FRISCO, Texas – FC Dallas leaned on their forward tandem to earn an important three points in their efforts to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011, as Panamanian international Blas Perez scored twice in a 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps at Toyota Stadium on Saturday, with rookie Tesho Akindele contributing to the match-winner as well.
After both teams began the match fairly cautiously, Dallas surged ahead in the 20th minute on a stunning, downright freakish strike by Perez.
The veteran forward took a floating, adventurous shot from near the corner flag after an exchange with Je-Vaughn Watson, and his shot – or was it even intentional? – fooled Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted as it flew over his head and into the far upper corner of the net.
The rest of the half saw Dallas press their advantage, but they were unable to find a second goal as the visitors did just enough to weather the storm before halftime brought relief.
Some chippy play erupted after the break, but few chances until Vancouver found an equalizer through substitute Erik Hurtado in the 67th minute. The Whitecaps got the chance on the break when Mauro Rosales' excellent pass fed Hurtado in the area and he cracked a first-time shot that beat Dallas goalkeeper Raul Fernandez.
The Whitecaps continued to be dangerous on the counter – until Dallas once again took advantage of a set piece.
In the 77th minute, MLS Rookie of the Year candidate Akindele was fouled about 40 yards from the Vancouver goal. From that free kick, Michel played the ball into the Vancouver area, where Akindele controlled a partial clearance to Perez and the Panamanian made no mistake, finishing well through a crowd of Whitecaps players for his second goal of the night.
The win adds to Dallas' comfortable cushion for the fourth spot in the Western Conference, eight points ahead of Vancouver, but only a point behind Real Salt Lake for the third spot.
Meanwhile the Whitecaps face a nervous conclusion to the season as they try to hold off the Portland Timbers for the West's fifth and final playoff spot.