The Vancouver Whitecaps held on to earn a 1-1 draw at home against Sporting Kansas City Wednesday night at BC Place.
A red card at the 51st minute to Costa Rican defender Kendall Waston complicated the night for the Blue and White who were forced to play a man down for almost the entire second half.
The result is polarizing. Seeing out the result could be interpreted as a demonstration of character and concentration, or it can be seen as an opportunity lost for the Blue and White to earn full points at home given the positive play exhibited in the first half.
“I am not sure whether to be happy, sad, frustrated, or annoyed,” head coach Carl Robinson said when talking about the result. “I thought we played very very well in the first half. I thought we played some exciting stuff,” he added.
After the commanding 3-0 win against MLS leaders FC Dallas on Saturday night, Carl Robinson surprised many by making four changes to his starting XI. The Welsh coach swapped striker Octavio Rivero for forward Masato Kudo, Kekuta Manneh for Christian Bolaños, Nicolas Mezquida gave way to captain Pedro Morales, and Russell Teibert replaced Andrew Jacobson in the second defensive midfielder spot next to Matias Laba.
The changes were received with skepticism by supporters.
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However, they proved Robinson right as the Whitecaps had a positive first half. There was a sense of urgency that has, at times, lacked in the early goings of their 2016 campaign.
The high pressure and the combinations between Techera, Morales and Bolaños gave Sporting KC’s defence headaches and Peter Vermes’s team was on the back foot at the beginning of the game.
The Whitecaps saw their efforts rewarded at the 14th minute when Costa Rican international Christian Bolaños got to the end of a corner kick and connected on a beautiful volley that found the back of the net.
After going down on the score line, Sporting Kansas City compose themselves and levelled the run of play. The Whitecaps saw their lead evaporate at the 27th minute when Diego Rubio took advantage of poor marking and ball watching from the ‘Caps defensive line to tie things up 1-1. That was the last goal of the evening.
The play that had the biggest the impact on the game was the red card awarded to Kendall Waston at the 51st minute. The towering Tico accumulated two yellow cards and was sent to the shower early. He will automatically miss the tilt at Yankee Stadium on Saturday as a result.
The second yellow card, the one that eventually earned him ejection from the game, was undeniable.
Waston took down the sprinting Sporting Kansas City in a clumsy challenge. The first yellow, awarded in the 40th minute, seemed soft. It was another case of multiple examples where Waston’s size seems to work against him instead of giving him an edge. Time and time again we see the Costa Rican being punished for something that someone of smaller stature would not be called on.
This is the third time this season that the Whitecaps finish a game with ten men. The team can, perhaps, find solace in the fact that they have not conceded a single goal when shorthanded. On the other hand, they have failed to score as well.
The Whitecaps conceded the least number of goals in the league in 2015. That defensive fortitude has not been carried over to 2016. The Blue and White defensive efforts have gotten better as the season progresses but there are times when they seem to switch off and concede clearcut chances that in occasion cost goals or make David Ousted show his quasi-superhuman goalkeeping abilities.
Solid defensive work was a key factor that carried this team to the playoffs in 2015. If the Whitecaps wish to reach the post-season for a third year in a row, they need to improve and show the same defensive consistency as last year.
Now the Whitecaps fly to New York where they will face NYCFC on Saturday afternoon at the iconic Yankee Stadium.