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Cristian Techera's free kick helps Whitecaps salvage 1-1 draw with FC Dallas


Published on June 18, 2017

FC Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez allows a goal to Vancouver Whitecaps' Cristian Techera during the second half of an MLS soccer game in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, June 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VANCOUVER — Cristian Techera scored on a beautiful free kick in the 74th minute as the Vancouver Whitecaps fought back to draw FC Dallas 1-1 on Saturday night.

Maximiliano Urruti replied for Dallas (6-3-6), which remains four points up on Vancouver (6-6-2) in Major League Soccer's Western Conference standings.

With his team trailing and struggling to create chances, Techera curled a left-footed shot over the wall and past Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez from roughly 30 yards out for the pint-sized Uruguayan's fourth of the season.

After a forgettable first half for both teams, Urruti stole the ball from fellow Argentine Matias Laba in midfield and went the other way before slotting home his eighth goal in the 52nd minute past a defender and beyond a diving David Ousted.

The Whitecaps brought on 16-year-old phenom Alphonso Davies, who made his debut for Canada in a friendly this week, with half an hour to go in hopes of sparking something, and his galloping runs seemed to spark Vancouver before Techera struck.

The match brought an end to a roller-coaster week for the Whitecaps that began with positive headlines before two alleged off-field incidents involving police came to light.

Vancouver unveiled its new $32.5-million training facility at the University of British Columbia on Wednesday — dubbed by a team official as "one of the biggest days" in club history — to glowing reviews.

But those good feelings were short-lived when news broke 24 hours later that two minors had been charged with sexual assault after an alleged incident at a separate Whitecaps practice facility in Burnaby, B.C., last week.

A spokesperson said in a statement that a serious incident allegedly occurred between some male youth players that was in clear contravention of the team's code of conduct. The club added the two players were immediately suspended indefinitely and that the matter was handed over to the local RCMP detachment, which in turn laid the charges.

Then on Friday, first-team defender Sheanon Williams, who had started 11 of Vancouver's 13 regular-season games in 2017, was himself suspended indefinitely by MLS after the 27-year-old was charged with assault in connection with an alleged domestic incident.

MLS said in a release that Williams was arrested Thursday morning and is suspended pending investigations by the league and the Vancouver Police Department. The league added Williams will undergo an assessment by MLS' Substance Abuse and Behavioural Health Program, and that a further determination on his status will be made after the completion of the assessment and the investigations.

The Whitecaps were coming off a two-week break following a busy stretch that saw them play five games in 15 days in all competitions, but were without two key pieces — apart from Williams — after defender Kendall Waston (hip) and midfielder Christian Bolanos (shoulder) were injured while away on international duty with Costa Rica.

Rookie right back Jakob Nerwinski made his third MLS start, and first since April, in place of Williams, while Andrew Jacobson slid back from midfield to take up Waston's spot alongside Tim Parker in the heart of defence.

Vancouver head coach Carl Robinson stayed with his 4-1-4-1 formation despite the changes, with Brek Shea getting his second league start of the year after making five straight appearances off the bench since coming back from a knee injury.

Shea and his wife, Carling, welcomed their second child, a boy named Zepplin, into the world just over two hours before kickoff, just in time to allow dad to start against his former team.

Dallas, meanwhile, made 10 changes from its midweek game in the domestic U.S. Open Cup, with Canadian international Tesho Akindele starting up top alongside Urruti.

The visitors' defence also had a glaring absence with Walker Zimmerman out with a knee strain.

Notes: Next up for Dallas is a game at the Houston Dynamo on Friday, while Vancouver visits Minnesota United for the clubs' first-ever meeting next Saturday. ... Whitecaps striker Bernie Ibini, acquired from a Belgian club last month, made his first appearance for Vancouver off the bench in the 83rd minute in place of Shea.

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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press