Coming off the International break, Sporting Kansas City went with the same lineup from the October 3rd win at home over Houston. With all of the other top teams in the Western Conference having lost earlier in the weekend, Sporting KC were hoping to gain points over their rivals with a win or draw at the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Vancouver started strong in the first couple minutes, but Sporting KC quickly gained control of possession and pressured Vancouver into a number of turnovers. SKC could not take advantage of those turnovers or possession with quality scoring opportunities.
While it looked like Sporting KC was in command, it was the Whitecaps that grabbed the early lead. Javain Brown finally found the space to attack down their left hand side and the time to cross across Sporting KC’s box. Brian White headed it back to the center of the box where Ryan Gauld shot it. SKC defender Ilie Sanchez was in the right spot to almost make the goal line save but the hard left-footed shot deflected into the goal in the 23rd minute.
SKC did not get down and continued to drive the game more than the home team but struggled to break down Vancouver’s stingy defense.
Vancouver struck again in the 36th when White again setup a goal. This time sliding the ball back Russell Teibert well outside of SKC’s box. Teibert had time to take a touch and then launch a low skipping shot from 20-plus yards out. Tim Meila made a diving attempt for the save but the shot slipped just inside the post to double Vancouver’s lead.
Captain Johnny Russell became the second Scot (after Gauld) to score in the match when he narrowed the deficit back to a single goal. It was the Hungarian Hitman’s turn to set up a goal, Daniel Salloi slid the ball out to Russell who cut inside and curled a ball inside the far post. With that goal Russell became the first Sporting KC player to score in six straight matches.
Sporting KC brought veteran midfielder Roger Espinoza on at halftime as a tactical sub to replace Jose Mauri.
The second half saw no goals and few opportunities as Vancouver put as many behind the ball as they could and made it as difficult on Kansas City as possible.
SKC Manager Peter Vermes told media after the game, “They worked extremely hard. Their front seven guys were going man to man and we were at times unwilling to run with movement off the ball. You can connect passes and that’s great, but that doesn’t do anything. Possession doesn’t mean anything unless you have a purpose to it, and the purpose has to be to break through the other team. You have to create areas where you have numbers. Too many times we just didn’t do that over the course of the game.”
“When we ran at them, we were dangerous,” Vermes continued. “When we were just knocking the ball around, it wasn’t enough. You’ve got to give credit to them because they worked hard and they pressed us. We have been pressed before by a lot of teams, but today we just didn’t have movement off the ball. We didn’t have enough creativity. Again, the game is about getting numbers up in good situations. We didn’t do that enough today, and a lot of that has to do with our movement off the ball.”
Sporting Kansas City:
Tim Melia; Graham Zusi, Ilie Sanchez, Andreu Fontas, Luis Martins; Jose Mauri (Roger Espinoza 46’), Remi Walter, Gadi Kinda; Johnny Russell (C), Khiry Shelton, Daniel Salloi
Subs Not Used: John Pulskamp, Amadou Dia, Roberto Puncec, Kaveh Rad, Grayson Barber, Wilson Harris, Cam Duke, Jake Davis
Vancouver Whitecaps FC: Maxime Crepeau; Ranko Veselinovic (Jake Nerwinski 80’), Bruno Gaspar (Marcus Godinho 62’), Erik Godoy, Javain Brown; Cristian Dajome (Deiber Caicedo 73’), Leonard Owusu (Janio Bikel 46’), Ryan Gauld, Florian Jungwirth, Russell Teibert (C); Brian White (Tosaint Ricketts 73’)
Subs Not Used: Thomas Hasal, Cristian Gutierrez, Lucas Cavallini, Michael Baldisimo
VAN - Ryan Gauld 3 (Brian White 3, Javain Brown 5) 23’
VAN - Russell Teibert 1 (Brian White 4) 36’
SKC - Johnny Russell 11 (Daniel Salloi 8) 43’
SKC - Ilie Sanchez (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 45+1
VAN - Brian White (yellow card; delaying a restart) 51’
SKC - Remi Walter (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 70’
SKC - Gadi Kinda (yellow card; dissent) 70’
VAN - Jake Nerwinski (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 85’
Referee: Silviu Petrescu
Assistant Referee: Chris Wattam
Assistant Referee: Felisha Mariscal
Fourth Official: Alain Ruch
VAR: Armando Villarreal
AVAR: Rene Parra