VANCOUVER — Cristian Techera added a silver lining to the Vancouver Whitecaps’ roller-coaster week.
The pint-size Uruguayan scored on a beautiful free kick in the 74th minute as Vancouver fought back to draw FC Dallas 1-1 on Saturday night.
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 30 yards out to send B.C. Place Stadium into a frenzy.
"A wonderful strike," said Vancouver coach Carl Robinson. "He’s done it before and hopefully he’ll do it again. He’s playing with confidence at the moment."
Techera now has four goals in a resurgent 2017 season after scoring just twice last year.
"One game builds on another," the five-foot-two midfielder said through a Spanish interpreter. "Once you get one goal, you get confidence for another, and it just goes from there."
Maximiliano Urruti replied for Dallas (6-3-6), which remains four points up on Vancouver (6-6-2) for fourth in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference standings, although the Whitecaps have played one less game.
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 for a 1-0 lead.
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 energy seemed to push Vancouver forward before Techera struck.
The match brought an end to a turbulent week for the Whitecaps that began with positive headlines before two alleged off-field incidents involving police came to light.
"We’re working with the relevant parties and we’re getting through it," said Robinson. "We have to deal with it, and we will. Our thoughts are with everyone involved.
"There’s been lots of ups and downs this week. It’s a week I probably want to try and forget."
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, 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.
"It’s been a whirlwind. I think everybody’s felt it," said Ousted. "We talked about it today to go in with no excuses, go out and get a job done for this club, but also for the teammate who’s going through a hard time right now."
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.
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 two hours and 20 minutes before kickoff, just in time to allow dad to start against his former team.
"He told me he had a good night sleep, which probably means he had 20 minutes sleep," said Robinson. "He literally texted me an hour before my meeting a said, ‘I’m a new dad. I’ll be there in half an hour. Make sure my name’s on the team sheet.’
"That shows character."