By JOSE M. ROMERO
Sporting Kansas City's Cascadian swing started off in fine fashion with Wednesday night's 3-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps at B.C. Place Stadium, as the Eastern Conference leaders moved to 7-0-0 on the season.
SKC played about 73 minutes of high quality soccer. The final 17 minutes or so saw the Whitecaps try to rally furiously, but the game was already in hand for Sporting, which got goals from Aurelien Collin — his second in as many games — followed by an own goal courtesy of Vancouver defender Martin Bonjour and finally, Kei Kamara taking a pass from Chance Myers and shooting home his team-leading fourth goal of the season.
Sporting KC provided a clinic in ball movement and attacking tactics against a porous Whitecaps defense that saw its struggles continue, having allowed six goals in the past two games.
The match got physical early as both teams sought to set the tone. Whitecaps forward Eric Hassli kicked Kamara in the lower leg in an aggressive play for the ball in the sixth minute, and Kamara stayed down for a few moments.
In the 18th minute, Collin went in hard on countryman Sebastien Le Toux and drew a yellow card of his own. Collin appeared to push off on Le Toux going for a ball near the sideline.
About six minutes later, SKC's Graham Zusi sent in a cross into the box, where Collin headed it to Roger Espinoza, who passed to C.J. Sapong, who deflected the ball to Collin for a header into the net. True to his celebratory nature, Collin ran to the corner flag and danced with it.
The Whitecaps had a good chance to pull even when Lee Young-Pyo passed to Le Toux for a header that Sporting's Jimmy Nielsen saved in the 28th minute.
Normally crowded B.C. Place Stadium was full of empty seats. The local NHL club, the Canucks, were busy staving off elimination from the playoffs on TV from Los Angeles.
A long throw-in from Matt Besler in the 51st minute fell toward Collin, who was being marked by Bonjour. But Collin never touched the ball, and it glanced off Bonjour's chest and past Whitecaps goalkeeper Joe Cannon to make the score 2-0.
SKC sealed it in the 65th minute, Myers making a run and crossing to Kamara for the shot and goal to make it 3-0.
The Whitecaps (2-2-2) didn't quit, coach Martin Rennie making late substitutions to bolster their attack. His best move was sending in Camilo, who took a shot that clanged off the top of the goal and landed on Le Toux's head for a close-range shot that beat the sprawled Nielsen.
Nielsen got up immediately to rush the linesman and vehemently protest the goal, a sign that Sporting KC isn't just happy with wins, it apparently seeks domination and is not satisfied giving up a goal in a match it has in hand.
The Whitecaps had a couple more good chances in the closing minutes but could not finish them. Sporting Kansas City continues its trip west with a match against the struggling Portland Timbers Saturday.