Much attention was pored on the antics of Dallas’ David Ferreira (centre). Photo Mafue/flickr
By the end of the first half, the air in BC Place was nasty with hate.
It wasn’t just anger or a regular expression of rivalry, it was a fermented mix of helplessness and outrage. The score was 1-0 to the visitors, Dallas were playing like sneering villains and Vancouver were playing awfully. Vancouver manager Martin Rennie argued that his players weren’t mad, but the rest of the stadium might have been.
You could feel it in the rueful head shakes of two ground staff waiting for the elevator at half-time. In the the social media staffer who accused Dallas of playing like Bambi from the Whitecaps main account while the match was in play. In the short, staccato four rounds of “FUCK YOU DALLAS” from the Southsiders late in the first, fully aware they weren’t supposed to sing it but too furious to stop.
It’s the sort of hate that isn’t productive, not in soccer. Joe Cannon looked up and waved frantically after the second goal went in on 47 minutes in disbelief. Even though there probably wasn’t contact, something had to be wrong with it. Could he have closed in any more without mashing his face into Matt Hedges’ boot? There had to be something wrong. I wanted there to be something wrong, because that would explain how Vancouver was down 2-0; how they had 57 per cent of possession but only two shots on target.
But that can poison you in soccer. Search for their foul or their dive and you never find the through ball that’s coming for you. No amount of roaring or taunting Dallas can change the fact that you’re down 2-0 in the second half.
And then the game turned. Passes started connecting. Jun Marques Davidson and Daigo Kobayashi, both having tough seasons, came out, replaced by youngsters Kekuta Manneh and Tommy Heinemann. Camilo, who had not taken a shot, lit up.
The first goal was a combination of those three forces. When Camilo’s shot riocheted off Raul Fernandez, Heinemann used a crazy diving header to try and keep the ball in play; it ended up being an assist when Kekuta Manneh, who had showed promise with no result, slid the ball inside the near post and brought the spark of life to the Whitecaps.
Three minutes later, it was Manneh again, sliding the ball through the box and finding Camilo, whose first touch slipped coolly into the goal. Just a week after a FC Dallas video mocked the Whitecaps for players lying on the ground, head in hands, in sorrow over missed chances or botched goals, three of their players collapsed in disbelief.
It was now Dallas who couldn’t believe how they found themselves level. Trying to shake off Alain Rochat, Brazilian midfielder Jackson whipped back and thwacked him in the previously-broken nose with a right hand. He saw red, and the Dallas attack slowed to a crawl. The goalie, Fernandez, got rattled. The crowd roared with excitement now, instead of rage.
Vancouver couldn’t, unfortunately, turn the comeback into a win. Even though they managed anger well, there’s still an element of fear that has persisted throughout the current streak of six games without an MLS win, especially the away loss last week to Dallas. You can see it nowhere stronger than than Darren Mattocks. Mattocks, who remains athletic and fast, had serious problems being in position for through balls in the first half. And while Joe Cannon saved the game in the 94th minute with a point-blank save, his decision-making is being questioned for his role in the two goals.
But on the night, the good guys won, because they started clicking and they paid attention to what mattered: their own play.
Dallas’ manager, Schellas Hyndman, for their part, was furious. He addressed the reporters like they were the team themselves, blamed the stadium for playing Dallas fouls on the screen and called a journalist embarassing for asking about diving. He hated that his team didn’t win.
But it didn’t win him the three points.
Stats and quotes after the jump.