Roughly a year ago, Sporting Kansas City grabbed a seemingly comfortable three-goal lead in Vancouver against the Whitecaps only to watch it get erased during a disappointing draw.
History threatened to repeat itself as Sporting KC put its perfect start on the line Wednesday against the Whitecaps at BC Place in Vancouver.
Ahead by three goals once again, Sporting KC conceded a goal in the run of play for the first time this season in the 79th minute, but that’s where the Whitecaps’ comeback stopped this time, winning 3-1.
Forward Sebastien Le Toux, who was a thorn in Sporting KC’s side throughout the first half, finished off a scramble in the 79th minute with a header past goalie Jimmy Nielsen, who saw nearly as much action against the Whitecaps as he had the first six games combined.
Unable to scramble back to his feet after pushing a Camilo header into the crossbar seconds earlier, Sporting KC, 7-0-0, allowed its second goal of the season, ending a 415-minute shutout streak.
“I’m pretty sure last season went through everybody’s mind,” Nielsen said by phone. “But we’ve matured a lot from last year and I think we played smarter than we did in the previous game up here. Overall, it was a good win for us and an important win.”
Still, Nielsen made several of his seven saves — most of the spectacular variety — as Vancouver, 2-2-2, desperately pushed forward in the final 15 minutes.
“We knew that in the second half they would start throwing the ball forward as much as they did, but we were battling late in the game and (goalkeeper) Jimmy (Nielsen) was absolutely outstanding in the second half,” coach Peter Vermes said. “The saves that he made were incredible.”
Sporting KC drew first blood in the 24th minute when midfielder Graham Zusi played a long corner kick into Vancouver’s box, which Aurelien Collin headed back into space.
Zusi re-gathered the loose ball and sent it back into the box where it eventually found Collin again at the back post for his third goal of the season and second in as many games.
Collin nearly netted another goal on a long throw in by Matt Besler in the 51st minute. Instead, the ball sailed into the middle of Vancouver’s box and banged off defender Martin Bonjour’s left shoulder for an own goal.
Sporting KC tried to repay the favor in the 54th minute when Seth Sinovic’s attempted clearance nearly sailed over Nielsen’s head, but he punched the ball from danger.
In the 65th minute, forward Kei Kamara, who leads Sporting KC with four goals, and defender Chance Myers worked a give-and-go to perfection for a 3-0 lead.