2020 MLS Kickoffs Whitecaps vs Sporting KC
The Whitecaps vs Sporting KC kicks off the 2020 MLS regular season Saturday, February 29th from BC Place Stadium. Vancouver will look to start the season off on the right foot this year but it will be no easy match against a tough Kansas city side. The Whitecaps are looking to bounce back after a dismal 2019 that saw them lose 3-0 to Sporting KC at home and finish second to last in the Western Conference. Kansas also had a disappointing season finishing just above the Caps.
This is a new year and with that comes new traditions, also a new commitment by the Front Office. Guess who strolled into the Supporters Pub at 2:00 pm before the game? CEO Mark Pannes went table to table and made sure to say hi to all the supporters. If you have been following this team even last year you would see why this is a big deal.
Another new tradition will be the gameday march into the stadium by the team. A bus dropped them off in front of BC place and to a chorus of chanting and praise from the fans, they made there a way in. It was a cool experience and got the atmosphere started well before the game was even set to kick off. Of course, it’s downtown Vancouver so there was a bit of traffic and the bus was a bit late. That didn’t stop the supporters from marching down the street to meet the bus.
The Whitecaps vs Sporting KC will both be showing off their shiny new toys from Liga MX. Lucas Cavallini from Puebla for the Vancouver and Alan Pulido from Liga MX giants Chivas. Expect both players to lead their respective teams in scoring in the 2020 season. Always of danger for Sporting KC is Johnny Russell who had 9 goals and 9 assists in 28 appearances last year.
A player to watch today for the Whitecaps vs Sporting KC is David Milinkovic on the left side. He has a strong preseason and developed a lot of chemistry with Ali Adnan and Cavallini. Vancouver went with the same starting 11 that beat Minnesota United 2-1 in Portland last week. Erik Godoy remains out with an injury but should be back for next week in L.A. Ranko Veselinovic remains the only player yet to join the team.
head coach Marc Dos Santos switching to a 4-4-2 formation that is still basically the same 4-2-3-1 he has been running all season. Peter Vermes is going with a 4-3-3 formation with a new addition from Germany Khiry Shelton upfront with Johnny Russell and Pulido. Veteran Tim Melia would take his rightful spot in net with Roberto Puncec and Captain Matt Besler at CB.
A Nervous Start For The Whitecaps vs Sporting KC
Whether it was the team showing some nerves or the fact they sat on a bus for 20 minutes. It was obvious the Whitecaps vs Sporting KC came out flat to start the game. KC was able to dictate the tempo and control the ball. Jasser Khmiri was forced into an early clearance leading to a corner for the away team. Vancouver was able to clear the danger but were being seriously outplayed. Two blocked shots and two misses before another corner for SKC.
Newcomer Alan Pulido was able to head home his first MLS goal on a set piece in the 17th minute. After a foul by Yordy Reyna, Russell and Graham Zusi both stood over the dangerous free-kick. Zusi whipped it in and found the head of Derek Cornelius who wasn't able to fully clear the danger. Roberto Puncec was able to head it back into danger and Pulido was able to get it perfectly past the outstretching Maxime Crepeau. The Whitecaps vs Sporting KC was down early 1-0.
"Yeah, the beginning was disappointing, a lot of anxiety on our side. We really wanted to do well, we were ready to play the game and for some reason, we just didn't start the way we wanted to." Said Head Coach Marc Dos Santos After the match.
Vancouver looked to respond right away with a counter-attack. Russell Teibert decided to have a go at keeper Melia but sent it right into his chest. It might have been a bit of a wasted chance. But after last season where the Whitecaps refused to shot it almost seemed welcoming. the Whitecaps vs Sporting KC seemed to find their legs after the 20th minute. Reyna made a fantastic turn with the ball to open up space and then was able to send a nice through ball to Cavallini.
