It was dire in Dallas, as Vancouver Whitecaps slumped to a 2-0 defeat and made it five MLS games without a win, at the worst possible time of the season.
A first half goal from the impressive Michael Barrios set Dallas on their way just past the half hour mark, and Mauro Diaz doubled their lead seven minutes into the second half.
David Ousted saved a first half penalty and Gershon Koffie rattled the post, but the 'Caps were never really at the races in this one.
Ravaged by injuries and players away on international duty, Carl Robinson was forced to ring the chances once again, switching to a two striker system and a very defence minded midfield.
The makeshift 'Caps took the game to Dallas in the early going, launching several attacks, but Vancouver's defence was caught on a quick break in the 11th minute from Michael Barrios, but David Texeira could only look on as he crashed his cutback off the left hand post.
David Ousted was forced to make his first save of the match moments later, getting down to turn a low Je-Vaughn Watson drive around his near post.
The home side took over the game, forcing a string of corners, but Vancouver showed their own counter-attacking danger when they broke in the 18th minute and Gershon Koffie hit the post with a neat outside of the foot effort after a lay off from Octavio Rivero.
Dallas were starting to turn up the pressure and Ousted was forced to make a fantastic one-handed save at his near post from a Barrios effort on the half hour mark.
It felt like a goal was coming from the Texans and it duly came two minutes later. Barrios was the dangerman again, showing some nice footwork in the box to make some room for himself before firing the opener past Ousted.
Kekuta Manneh looped a shot over as Vancouver tried to find the equaliser but Dallas were given the chance to double their lead in the closing minutes of the half when referee Jose Carlos Rivero awarded them a soft penalty.
It was a horrible call, with Tim Parker beautifully timing his tackle to get the better of Barrios in the box. Rivero saw a foul. but Ousted produced another fantastic save to deny Mauro Diaz.
Zach Loyd had to clear a bouncing effort off the line in stoppage time, as Vancouver nearly forced an equaliser from a strange chesting of the ball from Koffie, but the teams headed in to the break with the home side in the ascendancy.
Dallas soon got their second in the 52nd minute, when a mistake by Jordan Harvey allowed Diaz to nutmeg Kah, turn Harvey inside out then slip the ball in-off, and under, Ousted. The 'Caps keeper should have had it and done much better, but it was great skill from the Argentine.
Both sides made changes to freshen things up and Vancouver pushed to try and get back into the game, forcing a couple of scrambles in the Dallas box and seeing Jesse Gonzalez keep out a Manneh shot with eight minutes remaining.
Substitute, and 'Cap killer, Blas Perez had the ball in the net in stoppage time but it was ruled out for offside and the game ended 2-0, leaving Vancouver sitting precariously in third place in the West with just one game remaining.
FINAL SCORE: FC Dallas 2 - 0 Vancouver Whitecaps
DALLAS: Jesse Gonzalez; Je-Vaughn Watson, Zach Loyd, Matt Hedges, Ryan Hollingshead; Victor Ulloa, Ezequiel Cirigliano, Michael Barrios, Mauro Diaz, Tesho Akindele (Rolando Escobar 69) (Atiba Harris 81); David Texeira (Blas Perez 77) [subs Not Used: Dan Kennedy, Walker Zimmerman, Danny Garcia, Michel]
VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Steven Beitashour, Tim Parker, Pa-Modou Kah (Christian Dean 81), Jordan Harvey; Matias Laba, Deybi Flores (Marco Bustos 61), Gershon Koffie, Russell Teibert (Robert Earnshaw 76); Octavio Rivero, Kekuta Manneh [subs Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Jordan Smith, Diego Rodriguez, Cristian Techera]
On tonight's game:
"Certain moments change games. They managed to take their chances. They have good players. They're a good team, coached very well. We didn't take our chances. We had numerous chances, numerous shots, but we couldn't score."
How not to be affected by the bad run the team is currently on:
"Of course when you lose games or you draw games, people are going to worry. There's no noise for me. If you don't score goals you're not going to win games of football and it was proved right today, so we've just got to keep going. We know we're young, We'll get on with it. We can't feel sorry for ourselves. We're in the playoffs, we've got to make sure we finish off well against Houston next week."
Is it all down to the injuries?:
"If I turn around and say I'm missing my four guys, or five guys, then I'll use that as an excuse and I don't want to use that as an excuse. I've got confidence in that group there. They showed today that they can compete. We just didn't take our chances, but when you have key players missing, it doesn't help."
His thoughts about making a tactical change at halftime:
"Tactically, I thought we were very good. David (Ousted) makes a save on a penalty at halftime, which maybe Casper's (the Friendly Ghost) given. I cannot believe it's a penalty. I've watched it about 10 times. It is, but if it would have gone in, I probably would have changed it earlier. Five minutes into the second half, we concede. Bad goal. Miscommunication. We take a chance, but great character shown when you're 2-0 down. It's easy to buckle, but we didn't. We stepped on. Great credit to Marco Bustos coming in making his debut, made things happen for us. We created chances, but we just couldn't score."
[On TSN radio] The continuing lack of goals despite chances:
"We played very well, we just didn't score a goal. You can stand here all night and say how you deserved this or deserved that but if you don't put the ball in the back of the net, you're not going to win games of football, and that's happening at the moment."
"What we've got to do is we've got to keep working at it. We've got to keep putting ourselves in the situations because we are creating chances but we're just not having that little bit of luck at the moment. You see Dallas today, there's were probably similar chances in the game, they managed to score two of their chances, we didn't score any of our chances. You've got to roll your sleeves up, you've got to get back to work, you've got to keep working at it. It's different on the training field when you're doing it unopposed, with no-one surrounding you, it becomes easy then. We've just got to keep working on that and hopefully it will transfer into games."
