the wings, making five changes from the team that started Wednesday night’s draw with San Jose. Jake Nerwinski and Brett Levis both came back into the team in the full back roles, with Bernie Ibini and Brek Shea taking the wide midfield roles. Russell Teibert also came back in to partner Felipe in the defensive end of the midfield. Certainly a more youthful line-up for the intense Dallas heat in this afternoon kick off.

The first real chance of the game fell to Dallas in the 7th minute when Kellyn Acosta headed an Urruti cross narrowly over.

But that was about it. It was a game with very little to write home about, with the match being bogged down in the middle of the park.

The ‘Caps nearly shook the game out of its slumber on the half hour mark when Felipe curled a low free kick just past the right post, after Kamara was brought down on the edge of the Dallas box.

Brian Rowe hadn’t had a lot to do in the afternoon so far, but was called into action in the 33rd minute when he had to get down well at his near post to turn a fierce Santiago Mosquera strike around for a corner.

Vancouver were the better team in the opening stages, but Dallas turned to turn up the heat in more ways than one.

And the home side opened the scoring in the 40th minute with a cracker of a goal from Cannon. The 19-year-old homegrown player was given a lot of room on the right, receiving the ball and cutting inside before unleashing a fierce strike that beat Rowe all ends up.

Kamara was played in with three minutes of the half remaining, but Dallas keeper Maurer was out quick to smother the danger at the striker’s feet.

Vancouver had another couple of forays forward to end the half, without really troubling the Dallas goal, and headed into the break one down and with an uphill struggle ahead of them.

Dallas came close to adding to their tally when Mauro Diaz had a scissor kick flash wide 27 seconds after the restart.

Carlos Gruezo went on a bit of a mazy a couple of minutes later, firing straight at Rowe, as Vancouver were under some pressure to start the half.

Kamara had the ball in the net in the 56th minute but referee Ted Unkle was quick to blow for a foul on the Dallas keeper.

Whitecaps substitute Blondell was put through on a long ball forward from Rowe in the 72nd minute but the Venezuelan, who had only been on the pitch four minutes, should have done better and Dallas cleared the danger.

Then from nowhere, Dallas killed the game off in the 78th minute. Or so they thought.

The home side broke quickly, Mosquera played in Urruti, and the Argentine easily slotted the ball past Rowe to double the Dallas lead.

That looked it for the ‘Caps but they were given an unexpected lifeline in the 82nd minute when Blondell powered towards goal, but carried the ball too far, hitting the byeline and cutting it back, more in hope than anything else. But Figueroa was in the way and knocked it past Maurer and into his own net to get the difference back to one.

Could Vancouver somehow grab a third straight 2-2 draw when they looked dead and buried?

Dallas sub Michael Barrios should have finally put the game to bed for Dallas with three minutes remaining but blasted a Mosquera cross high and over in front of goal.

And what a costly miss that was to prove. Referee Unkle had added on seven minutes of stoppage time, due in part to a hydration break. With the game in the eighth minute of time added on, the Whitecaps were beyond last chance saloon, but this Western had a sting in the tail worth of any Texan scorpion.

Blondell rose to get his head on a cross into the box but Maurer flew out and clotheslined him, hitting the striker in the face and throat. As the ball head goalwards, Kendall Waston tried a spectacular bicycle kick, but while we were all watching that, Unkle was pointing to the spot for a penalty for the foul on Blondell.

Dallas and their supporters were incensed but replays showed that Blondell was clearly taken out. Kamara stepped up and didn’t hit the best spot kick, allowing Maurer to get his hands on it. The power took it through him though and into the back of the net, and somehow, the Whitecaps had earned a point and that third straight 2-2 draw.

There was barely time to restart the game and when Unkle blew the final whistle seconds later, you were only left wondering what you’d just seen.

The Whitecaps had battled back for a point, but it still felt a disappointing display. They had a lot of help with the own goal and the penalty, but other than that they showed very little. Kamara’s spot kick was their first shot on target in 98 minutes. They offered nothing for most of the match and it’s another result that papers over the cracks.

