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Whitecaps FC weekly: Caps take down Dallas, ready to face Columbus

Whitecaps FC went into their match against FC Dallas last Saturday looking to find some offense while rediscovering their early-season defensive form. The Caps’ defense, led by goalkeeper Joe Cannon, started the season with a string of shutouts, but conceded six in the last two games – three against the San Jose Earthquakes in a 3-1 loss, and three more in another 3-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City last Wednesday.

Heading into the match the ‘Caps had only scored five goals and sat in seventh in the Western Conference. The midfield had struggled through large stretches of games to control the ball and provide the necessary service to create scoring chances. 

The 'Caps came out on the front foot against Dallas.  Coach Martin Rennie had Camilo back in the lineup after his return from injury, relegating big striker Eric Hassli to the bench, and deploying Omar Selgado and Sebastien Le Toux in supporting roles. The line up structure looked dangerous as Vancouver generated some early chances, Camilo coming close in the 5th and 6th minutes.

In the 11th minute they were rewarded for the strong start. Camilo took a pass from defender Young-Pyo Lee, cutting in off the right in front of Dallas defenders Ugo Ihemelu and Carlos Rodriguez before finishing with a beauty left foot strike in the far corner past keeper Chris Seitz.

Dallas wasn’t able to create many chances until an 18th minute free-kick near the top of the box. Joe Cannon, showing the form that saw him earn four shutouts to start the season, made a solid save diving to his right.

The visiting team started to come on after that and the ‘Caps were probably lucking to get out of the first half with the 1-0 lead in tact. Dallas midfielder Brek Shea should have evened the score, but fired miles over the bar from only 12 yards out.

The second half saw both teams miss some good chances. Shea looking more dangerous as the match progressed tested Cannon from 20-yeards out in the 62nd minute, but the Whitecaps' keeper was equal to the task. Camilo was less noticeable in the second half, but still had a glorious chance to seal the win for Vancouver with 15-minutes left, but was turned away by Seitz.

The game saw a bit of late controversy when last man back Rodriguez pulled down Le Toux but was only shown yellow. By the letter of the law it probably should have been a red, but the foul happened 40-yards from the Dallas goal, which was likely the reason for Rodriguez’s reprieve.

In the end the Caps escaped with a 1-0 win, the three points moved them up to third in their conference, and the crowd of 18,027 at BC Place left happy.

What’s next?

This week Whitecaps FC (3-2-2) go on the road to face the Columbus Crew (2-3-1). The Crew, who sit 7th in the Eastern Conference, are coming off a 2-2 draw with the Houston Dynamos.

Like the ‘Caps, the Crew has struggled to put the ball in the net this season, scoring only six goals through their first six games. To make matters worse they have been hit by the injury-bug to start the season, and find themselves without defenders Rich Balchan (sports hernia) and Julius James (illness), as well as strikers Ben Speas (sports hernia) and Tommy Heinemann (knee) for the match. Defender Carlos Mendes and midfielder Dilly Duka (both hamstring) are listed as doubtful, while midfielder Danny O'Rourke (ankle) is questionable.

In their fifth match against an Eastern Conference opponent, the ‘Caps will again be looking to generate more offense. They need to find a way to capitalize on their chances and take some of the pressure of the defense and Joe Cannon. It will be interesting to see if Rennie deploys Le Toux wide on the right side again, he was invisible for large stretches of the match against Dallas, and needs to do more to justify is place in the starting XI. Rennie still appears to be struggling to find the right lineup. In many ways the ‘Caps appear to have the necessary skill to score some goals in MLS, but so far the sum of the parts doesn’t seem to add up to much.

On the injury front, Whitecaps FC are without goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre (knee) and striker Darren Mattocks (shoulder and arm burn). Forward Etienne Barbara (groin) and new signing Caleb Clarke (quad) are listed as doubtful. Left fullback Alain Rochat (knee) and striker Camilo (quad) are listed as questionable for the game against the Crew.

The Crew won both meetings against the ‘Caps last season – 2-1 in Ohio April 30, and 1-0 in Vancouver on July 6.

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