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Takeaways from Vancouver Whitecaps last-minute heroics against Sporting Kansas City

It was a Saturday game with ups and downs for the Vancouver Whitecaps against host Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park. 

Sporting took the lead in the 37th minute thanks to a Krisztián Németh strike. The Hungarian striker was then sent off in the 51st minute.

But the Whitecaps struggled to capitalize before also going down to 10 men when Doneil Henry went out with an injury after head coach Marc Dos Santos already made his third and final substitution. 

A dramatic finish

The Whitecaps were headed toward a second straight defeat until Derek Cornelius hammered home a volley in the fourth minute of extra time. 

“The biggest thing is helping the team get a point,” Cornelius said.

“We knew we would score,” Russell Teibert said after the game. “We deserved the point, and we got one.”

Although the goal provided plenty of celebration, it was overall another frustrating evening for the Whitecaps.

First, there was the goal conceded against an already depleted Sporting Kansas City and then the lack of penetration with a man up after Nemeth was sent off. Second, the Whitecaps potentially lost two key players.

A difficult opponent

“We knew that we were coming to a place that is very difficult,” Dos Santos said of SKC, despite the opponent’s recent struggles.

“I brought on Cornelius at halftime to give Ali Adnan an opportunity to push further up the field,” Dos Santos said. 

It was a strategy that worked. The Syrian’s dribbling ability gives the Whitecaps an additional attacking option. 

Unfortunately, match circumstances meant the plan did not come to full fruition. 

Vancouver’s final substitution in the 72nd minute — Joaquín Ardaiz came on for Jake Nerwinski — meant Dos Santos could not react to Henry’s suspected hamstring injury.

“I tried to put a lot of numbers up,” Dos Santos said. “But maybe I did this sub too early. Because you are always in the risk of an injury and then it is 10-v-10.”  

Injury crisis

“It is too early,” Dos Santos said of Henry’s injury. “Let’s give it 24 hours before we assess it.”

Henry, however, was not the only casualty.

The red card shown against Nemeth was the result of a bone-crushing tackle against midfielder Felipe Martins. Replays showed the Brazilian’s ankle bending unnaturally when he was hit by Nemeth’s open sole, and it was a small miracle that the midfielder could walk off the pitch. 

Nonetheless, Felipe had to come off and was replaced by Inbeom Hwang . The Brazilian was back in the starting lineup to replace the injured Jon Erice. 

“For me, it was a red card,” Dos Santos. “A very hard tackle and a passioned one, a very good player and I don’t think he did it with bad intention, but deserved the red card.”

Dos Santos was not willing to provide an update on the Brazilian’s health either.

Ultimately, the Whitecaps have some depth in the holding midfield position and could start Andy Rose and possibly Erice, who could return from his injury for the midweek game against the New York Red Bulls.

Henry’s injury is an entirely different beast, however.

The center back has been impressive for the Caps this season and is also a key piece for the Canadian national team. A hamstring injury, however, can be complicated and can range from just a few days to several months. 

His absence would leave a gaping hole in Vancouver’s squad and potentially negatively impact Canada at the Concacaf Gold Cup.

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