It seems the short week had little effect on Sporting Kansas City. Going into the Pacific Northwest that has been a place of nightmares for Sporting and pulling out a 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps, may say more than their 1-0 win last week against Real Salt Lake. Given a slight advantage with the smaller crowd on hand, Sporting did not take long to assert themselves in this match, preferring to counter quickly and allow Vancouver possession in their own half. By the time Vancouver came alive, Sporting had a three goal lead, made their three substitutions, and seemed willing to park the bus and gas up for Portland.
The only lineup change was inserting Paulo Nagamura into the lineup for Julio Cesar who didn't make the trip after suffering a hamstring strain. Nagamura acquitted himself well, and certainly did not do anything that would make us shudder. Due to the tenacity of Graham Zusi and Roger Espinoza, we sometimes overlook the CDM, but Nagamura fit right in and the results show that Kansas City may have depth in the places it needs. They will never be overwhelmingly deep, but the subs Vermes has picked have proven their mettle.
To open the scoring, Aurelien Collin continued his foray into striking with a "Chicarito" strike in the 24th minute. After a corner kick, Roger Espinoza took a shot from the top of the 18 that deflected towards the far post where Collin poked the rebound home. It gave the central defender three goals on the season and shortly tied him as team leader in scoring.
The second goal came from a long throw of Matt Besler. Usually, just a weapon for another player to score, this time his throw reached Martin Bonjour who attempted to knock the ball away. He used the wrong shoulder and instead of harmlessly conceding a corner, the ball shot neatly into the bottom corner past a diving Joe Cannon.
Just as familiar as the throws of Besler, we have become just as accustomed to Chance Myers and Kei Kamara working together perfect runs down the right. In the 64th minute, they did it again, this time with a perfect timing as Myers cross met Kamara on full stride and Kamara it seemed shocked Joe Cannon by going near post with the shot.
Compared to the last few opponents, their was a significant push by the Whitecaps and Jimmy Nielsen had to come up with some big saves and even come out to clear some loose long balls. His best save, in fact, came off of a Seth Sinovic misplay that almost looped over Nielsen. The final fifteen was a Vancouver bombardment of the Sporting KC goal, but Nielsen was mostly perfect. The only blemish came on a Sebastian Le Toux rebound off a header. Nielsen argued that he was offside, but Myers held him onside while standing with the winger who crossed it.
Sporting KC moves to 7-0-0 and eleven points clear of second place New York. The question now is when will they lose and will it be after the 12-0-0 mark set by the 1996 LA Galaxy (albeit with shootout wins). After scoring three on one of the league's stingiest defenses so far, it seems it would take a significant effort at both ends of the field and aside from Real Salt Lake who Sporting KC never face again there aren't a lot of suitors.
Sporting KC end up their Western Conference stretch on Saturday in Portland, where the crowd will be certainly more voracious than hockey obsessed Vancouver. However, Portland does not possess the offensive firepower that Vancouver unleashed at the end of the game, so it may be an easier proposition in other ways.