VANCOUVER: After four straight draws, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (7W-4L-11D) got back in the win column with a 2-0 victory over defending MLS Cup champions Sporting Kansas City (11W-6L-6D) on Sunday.
20,183 fans at BC Place watched a dominant performance from the ‘Caps as they moved back into a playoff position, leaping Portland Timbers and Colorado Rapids for fifth place in the Western Conference.
Darren Mattocks scored his fourth goal in five games and Pedro Morales planted himself firmly in the discussion for MLS MVP with another outstanding performance, tying the Whitecaps FC club record in MLS for assists in a season with nine.
Head coach Carl Robinson made only one change to the lineup that started the two previous matches against FC Dallas and Chicago Fire, bringing in veteran centre back Andy O’Brien in place of Carlyle Mitchell.
The ‘Caps came out energized and had the first real chance of the match on four minutes. Steven Beitashour streaked down the right flank and sent a cross-field pass to Sebastian Fernandez who then centred for Mattocks. The Jamaican controlled the ball at his feet before having his close range shot deflect just wide of the near post.
The two teams traded chances in the next ten minutes. Kansas City came to life when Benny Feilhaber had an open look at the top of the box, curling a shot inches wide of the far post. Three minutes later, Erik Hurtado chased down a long ball and managed to get to it just before goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum, but his pass back across the box was cut out before it could reach Mattocks.
On 17 minutes, the first goal of the match came with a great deal of luck for the home side. A dangerous ball up field from Morales caught SKC defender Igor Juliao out of sorts, leaving him to head it past Gruenebaum and into the net for an own goal and a 1-0 lead for Whitecaps FC.
Only for the goalkeeping of Gruenebaum did Sporting manage to keep the Blue and White from getting a second goal after 30 minutes, first stopping a Mattocks one-time shot before doing well to save a Morales free kick.
Morales was at in again on 38 minutes, deftly splitting two defenders with the slickest of turns before attempting to lob Gruenebaum from near the halfway line as the ball landed just past the crossbar.
Moments later the maestro would not be denied. After picking up the ball at midfield, Morales cut past his defender and fed Mattocks on a clear breakaway, which was promptly finished for a 2-0 lead.
It could have been another sublime assist for Morales just before the end of the first half as he brilliantly fed Fernandez onto a breakaway. The Uruguayan snuck a shot past Gruenebaum bound for goal before Aurélien Collin sprinted back to keep it out as the ‘Caps went into the break with a 2-0 advantage.
In need of a spark at the break, SKC gave a debut to young goalkeeper Jon Kempin, bringing him on in place of Gruenebaum.
Kansas City came out of the blocks strong early in the second half as Jacob Peterson had a shot from inside the box that went straight into the arms of Ousted. The visitors had another opportunity to get on the scoreboard in the 64th minute as a corner kick from Graham Zusi was headed just over the crossbar by Collin.
Back at the other end, a corner kick from Morales on 70 minutes came close to being converted on a header from Johnny Leveron, with the Honduran unfortunate to see it cleared off the line by Feilhaber at the last moment.
With a first ever victory over Sporting Kansas City in sight, the game was almost put to rest in the 84th minute. After substitute Omar Salgado was dragged down in the box by Collin, Mattocks stepped up to take the ensuing penalty kick but was denied by a diving Kempin.
In the end it was cheers from the home crowd at the final whistle as Whitecaps FC earned a hard fought 2-0 win. Robinson’s side have now lost only twice in their past 16 matches and have the least losses in MLS with four, tied with LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake.
Next up for the Blue and White are back-to-back road matches at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. First, the ‘Caps travel to face Chivas USA this coming Saturday, August 16 at 7:30 p.m. PT on TSN. The following weekend they return to battle LA Galaxy on Saturday, August 24, 7:30 p.m. PT on TSN2.
Stat of the Game
Zero. The number of teams in MLS that Whitecaps FC have yet to beat. Sporting Kansas City was that elusive final team that had escaped defeat to the ‘Caps, but no longer. Next year Vancouver will have two new teams to add to the list, New York City FC and Orlando City SC.
Quote of the Game
“I believed we could win the game if we did things right, because of the personnel that we’ve got. We can cause any teams problems, and we showed that today. It could’ve been four or five for us on another day, but we’ll take the victory.” – Carl Robinson
Budweiser Man of the Match: Pedro Morales
Referee: David Gantar
17′ – VAN – Igor Juliao (own goal)
39′ – VAN – Darren Mattocks (Pedro Morales)
Shots: Vancouver 13 – Kansas City 13
Shots on Goal: Vancouver 7 – Kansas City 2
Saves: Vancouver 2 – Kansas City 6
Fouls: Vancouver 9 – Kansas City 25
Offsides: Vancouver 6 – Kansas City 2
Corners: Vancouver 6 – Kansas City 5
25′ – SKC – Dom Dwyer
62′ – SKC – Benny Feilhaber
63′ – VAN – Erik Hurtado
83′ – VAN – Jordan Harvey
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.David Ousted; 33.Steven Beitashour, 40.Andy O’Brien, 16.Johnny Leverón, 2.Jordan Harvey; 28.Gershon Koffie, 15.Matías Laba; 19.Erik Hurtado (8.Mehdi Ballouchy 68′), 77.Pedro Morales (31.Russell Teibert 77′), 7.Sebastián Fernández (17.Omar Salgado 82′); 11.Darren Mattocks
Substitutes not used
70.Paolo Tornaghi, 23.Kekuta Manneh, 24.Carlyle Mitchell, 29.Nicolás Mezquida
Sporting Kansas City
30.Andy Gruenebaum (21.Jon Kempin 45′); 15.Seth Sinovic, 5.Matt Besler, 78.Aurelien Collin, 40.Igor Juliao (17.C.J. Sapong 64′); 20.Jorge Claros, 10.Benny Feilhaber; 12.Mikey Lopez, 37.Jacob Peterson (22.Soony Saad 78′), 8.Graham Zusi; 14.Dom Dwyer
Substitutes not used
13.Lawrence Olum, 9.Antonio Dovale, 23.Martin Steuble, 11.Sal Zizzo