He was able to dribble past the first defender before Zusi made a great sliding challenge. His great defensive play was able to knock the ball into touch and save a chance. The Whitecaps vs Sporting KC would waste the corner and Derek Cornelius would take a yellow in the process. Vancouver was able to draw even in the 28th minute after some great work down the left side by David Milinkovic. He earned his first apple with Vancouver when he was able to find Jake Nerwinski with a cross.
For Jake it was his 2nd MLS goal and first at BC Place in front of the home fans... could you tell?
The Whitecaps vs Sporting KC was tied up at one goal apiece but it would be short-lived. Dajome was not able to keep up with Luis Martins down the left side. Nerwinski was too deep and the Midfield was too high and Gadi Kinda had all kinds of time to unleash a rocket. Crepeau had no chance as it was perfectly hit and found its way into the top corner.
It was last year all over again with the backline being too low and the Midfield not closing the gap. This year however they failed to close the gap from the back as 6 defenders were down low on the Kinda goal. Head coach Peter Vermes was tactically able to shut down the Whitecaps vs Sporting KC in the first half. Forcing everything into the middle where Vancouver only had 2 CB's a midfielder at times.
Despite the better half from the away team, the Whitecaps vs Sporting KC had a glorious chance to draw even before the half. Dajome cut it into the box after a nice run and Cavallini initially couldn't get a chance. Sporting KC decided to clear it right off their own team and it landed for Reyna. A scramble ensued and Cavallini came out of it firing the ball off the post. It was disappointing for El Tanque who only had 22 total touches on the evening.
I asked Cavallini about his chances after the game, "Just one of those days where the ball just doesn't wanna get in the back of the net,"
Vancouver Looked Better In the 2nd Half
The second half looked much better for the Whitecaps vs Sporting KC. And I'm not even talking about the streaker in the 49th minute! If you are going to streak at a game and get banned and spend the night in jail at least go all out full nude! If one thing didn't look good it was the midfield service. While Inbeom probably had his worst game in regards to ETP 90 (eye test per 90). He did happen to lead the team with 3 chances created and had an 82.1% pass accuracy on 67 total passes.
A perfect example was in the 51st minute when Dajome looked to break out on a run. Inbeom timed it perfectly and sent a great long ball but Dajome choose to stop his run instead. The home team definitely came out more urgent in the second half for Whitecaps vs Sporting KC. Nerwinski was easily the best player on the pitch for the caps, another great run saw him send a corner right at Tim Melia. Cavallini also got another chance shortly after but was called for a foul.
Referee Ted Unkel was not making any friends Saturday night at BC Place. Some questionable foul calls on the Whitecaps vs Sporting KC stopped some dangerous-looking counters. The Fans were sure to let him hear there displeasure. This continued into the 57th minute when Dajome looked to be elbowed by Khiry Shelton. Unkel was quick with the yellow but fans wanted VAR. I guess Vancouver forgot VAR is not good for the Caps.
Sporting KC would almost take the lead in the 60th Minute when a cross by Johnny Russell was mishandled by Crepeau. He dropped the ball but Jasser was able to come to the rescue and lash the ball out of touch. Vancouver did play better in the 2nd half but wasn't able to capitalize when they got chances. Some nice build-up play in the 68th minute but Reyna chooses to send a weak shot right at Melia instead of working to the outside.
Both teams Whitecaps vs Sporting KC made 71st-minute substitutions. Vancouver brought in Fredy Montero for David Milinkovic, Reyna shifted out wide and Montero would play the 10. While SKC brought on Gerso Fernandes for Johnny Russell. Some nice work by Cavallini was able to earn Vancouver a corner but it was cleared and the second phase was chipped right into the keeper by Teibert.
The Whitecaps vs Sporting KC would get a couple more chances to even things up. Dajome was fouled in a dangerous area by Gerso. Ali Adnan and Inbeom both stood over the kick and it was a decent inswinger by South Korean International. Derek Cornelius was able to get a head-on it but directed it wide and the same for a header by Jasser in the 77th minute. Vancouver made their second and final sub bringing on Tosaint Ricketts in for Cristian Dajome.
