There’s a plumpish lady in the corner clearing her throat. She’s waiting for the sign to stretch her vocal chords. That sign isn’t coming just yet, but she knows she won’t have to wait too much longer.
Vancouver Whitecaps trip to Sporting Kansas City already had massive implications in the Western Conference playoff race before San Jose’s surprising home loss to Houston on Friday night. The Earthquakes defeat had given the Whitecaps new hope. A win over KC and they were right back in the playoff mix, with eight games to go. But if Vancouver can’t help themselves, then it doesn’t really matter what those teams around them do.
Vancouver were never really at the races in KC, conceding yet another two goals in a 2-0 loss thanks to Jacob Peterson’s knee in the first half and a re-taken Benny Feilhaber penalty. That made it six games without a win for the Whitecaps and just one solitary goal (a meaningless stoppage time effort) now in 497 minutes of league football. Amazing.
We asked for changes and we pretty much got most of them.
Fraser Aird came in at right back, Matias Laba was left at home for one of the few players who gets pass marks the past few weeks, Andrew Jacobson, and Blas Perez started up front. Some positive changes, but what could they do in a tough environment? Very, very little as it turned out.
Vancouver started fine. They weren’t awful, which has been our benchmark the past month, so that was a start. But it was clear that KC were going to be making most of the early running.
The home side pressed and threatened but struggled to get any shots on target.
Brad Davis came closest to breaking the deadlock in the 19th minute, curling a beauty off the ‘Caps bar with David Ousted well beaten.
Graham Zusi was next to try his luck, bringing the ball down well before hitting a half volley into the side netting. before Davis had another chance, but blasted over from a good position.
You felt a goal was coming for Sporting and it surprisingly took them till the 39th minute to get it. A corner came to a free Nuno Coelho at the back of the box and his goalbound shot had a helping knee from Jacob Peterson to take it past Ousted and make it 1-0 KC.
Vancouver have looked a broken team as soon as they go a goal down, but they had to come out all guns blazing in the second half to try and save their season.
When Dom Dwyer cracked a shot from the edge of the box narrowly past the right post four minutes into the second half, you sensed the worst, but from nowhere, Vancouver suddenly found their groove, peppering the KC goal with chances.
Giles Barnes saw a header tipped over from under the bar by Alec Kann in the 50th minute and the Whitecaps kept the pressure on with Andrew Jacobson playing a dangerous shot-come-cross into the six yard box, before Kendall Waston brought another strong save out of Kann, with a header from another corner.
But still no way through.
And it looked like they would be made to pay as the home side immediately turned up the pressure again and had a few close calls of their own.
Then a few minutes that summed up Vancouver’s season in a nutshell.
Peterson tears into the box, Aird gets to the ball first but also sends the KC man crashing and referee Kevin Stott points to spot. Benny Feilhaber steps up, hits a horrible penalty after a stutter step, David Ousted saves, but the linesman’s flag goes up as Ousted was a few yards off his line with the stop. The penalty is retaken, hit horribly again, but creeps in past Ousted, who gets a hand on it.
2-0 KC. Game over. Season over?
A fumble by Ousted nearly let Davis make it three with 15 minutes to go, but the Dane made amends. And he came up big again in the closing minutes to tip a dipping Peterson effort, who was outstanding for KC on the night.
It seems that the Whitecaps always seem to concede two these days Trouble is Vancouver don’t even look like scoring one, never mind the three they then need to get the win.
Absolutely shocking is a polite way to describe the Whitecaps form over the last three months. There’s eight games left. Stranger things have happened, but it’s all about building for next season and who wants to be here for the right reasons and who deserves to be here.
On recent form, that’s a pretty low number we’re looking at.
FINAL SCORE: Sporting Kansas City 2 – 0 Vancouver Whitecaps
KANSAS: Alec Kann; Graham Zusi, Kevin Ellis, Matt Besler Jimmy Medranda (Saad Abdul-Salaam 70), Benny Feilhaber, Nuno Coelho (Soni Mustivar 46), Roger Espinoza; Jacob Peterson, Dominic Dwyer, Brad Davis [Subs Not Used: Jon Kempin, Paulo Nagamura, Connor Hallisey, Emmanuel Appiah, Diego Rubio]
VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Fraser Aird, David Edgar, Kendall Waston, Marcel de Jong; Andrew Jacobson (Russell Teibert 77), Pedro Morales; Christian Bolaños, Nicolás Mezquida (Alphonso Davies 68), Giles Barnes; Blas Pérez (Cristian Techera 69) [Subs Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Jordan Smith, Tim Parker, Masato Kudo]
Overall thoughts on the match…
“It was a good game of football today. It was a super atmosphere here today, we know that. We knew it was going to be a tough game. We weathered the storm for 20+ minutes and then we got into a period of the game where we were probably having the better of the play. We switched off on the set piece, which obviously gave them the first goal.”
Thoughts on the penalty call…
“I think it’s a penalty, I think he’s right to give him a penalty. But I got told then that he moved off his line and that he wanted to follow the letter of the law, which if you follow the letter of the law, there was a player in the first half that should have gotten two yellow cards, so you can’t follow the letter of the law when you want to and not when you want. If you’re doing that, then every game will have two penalties taken because the keepers will move off their lines.”
