The character and determination of the 2017 Vancouver Whitecaps can no longer be questioned.
Days after suffering a humiliating loss to the Seattle Sounders, the odds looked to be stacked against the Whitecaps as they played in-form Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday night.
To Vancouver’s credit, they quickly put the Seattle loss behind them to earn their first-ever victory in Kansas City, winning 1-0. The win not only keeps the Whitecaps in first in the West, but also punches their ticket to the playoffs.
— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) October 1, 2017
Playoffs here we come!
Winning, they say, cures everything.
You can forget about ‘winning ugly’, forget missing the playoffs last year, and you can definitely forget the start of the season when the Whitecaps struggled while they played games in both the MLS and CONCACAF Champions League.
Playoffs here we come ⚽️🇨🇦🏔
— David Edgar (@davidedgar141) October 1, 2017
The Caps bounced back from the Seattle loss, and hung on by the slimmest of margins to beat a SKC team that plenty of quality scoring chances.
Do the stats really matter?
Although Vancouver won the match, they were outclassed in virtually every offensive statistical category. SKC had more shots, corners, and an impressive 74% possession of the ball.
If you're as obsessed by #VWFC possession stats as I am, they finished with 26.3% v KC. Four intervals of game saw them with less than 13%!
— AFTN (@aftncanada) October 1, 2017
The Caps, on the other hand, fared better on the defensive side of the game. Kansas City pressed Vancouver hard for the majority of the game, but could not find a way to beat goalkeeper Stefan Marinović .
At the end of the day the Whitecaps’ defence bent, but did not break, allowing Erik Hurtado to come up big on a night when there were very few goal scoring chances. Hurtado scored the only goal of the match in the 53rd minute with a clever play.
Marinović is a ‘keeper
The mid-season signing of New Zealand international goalkeeper Marinović took many fans and pundits in Vancouver by surprise.
However, Marinović had made a name for himself earlier this summer when he represented New Zealand at the Confederations Cup, and played very well during the tournament.
David Ousted has been an outstanding goalkeeper since joining the Whitecaps in 2013, but with the Dane recently declining a contract for next year there are questions whether he’ll be playing here next season.
Marinović made several huge stops against Sporting Kansas City during the game. His biggest stop came early in the opening 15 minutes of the match when he made this world class stop on Diego Rubio:
If Ousted isn’t back next season, Whitecaps fans can take solace in the fact the Carl Robinson seems to have found a very capable goalkeeper to replace him.
Man of the Match: Stefan Marinović
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
53’ – VAN – Erik Hurtado (Jordan Harvey)
Possession: Sporting KC 73.6% – Vancouver 26.4%
Shots: Sporting KC 18 – Vancouver 11
Shots on Goal: Sporting KC 7 – Vancouver 3
Saves: Sporting KC 2 – Vancouver 7
Fouls: Sporting KC 10 – Vancouver 12
Offsides: Sporting KC 0 – Vancouver 2
Corners: Sporting KC 7 – Vancouver 2
69’ – VAN – Alphonso Davies
90’ + 1’ – SKC – Graham Zusi
90’ + 3’ – VAN – Christian Bolaños
Sporting Kansas City
29.Tim Melia; 8.Graham Zusi, 3.Ike Opara, 2.Erik Palmer-Brown, 15.Seth Sinovic; 27.Roger Espinoza ©, 6.Ilie Sanchez, 94.Jimmy Medranda (10.Benny Feilhaber 57’); 7.Gerso Fernandes (19.Cristian Lobato HT), 11.Diego Rubio (9.Latif Blessing 78’), 30.Daniel Salloi
Substitutes not used
21.Andrew Dykstra, 17.Saad Abdul-Salaam, 41.James Musa, 55.Amer Didic
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
24.Stefan Marinović; 28.Jake Nerwinski, 4.Kendall Waston ©, 26.Tim Parker, 2.Jordan Harvey; 66.Aly Ghazal, 17.Marcel de Jong; 67.Alphonso Davies (31.Russell Teibert 84’), 11.Nicolás Mezquida (29.Yordy Reyna 68’), 20.Brek Shea (7.Christian Bolaños 60’); 19.Erik Hurtado
Substitutes not used
1.David Ousted, 12.Fredy Montero, 22.Aaron Maund, 23.Bernie Ibini