Sporting Kansas City will rue its missed chances after a 1-0 defeat to the Vancouver Whitecaps in front of a sold out crowd at Children's Mercy Park crucial Western Conference matchup Saturday. Both teams had a player sent off in what turned out to be an ugly contest.
The game got off to a tense start as Whitecaps captain Kendall Waston brought down Dániel Allói on the edge of the box. But after a brief video review, it was ruled to be inside the box.
Diego Rubio’s forgetful first half started early as he stepped up and had his penalty saved by the left post.
Rubio went on to miss a point-blank header that was spectacularly saved by Whitecaps Stefan Marinovic. A few minutes later Rubio found the end of a Seth Sinovic cross but sliced the effort wide left. At the dying embers of the first half, Rubio headed a Graham Zusi cross down and into the hands of Marinovic.
“I had many chances to score but I didn’t. It hasn’t happened in a long time and it was the first time here [at home] … I want to take responsibility for today," Rubio said. "I should score every opportunity I have but today was a night that you can't put the ball in the net.”
The Whitecaps' best chance came after Nicolás Mezquida disposed Ilie Sánchez at midfield, but the Whitecaps could not convert as multiple Sporting KC defenders converged onto Mezquida.
Sporting KC had continuous possession throughout the first half, as it was clear from the start that the Whitecaps would get 11 men behind the ball and defend.
“I think the game was lost in the first 30 minutes,” coach Peter Vermes said. “We had some great opportunities and we have to stick them away. It not only gets you the goal but it changes the way [Vancouver] has to play.”
After a strong start to the second half, Sporting KC gave the ball away in the opposition half and within a small slew of passes, Erik Hurtado volleyed an over-the-top ball from Alphonso Davies into the back of the net.
The goal clearly took the wind out of Sporting KC's sails as it was unable to dominate possession like it did in the first 45 minutes.
“I think we were sleeping maybe on the play,” Vermes said. “We talked about that is the one thing they were going to do, put the ball over the top.”
The second half consisted of minimal chances and as the game drew on, tensions ran high. After a failed last-ditch challenge, Graham Zusi was given a red card and Sporting KC was reduced to 10 men, virtually putting an end to any sort of comeback.
Minutes later, Vancouver's Christian Bolaños was sent off for an aggressive push to Benny Feilhaber’s face right in front of the referee.
Both teams finished the contest with 10 men. When the final whistle blew, the Whitecaps sideline burst into celebration as the team had kept control of the top spot in the Western Conference with 51 points.
Sporting KC remains in a three-way tie for second place with 47 points and will now travel to Minnesota on Oct. 7th to play Minnesota United.