After more than a month away from BC Place, the Vancouver Whitecaps returned home to face Sporting Kansas City, looking to add to their recent road success. With the opportunity to overtake the Seattle Sounders for first place in the Western Conference, and tie DC United for the Supporters’ Shield lead, the Whitecaps came out firing.
Making his second start at center back, in place of the injured Pa Modou Kah, Tim Parker almost opened the scoring for the Whitecaps with a well-placed header. However, Benny Feilhaber was marking the back post and was able to clear the ball off the line.
The Vancouver Whitecaps, and Sporting Kansas City for that matter, played an entertaining first half of football with end-to-end rushes, yet found themselves in a familiar place at the half. As has been the case far too often, the Whitecaps were unable to take advantage of their many first-half opportunities and ended up entering the break without a goal.
A second common thread throughout the Whitecaps’ season, and especially of late, was evident once again Sunday night with the Whitecaps coming out of the halftime break looking nothing like the team that played in the first half. Once again, this lethargic second half play cost the Whitecaps as a well-placed cross from Krisztian Nemeth, after a short corner kick, found the head of Kevin Ellis, and subsequently the back of the net, in the 52nd minute. Despite some increased urgency in their play, the Whitecaps were unable to find a late equalizer and fell to Sporting 1-0.
The Whitecaps now fall to 5-5-1 at home and there has to be a growing concern about the team’s inability to a) capitalize on their 1st half chances, b) string together multiple wins at home, and c) maintain their strong first half performances into the second half.
There were certainly some positives to take out of this game. I have heard from multiple sources that when MLS players are asked who they like to watch play, the answer is Vancouver Whitecaps. Despite the loss, the Whitecaps were once again very entertaining to their home fans. Now they just need to learn how to be entertaining AND win. Tim Parker also had a great game, being an offensive threat with several ‘almost’ goals and sound defensively, controlling the backline in conjunction with Kendall Waston. Speaking of Waston, what a battle with Dom Dwyer! It will be interesting to see how that battle plays out in the return match come August. It is important to note though that Waston needs to get away from the embellishment, as he fell to the ground as if he were shot. Finally, although he failed to score, Rivero showed once again why his contributions to the team extend far beyond putting the ball in the back of the net. Hopefully the goals will start coming again, but he has certainly been a well-rounded contributor to the team this season. It would be scary to be relying on guys like Eric Hurtado and Robert Earnshaw for the goals this season!
The Whitecaps are now set to renew their Cascadia Cup pursuit next weekend when they travel down to play the Portland Timbers!