FRISCO – It took every tick of the clock on Saturday night, but FC Dallas succeded in keeping the Western Conference playoff race wide open.
With six minutes of stoppage time just seconds away from expiring, Julian de Guzman chested down a cleared Fabian Castillo corner kick and lashed a volley past goalkeeper Brad Knighton to earn FC Dallas a vital 1-0 victory over Vancouver, who have now lost five straight league matches.
The win pulls FCD within one point of the Whitecaps for the fifth and final playoff spot in the West although the Whitecaps have a game in hand
The last time these two teams met, FCD and Vancouver combined for 41 fouls and that physical battle continued in the first half at FC Dallas Stadium. A Whitecaps team that led MLS with 405 fouls committed heading into the match, committed six in the first 15 minutes of the match and when Martin Bonjour pulled down Matt Hedges in the box on an FC Dallas free kick in the 16th minute, referee Allen Chapman pointed to the spot.
FCD captain David Ferreira stepped up to take the penalty kick, but Vancouver goalkeeper Brad Knighton, making his second straight start for the Whitecaps, brilliantly saved the Colombian’s effort to keep the game scoreless, a missed chance that FC Dallas would rue for the rest of the evening.
A stout Dallas defense led by George John and Hedges snuffed out every Whitecaps attack in the first half, keeping Vancouver without a shot on goal through the first half. Dallas nearly took the lead right before halftime as Brek Shea sped past Young-Pyo Lee sending in a cross that Ferreira deflected off the woodwork.
The teams went into the halftime interval tied in what was a first-half slugfest with 21 fouls committed and three yellow cards handed out.
An FC Dallas team searching for a goal to keep their season alive bombed numbers forward in the second half, bringing on Fabian Castillo for Andrew Jacobson in the 58th minute, but the move left Dallas exposed in the back.
Vancouver nearly took the lead in the 84th minute as second-half substitute Russell Teibert sent a cross that bounced to John Thorrington with only Hartman to beat. The Dallas goalkeeper got just enough on Thorrington’s effort to keep the Dallas hopes of victory alive.
The last 10 minutes of the match turned into absolute pandemonium as Dallas threw the kitchen sink at Vancouver. FCD thought they had earned an equalizer as the clock struck 90 minutes with Blas Perez turning in a cross from Castillo, but the assistant referee signaled an offside position of the Panamanian, keeping the game scoreless.
With what was nearly the final kick of the match, it was de Guzman, a player FCD acquired in mid-season who unleashed a Goal of the Year candidate, chesting down a Whitecaps clearance and blasting a game-winner past Knighton to keep his team's season alive.
Dallas will have two weeks to think about their next opponents, San Jose on Sept. 29, while Vancouver return home after a month on the road as Colorado visit BC Place next Sunday, Sept. 23.