Caps Hooped Versus Dallas

FC Dallas' Blas Perez scores early in the second half to put Dallas ahead 2-0. - USA TODAY Sports

There's an old sports adage that the best defence is a good offense. The Vancouver Whitecaps revealed tonight glaring issues in both of those departments, falling 2-0 to FC Dallas in a match where goalkeeper Joe Cannon was easily a standout, and man of the match for the outclassed blue and white.

Lest the rosy-glasses crew think I'm being too hard on Vancouver, I will say that both Dallas goals came off fortuitous bounces - the first off a corner kick that bounced in off the back of CB Brad Rusin for an own goal 29 minutes into the match, and the second at the 50' mark courtesy of a partial block from Y. P. Lee that looped over the back line and into the path of Blas Perez six yards out for a cross-grain header that Cannon had no chance on.

That disclaimer out of the way, it was obvious from a relatively early stage that the home side had the chemistry and talent to force the issue, while the visitors turned yet another page in the illustrated book of how not to play football. Possession was lost too easily, runs were misread, balls were overhit, Rusin and Rochat, the left-side of the back line, were shambolic, soft, and outpaced. Have I forgotten anything?

Oh yes, the positives. Joe Cannon deserves better. Without him, the Whitecaps could easily have been dealt a 4-0 thrashing. He stoned Perez in the opening minute, diving to keep the Caps from going down early. He would later deny grade-A chances for Kenny Cooper and Perez again on an unchallenged header from close range.

In the early stages, Nigel Reo-Coker established himself physically in midfield, winning tackles and involving himself in the play with regularity. But following his yellow card right at half time, his presence began to dwindle. The only other positive? A lonely first-half sequence where the Caps strung nine or ten passes together in an unbroken chain of possession that went - nowhere. Oh, and I almost forgot: Jun Marques Davidson actually made a penetrating pass that took the Caps 10 yards forward down the pitch.

In truth, it would have been a big ask anyway. The Hoops were 5-1-1 coming into the match. They were, and remain, undefeated at home, and had collected four clean sheets in their seven matches to date. Vancouver has struggled to hit on all cylinders so far this year - particularly on the road - and that theme was merely continued this evening at FC Dallas Stadium.

With Kenny Miller (hamstring) and Corey Hertzog (concussion protocol) unavailable, Martin Rennie somewhat surprisingly gave the nod to Tom Heinemann up top, with Erik Hurtado and Matt Watson on the flanks. The midfield consisted of Reo-Coker, Russell Teibert and Davidson, ahead of the standard four in the back and Cannon.

Vancouver's attack was next to non-existent, in the first half, except for one opportunity when FCD keeper Raul Fernandez spilled a Reo-Coker cross onto Matt Watson's feet, but Watson's weak attempt was cleared off the line on a sliding effort by CB George John.

Koffie (Davidson), Mattocks (Teibert), and Camilo (Watson) came on as subs in the second half, with Camilo injecting a little bit of life, but overall the end effect was the same for the Whitecaps' popgun offense, and suspect defending - the latter improving somewhat as Dallas eased off the gas in the latter stages of the second half.

Without their key starters Miller, Koffie, and/or Camilo and Mattocks on the field, the Whitecaps looked completely ineffective. Now, a defense that was deemed rather suspect thus far has now further demonstrated that it can't deal adequately with speed on the counter, or defend well in the air. Vancouver will need to improve drastically if the Whitecaps are going to make the playoffs again this season.

The Whitecaps face Edmonton in the first round of the Canadian Championships on Wednesday - look for large-scale roster changes for that matchup.


Key Stats

Attempts:

Dallas 13, Vancouver 8

Shots on goal:

Dallas 6, Vancouver 3

Corners:

Dallas 8, Vancouver 4

Possession:

Dallas 52%, Vancouver 48%

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