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Late penalty helps Vancouver Whitecaps claim point in 1-1 draw with Kansas

Sporting Kansas City's Marinos Tzionis (77) and Vancouver Whitecaps' Luís Martins (14) chase the ball during the first half of an MLS soccer match in Vancouver, on Saturday, June 3, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ethan Cairns

VANCOUVER — Staff and players with the Vancouver Whitecaps came away from a 1-1 draw with Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night convinced they deserved all three points and the win.

But a disallowed goal and several offside calls derailed those hopes, with a last-minute penalty saving the day.

"A little bit frustrating, we gave away a little bit of a soft goal and then the second half we had a lot of possession. I think the boys are frustrated to come away with just a point," said midfielder Ryan Gauld. "It was frustrating but we've got to move on now."

Kansas (4-8-5) opened the scoring in the 20th minute after Whitecaps midfielder Pedro Vite went to clear the ball by flicking it up, only to put it out for a corner.

Sporting captain Alan Pulido was found at the edge of the six-yard box and his header looped over the diving Yohei Takaoka to find the back of the net.

"First half we didn't do very well, I think we were too slow in moving the ball," said head coach Vanni Sartini, adding that the team's performance improved in the second half. "I think we deserved the point, I think we deserved even more."

The Whitecaps thought they had tied the game in the 23rd minute as Gauld's deflected shot trickled past goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh only for the referee to deem it offside.

"The decision on the field was offside due to interfering with an opponent. Vancouver attacker No. 6 (Tristan Blackmon) was in offside position and made contact with the (Sporting Kansas City) defender at the moment the shot was taken," the referees said after the match.

The decision, and delay in announcing the goal being chalked off, led to frustration from both players and fans.

"I couldn't understand why it wasn't given," said Gauld after the match.

The game ebbed and flowed with Kansas content to sit deep and soak up pressure from the Whitecaps, or force Vancouver to keep the ball among themselves far from the goal.

With five minutes left in regular time, substitute Deiber Caicedo latched on to a header in the Kansas box only to be brought down.

No foul was initially called with Sartini given a yellow card for protesting the lack of a penalty on the foul.

Those arguments proved prescient as the referee reviewed the tackle, judging the midfielder to have been fouled by Sporting Kansas City's Robert Valader resulting in a penalty.

"I took a yellow card when I was right. I took a yellow card protesting for the penalty on Deiber and VAR gave it to us," Sartini said, adding that the referees told him the caution couldn't be rescinded.

Gauld smashed the penalty into the top left corner for his second goal in two games.

The Whitecaps next play in the Canadian Championship final and White said he and his teammates will look to take away lessons from the dropped points into next week.

"I think we have to channel that frustration, that energy knowing that we didn't get the three points at home and we have another chance to win at home, especially in a (Voyageurs) Cup final. We have to have the right mentality, the right energy to win a trophy," he said.


The Whitecaps host CF Montreal on Wednesday night in the Canadian Championship final. Their next MLS match is Saturday against visiting FC Cincinnati. Sporting KC will host Austin FC next Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 3, 2023.

Nick Wells, The Canadian Press

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