Last night, Sporting Kansas City completed an improbable comeback. The Vancouver Whitecaps hadn’t lost a game all year when they scored first and SKC had only won one time when giving up the first goal. Is this a team of destiny? Or are the Whitecaps just terrible? Here are some quick thoughts.
Salloi was really very bad in the first half. I was calling for him to come off (and clearly that tweet aged well). He had lots of bad touches, passes, took a semi-bad shot when he should have slotted it through to a wide open Gerso and of course he had the awful “clearance” into the middle of the box that led to the Felipe goal. That goal was REALLY good though.
Obviously, Salloi turned this all around when a brilliant game winning goal that was just so perfectly placed and he added another in garbage time too.
For me, Yohan Croizet was the Man of the Match. Even before the goal, he was playing really well in the first half. His touch was good (which feels weird to type), he hustled like crazy (as he is known to do) and outside of one howler of a shot, he played really well. All that while getting injured about 15 minutes in by an Aja challenge that wasn’t even called a foul. The beautiful goal in the second half just capped it all off.
I, along with many others, was really disappointed in Yohan much of the season. He really seems to have settled in and despite what Matt Doyle says about him being a bust, he’s turned into a very solid player and if he keeps playing this way, I’ll be happy to have him around for years to come.
I thought Besler was poor tonight, though by him getting the assist on the Croizet goal, I’m sure much of that will be forgotten. It was “Ike-like” in that he kept charging forward and losing the ball in bad spots. If Vancouver finished better we’d be talking about a much different game and Besler would be getting destroyed right now.
Rubio and Shelton
When Khiry Shelton came on for Diego Rubio I thought Peter Vermes was throwing in the towel. And for a good chunk of time after that it seemed like I was right. Shelton was clearly not fully fit as he couldn’t even charge down the keeper or defenders at full speed to force mistakes as he has in the past (he did still press, it just felt slow).
Even on the first goal, he slips and nearly falls as the ball bounces to Croizet who drilled it home. As someone who has gotten flack for their Shelton comments, I was immediately hit up on Twitter about him “creating the space for that goal.” That’s nonsense. He nearly fell down. I could do that.
However, the second goal, he absolutely made that happen. He used his body to gain position on the defender and touched the ball deftly to Salloi who curled it home. All credit to him on that play and the fourth goal when Vancouver had clearly quit and he was in all alone. I thought he was going to botch it when he could have finished after rounding the keeper, but he found Salloi again, this time wide open on the back post for the tap in. I’ll admit, maybe I was wrong about Shelton. That said, I could easily go capture some gifs of him falling down and losing possession over and over in the minutes before things turned around.
I’m simply not sure what to make of him versus Rubio. I thought Rubio played OK in the first half and actually created some space too, the difference is people didn’t finish their chances (him included). The story would be different if they did. I personally still want Rubio to start, but Shelton showed he’s probably a better option for this team than Nemeth. It’s probably time for Krisztian Nemeth to go back to the wing.
This was a bizarre game. For huge portions Sporting KC dominated. They had nearly all the good chances in the first half, though Vancouver capitalized on their limited chances. Possession was nearly dead even in the first half, but Sporting mostly created better opportunities with theirs, they just didn’t finish.
In the second half the Whitecaps came out in complete control. It felt inevitable that SKC were going to allow at least one more goal but somehow they didn’t. Even after Yohan scored, it didn’t really feel like Sporting were going to find another goal. I actually said to my family and friends who watched the game with me that Salloi would probably score since I was Tweeting about his terrible play. At least it all worked out.
Busio and that Turf
First off, why does the turf at BC Place look like dead grass. I remember when the FIFA Women’s World Cup was held in Vancouver there were rightful complaints about playing on turf. That awful surface looked to really have an impact. Gianluca Busio was specifically falling down a ton. He probably had the wrong studs in which caused all the slipping. That said, once he settled down, he actually played pretty well. He got his first MLS goal (even if it barely made it in) and he looked very slick out there with his movement. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot more of him in the future.
Kamara Red Card
After the game, apparently Kei Kamara got a read card for an interaction with Johnny Russell. He’ll be suspended for the next game, which is against Los Angeles Football Club, which really actually hurts Sporting. Stupid Kei. I’d love to see some video if anyone can track it down, we’ve had no luck here at The Blue Testament.
Russell sure knows how to get under the skin of Whitecaps players.
It wasn’t always pretty last night, but it was a very fun game (for KC fans at least). It looked like Sporting would never score and then they scored four goals. Weird. The next two games on the road against FC Dallas and back home on Decision Day against LAFC, are of vital importance. They could all be six point swings. KC control their destiny. Win out and they’ll be first in the West with the first home playoff game since the 2013 season in which they won the MLS Cup. The next 11 days are of vital importance!