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Whitecaps tie FC Dallas, clinch playoff spot

Vancouver Whitecaps' Pa-Modou Kah, right, of Norway, clears the ball away from FC Dallas' Tesho Akindele, centre, as Jordan Harvey, left, defends during the first half of an MLS soccer game in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday October 7, 2015. CP/Darryl Dyck

VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Whitecaps clinched a playoff spot for the second straight season thanks to a 0-0 tie with FC Dallas on Wednesday night.

Vancouver (15-12-5, 50 points) could have moved into first place in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference with a victory in the first game of a crucial home-and-home series with Dallas (15-10-6, 51 points).

The teams play again on Oct. 14 in Frisco, Texas.

With the point at B.C. Place Stadium, Dallas tied the Los Angeles Galaxy atop the West on points with a game in hand.

Vancouver, which has only two wins in the league since the middle of August, plays just once more after next week — at home against the Houston Dynamo on Oct. 25.

After an opening 45 minutes that didn’t offer much in the way of excitement, the Whitecaps tried to take the initiative after halftime. Vancouver midfielder Kekuta Manneh tested Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez with a shot from distance in the 48th before Mauro Rosales dragged a shot wide moments later.

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Dallas forward David Texeira had a great chance in the 64th minute, but Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted made a terrific diving save.

Vancouver had a golden opportunity to grab the lead in the 74th, but Cristian Techera’s heavy touch off a pass from Rosales with only Gonzalez to beat took him out of position before the midfielder fired weak and wide.

Techera appeared to leave with a hamstring injury after that sequence, with the Whitecaps throwing Darren Mattocks on in an attempt to grab a winner.

But it was the visitors who had the best chance to win it when Dallas substitute Blaz Perez’s shot in the 90th minute just slipped wide of Ousted’s far post.

The Whitecaps were missing half their regular starting backline with Kendall Waston away on international duty and Steven Beitashour suspended for yellow card accumulation.

Vancouver was also without captain Pedro Morales and fellow midfielder Nicholas Mezquida because of injury. Dallas, meanwhile, had forward Fabian Castillo away on international duty.

Vancouver, which lost out in the first round of the playoffs in Texas last season, has had a number of feisty games with Dallas over the years, but this one lacked the same level of intensity.

The Whitecaps had a couple of half chances in the first 15 minutes off two headers from Octavio Rivero, with the second looping effort landing on top of the crossbar and going out for a goal kick.

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Pa-Modou Kah, who partnered rookie Tim Parker in the centre defence for Vancouver with Waston absent, had a headed effort of his own blocked off a corner in the 19th minute.

Ousted stopped Dallas midfielder Mauro Diaz in the 20th before having to make another save off on-rushing defender Ryan Hollingshead four minutes later.

Notes: Vancouver was also minus three Canadian youngsters who could have figured into selection, but were instead away with the national team — defender Sam Adekugbe, and midfielders Kianz Froese and Marco Bustos. … Attendance was 19,339.

 

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