Report and Reaction: Whitecaps riding the wave as they destroy Dallas with first half goal blitz

Report and Reaction: Whitecaps riding the wave as they destroy Dallas with first half goal blitz

(Photo Credit: @WhitecapsFC/X.com)

Vancouver Whitecaps are off to their best start to a MLS season for over a decade. Unbeaten with two big road wins and a home draw from their first three matches, the ‘Caps have their best start to a campaign since 2012, where they also stood on seven points under Martin Rennie. If they can do better than a draw at home to Real Salt Lake next weekend, then they will have their best ever MLS start in their 14 seasons in the league.

The Whitecaps latest success came in damp Dallas, but it was first half goals that were raining down for Vancouver after three fantastic team goals from Matias Laborda, Brian White, and Fafa Picault saw the visitors 3-1 up at the half and in total control. Sebastian Lletget had temporarily reduced the lead to one with five minutes of the half remaining, but the ‘Caps came roaring back.

Both teams had chances to add to their tallies in the second half, but the ‘Caps were fairly comfortably coming away with all three points and will now head into a four-game home stand brimming with confidence and expectations.

Fresh off their first win of the season, Vanni Sartini freshened things up in his starting 11, with two of last week’s difference makers, Fafa Picault and Alessandro Schopf, coming into the team, which kept in a 3-4-3 formation. Dallas switched from their usual three at the back to a flat back four, with the hope of dealing with the ‘Caps electric frontline a little better with the extra man.

At least that was the plan! The reality was that Dallas didn’t know what had hit them after a tremendous first 45 minutes of football from Vancouver that saw them score all three of their shots on target. Efficient!

The home side started the brighter and were taking the game to the ‘Caps without really threatening to break the deadlock. Picault almost was played in for the Whitecaps in the 9th minute as Maarten Paes was forced to come flying off his line, but that was about it for the early going, with both teams turning the ball over.

Just past the midway point of the half, however, the ‘Caps turned on the style and got suitably rewarded.

Ryan Gauld directed a header from a Schopf cutback wide in the 24th minute and then saw a shot blocked moment later. But as the ‘Caps kept the pressure on they got the breakthrough a minute later from a fantastic well-worked passing move that saw White play a near give and go with Gauld, cutting the ball back from the byeline, which Gauld dummied and it fell to Laborda who finished to the far corner with aplomb.

Four minutes later and the ‘Caps doubled their lead.

This time it was Picault who played in the perfect cross from the left for White to run in and meet and head home past Paes to put Vancouver into dreamland.

Dallas looked shellshocked and frustrated but they got themselves back into the game with five minutes of the half remaining when Lletget sent a nice looping header off a Jesus Ferreira free kick past Yohei Takaoka into the far corner and it was game back on.

Briefly.

Vancouver restored their two-goal advantage just two minutes later and it was another well worked goal. This time White turned provider, with a pinpoint delivery into the box for Picault to rise above everybody and head home against his former club, grabbing his first goal as a Whitecap and making it six goals and six different scorers so far this season for Vancouver.

Petar Musa had a long range effort three minutes into first half stoppage time, which Takaoka easily dealt with, but that was it for the first 45. One of the best halves of football we’ve seen from Vancouver for many a time.

Dallas came out for the second half looking like a much different beast and pushed hard for what was the crucial next goal, creating a slew of half chances, the best of which fell to Musa in the 54th minute, but he could only look on in anguish as his fierce strike cannoned off the outside of the left post.

White should have had his second of the game as the hour mark approached but he wasted a Picault cutback, although his blushes were somewhat spared when the offside flag went up.

Sebastian Berhalter then came close for the ‘Caps with a strong flying header off a superb Luis Martins cross in the 68th minute before Dallas had a great chance to really get themselves back into it and make the last quarter of the match interesting two minutes later.

The ball ran through to a wide open Musa and with the goal gaping, the Croatian blasted wildly over.

