Report and Reaction: Defending, discipline and a Dom Dwyer double do the damage as Vancouver Whitecaps fall to Sporting KC

Report and Reaction: Defending, discipline and a Dom Dwyer double do the damage as Vancouver Whitecaps fall to Sporting KC

Last season’s late capitulation in a 4-3 loss at Sporting Kansas City was a game to forget. But at least there were a number of positives to take from it. Vancouver returned to Kansas and were hit by a tornado of terrible defending and poor discipline as they fell to their first pointless start after two games in their six years of MLS play.

Here’s our recap and full post-game reaction from both locker room’s from Vancouver 2-1 defeat to Sporting KC.


Vancouver Whitecaps 2016 season went from bad to worse at Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night, after a terrible defensive display and a lack of composure saw the ‘Caps fall to a 2-1 loss and play over a half of the game with ten men.

A first half Dom Dwyer double did the damage, but so did the Whitecaps defending and discipline, with Jordan Smith seeing a straight red just before half time. Pedro Morales scored a second half penalty as the ‘Caps fought back, but they couldn’t find a second and remain looking for their first points of the season.

With Christian Bolanos suspended, ‘Caps coach Carl Robinson gave Kekuta Manneh his first start of the season but the bigger surprises saw Fraser Aird drop to the bench for Jordan Smith at right back, and the even bigger shock of Deybi Flores coming in for Kianz Froese, who was one of Vancouver’s better players in the loss to Montreal. Brave decisions, but they would prove to be costly ones.

It didn’t take long for the new look ‘Caps side to be given their first test in the 5th minute and they failed it pretty badly when Flores’ poor control sent the ball into the path of Dom Dwyer and the KC striker unleashed a fierce 25 yard effort that beat David Ousted all ends up and crashed into the net off the bar.

With how well Froese had played last week (94% pass completion), pulling him for Flores was always going to have Robinson under scrutiny and the young Honduran’s giveaway certainly didn’t help.

Vancouver had a half chance to tie things back up right away but Kekuta Manneh’s effort went wide, and the Gambian squandered a gilt-edged opportunity to level things in the 20th minute when Octavio Rivero’s perfect through ball left him one on one with Tim Melia but once again Manneh couldn’t finish such a chance and the KC ‘keeper was out quick to smother the danger.

Which was more horrendous a miss – San Jose last year or this one? Lots to argue for both of them, but both really poor and these one on one fluffs are starting to be a frustratingly common aspect of his game.

The game was pretty even, but the home side grabbed their crucial second in the 41st minute in a well worked move that saw Chance Myers play a first time ball from Graham Zusi across goal to the back post and Dwyer easily slotted home under Ousted to double KC’s lead.

It was a nice move that left the ‘Caps defence watching, with no apparent tracking of Myers’ run, and the visitors now faced a huge uphill battle to get anything from this one.

And that task was made nigh on impossible on the stroke of half time when Smith picked up a stupid red card for a reckless tackle from behind on Zusi. The Costa Rican’s game is a bit wild at the best of times but as the KC midfielder was heading away from him, his lunge left referee Edvin Jurisevic with no alternative than to send him packing.

It was an all round clusterfuck of a half for the ‘Caps and Robinson rang the changes for the second, bringing on Aird and Froese.

The teams started the second half fairly even, but KC were looking comfortable, even with Manneh forcing a 58th minute save out of Melia.

The home side pushed and Dwyer had a couple of chances to complete his hat-trick before Zusi fired narrowly over.

The Whitecaps were thrown an unexpected lifeline in the 70th minute when Pedro Morales pulled one back from the spot after Rivero had been brought down in the box by Melia after he got on the end of a perfect pass from Harvey.

Morales had the ball in the net minutes later but seconds after Froese was blown for a foul. That was the closest either team were to get to adding to the scoring.

KC held out comfortably for the win, keeping their 100% start to the season and leaving Vancouver pointless after two games.

With a tough trip down the road against the even more pointless Seattle next Saturday, the ‘Caps are going to need to regroup quickly and try and sort out just what is wrong with the defensive side of their game. It’s looking a shambles and was the solid core upon which the Whitecaps built last year’s success.

There’s still a long, long way to go of course, and Robinson was wanting to be hitting form in the latter part of the year rather than off the bat, but it is concerning. Onwards and upwards I guess.

