By JUSTIN FERGUSON
After FC Dallas went up 2-0 right out of the halftime break, Vancouver head coach Martin Rennie sent on forward Kekuta Manneh in hopes of salvaging the match.
Eighteen minutes into his appearance, the Gambian rookie powered a shot past Raul Fernandez for his first MLS goal.
Three minutes after that, Manneh burst into the box and played a pass to teammate Camilo. The Brazilian midfielder slapped a shot into Fernandez’s net to complete the comeback on one of the league’s hottest teams.
The late Vancouver rally came after a strong first hour from visiting Dallas. FCD had a start similar to last week’s 2-0 home win over Vancouver. Dallas got an early Whitecaps own goal and a second goal right after halftime in both matches of this Western Conference home-and-home series.
And just like in last week’s match, the own goal came off of a Dallas corner kick. After Vancouver was forced to nod Michel’s first corner back for another try, the Brazilian sent a ball in towards Kenny Cooper that found its way past Joe Cannon. Cooper was initially awarded the goal, but it was officially ruled an Andy O’Brien own goal minutes later.
But unlike last Saturday’s meeting in Dallas, Vancouver stayed on the attack in the first half. The Whitecaps enjoyed 60 percent of the possession and created several chances for an equalizer before the half. The home side also committed more fouls than their opposition in the first half, and the visitors felt the effects of the physical play. Midfielder Andrew Jacobson came off in the 41st minute, and defender George John did not return to the field in the second half.
Vancouver did not carry over their first half success into the early part of the second, and Dallas defender Matt Hedges quickly doubled the lead. Michel’s free kick was headed back dangerously by the Vancouver defense, and a charging Hedges beat Cannon to the ball. The defender stuck a foot out for a side volley that cleared the diving Whitecaps goalkeeper for the second goal.
Darren Mattocks came close to pulling one back for Vancouver seconds after Hedges goal, but his effort on a quick counter attack struck the post. The speedy forward caused more headaches for the tiring Dallas defense throughout the second half, especially after the inclusion of Manneh and Tom Heinemann.
The two second half substitutions for Vancouver combined on the first goal. After Fernandez made a diving stop on a shot from Camilo, Heinemann charged and sprayed the ball out to Manneh. The rookie collected the ball and fired a shot too fast for Hernandez’s second diving effort.
Camilo would get his goal minutes later, though, as Manneh’s run down the sideline and into the box set him up for a wide open goal.
FC Dallas’s chances at preserving a point from the late Vancouver rally took a hit three minutes after Camilo’s equalizer. Midfielder Jackson, who had been going back and forth with Whitecaps defender Alain Rochat throughout the match, got tied up on a Rochat challenge. The midfielder threw a hand back and connected with Rochat’s face, earning him an early trip to the locker room.
But Dallas kept the match level as Hernandez made four crucial saves following the Jackson red card. FCD generated a few more chances off of the counter attack, including a last-minute blast from Blas Perez, but Cannon kept the visitors from a shocking winner.
Vancouver (2-3-3) return to action Wednesday in a Canadian Championship match with FC Edmonton, followed by a trip to Real Salt Lake next Saturday. FC Dallas (6-1-2), now unbeaten in their last seven matches, host Portland on May 8.
Here are the match highlights: