Saturday, April 23, 2011

Whitecaps Fail To Defend Empire Field

After starting the season with one win and three draws in their first four matches at Empire Field the Whitecaps gave up a pair of second half goals as they lose their first match at home FC Dallas by a score of 2-1.  The Whitecaps opened the scoring in the first half on a header by Alain Rochat while FC Dallas responded with goals by defender George John and substitute Eric Avila.  In addition to the Whitecaps losing for the first time at home it marked the first away victory for last year’s MLS Cup runner ups.

The visitors from the south started off early, earning a corner within the first minute, as they seemed to be targeting winger Brek Shea on the left side.  FC Dallas came up with the first chance as midfielder Andrew Jacobsen let loose a shot from inside the box that was blocked by Alain Rochat.  The Whitecaps were able to calm things down and started controlling possession, having a 59-41 advantage through the first half.  The Caps then capitalized on that advantage in the 25th minute when Rochat headed the ball into the far post off a cross from Davide Chiumiento. 

Dallas had an opportunity to even the score on a penalty kick three minutes later when Rochat was called for a hand ball in the box.  Fortunately for the home club last year’s MVP David Ferreira took the penalty and shanked it wide to the left of the post.   Near the end of the first half the Caps had an opportunity to make it a two goal lead when Rochat split two defenders to set up Camilo in the box who missed squeezing the shot into the near post.

A few minutes FC Dallas was dealt a blow when their top player Ferreira went down with an injury from an apparent clean tackle by Jonathan Leathers.  The visitors didn’t mourn over their fallen comrade as on the ensuing corner FC Dallas opened their account with a header by defender George John.  For the next 30 minutes both team traded chances and fouls, including the fifth yellow for Eric Hassli which will cause him to miss the next MLS game.

The winning goal by FC Dallas came in the 83rd minute when Benitez whipped a  cross over that Rodriguez was unable to handle but fell to Avila who took a couple of touches and fired a shot past Jay Nolly.  The goalkeeper was unable to track the ball as he was screened on the shot by defender Blake Wagner who allowed the shot through the wickets.  The Whitecaps attempted to tie the score and had a couple of opportunities including one by Hassli in injury time that was deflected wide. 

It was a similar story to the previous two games at Empire against the Revolution and Chivas where the Caps had the opportunity to put some distance on the scoreboard but couldn’t capitalize and finish their chances.  Another troubling trend for the Whitecaps at home is that in games with the Revolution and today with FC Dallas, the Whitecaps open the scoring and were unable to hold the lead allowing their opponents to either draw or win the game late.  Vancouver will now enter a difficult spell where they will play six games (4 in MLS and 2 in Nutrilite) in three weeks as they will earn their travel miles across North America.  Their next game will be in four days as they travel to face next year’s entrant into MLS the Montreal Impact in the first leg semi-final of the Canadian Championship, while their next MLS opponent will be in one week visiting the Columbus Crew.

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