Both teams had half chances in the closing moments, but Vancouver more than comfortably held on to make it back-to-back road wins and continue that much sought after fast start to a season. They now have four straight matches coming up at BC Place, all of them tough ones, but this could very well be the making of the team this season and a strong home stand will set them up very nicely for the long slog ahead.

FINAL SCORE: FC Dallas 1 – 3 Vancouver Whitecaps

ATT: 19.096

SCORING SUMMARY:
VAN: Mathias Laborda (Brian White) – 25’
VAN: Brian White (Fafá Picault) – 29’
DAL: Sebastian Lletget (Jesús Ferreira) – 40’
VAN: Fafá Picault (Ryan Raposo) – 42’

STATS:
Possession: DAL 55.8% – VAN 44.2%
Shots: DAL 12 – VAN 6
Shots on Goal: DAL 3 – VAN 3
Saves: DAL 0 – VAN 2
Fouls: DAL 12 – VAN 11
Offsides: DAL 0 – VAN 5
Corners: DAL 3 – VAN 2

DALLAS: Maarten Paes; Sam Junqua (Bernard Kamungo 63’), Nkosi Tafari, Sebastien Ibeagha (Eugene Ansah 84’), Ema Twumasi (Herbert Endeley 83’); Dante Sealy, Patrickson Delgado (Tsiki Ntsabeleng 73’), Sebastian Lletget, Paul Arriola; Petar Musa, Jesús Ferreira [Substitutes not used — Jimmy Maurer, Omar Gonzalez, Marco Farfan, Liam Fraser, Amet Korça]

VANCOUVER: Yohei Takaoka; Mathias Laborda, Ranko Veselinovic, Tristan Blackmon; Pedro Vite (Sebastian Berhalter 60’), Andres Cubas, Alessandro Schöpf (Luís Martins 60’), Ryan Gauld (Damir Kreilach 83’); Ryan Raposo (Javian Brown 84’), Brian White, Fafá Picault (Ali Ahmed 73’) [Substitutes not used — Isaac Boehmer, Bjørn Utvik, Ralph Priso, Levonte Johnson]

REACTION:

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS

MICHAEL D’AGOSTINO (ASST MANAGER)

On his team’s performance in the win:

“I’ll be honest, I’m really proud of the guys. A fantastic first half, and a difficult start to the second half but we weathered the storm. They came out flying at us in the second half early, and we did well to stop them from getting too many chances. They had a couple, but at the end of the day, it was difficult but I’m really, really proud of just the effort in general.”

On the fast start to the game:

“It was part of the game plan. We felt that we could exploit them early. You know, things don’t always go to plan but against San Jose, it was a bit more of a game where we wanted to keep things more compact, and obviously the guys that came in made a big difference with fresh energy and different characteristics. But in this game, the tactic kind of worked early, and we were able to kind of exploit them in the ways we worked on all week, so really happy for that. Regardless of whether you start well or end well, you know, if you get a result away from home it’s always good.”

FAFA PICAULT

On his goal tonight:

“I knew that Ryan was going to cross it, and I didn’t really see the ball leave his feet too well, but I knew it did leave and I kind of put myself in a spot where I hoped the ball would end up. At that point, I just tried to meet the ball at its highest point to get over the defender and thankfully, I got enough on it to go past the ‘keeper.”

On the forward line’s connection so far this season:

“I think it’s important both on and off the field that we get along, which is not always necessarily the case, but in ours it’s helped us. We play for each other, we have great communication and a positive vibe between the group, so that’s very important when trying to create things and get to gelling and building chemistry. At the moment, I think as a front group we’re all on the same page, but this is only a few games in so we’re not trying to get ahead of ourselves, but we’re also optimistic about what we can do if we continue to gel even more.”

