‘Caps lose 3-1 to Sporting KC in season opener

VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC opened the 2020 MLS season on Saturday evening, falling 3-1 in a spirited back-and-forth affair to Sporting Kansas City at BC Place.

Jake Nerwinski provided the scoring for the ‘Caps, but his second MLS career goal was bookended by a pair from Sporting KC newcomers Alan Pulido and Gadi Kinda in the first half. Former Whitecaps FC forward Erik Hurtado added another goal late to put the match out of reach for the ‘Caps, who fielded three first-year MLS players in Lucas Cavallini, Cristian Dájome, and David Milinković.

Pulido got things started for Sporting KC in the 17th minute. The set piece was initially broken up by VWFC centre back Derek Cornelius but Roberto Puncec kept the possession alive, setting up the Pulido header that snuck into the Vancouver net for the 1-0 lead.

It would not take long for the ‘Caps to draw level, thanks in large part to Milinković’s deft ball control along the left flank. After leaving SKC defender Graham Zusi spinning, the French-born winger muscled his way along the endline and into the box, finding a sliding Nerwinski for the point-blank goal to knot the scoring in the 28th minute.

The first-half offensive fireworks did not end there. Kinda’s left-footed curling volley off a Luis Martins cut back put SKC ahead once again in the 39th minute and then Cavallini came inches away from equalizing shortly after on a wild broken play but his attempt banged off the post.

The second half saw a testy battle between the two sides, and Cavallini once again came close to tying the match in the 88th minute before SKC goalkeeper Tim Melia came to meet him and snuffed the breakaway chance.

Hurtado, who spent his first six seasons with Vancouver, came off the bench to seal the win, converting on Gerso’s setup in the final possession of the game for the final 3-1 score.

Whitecaps FC head out to Southern California next week for an early-season road test at LA Galaxy on Saturday, March 7. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. PT live on TSN and TSN Radio 1040. They are back home on Saturday, March 14 when they host Colorado Rapids at BC Place. Visit whitecapsfc.com for ticket information.

CORNERS FOR HEARING: Whitecaps FC had four corners in today's match, which means Connect Hearing will donate $400 to Hear the World Foundation.

MATCH DETAILS

VWFC Man of the Match: Jake Nerwinski
Referee: Ted Unkel
Attendance: 22,120

Scoring Summary
17’ – SKC – Alan Pulido (Roberto Puncec)
28’ – VAN – Jake Nerwinski (David Milinković)
39’ – SKC – Gadi Kinda (Luis Martins)
90’+5’ – SKC – Erik Hurtado (Gerso)

Statistics
Possession: VAN 48.3% – SKC 51.7%
Shots: VAN 9 – SKC 11
Shots on Goal: VAN 5 – SKC 4
Saves: VAN 1 – SKC 4
Fouls: VAN 10 – SKC 13
Offsides: VAN 0 – SKC 0
Corners: VAN 4 – SKC 3

Cautions
3’ – SKC – Gadi Kinda
23’ – VAN – Derek Cornelius
57’ – SKC – Khiry Shelton

Vancouver Whitecaps FC
16.Maxime Crépeau; 28.Jake Nerwinski, 20.Jasser Khmiri, 13.Derek Cornelius, 53.Ali Adnan; 11.Cristian Dájome (87.Tosaint Ricketts 80’), 6.Inbeom Hwang, 31.Russell Teibert ©, 7.David Milinković (12.Fredy Montero 71’); 9.Lucas Cavallini, 29.Yordy Reyna

Substitutes not used
1.Bryan Meredith, 3.Cristián Gutiérrez, 14.Theo Bair, 15.Andy Rose, 32.Patrick Metcalfe

Sporting Kansas City
29.Tim Melia; 8.Graham Zusi, 4.Roberto Puncec, 5.Matt Besler ©, 36.Luis Martins; 6.Ilie Sanchez, 15.Roger Espinoza, 17.Gadi Kinda (27.Gianluca Busio 90’); 11.Khiry Shelton, 9.Alan Pulido (19.Erik Hurtado 90’), 7.Johnny Russell (12.Gerso Fernandes 71’)

Substitutes not used
1.Rich Sanchez, 2.Botond Barath, 20.Daniel Salloi, 26.Jaylin Lindsey