Sporting Kansas City came from behind to snap a three-game losing streak on Wednesday, earning a 1-1 draw against Vancouver Whitecaps FC at BC Place. Christian Bolanos put the home side ahead early, but Diego Rubio's first MLS goal in the 27th minute extended Sporting Kansas City's unbeaten run against Vancouver to four matches.
The result gives Sporting Kansas City (4-4-1, 13 points) its first draw of the 2016 season and keeps the club in sixth place in the Western Conference, one spot ahead of Vancouver (3-4-2, 11 points) and just four points behind leaders FC Dallas.
Wednesday's starting lineup included four changes from Sporting Kansas City's 1-0 defeat at the San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday. Goalkeeper Alec Kann made his club debut and earned his second career MLS start, while Rubio, Jimmy Medranda and Connor Hallisey formed a three-pronged attack with Graham Zusi, Dom Dwyer and Brad Davis available off the substitutes' bench. In defense, captain Matt Besler made his 200th career MLS appearance for his hometown club (including playoffs).
Vancouver drew first blood in the 14th minute, converting their fourth set piece goal of the season. Cristian Techera's out-swinging corner kick found Christian Bolanos, who fired into the top left corner with a side-footed volley near the penalty spot. The goal snapped Sporting Kansas City's 514-minute road shutout streak against Cascadia clubs (Vancouver, Portland and Seattle) in the regular season dating back to August 2014.
The visitors remained undeterred and struck back through Rubio, who opened his MLS scoring account after joining the club this offseason on loan from Spanish side Real Valladolid. Settling into space on the right flank, Saad Abdul-Salaam squared the ball for Lawrence Olum, whose low strike through the box was deftly redirected into the net by Rubio to level the score. Olum tallied his first MLS assist since April 2014 on the play, while Abdul-Salaam was credited with his third assist of the campaign, one shy of the MLS lead.
Medranda nearly put Sporting Kansas City ahead four minutes later. Amadou Dia exploited space down the left wing and cut the ball across the face of goal to the diminutive midfielder, whose stinging one-time effort was saved by the outstretched David Ousted. Benny Feilhaber was well-positioned to poke home the rebound, but Vancouver defender Tim Parker hammered the loose ball clear downfield.
Six minutes into the second half, Rubio played a prominent role in changing the complexion of the match. The Chilean striker intercepted an errant back pass from Tim Parker and was almost through on goal, only to be toppled from behind by Kendall Waston. The Vancouver center back received his second yellow card from Armando Villarreal, reducing Whitecaps FC to 10 men for the remainder of the evening.
Vermes recognized the opportunity to secure a vital road win and flexed his squad's firepower from the substitutes' bench, introducing Dwyer, Davis and Zusi over the course of the second half. Sporting Kansas City translated their numerical advantage into 59 percent possession and a 4-0 shot advantage during the final stanza, but Vancouver maintained the requisite defensive organization to keep Vermes' men at bay.
With a three-game road swing in the books, Sporting Kansas City returns to Children's Mercy Park on Sunday to host LA Galaxy at 7 p.m. CT. The high-profile matchup will be televised nationally on FS1 and FOX Deportes with local radio broadcasts on Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM. The Galaxy (4-1-2, 14 points) enter Sunday on a five-game unbeaten run and lead the league with 17 goals scored.
The first 10,000 fans through the Children's Mercy Park gates on Sunday will receive a free pair of sunglasses courtesy of Sabates Eye Centers, and a limited number of tickets for the game are available via Ticketmaster.com or by calling 888-4KC-GOAL.
2016 MLS Regular Season (Game 9 of 34)
BC Place | Vancouver, Canada
Weather: 57 degrees and clear
|Sporting Kansas City (4-4-1, 13 pts)||1||0||1|
|Vancouver Whitecaps FC (3-4-2, 11 pts)||1||0||0|
Sporting Kansas City: Alec Kann; Saad Abdul-Salaam, Nuno Andre Coelho, Matt Besler (C), Amadou Dia; Benny Feilhaber, Lawrence Olum, Roger Espinoza; Jimmy Medranda (Graham Zusi 75), Diego Rubio (Dom Dwyer 57), Connor Hallisey (Brad Davis 64)
Subs Not Used: Tim Melia, Ike Opara, Seth Sinovic, Jacob Peterson
Vancouver Whitecaps FC: David Ousted; Fraser Aird, Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey; Matias Laba, Russell Teibert, Christian Bolanos (Kekuta Manneh 78), Pedro Morales (C) (Pa Modou Kah 54), Cristian Techera; Masato Kudo (Octavio Rivero 65)
Subs Not Used: Paulo Tornaghi, Andrew Jacobson, Blas Perez, Nicolas Mezquida
|Shots on Goal||2||2|
SKC -- Matt Besler (caution; unsporting behavior) 22
VAN -- Kendall Waston (caution; unsporting behavior) 40
SKC -- Diego Rubio (caution; unsporting behavior) 41
VAN -- Kendall Waston (ejection; unsporting behavior) 51
SKC -- Nuno Andre Coelho (caution; dangerous play) 60
VAN -- Christian Bolanos 1 (Cristian Techera 2) 14
SKC -- Diego Rubio 1 (Lawrence Olum 1, Saad Abul-Salaam 3) 27