Photo by Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA TODAY Sports
By DAN KARELL
The Vancouver Whitecaps bolstered their playoff hopes thanks to the goal-scoring efforts of Sebastian Fernandez.
The Uruguayan midfielder scored two goals in the first 20 minutes to lead the Whitecaps to a crucial 2-0 victory against fourth-place FC Dallas. The win keeps the Whitecaps in control of fifth place in the Western Conference standings, four points ahead of the Portland Timbers as of the final whistle.
FC Dallas struggled with their finishing all day, and it was evident in the fourth minute of the match. David Texeira ran down the left channel and held the ball up for his FC Dallas teammate Michel to catch up with the play. Michel sent a beautiful cross to the far post where Blas Perez popped up, but the Panamanian put his header well wide of goal.
In the 14th minute, the Whitecaps made FC Dallas pay for their lack of finishing with a nicely worked goal.
Fernandez was at the end of a six-pass sequence that moved the ball from the right, to the middle, back to the right wing, and then to the far post. Erik Hurtado in the middle found Mauro Rosales open on the right side. The Argentine sent in a first-timed cross towards Fernandez, and the first-year Whitecaps player jumped highest and headed the ball past the diving FC Dallas goalkeeper Raul Fernandez.
Less than five minutes later, a turnover in midfield allowed the Whitecaps to race forward towards the FC Dallas goal. Rosales dashed forward and played a through ball to Fernandez. The Uruguayan took a touch and slotted home a left-footed shot in the 18th minute to give the Whitecaps a 2-0 lead.
FC Dallas thought they had scored a goal in the 33rd minute when Michel sent a beautiful long-ball through the middle towards Perez, who slotted a shot past Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted. However, the goal was called back for offside, though video replay suggests that Perez was onside.
In the 38th minute, Matias Laba made a goal-saving stop on a Texeira strike, putting his body in the way of the 23-year-old forward’s strike. FC Dallas’ last real chance on goal came in the 56th minute, when Matt Hedges tried to power a header towards goal off a free kick, though it was an easy save for Ousted.
Here are the match highlights: