The Vancouver Whitecaps returned from the international break down three starters -Sheanon Williams, Christian Bolanos, and Kendall Waston- to take on rival FC Dallas. Despite poor recent form in Major League Soccer (3 losses and 2 draws in last 6), Dallas can never be taken lightly. To address the lost starters, Carl Robinson moved Andrew Jacobson to center back and inserted Jake Nerwinski, Russell Teibert and new father Brek Shea.
Against a strong FC Dallas squad, the Whitecaps played an effective, if unspectacular, first half. Dallas keeper Jesse Gonzalez had to make a few diving header clearances outside the box, but otherwise, it was a ‘safe’ half from the Caps.
The match heated up in the second half when a misstep from Matias Laba lead to Maximliano Urruti countering. While Nerwinski was in-stride with Urruti, he couldn’t attack for fear of fouling. Urruti showed a strikers mentality by slipping the ball through Jacobson’s legs and past David Ousted into the corner.
After the Urruti goal, the Caps upped the pressure, starting with the insertion of Alphonso Davies. Davies drive and hustle led to a free kick opportunity. Cristian Techera took full advantage of the opportunity, scoring the team’s first free kick of the season; and it was a beauty.
The Techera goal seemed to lift the energy on the field and it seemed like another goal was inevitable. However, it was unclear as to which side would get it as both were pressing. Robbo tried to switch things up, giving Bernie Ibini-Isei his first minutes with the Caps. Unfortunately, he was only given around 10 minutes and was unable to make much of an impact.
Despite a few late chances, the match ended in a 1-1 draw. What may not receive much attention, but possibly should, is the health of Techera. He had a bit of a dust-up in the box that resulted in him staying down for a bit. Although he continued on, he was noticeable limping. It appeared that he was going to be taken out of the match late, with Mauro Rosales replacing him, however, the match ended before that substitution could be made. With the walking wounded currently for the Caps, and the strong season Techera has had thus far, they can ill-afford to have Techera join the infirmary.
The Caps ended the match with 6 shots, 2 on target, 50.1% of the possession and 8 corners. While it was not an impressive performance, it showed the Caps ability to fight when depleted and to come back against a very strong team that does not lose when scoring first. Seriously, over the last three years, they have lost three times.
The Vancouver Whitecaps now travel to Minnesota for their first match against the expansion club next Saturday evening.