Whitecaps hang on in playoff race with win over Sporting Kansas City

The Vancouver Whitecaps kept their playoff hopes alive Sunday with a 2-1 victory over Sporting Kansas City in Vancouver.

Ryan Gauld and Russell Teibert scored for the ‘Caps (10-9-10), and Brian White had a pair of assists.

Johnny Russell scored the lone goal for Kansas City (15-7-7). The visitors could have clinched a playoff spot Sunday with a win or a tie.

Whitecaps ‘keeper Maxime Crepeau had two saves and Tim Melia stopped one on-target shot for Kansas City.

Despite the victory, Vancouver remains a single point outside of a post-season berth in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference.

WATCH | Vancouver fights for playoff spot with win over Kansas City:

Whitecaps within striking distance of playoffs after beating Kansas City

Russell Teibert’s goal in the 36th minute gave Vancouver a 2-1 win and moved the club within one point of a playoff spot. 1:14

SKC dominated 64 per cent of the possession across the game. Shots were 9-9 and shots on target were also even at three apiece.

Sporting pushed for an equalizer late and the club’s best second-half chance came in the 85th minute after Whitecaps defender Jake Nerwinski was booked for a hard tackle on Graham Zusi.

Kansas City was awarded a dangerous free kick, but Crepeau snatched the ball from mid air before SKC could do any damage in the penalty area.

Chopped at Vancouver’s lead

Russell cut into the Whitecaps’ lead in the 43rd minute. The Scottish winger’s shot from the top of the box beat Crepeau to the bottom left corner of the net to make it 2-1.

Daniel Salloi registered an assist on the goal, which snapped Crepeau’s personal MLS shutout streak at 375 minutes.

Russell has now scored in six straight games for SKC.

Teibert put Vancouver ahead 2-0 in the 37th, taking a nice pass from White at the top of the box and blasting a long left-footed shot under the arm of the diving Melia.

The goal was a long time coming for the Whitecaps captain — the last time he scored was in Vancouver’s 2-1 victory over Toronto FC on Oct. 6, 2018.

The ‘Caps first goal of the night followed a beautiful play by midfielder Leonard Owusu, who performed some fancy footwork to hold on to the ball in heavy midfield traffic.

Javain Brown then sent a cross in to White at the back post and the American striker headed it into Gauld’s path. The Scottish attacking midfielder rocketed a left-footed shot past Melia to open the scoring 23 minutes in.

The goal was Gauld’s third of the season and he nearly added to his tally moments later, sending a shot just wide of the right post.

Vancouver has five games left in the MLS regular season, starting with a battle against the Timbers in Portland on Wednesday.

NOTES: Whitecaps defenders Erik Godoy (foot) and Ranko Veselinovic (groin) both returned from injury. ΓǪ A crowd of 10,990 took in the ‘Caps eighth-annual Pride match. ΓǪ White has had a hand in Vancouver’s last eight goals, scoring six and assisting on two. ΓǪ The Whitecaps are now 6-0-1 at B.C. Place this season.

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