Sporting Kansas City suffered a 2-0 setback to Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday at BC Place. Cristian Techera fired the hosts ahead on 40 minutes before Tim Parker doubled the lead in the 67th minute to give Vancouver all three points and snap Sporting Kansas City’s five-game unbeaten run in the head-to-head series.
Despite the defeat, Sporting Kansas City (6-3-4, 22 points) remains atop the Western Conference standings, six points ahead of sixth-place Vancouver (5-5-1, 16 points).
A retooled Sporting Kansas City lineup included four changes from Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Seattle Sounders FC. Manager Peter Vermes notably awarded 23-year-old Canadian Tyler Pasher his MLS debut on the left side of a three-pronged attack that also featured Gerso — the hat-trick hero against Seattle — and Latif Blessing, who replaced the injured Dom Dwyer. Soni Mustivar earned his first start of the season in midfield, filling in for the rested Benny Feilhaber, while Kevin Ellis stepped into central defense in place of the rested Ike Opara.
A cagey start saw neither side threaten until the 20th minute when Matt Besler’s wonderfully weighted long ball over the top was settled by Gerso inside the box. The Bissau-Guinean cut past Parker, hesitated for a second and shot under pressure, but the scuffled shot was cleared behind by Kendall Waston with Blessing lurking on the doorstep.
The visitors crafted another chance four minutes later off the right foot of Graham Zusi, but his in-swinging corner was headed wide at the far post by Blessing.
Vancouver landed the first punch in stunning fashion five minutes before intermission. Defender Sheanon Williams chased Waston’s long diagonal ball to the right corner flag and thumped a dangerous cross into the penalty area. Bolanos was stationed on the opposite side of the box to chest the ball back across the face of goal, where Techera volleyed low into the right corner from 12 yards to cap the brilliant scoring play.
Another corner kick from Zusi resulted in a clean look in the 44th minute, but Ilie’s strong header lacked the direction to beat Vancouver goalkeeper David Ousted. Zusi asked further questions of the Whitecaps backline two minutes after the restart, flashing a right-footed shot wide from a tight angle.
Referee Baldomero Toledo gave Vancouver a penalty kick in the 53rd minute when Sinovic was deemed to have pushed Montero from behind following a service into the box. Goalkeeper Tim Melia promptly compensated for any controversy surrounding the call by diving low to his right and saving Montero’s ensuing spot kick — his second penalty kick save of the season — to keep Sporting Kansas City in the game.
Merely seconds after Melia’s penalty stop, Sporting Kansas City broke forward as Blessing ran onto substitute Jimmy Medranda’s through ball and saw his low strike saved by Ousted.
Vancouver’s best period of the afternoon unfolded around the hour mark, as Bolanos narrowly missed the target on two occasions before Techera curled a yard over the crossbar. It would be a precursor the game’s second and deciding goal in the 67th minute.
Sixteen-year-old Alphonso Davies won Vancouver a free kick on the left flank, and the resulting delivery from Bolanos was whipped into a crowded penalty area. Parker rose above the rest to direct a glancing header into the far right corner, recording his first career MLS goal in his 54th regular season appearance.
Both sides almost added to the scoring within the final 10 minutes, as a header from Montero hot the post before Gerso failed to make clean contact with the ball after it fell invitingly off a deflected effort from Feilhaber.
Having played three matches over the last eight days, Sporting Kansas City will rest and recover before hitting the road to face the Colorado Rapids next Saturday at 7 p.m. CT. The Western Conference clash will be televised live on FOX Sports Kansas City. Sporting KC won the first meeting between the sides this season on April 9, receiving goals from Sinovic, Gerso and Dwyer in a 3-1 result at Children’s Mercy Park.
2017 MLS Regular Season
Game 13 of 34
BC Place | Vancouver, British Columbia
Weather: 67 degrees and sunny
|Sporting Kansas City (6-3-4, 22 points)||0||0||0|
|Vancouver Whitecaps FC (5-5-1, 16 points)||1||1||2|
Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Graham Zusi, Kevin Ellis, Matt Besler (C), Seth Sinovic; Roger Espinoza, Ilie, Soni Mustivar (Benny Feilhaber 56); Gerso, Latif Blessing (Cameron Porter 69), Tyler Pasher (Jimmy Medranda HT)
Subs Not Used: Adrian Zendejas, Saad Abdul-Salaam, Ike Opara, Daniel Salloi
Vancouver Whitecaps FC: David Ousted; Sheanon Williams, Kendall Waston (C), Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey; Matias Laba, Cristian Techera, Andrew Jacobson, Tony Tchani (Alphonso Davies 62), Christian Bolanos (Nicolas Mezquida 78); Fredy Montero (Brek Shea 85)
Subs Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Marcel de Jong, Mauro Rosales, Russell Teibert
|Shots on Goal||2||7|
SKC -- Roger Espinoza (caution; unsporting behavior) 66
SKC -- Seth Sinovic (caution; unsporting behavior) 77
VAN -- Matias Laba (caution; unsporting behavior) 89
VAN -- Cristian Techera 3 (Christian Bolanos 3, Sheanon Williams 2) 40
VAN -- Tim Parker 1 (Christian Bolanos 4) 67
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Assistant Referee: Mike Rottersman
Assistant Referee: Eduardo Mariscal
Fourth Official: Baboucarr Jallow