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Sporting KC

Everyone ends up frustrated in Cascadia as Sporting Kansas City and Vancouver Whitecaps end in a 1-1 draw.

Sporting Kansas City concede a late penalty kick to drop two points away from home, despite a beautiful Alan Pulido goal.



Alan Pulido scored for SKC | Credit: Sporting Kansas City

After a scorching hot May that potentially turned the season around, Sporting Kansas City traveled to the hometown of Wrexham AFC owner, Ryan Reynolds (Go Conrad & Beasley United!) to take one the Vancouver Whitecaps. gave the home side a 55% chance of winning the match, with the visitors being given a 20% chance of taking all three points. The sides were given a 25% chance of splitting the points with a draw.

Sporting KC was missing Graham Zusi, Johnny Russell, and Danny Rosero but otherwise ran out the same lineup that started the midweek match against the Dallas Burn…err FC Dallas. Sporting started the match in their indigo away kit with mismatched shorts – a sartorial quirk that surely has Chad Reynolds sighing deeply.

First Half

The match started with Vancouver earning a throw in deep into Sporting KC territory. A long throw from Luis Martins created an early opportunity for the Whitecaps to do damage but was cleared away by the Sporting defense. Sporting KC settled into the match and looked to unlock a tight Vancouver defense. In the 7th minute Robert Castellanos had his pocket picked by Sergio Cordova after a very sloppy bit of possession. He yanked the striker down and earned a yellow card. The center official was called over for a VAR check for denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity. Fortunately for the visitors, the original call of a yellow card stood and Vancouver’s set piece delivery drifted safely into the hands of Kendall McIntosh.

Julian Gressel, Vancouver’s excellent wide midfielder/winger, took a shot at McIntosh from distance in the 13th minute but his shot barely challenged the Sporting keeper. Sporting finally got a shot on goal moments later with a weak shot by Alan Pulido that slowly rolled into the arms of Vancouver’s keeper. Sporting again challenged the Whitecaps defense when Logan Ndenbe made a marauding run in the 18th minute before attempting to pick out a low cross to Alan Pulido. The final ball was missing but Sporting was able to turn the ‘Caps over to regain possession. Ndenbe missed another pass into the box, this time to Daniel Salloi before Vancouver was able to clear their lines and force Sporting to regroup.

A well earned corner led to a set piece in the 20th minute. Erik Tommy delivered a great outswinging corner kick to the near post. Alan Pulido met it at the apex and hit a looping header into the far corner of the net, past the onlooking Yohei Takaoka. 1-0 Kansas City.

Vancouver earned a corner of their own in the 24th minute. The initial ball was punched by McIntosh but Ryan Gauld struck the ball on a half volley from outside the box. It took a deflection off of a Sporting KC player and rolled past the wrong-footed McIntosh. There was initially confusion on the field whether the goal counted or not. After celebrations, the goal was waived off for offside with no need for VAR. The Vancouver faithful became rowdy and the ‘Caps continued to chase the 1 goal deficit.

The game settled into a comfortable back and forth until the 35th minute when Jake Davis was bodied off the ball by Pedro Vite who crossed the ball into the Sporting KC six-yard box. Kendall McIntosh rose to pluck the ball out of the air and end the attack. Sporting attacked down the right flank and Vancouver won the ball. However, during their attempt to play out of the back, Sporting forced a turnover in the attacking half and earned a corner. After a couple of attempts at a cross, Logan Ndenbe took a long shot from outside the box that took a deflection and earned another corner kick for the visitors.

Alan Puldio was chopped down in the 39th minute by Brian White who earned a yellow for his late, reckless challenge. At the same time, Logan Ndenbe went down and needed medical attention. He limped off the pitch and was replaced by Tim Leibold in the 42nd minute. Shortly after, Jake Davis slipped again and allowed Vancouver to launch another dangerous cross into the box. Fortunately for Sporting KC it did not find anyone in a white shirt and was cleared away. The fourth official announced eight minutes of stoppage time as Sporting attempted to kill off the first half to enter the break with a lead.

In the 45th + 5 minutes of stoppage time, Vancouver created absolute chaos in the box. Nemanja Radoja fouled a Whitecap in a dangerous position outside the box creating a dangerous set piece. McIntosh was called on to defend the goal as Vancouver piled on the pressure heading into halftime. Sporting ended up easing the pressure after Vancouver was called for offside. The final play of the half was a long throw from Luis Martins that ended up being cleared …sideways…? Before Vancouver could pounce on the loose ball, the whistle blew and the Fighting Poutines were left to regroup in the locker room.

