Kansas City, Kan. – It was a dominating performance in Friday MLS action for Sporting KC. They played host to Vancouver Whitecaps FC and defeated them 6-0. A hattrick from Johnny Russell and two red cards to Vancouver players doomed the visitors on the night.
Meltdown: Johnny Russell, Sporting KC down nine-man Vancouver Whitecaps 6-0
Just seven minutes into the game, Vancouver nearly opened the scoring. Yordy Reyna was onside with a run between the center backs, but goalkeeper Tim Melia made a fantastic save coming off his line and reaching back to save it with his hand.
After that, it was all Sporting. In the 10th minute, Russell made a late run onto a cross from Roger Espinoza and beat Stefan Marinovic far side. Minutes later Russell made a run with the ball, got space on Kendall Waston and scored. In the 30th minute, Jimmy Medranda made it three with an unexpected thunderbolt just under the crossbar.
Things went from bad to worse for the Caps. After Waston was called for a foul on Espinoza, Russell confronted him and chaos erupted with almost every player joining the scrum.
Head referee Kevin Stott went to the VAR to review the entire moshpit. Ultimately, Waston and Russell were given yellow cards for their involvement. Reyna and Efraín Juárez were sent off as the replay showed Reyna grab Russell and slam him to the ground and Juárez hit Russell in the face with both hands.
Russell drew a PK just before halftime but Ilie Sanchez could not convert. The half ended 3-0.
The Scotsman got his hattrick in the second half off a training ground play on a corner with a chip over the keeper. Cristian Lobato and Yohan Croizet added goals in the second half and the match ended 6-0.
Three things to take note of:
Winning over the fans in a new place: Russell has been an excellent addition to Sporting. He now has five goals in eight appearances in league play, almost all of they dynamic and well-executed highlight reel material. SKC’s has been excellent offensively, and Russell’s a big part of that.
VAR got it right: Overall, VAR got everything in the 36th-40th minute scrum correct. Reyna and Juárez were absolutely guilty of excessively violent conduct. Russell’s initial confrontation with Waston was yellow card worthy and replay showed he didn’t do anything physical or malicious after that.
Vancouver’s back three didn’t work: Most people will look at this game and talk about Russell’s individual magic and Vancouver going full fight club. Lost in the fray will be the fact that Sporting was up 3-0 with Vancouver still having eleven men on the field. The back three was ignominious in those first 35 minutes. Gap control and managing hate runners was poor. The midfield four did not work hard enough defensively on the ball and Alphonso Davies could have helped more with Russell playing on his flank. It’s back to the formation drawing board for Manager Carl Robinson.