It was always going to be an uphill battle as Sporting KC needed to win, and win big, against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Tuesday night in order to stay alive in the CONCACAF Champion’s League.
But in the middle of tight race in MLS, Peter Vermes was forced to rest all of his starters. The club made it clear as of late, that the focus is on MLS and the CCL lineups will be reserves and Swope Park Rangers. With the team waving a white flag, the fans did as well. It was a very rainy Tuesday night and Children’s Mercy Park was perhaps more empty than I have EVER seen it for a Sporting KC match.
When the match began, the home side showed plenty of promise. SKC had the better of possession and created a few big scoring opportunities. Connor Hallisey, still looking to open his Sporting KC account, sent a screaming volley that had the Caps’ keeper beaten but it dipped onto the roof of the net.
But after 35 minutes the lightning in the area became too much and the officials had to delay the match. For a while it looked like they were going to postpone it all together, but after a two hour delay, the ball would finally roll again.
The Whitecaps didn’t waste much time. Just a few minutes after returning to play, Erik Hurtado would turn in a low cross and put the visitors in front before halftime. That “halftime” would prove to only be a five minute break after the two hour delay.
Diego Rubio gave KC some hope in the 55’ minute with a great individual effort. He received a pass in the box from Seth Sinovic and created space for himself. The 23 year old turned and fired a shot, on the ground, to the far post, from a really tough angle - and he leveled the match at 1-1.
Even then, Sporting needed another goal to win and just stay alive, but needed multiple goals to really have a shot of advancing. But Vancouver would shut the door all together in the 93’ minute with a bit of luck. Alphonso Davies sent a hopeful shot towards goal and it deflected off of Ualefi, passed Tim Melia, and into the back of the net. With the goal, Vancouver secured a spot in the CCL Quarterfinals to play next year.
Sporting KC is now down to one competition and can focus entirely on the MLS Cup Playoffs race. Sitting in 5th place right now, KC is just just 5 points clear from falling below the red line.
Landon Donovan and the LA Galaxy come to town this weekend for a HUGE Western Conference clash on Sunday at 1pm on the mothership, Fox.