Kansas City, MO - under threatening skies at Sporting Park the Whitecaps faced a Sporting Kansas City side in a MLS fixture that has seen plenty of goals through the years.
The First Half
The 'Caps started the match with plenty of energy and enthusiasm and early on were pressing Sporting. At times SKC was bottled up in their own end and were unable to press forward. However, just past the quarter hour Kei Kamara crossed the ball to the far post and Claudio Bieler put his effort wide of the goal. In the 24th minute 'Caps keeper Brad Knighton made an excellent save to keep Oriol Rosell from opening the scoring. The Whitecaps did not look hesitant or tentative as they have done at times this season. On the contrary, the 'Caps looked creative and confident on the ball, but had few scoring opportunities in the first half hour of the game. Aurelien Collin netted the opening goal of the game for SKC in the 35th minute after some untidy play after a Sporting throw in. Just before the stroke of half-time Soony Saad brought down Johnny Leveron on the edge of the SKC 18-yard box. Camilo Sanvezzo, Matt Watson and Leveron all lined up for the kick, but it was the sure-footed Brazilian who struck home a brilliant free kick for his 10th goal of the year.
The Second Half
Rather than sit back and retreat into a defensive shell that we have seen all too often this season the 'Caps continued their attacking style of play. Indeed, the second half saw a continued run of free flowing soccer that was enjoyable to watch despite the lack of quality scoring chances. Gershon Koffie replaced Matt Watson just after the hour mark. This was the second game in a row that Watson had started for Martin Rennie's side and it was another solid performance from the Englishman. Again as the match went on neither side really had a clear cut chance to score another goal. Rather than make a defensive substitute late in the match Rennie opted to bring on Tom Heinneman for Corey Hertzog in the 81st minute. Barely a minute later Kansas City felt they were denied a penalty by referee Ricardo Salazar when Benny Feilhaber and Jun-Marques Davidson tangled in front of the 'Caps goal. As the match entered into the final several minutes play became a little untidy as both sides attempted to find a winning goal and take all three points. After four minutes of added time the full time was called and both teams shared the points.
The Final Word
- In general the 'Caps looked much more determined in this match and it was not a foregone conclusion that they would be hanging on for the entire game just to salvage whatever point(s) they could. It may not have been a pretty result, but they show grit and determination to earn a valuable point on the road.
- This was the first match the Russell Teibert missed due to international duty. Teibert's replacement, Corey Hertzog, did not have a bad game, but clearly did not bring as much to the game as Tiebert. It will be interesting to see if Hertzog will be able to develop some chemistry with Camilo and Kenny Miller in the way Teibert has been able to do so this year.
- In general there were strong performances all over the pitch, but Daigo and Davidson stood out for me. Daigo has been fairly quiet in recent games was full of energy and showed glimpses of his skill and talent. Likewise Davidson, who did not have a good game on Saturday against D.C. United, was full of hustle and played quite well in the defensive midfield role (where at times he can be quite quiet).
- The match also saw the inclusion of Brad Rusin to the starting XI after his return from injury. Koffie also saw substantial minutes in the game. It is a promising development that manager Martin Rennie will soon have a healthy squad at his disposal. With a crucial Cascadia Cup clash against Seattle on Saturday Rennie will likely have Young-Pyo Lee available for the starting XI. Defender Andy O'Brien is also supposed to be close to returning from injury as well.
- This match marked the half way point in the season for the 'Caps, who although they could not extend their winning streak to 4-games, are undefeated in their past 4 matches. Their last loss was June 8th when they lost to the Sounders in Seattle.
Man of the Match
Although there were several strong performances this evening defender Johnny Leveron clearly stood out from the rest and is my man of the match.