VANCOUVER, B.C.—For a second week running, the Vancouver Whitecaps headed into the weekend's match knowing a win would push them back atop the Supporters' Shield table.
After faltering last time, at Sporting KC, the Whitecaps seized a fresh opportunity at home, with Cristian Techera's first half backheel goal providing the difference between evenly matched teams in a tense 1-0 victory over FC Dallas at BC PLACE.
The victory pushes Vancouver (14-9-3; 45 points) seven points clear of Dallas (11-8-5; 38), after the first of three late season meetings with their Texan rivals.
Vancouver failed to provide an early test for debutant Dallas 'keeper Jesse Gonzalez, and the visitors had the only real chance in the opening stages with David Ousted having to get down quickly to turn a low Atiba Harris drive around the post.
Off to a choppy start, both teams were racking up fouls from referee Ismail Elfath, creating few chances until the game came alive in the 32nd minute. The Whitecaps took the lead after a great piece of individual work on a run by Kekuta Manneh, who's assist was finished off from close range by a neat Techera backheel.
Vancouver should have added a second just before half time, when Manneh went on another run in a 2-on-1 break with Techera. The Gambian international was too slow in releasing the pass, and the Dallas defense mopped up the danger.
It was end-to-end action to start the second half, with Michael Barrios close to levelling for Dallas just past the hour mark, evading a few tackles before drilling a low shot straight at Ousted.
Manneh's speed – which had been pressuring the Dallas defense all night – led to another run on goal in the 64th minute, with Manneh firing narrowly over, from the edge of the box.
Both teams pushed hard for the next goal, with Vancouver's defense holding under immense pressure during the closing stages. But there was no repeat of the Whitecaps previous two matches: the result held firm, for what could prove three crucial points.
Vancouver now turn their attention to potentially lifting silverware on Wednesday, when the Whitecaps host the Montreal Impact in the second leg of the Canadian Championship. Then it's down to Houston next weekend in MLS action. FC Dallas return home Saturday, for a Western Conference clash with Real Salt Lake.