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Newcomers make the difference for Sporting KC in Vancouver

Goals from Pulido and Kinda in the first half lead to 3-1 victory

Sporting Kansas City v Vancouver Whitecaps FC Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images

Sporting Kansas City’s newcomers lived up to their billing in the season opener. A new player on each line and they all contributed in SKC’s 3-1 win on the road over the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Former Liga MX star Alan Pulido staked SKC to a lead in the 17th minute. Graham Zusi’s set piece attempt was originally knocked away by a Vancouver defender. Roberto Puncec got to the ball and headed it back across the box. Pulido poked his head past his defender and with a clinical finish headed the ball past Whitecaps keeper Maxime Crépeau.

Vancouver turned up the pressure a bit after having been outplayed for most of the early going. In the 28th minute David Milinkovic worked his way around Zusi and slid the ball across the goal mouth to a waiting Jake Nerwinski to tie the game up at 1-1.

Israeli midfielder Gadi Kinda had been all over the field throughout the first half, He had already come close on a long range attempt earlier but in the 39th the speedy attacker was the beneficiary Luis Martins driving deep into the corner before centering the ball back to Kinda. With a one-time strike Kinda spectacularly put it in the upper corner to retake the lead for Sporting KC.

Both teams had some chances in the second half but only a couple were dangerous for either side. One of the best opportunities for Vancouver came in the 88th when Vancouver’s big signing Lucas Cavallini was played in on goal through the defense. Tim Melia came out and stuffed the opportunity by the Canadian striker.

One of the issues for Sporting KC in 2019 was closing games out and they put a big exclamation mark on the win when Gerso Ferenandes did a spin to beat the defense before crossing the ball to the far post. Former Whitecap forward Erik Hurtado hammered the ball past the keeper to make it 3-1 and end the game.

With three points and contributions from all the new players, Sporting KC returns home to face the Houston Dynamo next weekend.

Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Graham Zusi, Roberto Puncec, Matt Besler (c), Luis Martins; Ilie Sanchez, Roger Espinoza, Gadi Kinda (Gianluca Busio 90); Khiry Shelton, Alan Pulido (Erik Hurtado 90), Johnny Russell (Gerso Fernandes 71)

Subs Not Used: Richard Sanchez, Botond Barath, Jaylin Lindsey, Daniel Salloi

Vancouver Whitecaps FC: Maxime Crepeau; Jake Nerwinski, Jasser Khmiri, Derek Cornelius, Ali Adnan; Cristian Dajome (Tosaint Ricketts 80), Inbeom Hwang, Russell Teibert (c), David Milinkovic (Fredy Montero 70); Lucas Cavallini, Yordy Reyna

Subs Not Used: Bryan Meredith, Cristian Gutierrez, Theo Bair, Andy Rose, Patrick Metcalfe

Scoring Summary: SKC - Alan Pulido 1 (Roberto Puncec 1) 17’

VAN - Jake Nerwinski 1 (David Milinkovic 1) 28’

SKC - Gadi Kinda 1 (Luis Martins 1) 39’

SKC - Erik Hurtado 1 (Gerso Fernandes 1) 95+

Misconduct Summary: SKC - Gadi Kinda (caution; unsporting behavior) 3’

VAN - Derek Cornelius (caution; unsporting behavior) 23’

SKC - Khiry Shelton (caution; unsporting behavior) 57’