VANCOUVER, B.C. – A pair of first half goals saw the Vancouver Whitecaps return to form at BC Place on Sunday evening with a comfortable 2-0 win over Sporting Kansas City.
A first half own goal from Igor Juliao set the hosts on their way and Darren Mattocks added the vital second six minutes before half time. Vancouver could even afford the luxury of a late penalty miss as they recorded their sixth clean sheet of the season and remain unbeaten against Eastern Conference opposition this season.
Sporting’s defense wasn’t so solid at their next test, when Juliao and Gruenebaum got their wires crossed in the 17th minute. Pedro Morales hit a long, speculative ball forward that Juliao headed past the on-rushing Gruenebaum and into the empty net.
Vancouver's issue in recent games has been blown leads after failing to get the crucial second goal. It was a mistake they were keen not to repeat and this time they doubled their advantage in the 39th minute.
Morales picked off a hospital ball from Matt Besler, then broke quickly up the middle for a two-on-one with Mattocks. The Chilean centered the ball and Mattocks made no mistake.
Vancouver nearly added a third just before half time but once again Collin was on hand in the nick of time to clear Sebastian Fernandez's low trickler off the line.
Sporting KC looked livelier in the second half, but both teams struggled to create any real chances.
Mattocks had a chance to grab his second of the night with a late penalty, after Collin was judged to have pulled down Omar Salgado in the box. But Sporting ‘keeper Jon Kempin, making his MLS debut after coming on for the injured Gruenebaum at the half, got a hand to the shot to push it off the post and out.
The win moves Vancouver (7-4-11; 32 points) back into the playoff places in the West, jumping over Colorado and Portland into 5th place and with a game in hand over their rivals. Despite the loss, Sporting Kansas City (11-6-6; 39 points) remain at the top of the Eastern Conference standings, two points ahead of D.C. United but having played a game more.
Vancouver will now head to Carson, California for their next two matches, starting with Saturday's game at bottom placed Chivas USA. Sporting KC return home next weekend to host an all-Eastern clash with Toronto FC on Saturday.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
Torched Sporting’s midfield all night, and that’s not an easy thing to do. Beautiful assist on the goal that made it 2-0..
|2||Matias Laba||Is there a more underrated player in the league? He's basically Ozzie Alonso with less pub. Simply flawless tonight.|
The goal was the highlight of a night filled with dangerous runs that gave Sporting’s defense all sorts of problems. Could have had a second on a penalty, but for a fantastic save from MLS debutant Jon Kempin.