Courtesy of Sporting Kansas City
Sporting Kansas City (15-7-7, 52 points) suffered a 2-1 loss at the Vancouver Whitecaps FC (10-9-10, 40 points) on Sunday and remains in second place in the Western Conference.
Brian White, who had scored the Whitecaps last six goals, this time played the part of provider and set up first half goals for Ryan Gauld and Russell Teibert at BC Place in the Vancouver victory.
Johnny Russell was once again on the scoresheet for Sporting, stretching his scoring streak to six straight games and in doing so became the first player in club history to score in six consecutive MLS regular season matches. The streak is the longest by an MLS player this year and ranks eighth longest in MLS history.
MLS MVP candidate Daniel Salloi earned his eighth assist of the season on the goal, and added along with his 16 goals to date, also extended his lead with the most combined goals and assists in Major League Soccer in 2021.
Sporting Kansas City center back Andreu Fontas tallied the first shot of Sunday’s showdown in the 15th minute, coming forward for a corner and directing a glancing header into the arms of Maxime Crepeau.
The Whitecaps would prove more efficient, finding the back of the net with their opening attempt in the 23rd minute. Javain Brown’s cross into the area was headed down by White and fell to Gauld, who gave the hosts a 1-0 lead with his first-time finish from eight yards out.
Gauld, a former teammate of Russell’s in Scotland, nearly added a second goal just over a minute later if not for a sprawling save by Sporting goalkeeper Tim Melia to push the effort past the post.
Gadi Kinda tried his luck at a leveler from long range with a well-struck shot saved by Crepeau in the 27th minute, but it was Vancouver that struck next. Teibert doubled his side’s lead in the 37th minute with a perfectly-placed shot from beyond the penalty area for the Whitecaps captain’s first regular season goal since 2018.
Down two goals, it was the Sporting Kansas City captain who cut the deficit in half on the cusp of halftime. Collecting a pass from Daniel Salloi, Russell cut inside and curled a superb strike past Crepeau for his 11th goal of the season and 36th of his four-year MLS career.
With the stage set for a significant second half for both sides with less than a month remaining in the regular season, the MLS Week 30 finale ultimately came to a close in anti-climactic fashion as neither side recorded a shot on goal in the final 45 minutes.
Vancouver snapped a six-game winless run, and three-game losing streak, in the series versus Sporting to move within one point of playoff position. Meanwhile, Sporting could clinch a playoff berth as early as Wednesday – with 12 MLS matches on the mid-week agenda – before traveling to face first-place Seattle at 2:30 p.m. CT on Saturday in a match nationally broadcast on Univision and TUDN, in addition to local telecasts on Bally Sports Kansas City and Bally Sports Midwest.