FINAL SCORE: Sporting Kansas City 2 – 1 Vancouver Whitecaps

ATT: 20,178

KANSAS CITY: Tim Melia; Chance Myers (Saad Abdul-Salaam 83), Nuno Coelho, Matt Besler, Amadou Dia; Soni Mustivar, Roger Espinoza, Connor Hallisey (Brad Davis 77), Jordi Quintilla (Jimmy Medranda 76), Graham Zusi; Dom Dwyer [Subs Not Used: Alec Kann, Kevin Ellis, Lawrence Olum, Daniel Salloi]

VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Jordan Smith, Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey; Matias Laba (Blas Perez 67), Deybi Flores (Kianz Froese 46), Cristian Techera (Fraser Aird 46), Pedro Morales, Kekuta Manneh; Octavio Rivero [Subs Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Sam Adekugbe, Pa Modou Kah, Masato Kudo]




On Dwyer’s early goal:

It was a super goal. Wasn’t it? It was a fantastic strike by him. Goals change games unfortunately for us and we were on the wrong end today especially in the first half. We started well. We gave away a bad goal. It was a great finish by him. It was a mistake by us. We don’t take our chances and then we see suddenly the game changes.

On playing down a man:

The character and the pride they should have for the second half is outstanding. That doesn’t surprise me with the group in there. Disappointed that they didn’t get anything out of the game but we gave ourselves a mountain to climb in the first half and down to 10 men as well. But they should be proud of the second half. But, you don’t get pats on the back, you want points.

On defensive organization:

We give away a bad goal. They tried to switch the play and they caught us two or three times. But I think it was a fairly even half, they took the chances, we didn’t. They’re a good team. You’re going to come up against good teams and you have to take your chances and we didn’t.

On Sporting KC’s second goal:

It was a switch of play. I think the fullback overlapped and pulled the ball back and we switched off a little bit when it got crossed. But we could stop that and we didn’t. Again it was a good goal, but we need to get back to the drawing board to stop those.

On physicality of the match:

It’s soccer, it’s a physical game. Sometimes you get caught up in the emotion. The crowd here is obviously fantastic as we know and it’s good and they get behind the home team and they sway decisions for the home team, which is right. That’s what their supposed to do.


On tonight’s result:

I thought out levels dropped too low in the first half, that’s what killed us today. I thought we showed character in the second half giving them a game and being tough to play against but not the result we were looking for.

On conceding a goal in the first five minutes:

Coming to KC is a difficult place to play and if you give a goal away in the first five minutes it’s uphill from there. We need to learn from this. We need to know the urgency has to be with the team from minute one. We can’t start the half like that; we’ve done it twice now. So it’s a learning curve, but we need to improve.

On playing down a man:

It shows that this team has character. It shows this team has the fight in it. Unfortunately it needed a red card for it to come out. We need to show that from minute one and if we do that I know there is victories out there for us. That urgency that I’m talking about, it needs to be with the team from minute one.

Takeaways from the game:

We showed that even with 10 men we could be dangerous. I thought Blas [Perez] did well coming in. He’s a menace in there and he’s tough to play against. I thought Kianz [Froese] came in with confidence and then wanted to keep the ball, which is a positive. It’s still early, there is still a lot to look forward to and still a lot of games, so we’ll bounce back.

On Cascadia rival matchup next:

I think it’s fine. We love those games and that might give us that urgency we’re looking for coming into a Cascadia Cup game and wanting to win that for the fans but also for ourselves.



On being a man up going into halftime for the second week in a row:

Obviously we scored two goals prior to the first half. I think we got the right card. I mean that’s the difference in the game last week and this week. I actually thought we handled the ball a lot better in this game than we did the last one, and I’m talking after we got the man advantage. But I thought our first half was completely different — just night and day — from last week. We were very dynamic, our timing was excellent, our movement off the ball and then our recovery when we lost it was all tremendous. Then the crowd was fantastic, and the environment they created for the players and the connection between the two was fantastic.

On his thoughts on Sporting KC’s first half, with both teams fully manned:

I mean, two games in I would say it’s the best half we’ve played this year. I think it was extremely dynamic. We talked about our possession and how important it was. They’re a very good team. They’re a great counter attack team, and so it’s important you don’t lose the ball in very dangerous areas of the field, and I thought tonight we were very good at that. The other thing we talked about was trying to win the ball back quickly and I think we did that really well. Our commitment was terrific, and I thought we were patient, as well. But, you know, Dom scores a cracker on the first one — world class goal. And then the build up for the second one was just tremendous. The timing all the way around from everybody was big time.

