Sporting Kansas City put on quite the display against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Sunday afternoon at Children’s Mercy Park. They ultimately would win 3-0 and preserve their first shutout of the 2021 season. Let’s get to the seven and a half minutes of highlights and then we can make some quick points.
[Or if you are out of market, you can go watch the replay on ESPN+ (or if you have a VPN you can use this in-market). If you are in-market check out the Fox Sports Go app or get into your DVR, it’s worth a watch!]
- Daniel Salloi is this team’s starting left winger. His near goal right before his actual goal was fantastic from both he and Graham Zusi. Great ball in and to hit that out of the air first time shows a confidence that didn’t exist on the right side of the front line. To come back and basically take the same shot again a minute later really showed that confidence. It’s hard to imagine he won’t keep scoring.
- Speaking of Khiry Shelton, it’s not pictured in the highlight video, but Alan Pulido gives him a great through ball later in the game that he just bungles into the keepers arms instead of shooting. He had multiple runners so even a hard shot at the keeper could force a rebound. Find your shooting boots Khiry!
- To be fair to Shelton, he played fairly well today (everyone kind of did). He definitely should have scored during that mad scramble in the box in the second half before the third goal was scored (if someone else didn’t score first). He put a shot off a downed Alan Pulido that would have gone in if Pulido wasn’t laying on the goal line.
- In that same sequence, it’s possible Salloi would have gotten his second goal of the game but it appeared his shot in that scramble also went off Pulido (and may have been the reason he was down).
- Pulido took the PK (kudos to Salloi for drawing it too... frankly drawing a PK should be an assist in my book) and waited just long enough for Maxime Crepeau to start leaning the wrong way but let’s talk about that second goal. That’s why he’s getting the big bucks. There were Vancouver players everywhere but he takes a great first touch and puts it the only place he could through multiple defenders at the near post. Great finish!
- What you won’t see in this highlight video is Gianluca Busio bossing the midfield from the number 6 spot. He moved back to that spot in the middle of the Houston Dynamo game and calmed everything down and he started there today. I think it’s possible he’s the team’s best 6, 8 and 10 (I know they don’t play a 10, but you get it). And he’s got a case that he could be good on the wing in the limited minutes he played there and he’s almost certainly the best backup striker after two appearances there. Sporting KC will miss him when he’s gone but his price tag is climbing! Also, check out how everything just moves through Busio in this game with this passing chart courtesy of mlssoccer.com.
At d-mid, you definitely have to make passes backwards at times, but he went forward enough. I think it worked well and it seems clear the game moved through him. #SportingKC #SKCvVAN https://t.co/UzJ4vE6jSr pic.twitter.com/65vy1gJKWz— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) May 16, 2021
- Luis Martins had his best game of the season. It helped that he didn’t have to do much defending (though he had a good recovery run on the Dajome breakaway). He combined really well with Salloi and Gadi Kinda on the left (as did Zusi, Espinoza and Shelton on the right). With Amadou Dia having a rough start against Colorado Springs on Friday, this is seemingly Martins spot until he falters.
- Speaking of faltering, Ilie very nearly gave away a goal with a dangerous pass across the face of his goal. Only terrible finishing (plus an assist from Tim Melia pressuring the shot) saved that clean sheet. Sporting’s insistence on playing out of the back at all costs will definitely cost them at points this year. It didn’t today, but it could have. Ilie otherwise played well, though Vancouver’s gameplan to not try some more long balls over the top to counter was puzzling.
- I’m still baffled by Peter Vermes’ sub patterns. The first two subs were fine. Get Kinda off with his yellow card and get Zusi off as he works back to fitness. But why it took until super late in the game to get off Espinoza and Pulido (who both played three times in eight days — with Pulido nearly going the full 90 each time) is bizarre. Also, arguably Ilie should have come off too being on a yellow. You get five subs, use them! If you don’t trust putting your “kids” on when you are up 3-0, when do you trust them?
The Blue Testament has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though The Blue Testament and SB Nation may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our guiding principles. If you want to support the site, you can sign up for ESPN+ and we receive a small commission.