By Will Martin
BC Place in Vancouver, Wa. was a happening place on July 27th.
21,000 rabid fans in the building for a battle between two teams in playoff contention in the Western Conference of the MLS.
FC Dallas was the opponent after having played a friendly in Frisco July 23 under cloudy skies and near triple digit heat losing a 2-0 match to Aston Villa FC.
In addition to playing for a win and three points, FC Dallas was trying to keep a scoring streak intact as they had not lost a match since that day in Columbus back on June 29.
Using a 3-5-2 alignment both Zach Loyd and Moises Hernandez were playing deep in the wings for the FCD.
One minute into the match Team Red For 90 almost drew first blood when Matt Hedges set up a beautiful pass to Moises Hernandez who then rifled the ball to an open Tesho Akindele. An attempted header missed its mark however.
Minute ten saw the Whitecaps attempt to answer back when Pedro Morales (no relation to the one time WWWF wrestling champion) would direct a kick to the direction of Jamaican Darren Mattocks. 1-on-1 with El Matador Raul Fernandez a goal attempt by Mattocks was deflected by slight of hand (pun intended) by Raul.
One minute later the Vancouver team broke through. This time it was Gershon Koffie who would find Mattocks knifing his way through the deep interior of the FC Dallas defense. Mattocks fired low under El Matador and the Caps took a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute.
Blas Perez got to exhibit his horns in the 29th minute when Moises Hernandez headed in Zach Loyd’s direction. His attempt to head to the shot to goal was met by an indifferent post before it volleyed onto the chest of Blas Perez who placed the ball downward and then into the nets past Vancouver goalie David Ousted knotting things up at 1-all.
The goal by Perez his sixth of the season to lead the team. If only for a few moments.
Nine minutes later-perhaps a hand of fate-an attempted pass by goalie Ousted was picked off by Walker Zimmerman, headed back into the direction of goalie ousted. In the hopes of clearing defenseman Carlyle Mitchell attempted to head off the ball. What ensued was a near collision with David Ousted and an inadvertent hand touch by Mitchell.
This gave Michel a free kick from the spot of the foul. Aiming left of Goalie Ousted Michel netted his sixth goal of the season, his first since May 10 and is now tied with Blas Perez in the team lead with goals.
2-1 it would remain until the 53rd minute when what had transpired 14 minutes prior would now happen for the home team. Hernandez tried to intercept a pass as the refs ruled hand contact was made. Pedro Morales, like Michel, would crank up a low shot past Raul Fernandez and Vancouver tied things up two apiece.
That is how it would end. FC Dallas gained a point for the effort, improved to 8-7-6 (30 points) which is good enough for third place in the Western Conference. Vancouver with the point now in fifth place (6-4-10 28 points).
Coach Oscar Pareja offered the following afterwards about the game and about the new 3-5-2 alignment used.
“It was a good match. We traded halves – the first one was all ours, the second was for them. Vancouver scored a second goal on a PK that was outside, and that hurt us. We came up here to find three points and at the end, with the options that we had, we couldn’t walk away with three points. It was a great job for our players, great sacrifice with certain difficulties we had prior to the game, and within the game, we brought Matt out at the half because of injury. That hurt us too, because it was a good half. But, it was a good match – we played against a good team.”
“Today, the plan, after we scouted, and we put all the teams together, we decided to go with that formation, knowing that we would have options with Blas and Tesho. We wanted to be solid in the middle, I thought we clogged where we wanted, we made it difficult for them in the middle in the first half. In the second half, when Matt came out in the middle, we paid a toll because of that. It was difficult without Matt.”
Oscar Pareja also had some kind words on the continuing emergence of Tesho Akindele.
“Fantastic. He’s a great player, who has become a great professional in a short amount time. This is due to the help he’s had from his teammates. He’s a great, coachable kid, and he’s doing it. The Canadian national team has a great asset with him, and we’re very proud to have him on our team.”
Remember how frustrated FC Dallas was when they lost two points in a game at Portland weeks back and the whole team was frustrated at the extra minute fates? Listen to Whitecaps FC Coach Carl Robinson.
“I’m disappointed we lost two points. At halftime, I still had full confidence in the guys. We played well for an hour, then we switched off mentally twice. The concentration level wasn’t good enough in the last 15 minutes of the first half when we dug ourselves a little bit of a hole. I said to them at halftime that we just have to remain positive and focused and we’ll get back in it. In the second half, we had numerous chances to win the game, and not just tie the game. We’re disappointed.”
Coach Robinson also quick to credit the great play of Raul Fernandez with the draw.
“He made unbelievable saves, which was credit to him. He made some good stops. He made five or six shots from the edge of the box where he palmed them out and we didn’t have anyone in that area to tap them in. If you’re a centre or forward with good instincts, you can get five or six goals a season in there, so we have to improve on that.”
FC Dallas resumes its next game out west with Chivas USA August 3 with the hope they can continue its current streak of getting points without suffering a defeat. The streak is now at six.
8/3 @Chivas USA 9:00 p.m.