Match Recap

Recap: Marinos Tzionis scores late as Sporting falls 2-1 to Vancouver

A late Marinos Tzionis goal was not enough to prevent defeat on Wednesday as Sporting Kansas City (2-8-5, 11 points) fell 2-1 to Vancouver Whitecaps FC (6-5-4, 22 points) at Children’s Mercy Park. Whitecaps attacker Ryan Gauld scored on both sides of halftime to give the visitors a 2-0 advantage before Tzionis scored his third goal of the season in all competitions during second-half stoppage time.

Sporting will conclude a frantic stretch of five games in 15 days by visiting regional rivals Minnesota United FC on Saturday at Allianz Field. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. CT with live coverage on MLS Season Pass via Apple TV.

Manager Peter Vermes reshuffled his lineup to the tune of eight changes, including the first MLS starts of the season for Felipe Hernandez, Khiry Shelton and wingers Stephen Afrifa and Alenis Vargas. Hernandez earned his first league start since April 2023, Shelton was deployed at right back in his first start since last September, Afrifa logged his second career MLS start and his first last July, and Vargas was named to the starting XI for the first time in his Sporting career. Homegrown defender Jake Davis was notably pushed into the central midfield for a Sporting side that averaged 25.9 years of age, the club’s youngest lineup for an MLS match since July 2022.

The hosts enjoyed a vibrant opening half hour and threatened twice inside the first three minutes. Davis drove into the attacking third and forced a save at the top of the box from Whitecaps goalkeeper Yohei Takaoka before Vargas showcased his blistering pace by galloping down the right channel and swinging in a low cross for Agada, whose shot near the penalty spot was blocked. Vargas asked further questions of the Vancouver defense in the 11th minute, cutting on the edge of the area and clipping a delightful ball into Agada, whose leaping header missed by inches.

Hernandez nearly had his third goal in three games in the 15th minute when his searching free kick into the mixer nearly found the back of the net untouched amidst a slew of bodies, but Takaoka produced a reflex save by palming the ball wide.

Vancouver created its first fleeting chance on 17 minutes when Sebastian Berhalter’s searching delivery into Brian White was nodded marginally over the crossbar. At the opposite end, Sporting continued to knock on the door with Hernandez having a shot blocked, Dany Rosero heading high off a corner kick and Agada seeing his header corralled by Takaoka.

Against the run of play, Vancouver landed its first punch with 39 minutes on the clock. A long throw-in from the right sideline fell fortuitously to Gauld, who had his initial strike blocked before bundling home the rebound to make the score 1-0.

Sporting brought in reinforcements during a cagey second half as Alan Pulido, Johnny Russell and Daniel Salloi all had their numbers called, but the game’s second goal would fall to Gauld and Vancouver. In the 82nd minute, a costly giveaway afforded Gauld a simple breakaway finish to push the scoreline to 2-0.

Not lacking in effort, Sporting grabbed a goal back in the 92nd minute. Shelton surged into the box and played a smart cutback to Tzionis, whose deflected effort nestled inside the near post for his first MLS goal of the campaign and his third of the year overall. The rally was stopped short, however, as Vancouver saw out the game to take all three points.

2024 MLS Regular Season | Match 15
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Attendance: 17,046
Weather: 77 degrees and sunny

Sporting Kansas City 1-2 Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Sporting Kansas City (2-8-5, 11 points)
Vancouver Whitecaps FC (6-5-4, 22 points)

Sporting Kansas City: John Pulskamp; Khiry Shelton, Dany Rosero, Robert Castellanos, Zorhan Bassong (Tim Leibold 57'); Nemanja Radoja, Jake Davis (Marinos Tzionis 79'), Felipe Hernandez; Alenis Vargas (Johnny Russell 57'), Willy Agada (Alan Pulido 57'), Stephen Afrifa (Daniel Salloi 46')

Subs Not Used: Tim Melia, Andreu Fontas, Chris Rindov, Robert Voloder

Vancouver Whitecaps FC: Yohei Takaoka; Javain Brown, Ranko Veselinovic, Bjorn Utvik; Ryan Raposo (Ali Ahmed 70'), Sebastian Berhalter, Andres Cubas, Alessandro Schopf (Giuseppe Bovalina 90'), Luis Martins (Mathias Laborda 77'); Ryan Gauld (C) (Levonte Johnson 90'), Brian White (Fafa Picault 70')

Subs Not Used: Isaac Boehmer, Tristan Blackmon, Pedro Vite, Damir Kreilach

Scoring Summary:
VAN -- Ryan Gauld 6 (unassisted) 39'
VAN -- Ryan Gaud 7 (unassisted) 82'
SKC -- Marinos Tzionis 1 (Khiry Shelton 1) 90+2'

Misconduct Summary:
VAN -- Bjorn Utvik (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 7'
SKC -- Khiry Shelton (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 43'
SKC -- Robert Castellanos (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 75'

Match Statistics
Shots on Goal
Corner Kicks

Referee: Rosendo Mendoza
Assistant Referee: Corey Rockwell
Assistant Referee: Tyler Wyrostek
Fourth Official: Alexandra Billeter
VAR: David Barrie
AVAR: Jozef Batko