On how the defense felt in the 15 minutes before and after the penalty kick that led to Vancouver’s goal:

I told the guys when they went out in the second half that I wanted them to let them come out just a little bit, and then we could start to press them. What happened was that I think they dropped more guys behind the ball and basically became two lines, and it was hard to get instructions out. So it’s more on me. The guys were solid tonight. Another person that had a really good game was Connor Hallisey. He was all over the field. I think this is one of the best games that he’s played with us thus far, so all in all, I think it was a great performance by the guys.

On what makes Roger Espinoza so great:

He’s the Honduran train. The guy works, man. He just keeps going. And it’s hard for players because he just never stops. When guys are taking rests, he’s still going. He’s also very strong, which I think in the end since this is a very physical league, you have to be a man on the field — you can’t be a little boy. He’s definitely a man. He’s been through it. The last two games he’s been big for us in the middle of the park. He’s the Honduran train. He gets it done.

On the progression of Jordi Quintilla and Connor Hallisey from game one to game two:

I thought the guys both played well. Like I said, I think Connor had his best game for us tonight. On both sides of the ball he was just very locked in. He understood his role and he was good. And then Jordi… Game after game he just gets better and better with us — not necessarily because he’s getting better as player, but he’s getting a better understanding of the league and us. He was only here six months last year, but his progression has been great.

On Brad Davis making his debut:

It was good to get him out there. It was good to get his feet wet with the team. Just like the rest of the players, it’s going to be a progression to get them back out there because we have to make sure we have the full selection of players when the time comes.

On what he thinks the team has improved on most since the last match:

I thought our reaction to recover the ball after we lost it was tremendous in the first half. I also think our hunger to get in and around the box was much different than last week.

On what he hopes the team will improve on most before the next match:

I’m a big believer in that you have to know how to manage games and close them out, and I’d love to keep getting better in that area, but that takes a little time, especially when you add new players to the team. It’s definitely a process. The thing that’s good about this group of guys is that they understand that we have work to do each week and we’re going to do it and try to take another step forward as time goes on.


On getting on the board this season:

It was a good day. We came out and we got three points, and I think there was a nice burst tonight. The crowd was right behind us and it was goosebumps again coming out tonight. It’s been awhile, so it’s nice to get back out there, and I think we have nice momentum going into next week.

On how he sets up his shots:

The first one was good pressure in the middle and every time we lost the ball, we pressed hard. When they gave it away we had a little counter. And when you don’t shoot, you don’t score. So I thought I’d have a hit, and I hit all right and it went in. The second one was just great build up. To me, that was a better goal. It was fantastic build up Zusi and Chance and the other guys in the middle, and it was just a fantastic team goal.


On the penalty kick:

I did touch the ball. I didn’t get a huge chunk of it, but it hit off the top of my left hand. My momentum carried through the player, but I’ll have to see the replay to know if it was good decision or not.

On whether or not he thought Octavio Rivero was offside:

He seemed like he had a lot of space. I didn’t look over at the flag. You can’t do that. It’s just a wasted second by turning your head. I just wanted to see where his first touch was going to go. He took a little bit of a longer tough, which allowed me to gobble up some ground, try to get in front of him and make myself as big as I can.


On playing in his first regular season game with Sporting KC:

It felt great. First and foremost I think the team played a great games and scored two beautiful goals. The atmosphere just like I thought it was going to be was amazing. It’s a pretty special place to play in front of. Overall I thought it was a great first night and a great few minutes and hopefully I can grow on that.

On the cheers around the stadium when he came into the game:

I had a couple guys tell me that’s the loudest ovations they’ve heard since their time here. It’s pretty awesome. It makes me fell welcome and feel special. I look forward to going out and working my tail off and trying to give them back as much joy as possible.

On how he feels coming off an injury:

I think it was a good first 20 minutes or so. I felt good — no problems. I felt comfortable. So overall I thought the energy was good and my body felt good, and I’m looking forward to getting back into it next Sunday at home.

Authored by: Michael McColl

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