Once again, Sporting Kansas City found itself sitting on a lead at home Wednesday against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Sporting Park.
Unfortunately, as has been the too-familiar pattern during the season’s first half, Sporting KC couldn’t protect that lead in settling for a 1-1 draw instead of the full three points.
“It doesn’t feel like a loss, but it’s frustrating,” right back Chance Myers said. “You want three points when you create that many chances, but you can’t take anything away from the goal Vancouver scored. The moral of the story is we’ve got to stop giving away set pieces in dangerous spots. It’s an easy way for them to get numbers in the box and create havoc, but we’re playing well and creating chances.”
Sporting KC got on the board first in the 35th minute on a sequence set in motion by midfielder Oriol Rosell, who pushed up from his usual defensive midfield role with Paulo Nagamura sidelined by an ankle injury.
It was Rosell’s cross into the box toward the right post that Myers nodded back toward the middle for Aurelien Collin.
Collin wheeled and tried to put a shot on frame with his left foot, but Vancouver defender Johnny Leveron blocked the shot.
The deflection, however, fell to Collin’s right foot for a swift blast past Whitecaps goalkeeper Brad Knighton that sparked a raucous celebration from the crowd of 20,137, Sporting KC’s 26th straight sellout in MLS competition.
“I don’t remember that much (about the goal),” Collin said. “I’m just glad I could help the team. I was very blessed and very lucky on that play.”
Ahead 1-0 on Collin’s third goal of the season, Sporting KC kept up its suffocating style — at least until the dying minutes before halftime.
With literally seconds left in the 45th minute, Camilo Da Silva Sanvezzo knotted the game with a slick right-footed free kick from 25 yards out.
Sanvezzo’s tucked the equalizer — his 10th goal of the season, which is tied for the second most in MLS — into the upper right corner over defender Matt Besler, who had been stationed at the right post, but ran off the line at the last second, and well out of goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen’s reach.
“Unfortunately, we gave up a very poor foul in our goal,” coach Peter Vermes said. “Credit to Sanvezzo, it’s a fantastic shot. It’s a great shot. I don’t think Jimmy gets to the ball ever. It’s just one of those shots. That’s a great ball, so you have to applaud that, but we just shouldn’t give up such an easy set piece.”
Before that, Sporting KC dominated possession and had the Whitecaps on their heels, keeping the game in Vancouver’s half of the field and Knighton under constant pressure.
Graham Zusi authored the game’s first shot on goal in the fifth minute when he tried his luck from the top of the 18-yard box.
Sporting KC didn’t create a wealth of dangerous chances during the next 20 minutes but continued to dictate the game’s terms.
During the 24th minute, Rosell shot from the right edge of the Vancouver penalty box, blasting a knuckler high toward the center of the goal, where Knighton batted the ball away.
Seemingly content to protect the road point and try to steal a win on the counterattack, the Whitecaps, who were outshot 24-10 and had only 44 percent of the possession, managed to weather the second-half storm.
“We had a lot of good actions going towards goal, but I thought we were a little impatient,” Vermes said. “We could have moved the ball around just a little more at times and found some guys who were clearly open and had better chances, better percentage shots.”
Sporting KC’s most significant threat came in the 76th minute when Zusi collected the ball near the top left edge of Vancouver’s box and, when the Whitecaps’ defenders permitted him a moment’s time and space, sent a low, hard roller that pinged off the left post.
Vancouver cleared the rebound, the threat was averted and the draw was assured.