After scoring six goals midweek the Whitecaps were held to .09 xG in the first half while Sporting was held to only .13 xG. In the halftime substitution window, Peter Vermes substituted Robert Voloder in place of Andreu Fontas.

Second Half

Sporting earned consecutive corner kicks early in the second half. On the second, Robert Voloder earned a clean look at the goal but pushed his header high. Sporting largely stifled the Whitecaps in the first 10 minutes of the second half. In the 55th minute Alan Pulido was stomped on his heel by Julian Gressel and went down in a heap. Sporting’s Designated Player was able to continue and Vancouver continued to ask questions of the Sporting KC defense. Those questions raised the collective blood pressure of Kansas City fans in the 60th minute when a Pulido turnover in the midfield led to a Vancouver counter attack that ended with Brian White uncorking a shot that clanged off the post.

In the 63rd minute, Tristan Blackmon picked up a booking for a late challenge on Robert Voloder. The card was initially attributed to Andres Cubas but was corrected officially a few minutes later. The Whitecaps made their first substitution in the 66th minute when Austrian midfielder Alessandro Schopf was inserted into the match in place of Mathias Laborda. Another dangerous cross from the home side skipped all the way through the six yard box and was cleared before the offside flag finally came up. Almost immediately after, the Whitecaps played a beautiful ball into the box that created havoc between the centerbacks. Kendall McIntosh was quick of his line to scoop up the ball before Vancouver could pounce on it. In the 69th minute, Andres Cubas hacked down Marinos Tzionis and earned a yellow for his efforts. Peter Vermes went to the bench in the 71st minute for a double switch. Gadi Kinda subbed in for Alan Pulido and Khiry Shelton relieved Marinos Tzionis.

Vancouver continued looking for their equalizer as the match entered the final 15 minutes. Robert Voloder flew into a sliding tackle that disrupted play enough to keep the clean sheet for Kansas City. Another bad turnover in the midfield, this time from Nemanja Radoja led to another attack from Julian Gressel. Gressel, known for his delivery from wide positions overshot his target and the ball rolled out for a goal kick.

In the 76th minute, Vanni Sartini made a double substitution replacing Andres Cubas with Colombian winger, Deiber Caicedo , and striker Sergio Cordova with Simon Becher.

Gadi Kinda attempted to enter the chat with a long range strike that looked just dangerous enough to pique your curiosity but ultimately skipped wide. Not long after, Robert Voloder decided to take a curious jog up the pitch with the ball in the 78th minute before drawing a foul and a yellow card on Scottish midfielder, Ryan Gauld. The cards started coming fast and furious when Gadi Kinda was booked for a foul on Gressel almost immediately after Gauld earned his booking.

With 10 minutes left in the match, Gressel rocketed a corner towards the near post. Jake Davis’ headed clearance only made it as far as Ryan Gauld at the top of the box but his volley attempt was launched into the 17th row behind goal.

Robert Voloder continued to play with fire with a slide tackle on Deiber Caicedo in the box. From the replays it looked like he failed to make contact with the ball before taking Caicedo down. For the second time the VAR official called the center ref to the monitor and Vancouver was correctly awarded a penalty kick and a chance to level the game late.

Ryan Gauld stepped up to the spot and calmly spotted it home past Kendal McIntosh with a blast into the top left corner. In the 88th minute it was all square at 1-1.

Both sides made changes in the 90th minute with Roger Espinoza replacing Erik Thommy and Sebastian Berhalter replacing Pedro Vite. The fourth official held up the board indicating that Sporting KC would need to hold firm for seven minutes to earn a result on the road. Daniel Salloi put in a tasty ball to the far post which found Gadi Kinda’s head but it was pushed wide right.

Kendall McIntosh picked up a yellow in the 5th minute of stoppage time for his use of the dark arts (time wasting). Vancouver smelled blood in the water and continued push numbers forward as stoppage time rolled into the last minute. Their efforts were continually frustrated by a compact Sporting KC defense. McIntosh made a sloppy turnover just outside of his box that led to one of the best chances of the night for Vancouver. On the final play of the game, Caicedo’s shot flew over the crossbar and the night ended in a 1-1 draw.

Overall, both teams walked away with a point after a gritty, and frankly ugly, match. Sporting will feel like they dropped three points and Vancouver will feel hard done by the officials and the stout Kansas City defense.

Kansas City has a small bit of fixture relief as Major League Soccer chose to finally give them a break and skip a midweek game. Sporting will host Austin FC next Saturday at Children’s Mercy Park. They finish the night in 12th place, tied with Portland with 17 points but behind on goal differential. Sporting is two points out of 8th place and three points out of 7th.

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