Sporting KC Suffers 2-1 Loss in Vancouver
Sporting Kansas City (15-7-7, 52 points) suffered a 2-1 loss at the Vancouver Whitecaps FC (10-9-10, 40 points) on Sunday and remains in second place in the Western Conference.
Brian White, who had scored the Whitecaps last six goals, this time played the part of provider and set up first half goals for Ryan Gauld and Russell Teibert at BC Place in the Vancouver victory.
Johnny Russell was once again on the scoresheet for Sporting, stretching his scoring streak to six straight games and in doing so became the first player in club history to score in six consecutive MLS regular season matches. The streak is the longest by an MLS player this year and ranks eighth longest in MLS history.
MLS MVP candidate Daniel Salloi earned his eighth assist of the season on the goal, and added along with his 16 goals to date, also extended his lead with the most combined goals and assists in Major League Soccer in 2021.
Sporting Kansas City center back Andreu Fontas tallied the first shot of Sunday's showdown in the 15th minute, coming forward for a corner and directing a glancing header into the arms of Maxime Crepeau.
The Whitecaps would prove more efficient, finding the back of the net with their opening attempt in the 23rd minute. Javain Brown's cross into the area was headed down by White and fell to Gauld, who gave the hosts a 1-0 lead with his first-time finish from eight yards out.
Gauld, a former teammate of Russell's in Scotland, nearly added a second goal just over a minute later if not for a sprawling save by Sporting goalkeeper Tim Melia to push the effort past the post.
Gadi Kinda tried his luck at a leveler from long range with a well-struck shot saved by Crepeau in the 27th minute, but it was Vancouver that struck next. Teibert doubled his side's lead in the 37th minute with a perfectly-placed shot from beyond the penalty area for the Whitecaps captain's first regular season goal since 2018.
Down two goals, it was the Sporting Kansas City captain who cut the deficit in half on the cusp of halftime. Collecting a pass from Daniel Salloi, Russell cut inside and curled a superb strike past Crepeau for his 11th goal of the season and 36th of his four-year MLS career.
With the stage set for a significant second half for both sides with less than a month remaining in the regular season, the MLS Week 30 finale ultimately came to a close in anti-climatic fashion as neither side recorded a shot on goal in the final 45 minutes.
Vancouver snapped a six-game winless run, and three-game losing streak, against Sporting to move within one point of playoff position. Meanwhile, Sporting could clinch a playoff berth as early as Wednesday - with 12 MLS matches on the mid-week agenda - before traveling to face first-place Seattle at 2:30 p.m. CT on Saturday in a match nationally broadcast on Univision and TUDN, in addition to local telecasts on Bally Sports Kansas City and Bally Sports Midwest.
Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes
On Vancouver being a difficult opponent to break down...
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. 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.
On the two goals conceded to Vancouver in the 2-1 loss...
Those were two really easy situations. The second one was just a lack of stepping out and pressuring the ball. There's no way that we should give a shot away like that from that distance. We had three guys standing there and there's no way we shouldn't have someone blocking it. The other one was a service into the box. It's one thing not to win a header. It's another thing not to get to the knock-down first. We didn't do either.
When we ran past them, we created stuff and we were dangerous. You expect the other team to assert themselves on their home field. They have to be good. But at the same time, we had chances where we did break them down, but we just didn't go with the zest that you need to in a game like this.
Sporting Kansas City forward Johnny Russell
Thoughts on the match...
Not enough movement and not enough quality, especially in the first half. In the second half, we kept the ball well but without really doing anything. As for reasons why? Right now, I don't really know. It's a disappointing night. We continue to, defensively as a team, allow cheap goals and put ourselves in a hole in games. We're always fighting back. It's a frustrating night, especially with the results yesterday and having an opportunity like we did. Once again, we've let it slide.
On his confidence after scoring in a sixth straight match...
I always feel like that, even at the beginning of the season when I wasn't scoring goals. I'm confident in myself. I feel dangerous. I've been on a good goal-scoring form recently. But if I don't score a goal for the rest of the year and we win every game then I really don't care. The team comes first. It's nice to help out with goals. That's my job. But at the end of the day, us as a whole is more important than me scoring goals.
On the team's struggles after long breaks...
We just need to stop being so sloppy. Every game after a break, we've started so poorly. We're just continuously giving ourselves way too much to do. I have no idea why or what it is. But it's something that we're going to have to fix because everyone knows in the playoffs, if you make mistakes like that you're done. We're in no position to be able to afford to do that again.
Score 1 2 F
Sporting Kansas City (15-7-7, 52 points) 1 0 1
Vancouver Whitecaps FC (10-9-10, 40 points) 2 0 2
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'
Stat SKC VAN
Shots 9 9
Shots on Goal 3 3
Saves 1 2
Fouls 16 13
Offsides 0 0
Corner Kicks 7 3
Referee: Silviu Petrescu
Assistant Referee: Chris Wattam
Assistant Referee: Felisha Mariscal
Fourth Official: Alain Ruch
VAR: Armando Villarreal
AVAR: Rene Parra
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