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Sporting KC, Whitecaps look to emerge from Western cellar

May 25, 2022; Kansas City, Kansas, USA; Houston Dynamo forward Carlos Darwin Quintero (23) reacts after a stop by Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper John Pulskamp (1) as defender Kayden Pierre (24) looks on during the second half at Children's Mercy Park. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

A short-handed Sporting Kansas City club will host the Vancouver Whitecaps Saturday night in a meeting of the two clubs at the bottom of the Western Conference standings.

Sporting KC (3-7-4, 13 points) has started to gain some momentum, going 3-1-4 over their last eight matches in all competitions. Two of those wins have come in U.S. Open Cup play, but for Sporting manager Peter Vermes, all competitions are important and he doesn’t make much of a distinction.

The outlier was a 7-2 loss at Portland May 14, but Sporting has not lost since. Despite missing two of their top offensive playmakers to injury, and others missing action because of national team assignments and suspensions for card accumulation, things seem to be turning slightly.

Just don’t expect Vermes to paint a rosy picture.

“The guys have been a great job of dealing with (the absences) and finding a way, week after week,” Vermes said. “There really is no continuity at the moment. But the guys have embraced the challenge. It’s a team challenge, but it’s individual challenges as well, because we’re playing guys in positions they wouldn’t normally play. The group’s mentality around that has been top-class.”

Sporting again will be without Daniel Salloi, who received a suspension of one additional match for “violent conduct” that earned him a red card May 18 against the Colorado Rapids.

Vancouver (3-7-2, 11 points) has been gathering steam as well, going 3-1-2 in all competitions in May. They defeated Cavalry FC on PKs in Canadian Championship competition Wednesday. In their last MLS match, they fell 2-1 to Charlotte.

Tosaint Ricketts scored his second goal of the season in the second minute of play. Charlotte scored six minutes later to even the match. Charlotte then scored the deciding goal in the 85th minute.

“It was just some very bad luck at the end,” head coach Vanni Sartini said after the match. “We didn’t deserve to lose. We fought against a lot of obstacles in this game, with a lot of players out because of COVID. We put on a very good game.”

–Field Level Media