Sporting Kansas was very happy to control the ball and try and play keep away for the final 10 minutes. They forced Maxime Crepeau to make a decision coming off his line to gobble up across. Cavallini would get one more chance when he was stopped by Melia. It wouldn't have counted though as he was about 2 feet offside on the play. The Whitecaps vs Sporting KC saw the final subs come on in the 90th minute. Gadi Kinda and Alan Pulido made way for Gianluca Busio and former Cap Erik Hurtado.
It was only fitting that the former Whitecap would seal the victory for his squad. After some great possession, Gerso showed his fancy footwork with a ridiculous turn and chip across the goal. It sailed over everyone and right to Hurtado who volleyed it down past Crepeau for the 3-1 goal at the 5th minute of added time. It was a good start for Sporting KC and a bad start for the Whitecaps in the 2020 MLS campaign.
News, Notes, and Quotes Whitecaps vs Sporting KC
For the second year in a row, the Whitecaps failed to win their home opener. It wasn't the worst game ever played at BC Place but the team looked anxious to start. They also made several silly mistakes that we didn't see in the preseason. Whitecaps vs Sporting KC only saw 48% possession and had 478 total passes to KC's 505 and 52% possession.
Besides Alan Pulido who stood out in his first MLS game, Khiry Shelton was all over the park. His 4 chances created were the most of anyone Saturday night. He also added in with 46 total passes and 3 tackles. Tim Melia wasn't called upon to make any real tough saves as Vancouver had 5 shots on target. They were all so much on target that Melia maybe moved 10 steps in the 5 saves. 8 of those steps being to stop Cavallini in the second half.
Jake Nerwinski had a strong start to the 2020 season with his 2nd career goal but which should go a long way to a bounce-back year. He was asked about his goal and how nice it was to score, "It's a long offseason and I was upset with how we ended last year, how we finished with the team, and personally myself, I know I can be better." Well, he certainly was Saturday night for the Whitecaps vs Sporting KC. Along with the goal he completed 97.7% of his passes, had 3 tackles and won 2 fouls. Not a bad start at all Jake.
Newcomers David Milinkovic and Cristian Dajome had flashes throughout the game. Dajome needs to be a bit stronger on his feet in the MLS. Jasser Khmiri played well in his second-ever start for the Whitecaps vs Sporting KC. With Erik Godoy nearing return and Ranko arriving in the near future there will be a lot of competition for the 2 CB positions this season.
Milinkovic seems happy to be in Vancouver but disappointed with the result. He seems to be fitting in well on his loan from Hull City, especially on the left side with Ali Adnan. I asked him about the chemistry they have built so far this season, " Ali Adnan is one very very good player, I hope to play with him better in the league." He went on to say, "We work every day in training with combinations. Coming good in the 1st half, and a little in the 2nd half, But its the first game, and for the season we will play much better."
Maxime Crepeau couldn't really be blamed for the first 2 goals and on the 3rd he was almost at midfield when Sporting got possession. He had great distribution out of the back, WHY ARE THEY PASSING TO THE KEEPER!!! well, they play it out of the back so either follow along or stop complaining. He could have been a bit better with his long balls as he and Ali Adnan looked to be a bit off sync.
Coach Marc Dos Santos talked about how the team felt a bit of anxiety on the field. "We felt it on the field a little bit of anxiety, a little bit of some guys nervous and having choices of passes that were risky or too many touches, trying to do everything perfectly so that was difficult tonight." One thing that was very evident even to the coach was how nervous the team looked. After seeing the team play 3 preseason games never once did they look like they did Saturday night.
It was the first game of the season and a loss for the Whitecaps vs Sporting KC is no reason to write off the season.
The MLS Season Goes On After Whitecaps vs Sporting KC
It was not the start the Vancouver Whitecaps vs Sporting KC wanted to start the 2020 MLS season. Things will not get easier as they head back down to California to play the L.A. Galaxy who drew 1-1 in Houston against the Dynamo. Sporting will head back to KC for their home opener against Houston. Check out all the highlights for Whitecaps vs Sporting KC.