For most of the match, it looked like the Vancouver Whitecaps were destined to repeat their fate from last weekend; a 2-0 loss to FC Dallas. However, despite some problems with finish, the Whitecaps were able to claw back into the light, drawing with the best team in the Western Conference in a 2-2 score.
While it might not have been the most exciting match to watch at the start, the finish was absolutely incredible. The 'Caps managed to score twice in a five minute span to knot everything up, an impressive feat for a team that had gone over 400 minutes without scoring against the Toros.
Head Coach Martin Rennie fielded a full lineup this time, giving both Darren Mattocks and Camilo chances to start.
At 4 minutes, Darren Mattocks would get his first chance of the match, taking a ball from Nigel Reo-Coker just inside the box. Mattocks was left wide open, and had plenty of time before delivering a soft shot that was stopped well by Raul Fernandez. I mention the chance because the lack of finish on Mattocks' part would be a reoccurring theme throughout the match. He got so many chances, and yet each shot was either stopped, or put well wide. It must've been an incredibly frustrating match for the young Jamaican.
FC Dallas got on the board just five minutes later, thanks to a Kenny Cooper corner. The ball was very tight to the net, and ended up bouncing off the head of Andy O'Brien and past Joe Cannon. It was an unlucky bounce for the home squad, but they did have almost the entire match to try and get back into contention.
Fielding a squad of regulars (like they should have done last weekend), the 'Caps looked pretty damn impressive, controlling play for much of the half. Roughly 30' in, the Whitecaps were enjoying a 61.4% share of possession, a pretty sizable lead. I mean, you always have to take possession stats with a grain of salt, but still, not half bad.
The Whitecaps almost equalized at 40 minutes, with Nigel Reo-Coker steaming down the right flank. He played a beautiful ball to an oncoming Darren Mattocks in the middle, but Mattocks couldn't connect and the chance was cleared. Another grade A chance for Mattocks, another missed opportunity.
That would mean a 1-0 advantage for Dallas heading into the half, although the way the 'Caps played in the first, they definitely deserved a bit more.
THE SECOND HALF
The life was taken out of the crowd early in the second half, and faithful followers must have been feeling like they had deja vu. An own goal, followed by an early second half goal? It was incredibly similar to last weekend, and it flattened the 'Caps as they tried to work their way back into the match. A free kick from Michel at 46' found the head of Alain Rochat as he jostled for position. The ball then sailed into the box, right in front of Joe Cannon, who had come out to try and catch the ball. Instead, Matt Hedges poked the ball out of the air for the goal, his boot almost hitting Cannon in the head. 2-0 Dallas, and it looked like curtains for the 'Caps.
However, they didn't give up. The 'Caps kept coming with their attack, desperate to push one ball over the goaline. Darren Mattocks kept getting chances, but he just couldn't find a way to beat Fernandez. It didn't matter, as it would be substitute Kekutah Manneh that would lead the charge for the arbutus brown squad. At 71', Camilo raced down the right flank, before playing a perfect ball to sub Tom Heinemann. The afro'd (is that a word?) striker then crossed, but the ball was deflected out. Camilo charged forward, sending a hard shot on net that Fernandez did very well to make a save on. However, the rebound found Manneh, who flicked the ball up, then sent through a perfect one timer for his first career MLS goal.
It cut the lead to one, and the Whitecaps looked hungry for more. It was Manneh again, the 18 year old looking like a seasoned pro. He barely kept a ball in bounds, then raced into the box off the left flank. He played a nice ball in the middle, and Camilo was there to touch the ball home. Unbelievably, the Whitecaps had tied the match at 2.
FC Dallas would continue to implode, as Andrew Jackson would hit Alain Rochat in the face while the two jostled for the ball. Jackson would get a red card, putting Dallas down to 10 men. Rochat got some repairs, but stayed in the match.
At 83' Mattocks would fumble his last great opportunity, as a long Gershon Koffie shot handcuffed Fernandez. The rebound fell in the box, and a charging Mattocks put the ball wide.
The final, great chance of the night would fall to FC Dallas at the third minute of extra time. Blas Perez, in a very tight space, was able to unleash a rocket of a shot that Joe Cannon was just able to get in the way of. It was a monumental save by the veteran, preserving the single point for his club.
The match would end at 2-2, but talk about an immense statement game by the Whitecaps. They trailed, came back, and then nearly won it against the top team in the West. Not a bad day at the office.
THE FINAL WORD
The 'Caps deserved to win this match, but a character building, statement match against a rival is alright in my books. You really get the feeling that the 'Caps would have won if the match continued, considering they had all the momentum and the extra guy on the pitch. Three points would have been nice, but it was also very nice to watch FC Dallas absolutely implode in the second half. Final note; I was hard on the 'Caps for diving last week, and it was justified. However, I implore the FC Dallas bloggers to write a similar article about their boys this week, because boy were they ever flopping left right and center out there.
MAN OF THE MATCH
I have to agree with the Whitecaps, and give it to Nigel Reo-Coker. That was easily one of his best matches in a Whitecaps kit.