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Report Card: Vancouver Whitecaps vs Sporting Kansas City

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The Vancouver Whitecaps returned to their winning ways and against none other than defending MLS Cup Champions and leaders of the Eastern Conference, Sporting Kansas City. Who was great? Who was so-so? I pulled out my red pen, so here we go.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, if you listened to the latest episode of From The Backline you know that I said "I will be surprised if the Whitecaps take any points at all." Well, clearly Carl Robinson played this bit in the dressing room to get the boys fired up and motivated before the match, a match that I also qualified as "a must win."

Obviously, that was my plan from the very beginning so, you are welcome, everyone. You can read the match report here. I, on the other side, will highlight a few players who proved to be key in the Whitecaps victory on Sunday evening.

Igor Juliao (A+) - The Brazilian right back did very well to position himself in the right spot to be on the end of a beautiful cross by Pedro Morales and showed some tremendous poise and, with a nice header, calmly put the ball out of reach of goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum, who was charging out of his net to cut the cross. This is the kind of finishing that the Whitecaps have been looking for, and I am glad to see they are getting some of it now. (Ed. note: I just did some research and it turns out that Juliao plays for Sporting Kansas City. My assessment stands).

Pedro Morales (A) - Seems impossible to talk about a Whitecaps win without praising Morales. Yes, he was not his magnificent self but it was still pretty darn good and managed to create both goals for Vancouver. Morales continues to be the engine of the Whitecaps attack and keeps making a strong argument to become the 2014 "Newcomer of the Year."

Matias Laba (A) - If you are a frequent reader of Eighty Six Forever or a loyal listener of From the Backline (thanks!), you know that if there was a Matias Laba parade I would be leading it with bells and whistles. (Mental note: Maybe I SHOULD look into organizing a Matias Laba parade. I digress). Laba's contributions at midfield were instrumental in extinguishing SKC's midfield, (World Cup Goldilocks Suzi included).

Gershon Koffie (A) - Gershon continues to develop an exciting partnership with Matias in the Whitecaps midfield. While I would love to see the Ghanaian push up the field a tad more as he has proven that he can score, it is beyond question that Koffie's box-to-box abilities along with his ball distribution make him a sure starter in midfield.

Johnny Leveron (A-) - In what has been a tumultuous couple of years for Vancouver's central backs, Leveron continues to demonstrate that he is the future in the heart of Vancouver's defense. As usual, the Honduran was well-positioned, his distribution was, for the most part, impeccable, he was solid in the air and along Andy O'Brien made SKC's attack look rather anemic.

Darren Mattocks (B) - Mattocks scored, yay! He also had a very good work rate. I remember a track back he did all the way to cover for Steven Beitashour. He showed an uncharacteristic poise in Vancouver's second goal. However, points have been deducted for a horribly taken penalty kick. However the Jamaican is still the best option in Vancouver's striker role.

Erick Hurtado (C) - Seems long ago when Hurtado was smoking hot scoring left, right and centre. Deployed on the wing, the hulking attacker continues to have uninspired performances which makes me wonder if another hulking attacker (Omar Salgado) should get a crack in that spot.

Honourable mention to Sebastian Fernandez, whose care-free play, excellent off the ball movement and chemistry with Morales makes him a constant threat for the Blue and White.

Yes, you may think I am being too generous, however you must keep in mind that the Whitecaps just took down what's arguably the best team in MLS, and that can only be achieved with outstanding performances across the board.

Share your thoughts in the comments section.