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First-half goals power Vancouver Whitecaps over FC Dallas

The Whitecaps secured five points from a difficult three-match week

VANCOUVER, B.C. — Vancouver Whitecaps FC sent their fans home with a feeling of pride, thanks to a big 2-1 victory over FC Dallas in the club’s seventh annual Pride Match.

Ali Adnan and Lucas Venuto scored 10 minutes apart for the Whitecaps much to the delight of the crowd of 18,309 at BC Place, which was decorated in rainbows.

Whitecaps FC Coach Marc Dos Santos was relieved to see his team come up with a massive performance at home, following back to back draws on the road against Sporting Kansas City and the New York Red Bulls

“After the week we had, and this stretch of 16 days, five games, and travel that was a nightmare. It’s a reality,” Dos Santos said. “Coming in here, we knew the only way we would get something is tactically following up on what we did against the Red Bulls, a level of commitment, passion, and heart above anything else. I think that was there.” 

Adnan opened the scoring in the 30th minute with a top corner effort from just inside the FC Dallas box. Adnan cut through Reggie Cannon and Michael Barrios, before curling a strike past Jesse Gonzalez for his first MLS goal.

Vancouver (4-6-5, 17 points) weren’t done yet, tacking onto its lead 10 minutes later. Fredy Montero delivered a back-heel pass to Lucas Venuto and the Brazilian winger sent a low curling strike that evaded Gonzalez.

“I think every game, he has once of these plays,” Vancouver captain Jon Erice told Pro Soccer USA. “He always cuts inside. He got one (chance) in New York, I remember. Today, he scored a great goal, a fantastic goal. It’s a pity, because after he went out, because of an injury. The goal was great.”

Despite having 59 percent of possession, FC Dallas (5-6-3, 18 points) lacked conviction in the final third and had virtually no creativity going forward.

Vancouver’s 3-5-2 formation held up, even with an substitution in the 41st minute as Adnan left with an undisclosed injury. Victor “PC” Giro came on at left wingback.

There was a special moment in the 71st minute when Theo Bair, the Whitecaps FC residency prospect, made his MLS debut. The 19-year-old Ottawa native, who came on for Montero, has quickly climbed up Vancouver’s depth chart. Bair almost capped his first appearance with a goal, but Gonzalez made a terrific save off the volley.

May 25, 2019; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau (16) warms-up before the start of a game against FC Dallas at BC Place. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

“Look, he fought well, he came in,” Dos Santos said of Bair’s debut. “He was there for the team. We knew we would need an extra attacker with all the attackers that were out. That’s what a team is. A team is not only about the 11 starters, or 12, 13 guys. I see the guys that haven’t played today. All of the guys that don’t participate in the win, are still participating with their mentality, attitude. We needed Theo today, he came in, and he helped the best he could. Theo has a lot to learn, a lot to grow, it was very positive today. He had a very good chance that he finished very well, but it didn’t go it.” 

FC Dallas cut into Vancouver’s lead five minutes from full time after Dominique Badji cut through a maze of Whitecaps FC defenders. The Senegal native delivered a strike past Maxime Crepeau and just inside the near post to give the visitors a sliver of hope.

But the Whitecaps saw the game out and returned from an arduous road trip to secure five points in a three-match week. Now they’ll test their 3-3-2 home record against Canadian rival Toronto FC on Friday. FC Dallas return to Toyota Stadium to meet the Seattle Sounders June 1.

“It’s huge, we had a heck of a week,” Jake Nerwinski said. “Three games in eight days, traveling all over the country. It’s great to come back to BC Place, be home, and get three points. It’s huge.”

“You saw this team today, we all fought for each other, Nerwinski added. “It wasn’t individual, it was everyone fighting for a common good. I think that’s what’s keeping us going, and surviving us right now, and that’s what’s going to push us to the playoffs.”

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