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FC Dallas loses MVP Ferreira, rallies to stun Whitecaps

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The book on FC Dallas: Reigning league MVP David Ferreira carries the team on his shoulders. The offence flows through him.

Heck, his coach, Schellas Hyndman, said as much in the run-up to last year’s MLS Cup. “Our team goes on the way David Ferreira goes. He’s always involved at some point in the breakout or in the goal itself.”

Well FC Dallas threw that book out the window on Saturday — and the Vancouver Whitecaps were the victims. FCD rallied for two goals after Ferreira had to leave the game in the 52nd minute, and triumphed 2-1, handing Vancouver its first home loss of the MLS season.

George John, the man whose unlucky own goal was the decider in last season’s MLS Cup scored on the corner kick that immediately followed Ferreira departure, heading home a perfect flick from teammate Jackson Goncalves.

Eric Avila, who came on to replace Ferreira got the winner with less than 10 minutes left on the clock, beating Whitecaps keeper Jay Nolly with a low drive from just outside the box that nestled just inside the post.

Ferreira was hurt on what looked to be a rather innocuous play; as he charged to get to a ball deep in Whitecaps territory, defender Jonathan Leathers slid and got all ball with the challenge. No foul was called. Ferreira went over and was down for several minutes, clutching his ankle in pain. Tests revealed a double fracture on his right ankle.

It concluded a nightmarish afternoon for the Colombian star; he pulled a penalty kick badly wide in the first half — an embarrassing moment.

When Ferreira got hurt, FC Dallas rallied. The Hoops started to dominate possession, and was able to exploit the space being granted to them by the Whitecaps central midfield. FC Dallas was continually able to come at Vancouver’s back four with pace and menace because they weren’t troubled coming up the middle.

Vancouver opened the scoring in the first half. The two best players to wear Whitecaps colours so far this season, midfielder Davide Chiumiento and defender Alain Rochat, combined for the markers.

Davide Chiumiento
Chiumiento laid in a perfect cross after FC Dallas failed to clear a free kick that the Swiss midfielder had played in seconds before. The ball came back to Chiumiento and he swung it dangerously into the Dallas penalty area, where Rochat headed home.

Rochat featured in more key plays in the first half; it was his hand ball in the penalty area that led to the penalty kick that Ferreira pulled wide. Really, there wasn’t much Rochat could do about the call; after keeper Jay Nolly couldn’t hold on to a speculative pass played in the area, the ball pinged around the box, and struck Rochat on the arm — he didn’t know much about it. He didn’t play the ball with his arm; it simply ate him up.

Rochat also made a fantastic run, spinning and skipping through the FC Dallas midfield, looking like a smooth No. 10 rather than a central defender, and sprung striker Camilo with a deft pass. The Brazilian missed wide by inches.

Chiumiento was dominant in the first half, making a series of darting runs down the left side that Jackson struggled to contain. He leads MLS with five assists, and the Whitecaps are a different kind of attacking force when Chiumiento is on the pitch, which hasn’t always been the case this season due to lingering hamstring problems.

The Whitecaps won’t have striker Eric Hassli for their next MLS match, April 30 in Columbus. The French striker will be suspended for the third time this season after picking up a yellow card after tussling with John in the FCD penalty area.

To be fair to Hassli, the incident looked like a tough shoulder-to-shoulder play between striker and defender. But, Hassli has to understand that, in a very short time, he’s earned a reputation in MLS for being a hothead — and that he won’t be getting any benefits of the doubt.

The Hoops will need to learn from this win in Vancouver; the club will have to get used to winning without Ferreira, after depending on him for so long.

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