FC Dallas 2, Vancouver Whitecaps 1 | MLS Cup Playoffs Match Recap
The MLS Cup Playoffs, presented by AT&T, kicked off in dramatic fashion on Wednesday night as FC Dallas scored a penalty kick goal with six minutes remaining to knock off the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 in the Western Conference Knockout Round at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
FC Dallas, making their first playoff appearance since 2011, advance in the postseason for the first time since their MLS Cup run in 2010 and now face a conference semifinal matchup with Supporters’ Shield champions Seattle Sounders, beginning Sunday at Toyota Stadium (9 pm ET, ESPN2 and TSN2).
Michel converted the game-winning spot kick when referee Mark Geiger whistled a handball in the box committed by Whitecaps defender Kendall Waston. Vancouver had equalized on a second-half Erik Hurtado goal, cancelling out Tesho Akindele's breakaway goal which gave Dallas a momentary halftime lead.
Vancouver, who nabbed the fifth and final seed in the West thanks to a win in their season finale last Saturday, are eliminated after making their first playoff appearance since 2012. That trip to the postseason also ended with a loss in the Knockout Round.
Both teams made surprising changes to their starting lineups, including starts for Mauro Diaz (FC Dallas) and Gershon Koffie (Vancouver Whitecaps), and it took some time for the teams to feel each other out.
But after a choppy first 25 minutes, the Whitecaps found the first major chance of the game in the 27th minute. Hurtado laid off 10 yards outside the box for Pedro Morales, who let fly from distance. It took some work, but FCD goalkeeper Chris Seitz eventually gobbled up the shot.
Two minutes later, FCD got on the front foot by way of an impressive run from Fabian Castillo, who skirted past two defenders on a slalom down the right wing. His cross to Blas Perez in the box, however, was ultimately cleared after some tense moments for Vancouver.
FCD broke through five minutes before the half when Diaz took a long throw-in near midfield and broke free on a goalward run before playing ahead to a charging Akindele, who coolly finished across the goal to the far left post with the help of a slight deflection off the foot of Vancouver defender Andy O’Brien.
Vancouver dialed up the pressure and nearly found the equalizer just two minutes after the break when Rosales hit a bending free kick from just outside the area that banged off the woodwork.
The Whitecaps wouldn't let up, buzzing the FCD goal with several attempts before a shot from second-half substitute Kekuta Manneh was gobbled up by Seitz.
And the visitors finally found the back of the net in the 64th minute when Hurtado finished off a rebound from a blocked Manneh shot on a play that started with a long Mauro Rosales free kick.
The decisive goal came when Waston, so dominant in central defense for Vancouver since his signing late in the season, was called for a handball in the box in the 82nd minute while attempting to clear a long FCD throw-in.
A last-ditch effort from outside the box on a Rosales free kick in stoppage time came close, but missed to the right for Vancouver’s best chance to equalize.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Matias Laba||The midfielder was everywhere for the 'Caps, slowing a potent FCD attack much of the night|
|2||Mauro Diaz||The FCD playmaker was dangerous as usual, with his blistering run leading to the opening goal|
|3||Matt Hedges||Led a near-perfect defensive performance, with the Caps' only goal coming off an unlucky deflection|