RYAN RAPOSO

On the team’s mentality shift this season:

“The mentality is a lot different. I was just speaking with someone from the medical staff, and they’re saying ‘wow, what a difference it’s been since you first came in 2020’. Back then, you know, it would have been crazy in the locker room. Now, guys are happy and the music is going but it’s not like we just won the MLS Cup, so personally I love that mentality and it shows that that is the standard almost, that we go on the road to win matches, and at home we try to win matches so I love that mentality from the guys and I think with the additions we’ve brought in, the maturity they have, it’s helped us in these type of of moments and to hold off in the second half and just grind that second half out.”

FC DALLAS

NICO ESTEVEZ

On the team’s mood in the locker room…

“We are very disappointed. We want to win. We have our stadium packed with our fans and we just want to win for them. This is why we work every single week. We work every single week to get a win for our fans. We put a lot of effort there. We had a bad moment last year during the season, and this year the bad moment is coming early in the season. We will regroup and get this right to give wins to our supporters.”

On the importance of fans sticking by the team…

“We have to give a lot of credit to what this club has done in the last two years, and now we have to support them because they need to feel that support and that love. Because, when things are not going in their way, the easy thing is to abandon them, to abandon the guys that are fighting every single day for what they want to achieve. Now is when we have to show the family that we are. We talk about how FC Dallas is a family, and when the family has a tough moment, that’s when it has to stick together. And this is the message we have to give. When you have a problem in your family, you stick together, and you overcome that. And this is how we’re going to do it. It’s easy to blame, to blame players, it’s easy to blame the coach. It’s very easy, we can all blame someone. Pick on me if there’s someone that you have to blame. I’m the leader of this group and we’re not doing well. But the players are going to step up. I know their mentality, I know how hungry they are, I know how much they love this club and the fans. And we are going to get there, I have no doubt.”

SEBASTIAN LLETGET

On scoring his first goal of the year…

“Yeah it’s not one you want to celebrate, you just want to get back to the halfway line and just get the next one. But we conceded too early right after we scored and then it’s very tough to get back into the game. This is a tough one, not gonna lie. This one hurts because losing three in a row, with this team, we know we’re better than this.”

On conceding the first goal again…

“I’ve been in all sorts of games but I think maybe it’s concentration. We’re a team that knows it’s good with the ball, we know what we want to do, we have a system and identity but we’re falling short defensively–as a whole. It’s not to blame anyone, it’s everyone.”

On the timing of the formation change…

“Yeah there could be tactical issues. After the break we’ll regroup and really sit down and look at each other and speak to guys on the backline, the midfield, to see what way we want to go forward and stick with it and get comfortable with it. Because something has to change.”

NKOSI TAFARI

On giving up goals to start the game…

“There’s just a severe lack of intensity from the start, and then you’re gonna punch first or get hit. And we keep getting punched first. It’s hard to come back when you’re down two goals, one goal or three goals. We haven’t scored first in any game this season yet, so it’s kind of hard to win with that kind of an outcome.”

On the match tonight…

“We just lacked intensity, like, we’re out here to perform in big games. And I don’t think we’re approaching the game with that mindset. It’s a do or die thing. In terms of showing up on the field, just be ready to eat the food on the plate, someone’s gonna take it, and we’re not taking it. It’s that simple. Once you go down a goal, it doesn’t really matter how good you are, like, we fall back, they didn’t even enter. I don’t even know if they had a shot in the second half. But what does that matter? It was 3-1 after the first half, so that’s how the score ended.”

MAARTEN PAES

On the team conceding goals early in games this season…

“We’re trying to get the solutions now. We need to analyze it quickly. I think that we concede the goal first all the time. We talked the whole preseason about lighting a fire. I think that the fire inside to prevent goals and chances needs to be lit a little bit more. We have two weeks to look into that and try to get some solutions.”

On the timing of the club’s upcoming bye week…

“I want to come back here tomorrow and solve things with the team as soon as possible. It’s also maybe good to get some days to think and change some headaches about yourself personally, and the team as well, to come back strong.”

Authored by: Michael McColl

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