It was always going to be difficult to break down Sporting Kansas City during their home opener at the newly named Children's Mercy Park, but the Vancouver Whitecaps didn't do themselves any favours with a self-sabotaging performance on Saturday night.
There were a couple of minor changes of note before the match began: Kekuta Manneh took the place of the suspended Christian Bolanos, Jordan Smith took over the right back spot from Fraser Aird, and Deybi Flores got a shot at defensive mid ahead of Kianz Froese. As the game wore on it became apparent that none of the changes (apart from Manneh, who was OK) were anything close to positive.
The Whitecaps weren't slow to shoot themselves in the foot when in the 9th minute Flores had woeful giveaway scooped up and smashed home by Dom Dwyer. Flores did little to redeem himself as the match wore on, looking markedly less composed beside his holding mid partner Matias Laba.
Kekuta Manneh had the Whitecaps best (and only) clear-cut chance in the first half, sent through on goal by a brilliant through ball from Octavio Rivero, but Tim Melia came up with a big-time save.
A second Dom Dwyer goal came in the 41st minute when Graham Zusi got the better of Jordan Smith (one of several times) and then fired off the first of two consecutive crosses to put the entire Caps defense at sixes and sevens. There were acres of space for Dwyer to fire home a clinical finish.
If the two goals weren't enough to keep the Whitecaps down, Jordan Smith soon saw to that with a horrifically bad tackle on Graham Zusi in the dying embers of the first half. The flying lunge from behind resulted in a straight red, and for once it's hard to argue with the referee's decision. The tackle was mind-bogglingly stupid and Edvin Jurisevic had every right to reach for his back pocket.
The game seemed cut and dry from that point on. Fraser Aird and Kianz Froese both came on at half time to stem the bleeding, and were effective, but there was little going forward for the Caps for much of the second half. They did have a spark of hope in the 70th minute when Octavio Rivero was tripped by Tim Melia in the box. Pedro Morales stepped up and finished from the penalty spot.
After the goal, the Caps looked a little more lively (and Pedro Morales scored an absolutely beautiful phantom goal, which was called off for a preceding Kianz Froese foul) but ultimately Sporting Kansas City held on. It was a deserved win for KC, who are now 2-0 on the season (and against Cascadia opponents). Overall, Vancouver lacked the composure and defensive stability needed to get a result on the road and they paid the price.
5’ – SKC – Dom Dwyer
41’ – SKC – Dom Dwyer (Chance Myers, Graham Zusi)
70’ – VAN – Pedro Morales (PK)
36’ – VAN – Octavio Rivero
38’ – VAN – Kendall Waston
51’ – SKC – Jordi Quintilla
45’ + 1’ – VAN – Jordan Smith
1.David Ousted; 6.Jordan Smith, 4.Kendall Waston, 26.Tim Parker, 2.Jordan Harvey; 20.Deybi Flores (38.Kianz Froese HT), 15.Matías Laba (27.Blas Pérez 66’); 13.Cristian Techera (8.Fraser Aird HT), 77.Pedro Morales ©, 23.Kekuta Manneh; 29.Octavio Rivero
Substitutes not used
70.Paolo Tornaghi, 3.Sam Adekugbe, 9.Masato Kudo, 44.Pa-Modou Kah