Early test: 'Caps face perennial West power SKC on Sunday morning

Sporting Kansas City vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC
MLS Regular Season - Week 5 - Match 6
Sunday, May 16, 2021 - 11:08 a.m. PT
Children's Mercy Park, Kansas City, KS
TV: TSN2 - RADIO: AM730 (Pre-match show: 10 a.m. PT)

BATTLE OF TACTICIANS: Sunday's match pits two master tacticians and former colleagues in Marc Dos Santos and Peter Vermes. Dos Santos, who was a member of Vermes' staff in 2016, has molded the 'Caps into a team that will outwork any opponent, while being technical in its execution especially off set pieces this season. Traditionally known for having teams with a pressing identity, Vermes has tweaked Sporting KC's game plan this year to incorporate a trapping scheme to force turnovers.

OPPOSITE OFFSEASONS: The 'Caps are reaping the benefits of continuity from past seasons as the club is off to their best five-game start in the Dos Santos era, featuring a core that includes Canadian internationals Lucas Cavallini, Maxime Crepeau, and Russell Teibert. Meanwhile, Vermes has steadied the Sporting KC ship after seeing a number of longtime key figures depart over the winter, handing the keys over to newly-installed captain Johnny Russell, 18-year old Gianluca Busio, and marquee striker Alan Pulido.

SIMILAR STARTS: The two clubs enter the game with identical even 2W-2L-1D records, and have matched each other week by week, going W-D-L-W-L in the first five outings. Both are also coming off 1-0 road defeats this past Wednesday evening.   

EARLY CHECK-IN: The early-season test against last season's top Western Conference side is the only one on the remaining 'Caps road slate where the team will not be travelling on match day. With both teams playing their third game since last weekend, rotation could be at play. Bruno Gaspar made his first MLS start for the 'Caps on Wednesday at right back in place of Jake Nerwinski, who scored against SKC in the 2020 season opener at BC Place. Centre back Andy Rose, who has started every game for the 'Caps this season, was replaced by Derek Cornelius at halftime on Wednesday with a groin injury. Cornelius scored a memorable added-time equalizer at Children's Mercy Park in 2019.

WORK RATE: In addition to his goal on opening day, Lucas Cavallini has been putting in the work for the 'Caps. He has at least a share of the MLS lead in four statistical categories - he is the sole leader in fouls won with 22, and duels won with 65, and he is tied for first with 13 dribbles completed and 27 aerials won.



Erik Godoy: Questionable - right calf strain suffered vs. Real Monarchs on April 6, return to match status is day-to-day
Andy Rose: Out - adductor strain suffered in the first half at MNUFC on May 12, return to training status is week-to-week

International duty
Ali Adnan: Iraq men's national team 


Whitecaps FC record: 5W-10L-5D
Home: 3W-5L-2D (14 GF, 18 GA)
Road: 2W-5L-2D (10 GF, 19 GA)
Neutral site: 0W-0L-1D (0 GF, 0 GA)
Sunday is the 21st all-time meeting between Whitecaps FC and Sporting KC, including MLS is Back Tournament Knockout Round and Concacaf Champions League competitions. It is the first of two meetings this season. The 'Caps host Sporting KC on October 17. The road trip to Kansas City is the only one during the season when the 'Caps will be flying in prior to matchday. 
MLS Regular Season
Whitecaps FC record: 3W-10L-4D
- Home: 2W-5L-2D (11 GF, 18 GA)
- Road: 1W-5L-2D (8 GF, 18 GA) 
MLS is Back Tournament Knockout Round
Whitecaps FC record: 0W-0L-1D
Regular season: February 29 at BC Place (VAN 1:3 SKC): 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 VWFC striker Erik Hurtado slotted in the late insurance goal for SKC.
MLS is Back Tournament KO Round: July 26 at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (SKC 0:0 VAN): An undermanned 'Caps side battled to a scoreless draw in the Round of 16 matchup before falling 3-1 in the shootout. Thomas Hasal collected eight saves in regulation time in a standout performance.
Concacaf Champions League (‘16)
Whitecaps FC record: 2W-0L-0D
- Home: 1W-0L-0D (3 GF, 0 GA)
- Road: 1W-0L-0D (2 GF, 1 GA)
VWFC and SKC also met in the group stage of the 2016-17 Concacaf Champions League, where the ‘Caps won in both home and away legs, en route to earning the top seed in the knockout round.

Marc Dos Santos on SKC (‘16): Dos Santos served as head coach for Swope Park Rangers, leading SKC’s USL affiliate to a 14W-10L-6D record, good for fourth place in the Western Conference. They had a runner-up finish in the USL Cup Playoffs, including a 3-0 victory over Whitecaps FC 2 in the Western Conference Final. Daniel Salloi, Jaylin Lindsey, Amadou Dia and Tim Melia featured for Swope Park that year. Dos Santos also served as assistant in SKC head coach Peter Vermes’ staff.

Former teammates at other clubs
Leonard Owusu with Gadi Kinda at F.C. Ashdod (‘18-’19)
Maxime Crepeau and goalkeeper coach Youssef Dahha with Amadou Dia at MTL ('16)
Bruno Gaspar with Luis Martins at Benfica B ('12)

Fellow countrymen
Colombia: Deiber Caicedo, Cristian Dajome, and Felipe Hernandez

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