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  • Miracle On Hastings Street: Vancouver 3, KC 3


    If ever a game deserved the "roller-coaster ride" moniker, today's Vancouver Whitecaps - Sporting Kansas City clash would be the one. The Whitecaps came out strong at home and created plenty of chances in the early going, but Kansas City's Danish keeper <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Nielsen">Jimmy Nielsen</a> stood tall and kept them off the scoreboard. It looked like the sides would be level going into halftime, but <a href="http://www.eightysixforever.com/2011/4/1/2085942/ninety-minutes-hate">object of local derision</a> Teal Bunbury notched a superb goal for the visitors in first-half stoppage time.[PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]

    That goal seemed to have a demoralizing impact, however. Vancouver came out rather weakly after the half, and the initiative seemed to have passed over to KC. A defensive breakdown led to Bunbury's second tally in the 58th minute, and the game seemed to largely be a lost cause. Things got even worse when Kei Kamara notched Kansas City's third goal four minutes later, giving the visitors what looked like an unsurmountable 3-0 lead. It looked like a potentially awful loss for Vancouver, not just in the result but in magnitude and the weak way the team played in the second half in front of their home crowd.

    Things didn't stay that way, though, and one of the chief reasons appeared to be coach Teitur Thordarson's insertion of Nizar Khalfan and Davide Chiumiento. Khalfan struggled last week against Philadelphia and was on the bench to start this one, but he was thrown in for Greg Janicki right after Kamara's goal made it 3-0, shifting Vancouver's lineup from a 4-4-2 to more of a 3-5-2. Chiumiento was battling through a hamstring injury, so he was unable to start the match, but Wes Knight played rather capably in his stead. However, Chiumiento's entrance on the right flank gave Vancouver some much-needed midfield creativity. The Whitecaps began pressing forward once again, and they were soon rewarded.

    Khalfan showcased his spectacular potential with a run all the way down the left side in the 73rd minute. It didn't look like it would amount to anything, as he wound up with a very difficult angle to goal, but he pulled off a superb cross that went right to Atiba Harris. It glanced off his thigh and went past Nielsen into the net.

    At the time, Harris' goal looked like something that might prove a useful moral victory, but wouldn't have much of an impact on the final outcome. However, it catalyzed another momentum swing, and Vancouver suddenly started pushing forward with everyone. They created several more solid chances, but each was denied by Nielsen or narrowly missed, though, and it looked like it might be too little, too late. Finally, in the five minutes of added stoppage time, Brazilian striker Camilo da Silva Sanvezzo managed to get a shot past Nielsen, and he followed that with another one in the next minute to tie the game and give the Whitecaps a point.

    The final outcome doesn't remove all the concerns that arose from this game. There was some very sloppy defending by Vancouver, particularly on the third goal where Kamara was left all alone in the box, and they're going to have to tighten that up. The Whitecaps also seemed to lose all their drive and intensity after Bunbury's first goal, and everything started to fall apart there. They aren't going to be able to pull many games out if they fall this far behind, so they'll definitely have to work on maintaining a consistent effort for the entire game. Still, in addition to picking up an extremely valuable point, they demonstrated they can play offensive football, they can score and they can never be written off. A day that looked like it might be one of the darkest for the MLS Whitecaps instead wound up with a glaringly-bright silver lining.

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