On the positive side though, a comeback like this should do wonders for the squad’s mentality. It’s just not a strategy that can continue for the long term.

FINAL SCORE: FC Dallas 2 – 2 Vancouver

ATT: 13,907

DALLAS: Jimmy Maurer; Reggie Cannon, Matt Hedges, Maynor Figueroa, Anton Nedyalkov; Kellyn Acosta (Jacori Hayes 46), Carloes Gruezo, Santiago Mosquera, Mauro Diaz (Ryan Hollingshead 85), Roland Lamah (Michael Barrios 68); Maxi Urruti [Subs Not Used: Jesse Gonzalez, Victor Ulloa, Tesho Akindele, Cristian Colman]

VANCOUVER: Brian Rowe; Jake Nerwinski, Kendall Waston, Jose Aja, Brett Levis (Cristian Techera 74); Bernie Ibini (Alphonso Davies 61), Russell Teibert, Felipe Martins, Brek Shea (Anthony Blondell 68); Yordy Reyna, Kei Kamara [Subs Not Used: Sean Melvin, Aly Ghazal, Efrain Juarez, Nicolas Mezquida]




On today’s game…

It was very eventful, especially towards the end. We’ve got to focus on our performance. We were two-nil down in a very difficult place, in warm weather against a really good team and we managed to claw our way back. Lots of positives, a gutsy performance. I think we got what we deserved in the end, if I’m being totally honest, but we did make it difficult for ourselves.

When you switch off at any level, football teams can hurt you, obviously we know that have good players, one moment of a lapse in concentration and they managed to score a goal. We were fairly comfortable in the first half, but we had to regroup at halftime. We went for another little push after the water break and within two minutes we give away a second goal. We didn’t go under. We didn’t give in. We kept believing and passing the ball and got the reward.

On the performance of substitute Anthony Blondell…

He was excellent. The guys in the locker room mentioned him specifically because when you’re a sub, it’s easy to sulk or be disappointed you don’t start the game, but subs are there to come on and make a difference and he certainly did that. He should have scored earlier. He got a chance when the ball dropped for him and he took too long to hit the ball, but he never gave up. He worked the off side line. He got in-around the back. He created the own goal, and obviously the penalty decision was on him, as well.

On the partnership between Felipe and Russell Teibert…

Brilliant. It was a decision I made late. Russell is a terrific footballer. He’s good with the ball, wanted him and Felipe to connect a lot of passes, keep possession of the ball for us, and they did a fantastic job. Credit to both of those guys.


On today’s game…

We made it harder on ourselves than we needed to today. One of those games we were playing well. Just kind of the theme for these last couple of games for us. We’re playing well, getting opportunities, defending well, and it’s just one breakdown and we put ourselves in a hole and make the game that much harder. After the first goal, I thought we came out well in the second half, then they got the second goal. Down 2-0, on the road, in this heat, it’s one of those games you try to avoid it, but you start thinking ‘Oh no, here we go. This is a huge hole we put ourselves in’, but credit to all the guys on the field and credit to the subs that came in. We never gave up and kept fighting. Great job by Anthony [Blondell] to get one back and then the last minute heroics to give ourselves an opportunity. This was not an easy game. It’s the third game in a row, on the road, 95 degrees, in Dallas, down 2-0. This feels like a win and is a good way to cap off these three games and move forward.

On the performance of Felipe and Russell Teibert…

I thought they did great. Russell hasn’t played in a while. He stepped in, and not in an easy game to step in and play here, and did well getting around in the middle, defending and getting forward. We possessed the ball well, moved it forward. Defensively, we did well too. It was two plays, really, that we just broke down and got punished for it.


On today’s game…

It was a wild game. I hope our fans watching back home didn’t turn the game off before the 80th minute because we showed a lot of character from the 80th to the 90th getting that goal late. It shows a lot of character from the team. It shows that never say die attitude and it’s massive. It’s a big point for us today, but it’s also a big point carrying throughout the season because when a team sees that you’re never going to give in and always keep pushing to the 90th minute, it makes it a tough game for whoever you’re playing against.

It’s a strong performance from the team because we went down a goal, and we bounced back. We went down another goal, and we bounced back again. Sometimes when you go down two goals, on the road, it’s hot, and it’s easy to give in, but we kept going. We kept driving on and that’s what got us the result today. It’s a big point here in Dallas because they are a great team.


On today’s game…

It was a tough one. Tough going down two goals, but that’s what they say, ‘don’t give up.’ We had a great sub with Anthony [Blondell] coming in making two great plays to get us back into the game, but tough game and we’re happy to go away with one point.


General thoughts on the match…

In the second half there were patches where we looked good. We created some actions, but not with the frequency we usually have but we can’t complain about the chances we created. The team scored two good goals. We had chances to score a couple more with the goal open to decide the game but we ended up with that ending. I am very heartbroken for our players. I hope that we all learn from this and keep going.

On giving up two late goals…

We need to put aside the frustration we all have from the end of the game. It’s very important that we learn and gain maturity from this. We had chances that we need to finish. We finish and game over. As players and coaches those are things that we can learn and grow from.

On drawing matches at home…

The team keeps accumulating points, but drawing at home hurts, especially under these circumstances. We had a controlled result of 2-0, and then these events occurred at the end. That’s what hurt honestly, but like we’ve been saying, the team is still growing and getting points at home. We must get points on the road as well.

On the creativity of the team…

Throughout the match, the team looked much better with the possession of the ball. We had more creativity. I like it when the team plays high and tries to do those combinations in the final third of the field. I see a team with more ideas and it’s what makes me happy because we created more chances that should’ve been finished.
In that we have progressed. We cannot eclipse what was done well. We have to get used to the way that this game is uncontrollable, but we’ve got to learn to take it.

On the play of Reggie Cannon…

Reggie is growing tremendously. What a great goal. He is taking advantage of the opportunity. It was a very positive performance from Reggie today.


On the penalty…

It’s brutal. It is a brutal ending for us. It was a game that we had completely controlled… and then it ends up, 2-2. It’s a tough one to take. We need to learn from this and move on. Luckily, we have a game Friday. We turn the page quick, learn from our mistakes and move forward.

On Vancouver’s first goal…

[It came] out of nothing. It was a controlled situation. [Anthony] Blondell just got off a toe poke. It was an awkward play. Maynor [Figueroa] didn’t have time to react. Unfortunately it hits off his knee and goes in. One of those really weird plays but it’s the end of the game. We need to be more focused. We need to learn from it and heighten our focus. That’s top to bottom, every one of us.

What can you take away from this game…

You take positives from it. We played well for 80 minutes, the chances we created, the way we played. We made some key mistakes that hopefully, we can learn from. Hopefully we learn and don’t repeat those mistakes. We got hit in the mouth today. Hopefully we learn to knock the other team out and not let them climb back in and get those hits on us.


Thoughts on scoring first MLS goal…

It felt great at the moment, but honestly doesn’t matter unless we get three points. At the end of the day, we’re not going to blame the federation and the refs for any missed calls or anything like that. At the end of the day, we’re responsible for what happened. We have to know how to shut out games, end them. Stupid mistakes, myself included. We just have to learn how to [close out] games.

Thoughts on going up against Vancouver’s offense…

The key to getting out of the back was the fullbacks. Fullbacks are going to push high and it’s going to make Brek Shea and the other winger on their side work harder. They’re not used to defending in a five. Going one-on-one in the corner is what Oscar wanted. He wanted us to create that two-vs.-one situation… to create the uncomfortable situations that they are going to be in and we ended up doing that.


Thoughts on today’s game…

It was difficult for us. It’s complicated when we have the game in hand and they catch up. But, it’s time to fix our mistakes and focus on the next game, which will be an important road match. We hope to get a great result there to continue positively. We shouldn’t put our heads down. We need to be strong. It’s a long season that will teach us a lot. We need to be able to fix our mistakes. There will be more games where we can undo today. It’s not about was this a mistake or this? No, it’s about the whole game and we have to look ahead.

Authored by: Michael McColl

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