By: Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1
Sporting Kansas City vs Vancouver Whitecaps FC
FT: 0-0 (3-1)
Sporting Kansas City advances to the MLS is Back Tournament Quarterfinals in a 3-1 penalty shootout win following a scoreless draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps late Sunday night.
A scoreless late night slowly turned into the battle of the goalkeepers with Tim Melia and Thomas Hasal both recording clean sheets and strong performances during the match and the penalty shootout.
Sporting KC dominated across the board; recording a new club record of 36 shots – despite having trouble converting their chances.
The first of several opportunities fell in the 10th minute when Graham Zusi picked out Johnny Russell to send the cross, the Scotsman cut inside to beat defender Jake Nerwinski, however, Ranko Veselinovic deflected the winger’s right-footed effort over the bar.
In the 17th minute, it was Gadi Kinda’s turn to find the lead. But Hasal was quick to deny the midfielder’s close range header with the diving save.
Sporting KC notably finished the first 45 minutes with 22 shots; the second-most recorded in the opening half of a match in league history.
In spite of having the upper hand throughout the night, danger almost struck Sporting KC’s side in the 54th minute when Graham Smith deflected Theo Bair’s shot near the top of the box causing it to go just wide of the right-hand post.
Sporting KC continued to pressure Vancouver’s backline and an energetic Hasal. Johnny Russell unleashed a thunderous strike in the 61st minute into the side netting. Minutes later, Alan Pulido fired a shot of his own, but as the script goes, Hasal tipped the Mexican striker’s effort off the post.
Even after manager Peter Vermes sent in Gerso Fernandes, Gianluca Busio, and Daniel Salloi as reinforcements for the latter part of the half. SKC still failed to find a breakthrough.
Scoreless at the final whistle – the match went straight to penalties.
Melia, a 10-year veteran and main staple of Sporting KC’s backline, now holds a 5-0 career shootout record. The 34-year-old’s ten penalty saves in the last five seasons are the most in MLS.
In the Vancouver’s net, Hasal made an impressive showing for his second-straight MLS start, making eight saves of SKC’s new club record of 36 shots. The 21-year-old keeper did well to keep Sporting at bay, proving he will be a force to be reckoned with in the near future.
Sporting KC will now move on to the quarterfinals where they will face the Philadelphia Union on Thursday, July 30th.
Featured Image: MLS (Jared Martinez and Devin L’Amoreaux)
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