VANCOUVER, BC – It was the best game of the year. Until it wasn’t.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC came out flying in their lone visit to Kansas City last year. Kekuta Manneh terrorized the Sporting KC back line, scoring twice in the first half.
Pedro Morales had his boots shined after scoring a world-class free kick.
And the ‘Caps were up 3-1 with 10 minutes to go.
Oh, how the tables turned. Fast.
<b>Highlights: 'Caps suffer heartbreaking 4-3 loss to SKC</b>
Sporting KC scored three goals from the 81st minute onwards, culminating with a stoppage-time winner to complete a 4-3 comeback win and extend their home unbeaten streak to 16 matches.
For a neutral, it could have very well been the most entertaining match of the year.
For Whitecaps FC, it was simply heartbreaking. There’s no other way to put it.
Safe to say they’ll want to avoid that feeling when they return to the scene of the crime on Saturday for their first road fixture of the season (5:30 p.m. PT on TSN2 and TSN 1410 radio).
“I remember that more than anyone really,” Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson said of last year’s loss. “We played an excellent away game for almost 90 minutes … then we concede two goals in the last few minutes. Pa, my centre back, had broken his cheekbone but was still on the pitch because he wanted to play. Two goals come from on top of his head. You can’t criticize anyone there. It was us as a team. We’ll go there and try to win this time.”
“It hurt,” added Whitecaps FC defender Tim Parker, “but it gives us a lot of motivation heading into this weekend. We know what that environment is going to be like, how great their fans are, and obviously they’re a good team that’s willing to battle to the end.”
It also happens to be their home opener, which won’t make things any easier, not to mention the fact that Whitecaps FC have never won a game at Children’s Mercy Park (formerly Sporting Park).
As demoralizing as it was at the time, their loss to SKC was just a blip in the radar for Whitecaps FC last season. The ‘Caps had the best road record (7W-7L-3D) in all of MLS – a big part of the reason they finished second in the Western Conference and third in the league.
And they’re hoping to rekindle that success in 2016.
“I think it’s the way we set up,” Manneh said. “We play counter-attacking on the road and we use our qualities very well. We’re going to try to do the same thing. I hope nothing changes. We’re going to try to help the new players get adjusted to the system … it will take time for everybody to be on the same page. But once we do, I think the future of this team is bright.”
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