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Sebastian Fernandez scores twice as Vancouver Whitecaps defeat FC Dallas 2-0

10/04/2014 09:09 EDT | Updated 12/04/2014 05:59 EST
VANCOUVER - Despite not having scored in almost three months, Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson has kept Sebastian Fernandez in the starting lineup.

That faith was repaid on Saturday.

Fernandez scored twice in the first half — his first goals since July 5 — as Vancouver cruised to a 2-0 victory over FC Dallas.

The 24-year-old Uruguyan stands just five foot seven, but headed home his first in the 14th minute before cooly slotting home a second four minutes later.

"Terrific performance by the kid. It really was," said Robinson. "He was a threat all game. His little movement patterns and his positional sense in getting into areas and causing problems for them was evident throughout the game."

With the win, Vancouver (10-8-13) maintained its one-point lead over Portland in the race for the final playoff spot in Major League Soccer's Western Conference after the Timbers downed the San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 later Saturday. Both the Whitecaps and Timbers have three regular-season games remaining.

Fernandez hadn't scored in 14 games, including 12 starts, coming into Saturday, but Robinson said his play overall has been strong.

"His work ethic's fantastic," said Robinson. "He's technically a very, very talented footballer and he's got ability. When he gets in the final third he makes things happen."

Fernandez's only blemish on the night was a late yellow card that will force him to sit out Vancouver's critical game Friday on the road against the Seattle Sounders.

"I think it was a very good win for us," said Fernandez. "This is a great group, a great team. We must keep going."

Mauro Rosales played his best game for Vancouver since coming over in a trade with Chivas USA, picking up assists on both of Fernandez's strikes.

"We're very lucky to have him," Robinson said of the 33-year-old Argentine. "He was excellent. His technical ability is second to none and he had a massive influence on the game today."

Vancouver improved to 3-2-1 over its last six, while Dallas remains fourth in the West, five points up on the Whitecaps and one back of Real Salt Lake with one more game played.

"I thought we did really well," said Vancouver goalkeeper David Ousted, who picked up his 10th shutout of the season. "First half we got our goals. Seba played fantastic and scored two great goals and the second half was great defending. Overall a good performance."

Vancouver's three remaining games include that tough road matchup Friday against Seattle, which made Saturday's home date at B.C Place Stadium even more important.

Fernandez's first goal came off a Rosales cross before the veteran midfielder made a great pass to set up the second.

"It is important for us for the strikers and the guys who play up front to get goals, to get confidence," said Rosales. "This is what we need for the last push."

Dallas (14-11-6) tried to fight back in the 33rd minute when striker Blaz Perez — who came in with three goals in two games against Vancouver this season — was ruled offside after getting behind the Whitecaps defence and beating Ousted.

The visitors — now 4-4-0 over their last eight — had another opportunity to cut the lead in the 38th, but Vancouver midfielder Matias Laba made a goal-saving tackle on Dallas striker David Texeira right in front of Ousted off a break.

Vancouver tied Dallas 2-2 at home on July 27 before dropping a 2-1 decision in Texas on Sept. 13, but Saturday seemed like it was always going to be belong to the Whitecaps.

"We went there three, four weeks ago and we took it on the chin," said Robinson, whose team won back-to-back games for the first time since May. "We lost 2-1 in a game where we probably could have got something. Today was our day, but they're a very good team."

Robinson went with the same starting lineup for the third straight game after last weekend's 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Real Salt Lake, and Ousted's goal wasn't really challenged much after halftime.

Dallas had given Vancouver fits on set pieces in the earlier meetings, but that wasn't the case Saturday as the backline of Jordan Harvey, Andy O'Brien, Kendall Waston and Steven Beitashour defended well in front of the steady Ousted.

"Credit to the back four in the second half especially," said Robinson. "They defended properly and showed a lot of character out there. The game was won in the first half, but for me, the game was managed fantastically well in the second half."

Tempers flared on both sides a bit towards the end of the match, which could make for a good battle in the playoffs — a likely scenario if the Whitecaps manage to edge out Portland for the final post-season spot in the West.

"I think if these two teams meet it's going to be a brawl, to say it lightly," said Ousted. "You just see that people get into every tackle."

Notes: The Whitecaps announced Friday that out-of-favour striker Omar Salgado will join Mexican side Tigres UANL on a 12-day trial beginning Monday. The 21-year-old was the first pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, but has made just 29 league appearances — including 12 starts — during his time with Vancouver. Salgado had been absent from practice in recent weeks, leading to speculation his time with the club could be coming to an end. ... Vancouver's remaining regular-season games after the trip to Seattle are at San Jose on Oct. 18 and home to the Colorado Rapids on Oct. 25. ... Portland plays home games against San Jose on Wednesday and Real Salt Lake on Oct. 17 before closing things out on the road against Dallas on Oct. 25. ... Dallas' next game is Oct. 12 at home against the Los Angeles Galaxy. ... Saturday's attendance was 20,183.

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