"The players that we've got are attacking players, exciting players. I want to create chances. If you create chances, you're more likely to score. What's not happening at the moment is we're scoring. We can't cover over it, we're just not putting the ball in the back of the net. We're putting ourselves in the positions, which is good, and pleasing, but we're just not showing the composure at the critical moment. We've just got to get back to work with it."
[On TSN radio] On the defensive display:
"We had a number of chances but the thing I'm disappointed with is that we gave away two bad goals. We didn't really make them work for their goals. When you don't make a team work for their goals and you give them, you're not going to win too many games."
"It's easy to buckle when you're two-nil down after 50 minutes in a tough place. We've never won here. We could have gone under, but we didn't, we showed character. The one thing I won't doubt in my team is character. We've got good character in the team, we're just not scoring at the moment. We know we need to try and address that. We've got to focus on trying to put the ball in the back of the net."
[On TSN radio] Latest on injuries:
"Three of them aren't with us [in Dallas]. Cristian's with us. He sat on the bench today but there was never any intention to play him because he's injured. We've got to get ourselves back next week and we've got to see how they are. I think the [Houston] game will be too early for them, all three of them, so it gives opportunities for other people. We're not in a good state at the moment injury-wise, we know that. We've just got to get on with it."
On making his MLS debut:
"I felt like a little kid in the park. Getting the call to come in with 30 minutes left, it was a dream come true. I just wanted to go in there and have fun."
On getting his first national cap with Canada last night and then his MLS debut tonight:
"I'm not sure I can sum it up. It's an amazing feeling playing for your country, getting my first cap and then making my MLS debut within 24 hours. I left my hotel in Washington DC at 5 a.m. this morning, got here and slept for three hours before the game tonight."
On struggles without top players and just how strong is depth:
"It showed today. Any team in this league would miss Pedro and Mauro. That goes without saying, but you can't use that as an excuse. Every team will have injuries during a season. Unluckily, we're in a spot right now where we have a lot of them and we need to battle through it. Today I think we did a lot of things right and a few things not correctly. That hurt us today."
What can be done to halt the slide?:
"There's two ways to go. There's sitting in there and burying our heads in our hands and don't believe any more, or there's the other way that I'd rather go and just work hard. Work our way out of this. Work on our finishing, work on our ability to create chances, and that's the way out of it. We're still in the playoffs. We still have one game left to put us in a good position. Obviously that needs to be a win. It's about working ourselves out of it. It's no time to feel sorry for ourselves."
Pressure going into Houston game?:
"There's two ways to view it. One, we're in the playoffs and we can relax, the other way is we have to win to put ourselves into a good position. Let's find somewhere inbetween that. Our mental approach has to be getting after them and going for a win. At home, at BC Place, hopefully we'll get the three points there and put ourselves in a good position going into the playoffs."
On saving the Mauro Diaz penalty shot:
"The video guys help me out every time, every game. I sit down and go watch penalties and they give me all the information I need. I was well prepared today."
On Marco Bustos' performance:
"I thought he did really well. I was impressed by the way he went in and he played the way that we know he can. It can be intimidating coming in and having to take responsibility in that midfield but he did well. He was good on the ball, nice passes and I thought he looked dangerous. Again, it's that little bit of depth and guys like him gets that chance now."
"There was a lot of [good] soccer today on the pitch. It was a game that had a lot of emotions and a lot of great plays. Great footballers - both on our team today and also Vancouver. They were a very good team with a very good coach. There were tremendous plays today. I think our fans and the people who came to the stadium enjoyed a game full of great moments. Vancouver made it difficult for us during the first 15 minutes, but after that we started clearing our chances and dominated.
"The second half was more level. We knew that they were going to provide us with a ton and we wanted to hold the line and see if there were some spaces behind. The plan worked well."
General thoughts on the match:
"It was a great team performance. Coming into this game, we knew how important it was for us. We had the Red Bull New York game on before the match. We were watching it closely. Once we saw the result, I think it gave us an extra boost knowing that three points would put us in a tie with them on top of the table with two games to go. The guys responded well. We’re a good team at home. That has showed all year. We’re going to continue to try and finish as high as we can in the West, so we can have that home field advantage throughout the playoffs."
Was this your best performance of the year?:
"I’m not sure. Any time we get a shutout, I am happy for the back line. I don’t really grade personal performances so much. I am more about the team performance. I thought it was a great game for us overall, to be able to rebound after going there and picking up a big tie on the road in Vancouver last week. On the importance of getting this win to validate last week’s tie in Vancouver…It’s huge. If you go there and get a tie, then come home and lose, it didn’t really mean anything. If you come out tonight and get a big three points… You put yourself in a position to fight for a trophy… That is something we have not done here in a long time. We put ourselves in the best-possible situation we could be in. I hope we can capitalize on that in the next two weeks."
Thoughts on the game:
"We are really happy that we got more points and that we are fighting for the top. We are excited and we are going to keep on fighting for it."
On playing like his old self:
"The injuries were getting me, and it feels good playing back to my level."
His mentality when scoring the goal:
"I didn’t plan anything. It just happened. I saw the opportunity and I took it."
Thoughts on the game:
"Huge win of us. We knew what was at stake. We’re tied for first place for the Shield. So that’s huge for us with two games left. Mentally, it helps us a lot to keep pushing and this club can win something. So that’s huge."
On two straight shutouts vs Vancouver:
"Yeah, it’s one of those things that we want to focus on. We know that we have a lot of offensive power and we know that we can score at any time, and that’s the main focus."
Thoughts on the goal set up by Mauro Diaz:
"Great goal. Great play. Like I said we have so many offensive weapons. Mauro was huge for us."