A pair of newcomers provided the decisive tallies in a 3-1 victory for Sporting Kansas City over the Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place, as Alan Pulido and Gadi Kinda each netted in their club debuts before ex-Whitecap Erik Hurtado added the insurance in second-half stoppage time.
Sporting broke through first on a 17th minute header by big-money forward Pulido — the top scorer in Liga MX with Chivas Guadalajara last season — who bravely lunged for the ball and directed it off the left post for his first MLS goal.
After a nervy start, the Whitecaps reacted to going down and poured forward. Minutes after a rip from Russell Teibert was telegraphed to the goalkeeper, Vancouver equalized in the 28th minute on a sensational run by new arrival David Milinkovic. The Hull City loanee dribbled his way to the end line and delivered a ball on a silver platter to right back Jake Nerwinski, who was crashing the far post and tapped it home.
But Sporting KC regained the lead on a jaw-dropping, first-time strike by Kinda, who drilled a shot in spectacular fashion into the top left corner of the goal.
The Whitecaps were unfortunate not to even the score before the break when center forward Lucas Cavallini slammed the ball against the base of the post in the 43rd minute. And then Cavallini nearly found another equalizer just three minutes before full time, but SKC goalkeeper Tim Melia came off his line to stuff the attempt from the Canadian international.
Hurtado rounded out the score against his ex-team five minutes into second-half stoppage, volleying home a lofted cross from Gerso Fernandes, who pulled off a nifty spin move to free himself into space and make the delivery.
- 17' - SKC - Alan Pulido | WATCH
- 28' - VAN - Jake Nerwinski | WATCH
- 39' - SKC - Gadi Kinda | WATCH
- 90'+5 - SKC - Erik Hurtado | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: Sporting couldn’t have asked for a better start to 2020 after a dismal season last year that saw them miss the playoffs for the first time after eight straight seasons, earning a road victory against a Western Conference foe. Looking past the result, it’s the performance from the new signings that is sure to have SKC fans dreaming big. The match felt very much like a typical 2019 performance for Vancouver, but there's room to grow on the backs of Milinkovic and Cavallini, who showed they can be forces in MLS.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Just when it looked like the Whitecaps were ready to seize the momentum of the match, Kinda came up with a moment of magic that left the ‘Caps and the home crowd dazed.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: It’s got to be Kinda, who was active and influential throughout the match. His game, with bursts of skill and speed, looks to be a perfect fit for the system employed by Peter Vermes. Now, he just has to show he can do it for a whole season.
- SKC: Saturday, March 7 vs. Houston Dynamo (8:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+, on DAZN in Canada)
- VAN: Saturday, March 7 vs. LA Galaxy (10 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US, TSN 1/4 in Canada)