Sporting Kansas City won their seventh straight match, a new club record, and extended their lead atop the Eastern Conference to 11 points with a 3-1 win at Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Wednesday night. Aurelien Collin scored for the second straight match and Kei Kamara struck for his team-leading fourth goal of the year, while Matt Besler’s throw-in produced an own goal to power Sporting KC past their fifth straight Western Conference opponent.
Vancouver threatened in the 10th minute as Davide Chiumiento fed Sebastien Le Toux with space to run into the penalty area. The Frenchman slipped a pass to the right side for fellow forward Atiba Harris, but he was ruled offside as the Sporting KC defense rushed to thwart the attack.
Five minutes later, Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen was quick off his line to beat Le Toux to a loose ball and prevent any lasting misfortune when Aurelien Collin slipped on the turf.
It was then Sporting Kansas City who capitalized on the game’s first shot on goal on a goalmouth scramble. Vancouver defender Martin Bonjour headed away Graham Zusi’s initial cross into the penalty area, but it fell to Roger Espinoza for a first-time volley from 15 yards out. The bouncing attempt was met by Whitecaps midfielder Gershon Koffie, whose clearance bounced off the side of C.J. Sapong and into the path of Collin for a sliding finish in front of the goalline.
The goal, Collin’s second in as many games, moves him into a tie for the team lead with three and matches his goal tally from 2011, his first season in MLS. Sporting Kansas City is 6-0-1 in MLS competition when Collin scores and have now scored first in six of the team’s seven matches this season.
The Whitecaps came close to pulling level minutes later as Le Toux’s header was flicked on frame following a cross from Lee Young-Pyo, but Nielsen was well-positioned to hold onto the header.
After absorbing early pressure from Vancouver to start the second half, Sapong’s pressure on Jay DeMerit near the endline earned a throw-in in the 51st minute that saw Sporting Kansas City double their lead. Matt Besler sent one of his trademark tosses into the six-yard box where Bonjour inadvertently turned the ball into his own net while fending off Collin’s aerial challenge at the near post.
Three minutes later, Sporting Kansas City nearly returned the favor if not for an acrobatic save from Nielsen to prevent an own goal on the opposite end. Le Toux’s cross from the left side was misplayed by Sporting KC outside back Seth Sinovic and the errant clearance was turned away with a sprawling stop from Nielsen to push the ball over the crossbar.
In the 60th minute, Sapong sprung Zusi for a spirited run forward. The Sporting playmaker, who leads MLS with six assists in 2012, cut inside but sent his shot over the bar.
Sporting Kansas City added a third in the 65th minute as Kei Kamara and Chance Myers combined on a perfectly executed give-and-go. Kamara pushed the ball out wide to theright side for Myers, who sent in a low cross to the near post where Kamaralifted it over Joe Cannon for his team-leading fourth goal of the season.
Up three goals for the second straight year in Vancouver, Sporting’s defense was put to the test as the Whitecaps pressed forward with hopes of repeating their memorable comeback in 2011.
Camilo sent a free kick wide from 25 yards out in the 69th minute and Hassli fired high three minutes later after settling and turning superbly inside the penalty area.
The home side broke through in the 79th minute when Le Toux pushed a header across the goalline after Camilo’s header crashed off the crossbar and fell in front of Nielsen’s net. The goal was Le Toux’s third of the year and broke a 415-minute shutout streak by Nielsen, the longest in MLS this season.
The goal breathed life into the Vancouver attack and created a frantic final 10 minutes in the back-and-forth match. Nielsen made four of his six saves on the night during the stretch, turning away Camilo’s shot from distance in the 82nd and then denying Hassli on the ensuing corner.
Second-half substitute Long Tan forced a strong save from Nielsen in the first minute of stoppage time and Myers did just enough to disrupt Hassli’s follow-up attempt from close range.