Preview: Sporting Visits Vancouver on Saturday
A pair of Western Conference clubs will lock horns for the second time this season as Sporting Kansas City (5-7-7, 22 points) ventures northwest to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC (4-8-8, 20 points) on Saturday night at BC Place.
Kickoff is slated for 9 p.m. CT with three hours of live coverage beginning at 8:30 p.m. CT on FOX Sports Kansas City Plus, FOX Sports Midwest Plus and FOX Sports GO. The game will also be joined in progress on the main FOX Sports Kansas City channel upon the conclusion of Kansas City Royals baseball. Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM will carry local radio broadcasts, while fans can access the Sporting KC App for additional in-game updates and exclusive offers.
Supporters are invited to the official watch party for Saturday's contest at No Other Pub in the Kansas City Power & Light District (1370 Grand Blvd.). From 8:30 p.m. CT until the full-time whistle, No Other Pub will offer an all-inclusive buffet with endless domestic draft beers and sodas plus $4 Bud Light drafts and $5 Coronas.
Currently occupying 10th place in the Western Conference table, Sporting secured a vital 1-0 home win over the Chicago Fire last weekend thanks to an early goal from Frenchman Yohan Croizet. Manager Peter Vermes' side dominated from start to finish en route to the club's third MLS shutout of 2019, also giving Tim Melia his 57th regular season goalkeeping win to tie Jimmy Nielsen for the most in team history.
The victory against Chicago saw the likes of Johnny Russell and Graham Zusi return to the field after missing time through injury. Indeed, ailments to numerous players have plagued Sporting throughout the 2019 campaign, but the club enters Saturday with just four names on the injury report. Influential midfielder Roger Espinoza (knee) and forward Erik Hurtado (knee) have been upgraded to questionable, while Jaylin Lindsey (knee) remains out for the foreseeable future alongside Rodney Wallace (hip), who will miss the rest of the season.
On the opposite sideline, Vancouver will be just three days removed from a scoreless draw at Canadian Premier League outfit Cavalry FC in the first leg of the Canadian Championship third qualifying round. First-year Vancouver head coach Marc Dos Santos-who previously led the Swope Park Rangers to a USL Western Conference championship in 2016-fielded a full-strength lineup for the match, sticking to his pre-game declarations of treating the domestic cup competition with high priority.
Dos Santos helped Vancouver navigate the springtime successfully, as his team went 4-2-3 from April 17 to May 25. Whitecaps FC have hit a rough patch since then, taking just three points and zero wins from their last five league fixtures. Last Saturday marked a low point as Supporters' Shield leaders LAFC put Vancouver to the sword with a 6-1 thrashing at Banc of California Stadium. Talented playmaker Yordy Reyna bagged the visitors' lone goal of the game, his fourth tally in 2019, to move within two goals of team scoring leader Fredy Montero.
Sporting and Vancouver previously met on May 18 at Children's Mercy Park. Krisztian Nemeth-currently tied for the Sporting lead alongside Russell and Felipe Gutierrez with seven MLS goals-fired the hosts ahead in the 37th minute with a close-range finish that remains his most recent goal in 2019. The Hungarian was sent off early in the second half for a red card offense, however, and Whitecaps FC salvaged an unlikely equalizer in the 94th minute courtesy of defender Derek Cornelius.
History nevertheless paints a positive picture for Sporting, who own a 3-2-2 record at Vancouver and an 8-3-4 mark in the all-time regular season series. Moreover, Sporting's 29 regular season wins versus Canadian opposition are the most among American MLS teams.
Vermes' men last visited BC Place in October 2018, erasing a 1-0 halftime deficit behind a brilliant Croizet strike, a Daniel Salloi brace and a stoppage time tally from Gianluca Busio, who in that match became the second-youngest scorer in MLS history at 16 years old.
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