In peak #roadCaps fashion, Vancouver used two late lapses from the FC Dallas defense to grab a third straight 2-2 draw and a point out of a road trip to Frisco on Saturday.
A Maynor Figueroa own goal and a late penalty from Kei Kamara canceled out strikes from Max Urruti and Reggie Cannon to controversially salvage a result against one of the top teams in the Western Conference, despite few, if any, clear cut chances for the visitors.
After a midweek draw at home to San Jose, Carl Robinson made a handful of changes for the weekend match. Jake Nerwinski returned to the lineup, replacing Sean Franklin at right back, and Russell Teibert, Bernie Ibini and Brek Shea also slotted back into the starting XI after brief departures against the Quakes. And despite what was a much improved performance in the midweek, Robbo opted to rest Marcel de Jong, instead opting for Brett Levis at left back.
FC Dallas are a team known for hot starts and it was nearly 1-0 to the home side early, after the Hoops controlled much of the possession early in the match. Max Urruti swung in a pinpoint cross after nice link-up play down the left hand side but Kellyn Acosta blazed the resulting header over the bar after being put off well by Brett Levis.
But the Whitecaps settled in, seeing more of the ball and looking strong in the middle of the park and seeing some nice crosses come in from Nerwinski and Shea. But where the Caps were less fortunate in was the fitness department, with Kei Kamara and Brek picking up knocks that required attention within the first 25 minutes, although both continued. The 89 degree day in Frisco also required teams budget their energy, meaning both sides were less enterprising in attack in the first 45.
With set piece play heating up in the last week or two after being dormant, the Caps had to enter the match looking to grab a goal off dead ball play. The first real chance for Vancouver came in the 28th minute off such an opportunity, after Kei Kamara was hacked down in by Carlos Gruezo after a nice bit of hold up play just outside the area. Felipe’s free kick was a nice curler but dove just wide of the far post and it appeared that Jimmy Maurer had it covered.
Brian Rowe’s quiet afternoon heated up quickly in the 33rd minute, as Santiago Mosquera let loose with a powerful shot from just inside the penalty area. Rowe was up to the challenge, however, as he parried the shot--a save reminiscent of David Ousted.
A first half of decent organization went out the window just five minutes before halftime, when a thunderbolt from Reggie Cannon beat Rowe in the top corner. The goal came out of nothing and was a remarkable individual effort from the youngster, although the defense should’ve put more pressure on Cannon to shut down the opportunity. All the same, it was 1-0 to the home side.
Despite conceding (and immediately nearly gifting another goal to Acosta), the Caps responded well before the break, with noticeably better energy from Levis and Reyna, and a bevy of corner kicks which amounted to naught. Despite an unholy five minutes of stoppage time, the first half wrapped up 1-0.
It should’ve been 2-0 to FC Dallas shortly after the halftime break, as Gruezo absolutely shredded Felipe and Jose Aja, dancing into the box but his shot was straight at Rowe to save the defense’s blushes.
It was the Whitecaps who were denied, not by Maurer but by referee Ted Unkel. Brett Levis did well to force a turnover and found Kei Kamara with a lovely cross, which the Sierra Leone international beat the keeper to and finished into the net. But Unkel immediately signaled for a foul, adjudging Kamara to have obstructed Maurer on the 50/50 ball, a very harsh call in my book and not the first time in the match in which the FC Dallas keeper got a soft foul in his favor.
Robbo elected to make a needed change shortly thereafter in the 60th minute, bringing on Alphonso Davies to replace Bernie Ibini, who made a couple decent runs but was largely silent again. Anthony Blondell replaced the other winger, Shea, seven minutes later, signaling a more direct approach to try and snag an equalizer.
That chance came in the 72nd minute, when Brian Rowe sprang Blondell on one of his now-trademark runs in behind the Dallas backline. Unfortunately, the ball got caught up under his feet and he couldn’t take the breakaway served up for him (also a trademark for Blondell, unfortunately). The final change was soon made, bringing Levis off for Cristian Techera, despite a decent performance from the Saskatchewan native.
FC Dallas seemingly put the game out of sight in the 79th minute, with a sharp counter attack immediately after the hydration break caught the Caps flat footed. Michael Barrios and Urruti linked up well and it was the latter who beat a late-arriving Kendall Waston and a helpless Rowe to double his side’s advantage.
But the home side fell asleep after the goal and gifted a lifeline to the Caps, after Davies launched a searching long ball for Blondell, who had swerved past the backline. Despite initially stumbling, Blondell poked it across the box and it caramed off Maynor Figueroa and past Maurer.
Dallas could have restored the two goal advantage, after Mosquera beat Waston on the left hand side and found a wide open Barrios, who skied the shot into Row Z when it should’ve been a third goal in the 86th minute.
But Ted Unkel ensured there was a bit of drama left in this one. A Hail Mary from Brian Rowe came into the box and the Caps caught Maurer off his line. Scrambling back into position, the Dallas goalkeeper dove at Blondell as he headed the ball on, missed and chopped down the Venezuelan. Unkel wasted no time in pointing to the spot and showing the keeper a yellow card.
After a delay, Kamara stepped up and not-so-cooly put the ball just out of reach of Maurer, who probably should have saved the PK. But it counted and the Caps were able to salvage a point from Dallas, as the full time whistle blew shortly thereafter.
- Little doubt that the best player on Vancouver’s team Saturday was Jimmy Maurer, who got caught out of position twice. One time was the disallowed goal from Kamara (more on that in a second) and the second was the (rightly awarded) PK. The keeper never looked comfortable and was effectively the sole reason the Caps hung on and salvaged a point.
- Ted Unkel taketh away and Ted Unkel giveth, but there is no doubt in my mind that Kamara’s disallowed goal should have counted. The striker pretty clearly beat the keeper to the 50/50 ball and had a right to it, despite (minimal) contact after the fact. I’m sure I’ll change my tune the next time Marinovic or Rowe are fouled, but there are too many protections for the modern goalkeeper and FC Dallas was lucky in that sense Saturday.
- Dallas was, however, unlucky not to be farther ahead. While Vancouver’s organization initially impressed me, the Caps were demolished out wide, especially in the second half, as they looked for a second goal. This isn’t to say that the fullbacks were poor, as I thought Brett Levis had a good match, but that Aja and Waston were unable to effectively help out and cancel out dangerous Dallas counterattacks.
- A second straight game in which I thought Yordy Reyna looked good. When Vancouver chose to get him involved he was dangerous and caused problems for the a Dallas backline that looked shaky at times. Hopefully he’ll continue to build on this and become a mainstay in the lineup.
- Especially in the first half, I was impressed with how steady the middle of the park was for the Caps. Most of Dallas’ chances came from the flanks and Russell Teibert and Felipe were decent at forcing that to happen. Maybe I’m just done with Efrain Juarez but I thought that pairing, especially Teibert, was a refreshing change of pace.
- The Caps again were simply unable to create enough chances, something I pretty reasonably could predict when I saw both Shea and Ibini in the starting lineup. I thought the effort was decent for a hot away match against a tough opponent but the creativity issues are getting worse, not better, and seem as though they will continue to hassle Vancouver.