On the momentum in the second half…
“If you look at the momentum of the second half, the first 15 minutes we had two or three decent set pieces that were cleared off the line. We were on top, yes they were creating one or two chances on the break and then the penalty so if the penalty doesn’t go in, we’re still creating the momentum. Last week, we got caught on Friday against San Jose with a goal that clearly they said shouldn’t be. You have to be right in these decision, but at the moment, we’re getting the rub of the green, but they’re not being corrected in calls.”
On lack of chances lately…
“I think we had a number of shots today, we didn’t really test the keeper as much as I’d like, but there wasn’t that many in the game. The first goal in every game is crucial, obviously they get the first goal from a lack of concentration from us. We just got to roll our sleeves up and we got to fight and we got to stick together and the boys will. If they work as hard as they can, like they did today and with a little bit of luck we’ll be fine.”
On turning around to play Sporting KC at home on Tuesday…
“It’s a great thing that we play Tuesday against a great team, we know that. We lost an opportunity to get points on the board today and we didn’t score a goal. If you’re not going to score goals, you’re not going to win games. So, we need to address that, whether it’s personnel change or a system change, we will, but we just got to get back to work.”
Thoughts on the match…
“I think we did well in periods of the game. I thought we tried to bring a good game to KC, but at the day, it’s the details that got us; a set piece goal and a penalty. Overall, I think we didn’t deserve to win today. I thought we did well, but they were stronger in those moments.”
On the penalty kick…
“Benny [Feilhaber] steps up to it and he stops like I know he does, but he stops completely. I obviously reacted to the way he runs up to it. So I step and dive and he puts it in to my path. And then he calls me for being off the line. I believe I am a little off the line, but the thing is if Benny gets a chance to stop completely then I have no chance to not react to it. I think it’s a bad call but there is nothing we can do about it now. At the end of the day, I don’t know how much it influenced the result. If we get that call in our advantage, we might be able to go in and get a 1-1, but it was not to be.”
On the violation that led Sporting KC retaking the penalty kick…
“The goalkeeper left the line before the kicker touched the ball.”
On the argument from the Vancouver goalkeeper in opposition to the call…
“He wanted clarification on the Laws of the Game.”
On if the center referee and assistant referee discussed whether or not Benny Feilhaber stopped completely during his run-up.
(Follow-up) On the clarification requested and on which law…
“The clarification was, is he permitted to leave the goal line if the kicker stutter steps – Law XIV.”
SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Thought on the match…
“I thought our approach was great. I thought our energy was excellent in the game. When you look at how we were attacking, especially down the left side, I think that’s one of the reasons Jimmy [Medranda] ran out of gas because he went forward so many times in the first half. Credit to the guys. We came in with a very specific game plan and you could tell by the lineup out there, how we had changed things around. They executed very well in the game. The biggest thing was the energy level. The energy level was tremendous and it’s not like the other team was dealing with heat or anything because it was a nice night. For us to be fitter than they were was big time for us.”
On how tonight’s win sets the team up for Tuesday…
“It’s a combination of things. It’s two different situations. The first is these were huge points for us tonight for League play, so that part was very important. I think going in to Tuesday, it’s obvious there are a lot of guys that played tonight that probably won’t play on Tuesday because of the short turnaround and the travel. So what we’ll have to do there is we’ll have to go in with another game plan. We know they have an excellent team. They are always very good on the counter and it’s something we will have to be very aware of going in to their place. We will take inventory of the guys tonight and tomorrow, put a group together to travel on Monday and try to get a result on Tuesday.”
On Jacob Peterson’s performance…
“I told him that his best play was his tackle on Giles [Barnes] late in the game when he stole the ball at midfield. I always say about Jake, he is one of the honest guys on both sides of the ball. He was unlucky a couple times, especially late when he hit that one to the far post and the goalkeeper tipped it over. It was actually a great save. His movement off the ball is always good. If I have to say two of the guys who I thought were big time in the game, Kevin Ellis was one and the other was [Graham] Zusi, for me putting him in two positions that he doesn’t play on a regular basis, he was outstanding.”
On the penalty kick…
“I thought [David] Ousted was going to my left at first and I think it threw me off. I think he moved forward, from what the guys said, but I don’t think he moved side to side too much. He made it tougher on me. I shanked the first one, to be honest and thankfully I got a second opportunity and just tried to kick it a little bit harder, so if he did guess, which he guessed right again, I could put a little more steam on it.”
On the team’s urgency…
“Every game at home, we feel very much a sense of responsibility to get three points. Where we are in the table, we have played more games than other teams. We need to continue to get those points. I think 46-47 points will probably put you in the playoffs, but having said that, we’ve finished in fifth or sixth in the last two years. We want to make sure we get one of those home games so getting to that third or fourth spot would be big as well. It’s important to win at home. We’ve had that mentality and hopefully we can to do that toward the end of the season and pick up some results on the road again and put ourselves in a good position.”
Thoughts on the match…
“It was important for us to get a goal in the first half. We had a lot of set pieces, a lot of maybe not great, clear cut chances, but we were in and around their box. I thought it was important, especially a team like that who is really good on the counter, they like to sit back and counter, so I think it was really important to get that goal. In the second half, I thought we did a really good job to finish off the game and get another one.”
On how tonight’s win sets the team up for Tuesday’s CCL match…
“They are two very different games. In this League, on any given day teams can beat each other. There is a lot of parity. It’s more of us having the right mindset heading in to the Tuesday game. I’m sure there will be changes on both teams, but whoever is selected has to make sure they show up and put in another good performance.”