Vancouver Whitecaps needed a last gasp Ryan Gauld penalty to salvage a point against Sporting Kansas City at BC Place on Saturday night, cancelling out a superb Alan Pulido that have given the visitors a 20th minute lead. But it will be video review that will dominate a lot of the postgame chatter after several big talking points in the match.
Vanni Sartini made two changes to the team that came away with the big win over Houston midweek, with Sergio Cordova tasked to lead the line in what was, arguably on paper, the ‘Caps strongest starting XI.
The main talking point of the opening spell of the game came in 7th minute when Robert Castellanos received a yellow card for a foul on Cordova. Referee Lukasz Szpala was called over for a video review and a possible red for the denial of a goalscoring opportunity, which he rightly agreed was not the case. Why that was in doubt wasn’t to be the last baffling decision from the officials on the night.
Sporting KC were looking the better side and they got the breakthrough in the 20th minute.
The visitors won a corner on the right, which Erik Thommy sent in to the near post for Pulido to meet and the Mexican rose superbly to loop a header over Yohei Takaoka to the far post and it was 1-0.
Alan Pulido off the corner! 🤩
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) June 4, 2023
KC’s lead looked like it lasted less than four minutes when Ryan Gauld rifled a long ranger home with the aid of a deflection. The linesman put his flag up for offside on Tristan Blackmon, who was nowhere near the play or interfering with KC goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh, but not video review was instigated and the goal was waved off, with an offside Blackmon deemed to have been interfering with defender Castellanos’ ability to get out to block the chance.
The decision seemed to knock the wind out of the Whitecaps for a spell but they rallied and finished the half strong, with the best chance coming from Cordova deep into stoppage time as his goalbound header was superbly turned away by McIntosh.
It was a slow start to the second half from both teams, but the Whitecaps can within the width of the left post to getting back on level terms on the hour mark.
Andres Cubas stripped Pulido off the ball, playing it forward to Gauld. The Scot played a neat touch outside to Brian White, who hit his shot well but could only look on in anguish as it crashed off the woodwork.
The Whitecaps were making all the running, with White looking lively but the final balls and clear cut chances were just lacking. KC meanwhile seemed content to settle for their one goal lead as the match felt like it was just plodding along.
The Whitecaps finally got the breakthrough their play deserved in the 88th minute, but it was also not without refereeing input.
Deiber Caicedo was sent crashing to the deck from a tackle by Robert Volodor. Referee Szpala initially pointed for a corner, to the disbelief of Caicedo and the anger of the Whitecaps bench, which saw Sartini pick up a yellow card. Szpala was called over though to review the play and once he saw the clear contact he pointed to the spot and Vancouver had their first penalty of the year, which Gauld blasted home to tie things up.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) June 4, 2023
The drama wasn’t over, however. KC’s Daniel Salloi sent a fantastic ball to the back post towards Gadi Kinda two minutes into stoppage time. The Israeli international pulled his header wide when he looked certain to score, but he appeared to be have been pushed in the back by Luis Martins, but no review was forthcoming and the Whitecaps breathed a sigh of relief.
The ‘Caps had the last chance of the game in the dying seconds when Simon Becher cut out a poor clearance from McIntosh. Unable to get a clear shot, he played a neat pass outside to Gauld who sent a dipper to Caicedo at the back post but the Colombian couldn’t keep his shot down and it flew over.
A share of the points will both please and disappoint both teams the way the game ebbed and flowed and either could have taken all three in the end. The Whitecaps came into the weekend 6th in the West and that’s where they finish it.
Any points dropped at home will always feel disappointing, especially against a team you will likely be battling for a playoff spot, but KC have been one of the in-form teams in the league of late and have just taken seven points from seven days. Both teams showed some signs of fatigue from the heavy schedule and for the Whitecaps they need to shake that off very quickly as they prepare for Wednesday’s Canadian Championship final with Montreal. A win, and everything else will soon be forgotten.
FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 1 – 1 Sporting Kansas City
20’ – SKC – Alan Pulido (Erik Thommy)
88’ – VAN – Ryan Gauld (penalty kick)
Possession: VAN 54.8% – SKC 45.2%
Shots: VAN 11 – SKC 12
Shots on Goal: VAN 3 – SKC 2
Saves: VAN 1 – SKC 2
Fouls: VAN 11 – SKC 7
Offsides: VAN 6 – SKC 0
Corners: VAN 4 – SKC 5
VANCOUVER: Yohei Takaoka; Mathías Laborda (Alessandro Schöpf 66’), Ranko Veselinović, Tristan Blackmon, Luís Martins; Julian Gressel, Andrés Cubas (Déiber Caicedo 76’), Pedro Vite (Sebastian Berhalter 89’); Ryan Gauld, Brian White; Sergio Córdova (Simon Becher 76’) [Substitutes not used: Isaac Boehmer, Javain Brown, Ryan Raposo, Russell Teibert, Matteo Campagna]
KANSAS CITY: Kendall McIntosh; Jake Davis, Robert Castellanos, Andreu Fontàs (Robert Voloder 46′), Logan Ndenbe (Tim Leibold 42’); Rémi Walter, Nemanja Radoja, Erik Thommy (Roger Espinoza 89’); Marinos Tzionis (Khiry Shelton 71’), Alan Pulido (Gadi Kinda 71’), Dániel Sallói [Substitutes not used: John Pulskamp,, Felipe Hernández, Cam Duke, Stephen Afrifa]
On the match:
“First half we didn’t do very well. I think we were too slow moving the ball, and that helped them. We didn’t attack the space behind, to defend with no problem. They scored a very good goal on a set play. It was hard to try to score again. Second half I think we did very well, I think there’s not too much difference to be honest, between the second half that we played against Houston and the second half that we played today. The only thing was that with Houston we scored every shot, today we didn’t. I’m very satisfied. I think we deserved the point, I think we deserved even more to be honest. I think we played more than them, but losing would have been very unfair. Again if Déiber [Caicedo] scored the last goal at the end it would have been fantastic. But again, I think that we’re a little bit frustrated because we could have won. At the same time I think that these are points that are important at the end to get into the playoffs. Because at the beginning of the season a game like this we would have lost, last year a game like this I think we would have lost.”
His message to fans for the upcoming Canadian Championship Final on Wednesday:
“The fans will respond on Wednesday, I know. Without the fans we are nothing, that’s pretty simple. Without our supporters, without our fans, it’s a big missing piece. Of course, sometimes there’s more people, sometimes there’s less people, every time that we play here we feel that we have the support of the people. I know that Wednesday is a very important game. I know that the club is doing a lot of promotion. We can win a trophy again, we can do something that this club never did before winning a trophy back-to-back, let’s make history. Everyone here is complaining that the Canucks are not winning, the Lions are not winning. If we can win, come and be here to help us and be sure that everyone in Canada… if we win Wednesday, there’s no question that for the last two years, we’ve been the best team in Canada and I think it’s a pretty good bragging right. We want to say to everyone, to Toronto, Montréal, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Victoria, every city in Canada that there’s no city better than Vancouver. We want to be proud to have our flag and support of our club for the final.”
On the match:
“I think we’re disappointed to not get the win at home. It was a frustrating game. At the end of the day we came out with a point. So we’ve got to take it in and move on to the championship game we have coming up on Wednesday.”
On the upcoming Canadian Championship Final:
“It’s a cup final, it’s important to our fans and to our club. We’ll do everything we can to win that trophy at home again.”
On the match:
“A little bit frustrating, we gave away a little bit of a soft goal. Then second half we had a lot of possession, so I think the boys are frustrated to come away with just a point. But you know being one down and showing the fight and the character to come back and get a point, it’s always a positive.”
On it would mean to win the Canadian Championship again:
“It’s a big game for the club, for the fans. As players we all want to win trophies. Knowing the feeling of it, that we all got from winning it last year, we definitely want to experience that again and it’ll give us another go at the Champions League next year.”
MLS POOL REPORTER QUESTIONS TO REFEREE LUKASZ SZPALA
What was the explanation for declaring the goal in the 24th minute to be offside?
“The decision on the field was offside due to interfering with an opponent. Vancouver attacker #6 was in offside position and made contact with the SKC defender at the moment the shot was taken. After checking, VAR confirmed the on-field decision.”
What was the reasoning for VAR to ask the referee to checking the pitch monitor for the potential red card in the seventh minute? Why did the original call stand?
“In the opinion of the VAR, the foul committed by SKC #19 denied an obvious goal scoring opportunity. After on-field review, the referee did not feel all the criteria for DOGSO were met, so he maintained his original decision to show a yellow card for stopping a promising attack.”
SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Thoughts on the match:
“I think tonight we deserved three points based on the way we battled. I always say when you have these three games in seven days and when you have to go on the road for the third one, it’s always the most difficult game just because of the accumulation of everything. I think the guys battled. They really didn’t give much away. And the fact that we scored and then we had a great chance after they scored the penalty when Gadi (Kinda) had the diving header, but unfortunately he didn’t score. I feel like we deserved three points, but it’s a great point for us on the road. (Vancouver is) a team that plays with a lot of energy usually at home. I thought today in the first half we had a lot of energy. At the end, the guys are disappointed because they didn’t get three but it’s still a good point and we keep adding points as we go.”
On the penalty decision:
“I did not see it. For all intents and purposes, I’m assuming that it’s a penalty. I just don’t know. I don’t know if he hit the ball or not. But at the end of the day, I’m assuming it was. It’s just one of those things. All I would say is that sometimes in the heat of the battle you’re a little bit emotional and you go for it whereas sometimes that’s where you have got to really know where you are. You have got to smell the situation and you have got to deal with that a little differently. You have to stay on your feet and make the guy beat you because we were defending pretty well to that point.”
On the status of Logan Ndenbe:
“A couple of guys just felt a little fatigued muscular wise. Some guys were cramping and stuff like that. So it was just best to get those guys off and give the other guys a run. Because like I said, based on the couple weeks before where we had the five games in 14 days and then coming into this stretch, it’s been accumulation of a lot of load on the guys. So we needed to use a lot of different bodies.”
On rotating the roster:
“When you have to play the third game in a three-game stretch like this in seven days and you have to play it on the road, it’s a tough one and this was from that perspective. It was very tough. We obviously played on Sunday and Wednesday and then now today, and having travel all the way up here, so that was a difficult proposition, I think, in a lot of respects. But the guys battled hard. They stayed focused and concentrated. They were throwing everything at us in the second half. They were pumping balls all the time over the top. That’s all they wanted to do. But we did a really good job of defending the majority of those balls. The guy that came on, they executed on their role and responsibility within the game.”
On picking up seven points in seven days:
“Over the last like six or seven games, we’ve been pretty darn good and we’ve been getting points and we’re going to keep working towards it.”
On the key to picking up a point in Vancouver:
“I won’t say exactly what they are, but we stayed away from some things that they capitalize on teams when they come in here where they turn them over in certain parts of the field and they wind up getting on the attack very quickly in transition. And they usually score goals on those situations. I think that we were actually very intelligent executing and not losing balls in those places, which effectively took that advantage away from them. And then the other is that I think that we knew in the second half that they were going to be pumping a lot of balls down the middle. It’s one thing to win the first ball, but it’s really the second ball that you have got to win. And if we didn’t win it, we at least had our back line and we also had our midfield already behind the ball, which really helped us a lot.”
On the goal from Alan Pulido:
“I think he got over a hump on the five-game stretch. I think this week was heavy as well. I think it’s going to be good that we get back to some one-game-a-week type situation here for the next few weeks, which will help him immensely. It’ll help a lot of guys just to kind of get back into the rhythm and get some training under their belt. But he’s muscled through it and he’s getting closer and closer to himself, but he’s not there yet. He’s still got some time.”
On scoring on his MLS debut in Vancouver in 2020 and scoring tonight in Vancouver:
“Yes, I spoke with (Andreu) Fontas and the other players that my first goal as here in Vancouver. We played and won in this stadium and I think it’s in the same goal. So I am very happy and I am proud because I work very hard. Of course, the team has had a lot of matches, but it’s a good result for us.”
On the team’s turnaround:
“Yes, everybody has confidence about themselves now. We play better. We play to support other players. This is a couple of the things and we changed in the mind also. We know we are a very good team with the ball. We try to play better every match. We are so happy. Of course, the sentiment in this match is different because we wanted to win, but also it’s a very good result for us. This stadium is not easy because it’s turf and we played okay.”
On getting three results in seven days:
“We know who we are. This is most important. The confidence for everybody has come back. I am so happy and I am proud about the team because it’s not easy when you lose a lot of matches and you don’t have very good results in the past. Now, I think the matches are better. We play better with the ball. Everybody supports other players and yourself also. I am very good and I am happy because the team has come back.”