Solid home performance earns Vancouver its first MLS win over Sporting Kansas City.
Yet, Major League Soccer has a habit of seeing extended streaks come to an abrupt end throughout the course of a season. The latest example of such result trends ending occurred Sunday at BC Place, as the Whitecaps claimed an important 2-0 victory over the defending MLS Cup champions.
Looking to get back into the playoff spots in the Western Conference, Carl Robinson's side secured its first-ever league win over Sporting KC by halftime after an Igor Juliao own-goal was followed by Darren Mattocks' sixth strike of the season.MORE: Biggest summer transfers | Soccer's beautiful fans | WAGs
With a little more luck, Mattocks could have found the scoresheet multiple times against the Eastern Conference leaders. He even had the opportunity of a late penalty, but KC's substitute goalkeeper Jon Kempin denied the Jamaican international from the spot.
"I should have switched sides, honestly," Mattocks of his unsuccessful penalty. "But I scored and the most important thing is the team got three points against a very good Sporting Kansas City team. It's a very big achievement for us."
A big key to Vancouver's victory was winning the midfield battle versus Kansas City. In particular, the Whitecaps holding midfield pair of Gershon Koffie and Matias Laba proved instrumental in breaking up the visitors' passages of play on numerous occasions.
"I said two days ago that the battle would be won in midfield," said Robinson. "I could be surprised, but I don't think many people would have noticed Koffie and Laba's influence on the game. Not just today, but all year, they've been excellent and they're setting their own standards.
"We didn't want Benny Feilhaber to play because he's a super little player. Mikey Lopez was in there as well, plus the boy [Jorge] Claros, who we had looked at one time. We wanted to control that area [of the pitch] and I think we did that first half. We set the tone with the way we played on the front foot because we can't be a team that tries to soak up pressure. I'm not a manager that wants to do that."
Though unbeaten in their last five league games, Sunday's win was the Whitecaps' first in over a month. That previous victory was also against a top MLS club in Pacific Northwest rivals Seattle Sounders FC at BC Place.
Having raised their game when playing the league's top sides this season, the 'Caps are aware that performing more consistently against all in MLS is the next step in the club's progress.
"It says something about this team and the quality that's in it, but it also says something about the need to mature a little bit," said Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted. "Games where people are expecting wins - those are not easy games and we need to realize that. We need to work even harder in those games to get those wins out if it."
The Whitecaps will hope getting August off on the right foot will be the catalyst towards reaching the postseason, with Vancouver's next challenge being consecutive Saturday night visits to the StubHub Center in Carson, California, to face Chivas USA and LA Galaxy, respectively.