The first playoff appearance in four years ends in despair as Sporting Kansas City overtakes Vancouver at Children’s Mercy Park.
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Winning on the road was always going to be an uphill battle. But uphill battles were what the Vancouver Whitecaps did best.
They came from the base of the West to reach the playoffs, a rarefied air they had not breathed for four years, after a rise in the rankings driven by sheer will.
But her Cinderella story didn’t end with a coronation; the clock struck midnight at his station, and his golden carriage turned into a pumpkin again.
Sporting Kansas City deserved 3-1 winners in its MLS first-round playoff game at Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday. KC jumped to the front with a goal from Khiry Shelton in the 17th minute. A penalty goal from Cristian Dajome tied the score at 1-1 20 minutes later, but with seconds to go in the first half, the Caps conceded a devastating goal to Nick. Isomat-Mirin who returned to the side in front.
Being tight on defense was always going to be the way to go against the second highest scoring team in the league. When KC scored two or more goals in a game this season, they were 17-0.
The Caps pressed for the tie in the second half, but the timeless Graham Zusi widened the gap with a 25-yard frozen rope to the top corner behind Max Crépeau. There was no need to climb this mountain again.
“We tried, unfortunately they scored a hit,” Vanni Sartini told TSN after the match. “The second half we were the best team… but we didn’t score. That’s the playoffs. We had a fantastic trip and we can be proud of what we have done. “
Previous Whitecaps playoff teams have piled in and are expecting a free kick, penalty kick or fast break goal – a plan that has failed every time it’s tried.
These Caps, however, did not. They played to stay away.
Vancouver held most of the possession throughout the night, finishing with 63 percent, but most of it was within its middle half or third. Midfielder Ryan Gauld stayed out of the dangerous areas, only received 16 touches in the first half and was limited to a single key pass.
Forward Brian White, the Caps’ scoring machine, didn’t fire until the 69th minute with his team already trailing 3-1.
Sartini went to his bench, changing personnel and formations, but the Caps were unable to close the gap.
Lucas Cavallini appeared to have cut one in the 89th minute, but Bruno Gaspar was judged offside with a head on a late call from the assistant referee.
The Caps have yet to win a road playoff game and have only one win in five postseason appearances.