Inviting pressure, Vancouver stifled by complete Sporting KC performance

Gerso
KANSAS CITY, KS — JULY 06: Sporting Kansas City forward Gerso (12) takes a shot in the second half of an MLS match between the Chicago Fire and Sporting Kansas City on July 6, 2019 at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City, KS. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (July 14, 2019) — Inviting pressure from the Sporting Kansas City frontline, the Vancouver Whitecaps were no match for Sporting KC on Saturday night. Sporting KC put in a complete performance from top to bottom to dispatch Vancouver, 3-0, at BC Place.

Vancouver’s plan of inviting pressure backfires on home turf

With both teams sitting near the lower end of the Western Conference, it was a perfect chance for Vancouver to take three points in front of the home crowd. Instead, Vancouver sat back, inviting pressure from Sporting KC for 90 minutes.

Gerso opened the scoring in the 24th minute, winding into the box from the left to the six-yard box. Then, he took a weak shot at goal. The goal was initially given as an own-goal after heavily bouncing off Ali Adnan’s leg. However, it was soon reclassified as a goal for Gerso.

In stark comparison, Felipe Gutierrez doubled the lead with his team-leading eighth goal of the season. Taking the ball at his feet at the edge of the box, Gutierrez fired a low shot toward Zac MacMath’s goal in the 56th minute. While not the best shot, MacMath’s momentum was directed in the wrong direction. This allowed Gutierrez’s central shot to sneak by.

Gerso then put the game to bed on the stroke of full time with his second of the game. With Vancouver in scramble mode, recently-subbed on Krisztian Nemeth dragged three defenders out wide before playing a simple ball across to a wide-open Gerso. From there, it was Gerso smashing the ball as hard as he could at the goal from six yards out.

Congrats, Dad!

Gerso Fernandes is up for an exciting 24 hours. Having snagged his first goal of the season against Vancouver, he now heads back to Kansas City expected to become a father.

The Guinea-Bissau native missed part of the season due to a wrist injury and has struggled to find the net when on the field. However, he’s also been Sporting’s most lethal forward. Gerso was duly rewarded on Saturday night.

Gerso’s first goal was changed from an own goal to a goal for the man himself in a dubious decision, as the ball looked to have been heading wide. However, he put any sort of doubt to rest with his goal in the final minutes of play, opening his account for the season.

A winning backline

After half a season of struggle, Peter Vermes may have found his backline of the future. The backline of Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler, Botond Barath and Graham Zusi is 4-0-1 when starting together this season. The quartet is also responsible for Sporting KC’s two clean sheets of the season.

Barath has filled the gaping hole left by Ike Opara as the heavy-duty center back beside Besler. Meanwhile, veterans Sinovic and Zusi are finally finding their top gear on the flanks, producing good chances and getting back in defense.

“Outside of the set-pieces we weren’t really giving anything away,” Melia said. “We were good on the ball, we were able to disrupt them a little bit, all in all, I’m really proud of everyone today.”

Melia also became the winningest goalkeeper in Sporting KC history, tallying his 58th win to overtake Jimmy Nielsen.

Kicking into form

Saturday night’s win was a huge step in the right direction for Sporting KC as it continues to get players back from injury. It was Sporting’s first back-to-back league wins of the season. Meanwhile, it was just Sporting’s second league road win of the season. Also, it was just the second clean sheet of the season in league play.

However, perhaps not coincidentally, it was the first time in Sporting KC’s history that it fielded back-to-back identical starting lineups.

While Vancouver was by no means a tough opponent, it was Sporting’s best performance of the season to date. Outshooting Vancouver 20-13 and finishing with 56 percent possession, Vancouver offered little outside of set-piece plays.

“Baby steps right? We’re just trying to build into our better performances, getting guys back,” Melia said. “Right now, things are moving in the right direction.”

 

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