The initial Dom Dwyer absence had triggered a breakthrough performance from his backup, an outing in which Sporting Kansas City claimed a point in one of the league’s toughest away venues.
As promising as that was, it’s not a concept the club would like to test over the long haul.
Playing without Dwyer for the second straight weekend, Sporting KC was on the short end of a 2-0 shutout Saturday in Vancouver.
Sporting KC (6-3-4) generated only two shots on goal on Saturday.
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“The spark wasn’t there in the final third,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said in a phone interview after the match. “We have exerted a lot of energy in the last two games. I think it all kind of caught up to us.”
A club playing its third match in eight days cycled through a bevy of lineup changes, with Dwyer not even making the trip north of the border. A left knee injury required a compression brace in Wednesday’s meeting with Seattle. After that game, Dwyer was hobbling around the locker room with an ice pack on the knee.
Vermes said Dwyer has fluid built up in his left knee, an injury Vermes doesn’t expect to sideline Dwyer over the long-term as scans showed no ligament damage.
“The fluid has to go away before he gets back on the field. Hopefully that’s gonna happen in the next few days,” Vermes said.
Sporting KC midfielder Benny Feilhaber, defender Ike Opara and winger Jimmy Medranda didn’t appear in the starting lineup either on on Saturday, though Feilhaber and Medranda entered the match after halftime.
It was too late by then.
Vancouver (5-5-1), playing its first home match in 36 days, didn’t fashion much offense in the opening half, but a lone sequence that concluded with a Cristian Techera goal was enough: In the 40th minute, a cross from Sheanon Williams found Christian Bolanos, who chested the pass to set up Techera.
Sporting KC goalkeeper Tim Melia did his best to prevent the lead from swelling. He stoned Fredy Montero on a penalty kick — correctly guessing with a dive to his right. But Tim Parker got his head on a set piece to double the advantage, which Vancouver coach Carl Robinson punctuated by turning toward the Sporting KC bench and swinging his fist.
Sporting KC will still escape the weekend with at least a share of first place in the Western Conference, though following a string of six matches in 22 days, it has played more games than its top competitors.
On Saturday, Sporting’s best offensive chance fell to its hottest goal scorer, Gerso Fernandes, who had supplied a hat trick Wednesday. In search of bettering his look toward goal on Saturday, though, Fernandes stumbled and failed to square a shot.
Latif Blessing, who scored twice in place of Dwyer in last weekend’s draw in Orlando, had a close-range look in the second half, but Vancouver goalkeeper David Ousted gobbled up the shot.
“We tried to get fresh legs — as many as we could —into the (lineup) without completely doing a wholesale lineup change,” Vermes said. “Unfortunately, it probably just wasn’t enough guys.”