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Sporting KC steal three points with win over Vancouver

Kevin Ellis' second-half goal is the difference as Sporting KC earn a huge three points.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting Kansas City played on their back foot for most of the first half but changed the tempo in the second half and scored the only goal of the match on their way to a 1-0 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps.

The win gave them their fourth in their last five matches and put them two points out of the Western Conference lead with at least two games in hand against every team ahead of them. They remained sixth in the Western Conference based on point total.

In the first half, Sporting KC were playing in their defensive half a lot, attempting to stay the onslaught of Whitecaps' chances. With two rookie outside backs and the roster being depleted due to national team duty, Sporting was playing rather narrow and the Whitecaps looked to attack from the outside. The Sporting defense held strong, however, due to some excellent play in the middle by Soni Mustivar and were able to keep the Whitecaps from scoring in the first half.

On the offensive side Sporting were still able to create some chances in the first half. The best chance for Sporting was a set piece in the 23rd minute sent in by Benny Feilhaber that Dom Dwyer got his head on. The shot, however, went just wide and Sporting was kept off the board in the first half.

The second half goal that would end up being the game-winner did come off a header, however. Krisztian Nemeth came up with the ball and sent up a nice cross in the 51st minute that Kevin Ellis pounded home for his second goal of the year.

Sporting continued to make their mark in the second half as they nearly doubled their lead in the 58th minute. A Benny Feilhaber shot from outside the box clanged off the post and the ensuing rebound was sent right back towards the direction of the net by Jacob Peterson but it shot just wide.

The Whitecaps nearly evened the match in the 60th minute but more dramatic defensive stops saved the day for Sporting KC. Cristian Techera came into the box and tried to poke it past Tim Melia at a close angle near the post and Melia originally deflected it, but it still bounded towards goal. Amadou Dia was able to clear the ball off the line, inches before it became a goal, to preserve Sporting KC's lead.

Melia would come up with some more clutch saves in the final half-hour of the match, further cementing his value to Sporting KC as a consistent keeper. His play, as well as decent defensive stoppage, gave Sporting KC the win as they closed out the victory 1-0.

Sporting KC head home to face the Montreal Impact on July 18 before hosting the Houston Dynamo in the US Open Cup quarterfinals July 21.