It had been nearly a month since FC Dallas took the field as a team, and the highly-anticipated rematch on Saturday against the Vancouver Whitecaps was an opportunity for second-place Dallas to establish dominance. Whether injuries or rust from the three-week international break played a role, FC Dallas was flat from the kick-off and struggled with consistency and speed throughout the contest.
Vancouver took advantage, scoring twice to take a 2-0 victory on the road in North Texas.
“Mentally, we weren’t enough, and we weren’t ready. The first half wasn’t good enough, and our standards are higher than what was shown,” said head coach Nico Estevez. “This is on me and something we need to change this week. What we can do now is learn from this and improve.”
The Whitecaps came out playing fast and aggressive and were able to push FC Dallas early in the match.
The first chance the Whitecaps had to go against the FC Dallas defense resulted in a sloppy score for the visiting team. Vancouver’s Cristian Dajome pushed the ball forward to Deiber Caicedo, whose pass into the middle of the box was partially blocked by Dallas. The loose ball was chipped at goal by Vancouver’s Lucas Cavallini. The shot was deflected off the hands of FC Dallas goalkeeper Maarten Paes, but it struck the goal post and went in for the early Vancouver lead.
Dallas has built strength in previous games by scoring early and holding off attacks, but finding themselves on the other side of the game plan led to numerous struggles and desperate attempts in the first half.
“When you go down early to a team like that and not respond the way we did in the first half — we played like crap, all 11 of us,” said Midfielder Paxton Pomykal. “It is frustrating to come back from a break and play like that; we gotta bounce back.”
The second Vancouver goal came on a penalty kick after FC Dallas midfielder Facundo Quignon illegally tackled the Whitecaps’ Marcus Godinho from behind.
The ensuing kick was by Dajome, who was also involved in the earlier goal. His shot went right over the head of Alan Velasco, the shortest player on the field. The replay video shows that Velasco seemed unprepared for the shot and did not react to the kick he could have defended. Instead, the ball whistled into the net, giving the Whitecaps the 2-0 lead nearing the midway point of the match.
From that point on, the match became defensive, though FC Dallas had numerous chances in both halves. Shots from FC Dallas were off-mark all game, with several kicks clearing the upper crossbar and hitting into the stands.
“I think we played with a lot of energy in the end,” said forward Paul Arriola. “Obviously, tonight wasn’t our night. I think there are just a lot of things that we can get better at. Collectively, it’s a tough loss and a loss that we’ll be able to learn from and hopefully use this experience that we had going forward, especially for home games.”
Arriola was one of two players for FC Dallas that spent the three-week break competing for the U.S. Men’s National Team. Jesus Ferriera — who scored an impressive four goals against Granada — also competed in the International series.
FC Dallas takes to the road this week and will look to rebound from the loss against Austin FC, who currently hold a one-game lead over Dallas in the Eastern Conference.