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Salinas’s goal and Ching’s misses help Whitecaps to victory

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Joe Cannon made some key saves before Shea Salinas scored the winner.

Shea Salinas got the winning goal in a 1-0 victory Saturday over the Houston Dynamo, but the Vancouver Whitecaps’ also got an assist from Lady Luck to get their fourth win of the MLS season.

On an average day, Brian Ching buries at least one of the three golden second-half chances he had to put the visiting Houston Dynamo ahead. After all, with 77 career MLS goals, Ching is the best true target man to ever play in the league.

Ching was subbed out in the 84th, and he could only watch helplessly two minutes later as Shea Salinas found the bottom corner of the goal after a perfect give-and-go sequence with Chinese striker Long Tan, giving the Whitecaps the 1-0 win.

The Hawaiian striker will likely lose some sleep over some of his missed opportunities.

In the 71st minute, he was left wide open in the Vancouver area to nod home a cross, but Whitecaps’ keeper Joe Cannon — who enjoyed his best afternoon with the club — leapt and was able to get his fingertips to the ball.

On the ensuing corner from Brad Davis, the ball glanced off the head of Whitecaps’ Designated Player Mustapha Jarju and came to Ching at the back post. But the glancing header went just wide.

Then, before he came off, Ching had one more great chance on a cross; this time, the header went over.

That opened the door for the Whitecaps, who didn’t look like the team that was going to take the three points for most of the second half, as the Dynamo kept pouring on the pressure.

But in a year which has seen the Whitecaps give up some rather unfortunate goals to take points off the board, Vancouver fans will argue that it was time for them to get the rub of the green. That, while an unfair result to Houston, the three points was just desserts for a Whitecaps team that has endured a lot of pain this season.

Cannon, as mentioned before, was the Whitecaps’ star of the day. Not only did he stop Ching, but he made a highlight-reel stop on Davis in the first half. Cannon had gone down to stop Davis’ low drive from outside the area, but the ball swerved in the direction from which Cannon had came — and he had to reach back to get the ball out of danger.

The Whitecaps now have next weekend off, with Jarju off to join Gambia and midfielder Nizar Khalfan off to the Tanzanian national team for African Cup of Nations qualifiers.

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