VANCOUVER: Sebastian Fernandez scored two goals in the first 20 minutes and Vancouver Whitecaps FC (10W-8L-13D) never looked back, cruising to a 2-0 win over FC Dallas (14W-11L-6D) Saturday afternoon at BC Place.
The Uruguayan’s 14th and 18th minute tallies, which were both assisted by Mauro Rosales, led Whitecaps FC to their second straight victory and 10th of the season in a heated affair with fourth-place Dallas – the team directly above them in the standings.
With the win, Vancouver’s third straight at BC Place, the ‘Caps maintain hold of the fifth and final playoff position in the Western Conference – no matter the result of Portland’s match this evening.
As it stands, Whitecaps FC are four points up on the sixth-place Timbers with three matches remaining. They also now trail fourth-place Dallas by just five points.
Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson kept an unchanged starting lineup for the third straight match on Saturday and it had the desired effect.
After an early feeling-out period that saw both sides trade chances within the first 10 minutes, the ‘Caps began to put their stamp on the game. Fernandez and Rosales were front and centre, combining for two goals within the span of four minutes.
In the 14th minute, Rosales found Fernandez at the back post as the Uruguayan lunged over Je-Vaughn Watson before heading it into the top corner. Striker Erik Hurtado, who did well to hold-up the ball before playing it out to Rosales, was awarded the second assist.
Then just four minutes later, Fernandez added his fifth goal of the season from nearly the identical spot. This time, Rosales released him into the box on the counter and he finished with his left foot to double Vancouver’s advantage.
Rosales’ assist was his second of the game, third in a Whitecaps FC uniform, and 11th of the season, making him the new team-leader.
Pedro Morales, who has 10 assists, wasn’t awarded a helper on the goal, but he did help set it up by winning the ball near the touchline before Rosales found space on the counter.
Morales nearly made it 3-0 for Vancouver in the 35th minute, when Hurtado found him unmarked in the centre of the box. The Chilean hit it first time but Raul Fernandez was there to make the save.
Aside from an early Blas Perez header that missed wide, Dallas didn’t cause too many problems for the ‘Caps in the first half. But they did come close in the 38th minute through a dangerous-looking counter.
Eventually, the ball reached David Texeira inside the area but Matias Laba thwarted the attempt with a well-timed sliding block to maintain Vancouver’s two-goal advantage.
There wasn’t much in the second half with Whitecaps FC up 2-0. The ‘Caps, who had a few chances on the counter, managed the game well and looked quite comfortable for most of the half.
Dallas’ best opportunity came in the 78th minute, when substitute Tesho Akindele looked to be in clear beforeDavid Ousted raced off his line to make the save.
The Danish goalkeeper wasn’t overly busy on the night, but he made a pair of saves en route to his 10th clean sheet of the season, which is tied for the league lead.
Next up for the Blue and White is a meeting with Seattle Sounders FC next Friday, October 10 (7 p.m., TSN1) at CenturyLink Field – Fernandez will be unavailable due to caution accumulation.
The defending Cascadia champion ‘Caps are one point back of Seattle in the Cascadia Cup standings – meaning Whitecaps FC need all three points to successfully defend their title. Any other result would see Seattle lift the trophy.
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STAT OF THE GAME
Coming into the match, each of Fernandez’s three goals were right-footed strikes from outside the box. On Saturday, he scored a header and left-footed goal from inside the box.
Budweiser Man of the Match: Sebastián Fernández
Referee: Ricardo Salazar
14′ – VAN – Sebastián Fernández (Mauro Rosales, Erik Hurtado)
18′ – VAN – Sebastián Fernández (Mauro Rosales)
Shots: Vancouver 8 – FC Dallas 11
Shots on Goal: Vancouver 3 – FC Dallas 2
Saves: Vancouver 2 – FC Dallas 1
Fouls: Vancouver 16 – FC Dallas 15
Offsides: Vancouver 0 – FC Dallas 4
Corners: Vancouver 3 – FC Dallas 5
60′ – DAL – Je-Vaughn Watson
78′ – VAN – Kendall Waston
90’+4′ – VAN – Sebastián Fernández
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.David Ousted; 33.Steven Beitashour, 40.Andy O’Brien, 4.Kendall Waston, 2.Jordan Harvey; 15.Matías Laba, 31.Russell Teibert; 30.Mauro Rosales (23.Kekuta Manneh 82′), 77.Pedro Morales (8.Medhi Ballouchy 88′), 7.Sebastián Fernández; 19.Erik Hurtado (11.Darren Mattocks 67′)
Substitutes not used
70.Paolo Tornaghi, 3.Sam Adekugbe, 16.Johnny Leverón, 29.Nicolás Mezquida
1.Raul Fernandez; 23.Je-Vaughn Watson, 17.Zach Loyd, 24.Matt Hedges, 3.Moises Hernandez; 91.Andres Escobar, 28.Victor Ulloa (23.Kellyn Acosta 81′), 31.Michel, 12.Ryan Hollingshead (13.Tesho Akindele 45′); 7.Blas Perez, 9.David Texeira (5.Jair Benitez 65′)
Substitutes not used
18.Chris Seitz, 6.Adam Moffat, 25.Walker Zimmerman, 26.Danny Garcia