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Vancouver Whitecaps Steal a Win against Sporting KC

Vancouver only had one shot on goal (a PK) and it went in. The loss moves KC to last place in the West.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Sporting Kansas City
Vancouver Whitecaps forward Lucas Cavallini (9) celebrates against Sporting Kansas City after scoring a goal during the first half at Children’s Mercy Park.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting Kansas City completed their seventh game in 22 days with a home match against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Both teams were depleted and it really showed.

Sporting were very banged up, missing both center forwards (Khiry Shelton & Nikolas Vujnovic) and the vast majority of their attacking players. They were forced to play a starting lineup with Johnny Russell at CF, Cam Duke at left wing and Remi Walter also out of position at the right wing. Three forwards, two of which aren’t forwards, and the one who is playing out of position again.

The Whitecaps were pretty banged up as well putting out a lineup with six defenders, many of which lined up as midfielders.

Despite two defensive lineups, Sporting KC found themselves on the front foot early, getting balls into dangerous spots, but not quite finding anything. The first card of the game went to Kortne Ford who picked up an early yellow for tugging as Cristian Dajome who had him beat. The fans booed, and he went down easy, but you can’t grab a guy as he’s running by you. It was the right call.

Against the run of play, Vancouver would have the game’s first golden opportunity. Sporting KC turned the ball over with a heavy touch and they quickly changed direction. Roger Espinoza couldn’t keep up and then a ball was put through where Uri Rosell made a strong slide tackle, but the ball bounced right to Lucas Cavallini who Rosell tried to tackle but missed and fouled him for a penalty kick.

Cavallini took the penalty and chipped it home to put the visitors ahead 1-0.

Immediately after the penalty, Dajome found himself on the ground needing to be replaced, presumably for an injury he picked up earlier. Deiber Caicedo replaced him in the 26th minute. Moments later Sebastian Berhalter went into the book for fouling him, tugging his jersey, then fouling him again in a matter of seconds.

Just after Vancouver nearly hit on the counter after Cavallini put a ball over the top to Caicedo who had Ford beat for pace. Luckily for Kansas City Caicedo hadn’t touched the ball and his attempted chip of Tim Melia into an empty net drifted wide.

In the 41st minute, out of nowhere, Ndenbe plays a quick ball through to Duke who hits a hard cross on the ground to Russell who uses his left when his right might have been better and his prime chance went way wide. It was by far the best chance of the first half, maybe the best of the game.

Late in the half Andreu Fontas committed a foul against Cavallini deep in Vancouver’s territory, but then got a silly yellow card for kicking the ball away and delaying the restart. That would leave both SKC center backs on yellow with more than a half of soccer to go.

The game went into halftime with Sporting down 1-0. It’s the first lead Vancouver has had at the half all season.

At the half, Kayden Pierre subbed on for Ben Sweat who had another not great half playing out of position at right back. Also, Marinos Tzionis came on for Uri Rosell, which pushed Duke to RW and Remi to defensive midfielder.

The subs made an immediately impact as Sporting were in complete control early. Also, Hernandez was all over the place, shooting, stealing, dribbling and then in the 52nd minute drawing a yellow from Cristian Gutierrez, who fouled him and then kicked the ball away out of frustration.

In the 58th Russell would go into the book for a silly play as well, as after a corner kick, he and Jake Nerwinski would be battling before the ball went out for a goal kick and then Johnny kicked the ball into Nerwinski.

In the 63rd minute Sporting put their first shot on goal, but their 10th shot of the match. Felipe Hernandez stole the ball deep in Vancouver end of the field and laid the ball off to Johnny Russell but he just doesn’t get enough on his shot which goes directly to the keeper.

Minutes later there was a PK shout from SKC as Kayden Pierre dribbled into the box but he clearly let himself go and the only contact was minimal as he drug his own leg into Florian Jungwirth’s leg as he fell to the ground (the below angle isn’t great, but on replay it wasn’t a penalty).

In the 69th minute, Nicolas Isimat-Mirin replaced Andreu Fontas who was on a yellow. I figured this was the sub when I saw him up, but there was a case to take off Kortne Ford who was playing very aggressive, while also on a yellow. Right around this time SKC also made a tactical change moving Russell to RW, Duke back to LW and Tzionis into the center forward spot.

In the 79th minute Vancouver made two subs, bringing on Raposo and SKC’s old friend, Luis Martins, who was making his Whitecaps debut. Slightly after that Russell moved back to CF and Tzionis went to RW. It was a much needed tactical shift because Marinos had no idea what to do in the middle of the pitch and Russell is so adaptable the team immediately looked more dangerous.

Despite the switch KC, couldn’t generate much of anything until a 94th minute corner kick from Hernandez to the head of Isimat-Mirin was headed off the line by Javain Brown, who is a player that Vancouver drafted with a pick they acquired from Sporting KC.

The game would end 1-0, just like the last time these teams met. It was Vancouver’s first win of the season on the road. Sporting also handed Vancouver their first win of the season and 50 percent of their total wins in 2022 so far.

This loss moves Kansas City all the way back to 14th in the Western Conference.