The energy-saving, injury-preventing tactics started in the preseason, when Sporting Kansas City lightened its training schedule with an eye toward the eight-month drudgery ahead. They would continue into the summer, coach Peter Vermes ensured, as he prioritized a stronger, healthier team for the stretch run this fall.
So as the club faced Vancouver Whitecaps FC Wednesday night for the second of three matches in an eight-day stretch, Sporting showcased a collection of backups.
The new faces equated to a new result.
Well, sort of.
Sporting ended a three-game losing skid with a 1-1 draw, but it left BC Place having missed an opportunity to claim its first victory in three weeks.
Sporting, 4-4-1, played most of the second half with a one-man advantage after Vancouver defender Kendall Watson was ejected in the 51st minute of a tie match.
“I thought it was good gains that we made tonight to come out and get a point,” Vermes said. “Obviously, all of us would like to create a little more when we’re up a man ... but we found it really hard to get anything in and around (the goal). That was a big difficulty.”
Watson, the runner-up for the MLS defender of the year in 2015, was whistled for a foul on Sporing forward Diego Rubio that resulted in his second yellow card of the match, leading to the automatic ejection.
Sporting couldn’t find the game-winner with more than 40 minutes of a one-man advantage, given to the club on the effort of Rubio, who drew both yellow cards Wednesday.
More importantly, Rubio opened his MLS scoring account. After Christian Bolaños supplied Vancouver a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute, Rubio answered with his first goal as a member of Sporting KC, getting on the other end of an accidental pass from Lawrence Olum, who appeared to mis-hit a shot. Rubio cleaned up the mishap with a tap-in in front of goal.
“He found himself in a really good spot, and when he found his opportunity, he finished it,” Vermes said. “It was a very good game for him.”
Jimmy Medranda looked to equalize the feat later in the opening half, but Vancouver goalkeeper David Ousted made a save while changing directions to keep the game tied.
Sporting made wholesale changes in its starting lineup Wednesday, including a revamped front line. Dom Dwyer, Graham Zusi and Brad Davis all were absent from the starting lineup, though they each came into the match as second-half substitutes in an effort to add scoring punch with the man advantage.
Connor Hallisey and Medranda joined Rubio stood atop the initial offensive formation. Goalkeeper Tim Melia also received his first night off this year, pushing Alec Kann into the lineup for his Sporting KC debut. Kann made one save.
With Melia on the bench, that left center back Nuno Coelho as the only man to play every minute this season.
Sporting plays host to the LA Galaxy at 7 p.m. Sunday at Children’s Mercy Park.
Source:AP_GLOBALFile:s0033Keyword:BC-SOC--MLS-SportingKansDated:23:40 27-04-2016Processed at:23:40 27-Apr-16
Sporting Kansas City-Whitecaps FC, Sums
TableStyle: SPORT-SOC_GAMECCI Template:
Sporting Kansas City 1
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
First half—1, Vancouver, Bolanos 1 (Techera), 14th minute. 2, Sporting Kansas City, Rubio 1 (Olum, Abdul-Salaam), 27th.
Goalies—Sporting Kansas City, Alec Kann;Vancouver, David Ousted.
Yellow Cards—Besler, Sporting Kansas City, 22nd;Waston, Vancouver, 40th;Rubio, Sporting Kansas City, 41st;Nuno Coelho, Sporting Kansas City, 60th.
Red Cards—Waston, Vancouver, 51st.
Referee—Armando Villarreal. Assistant Referees—Frank Anderson. Cameron Blanchard. 4th Official—Daniel Radford.
Sporting Kansas City—Alec Kann, Nuno Coelho, Lawrence Olum, Saad Abdul-Salaam, Amadou Dia, Matt Besler, Benny Feilhaber, Connor Hallisey (Brad Davis, 64th), Jimmy Medranda (Graham Zusi, 75th), Roger Espinoza, Diego Rubio (Dom Dwyer, 57th).
Vancouver—David Ousted, Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey, Russell Teibert, Pedro Morales (Pa-Modou Kah, 54th), Christian Bolanos (Kekuta Manneh, 78th), Matias Laba, Fraser Aird, Cristian Techera, Masato Kudo (Octavio Rivero, 65th).