KISSIMMEE, FL – Sporting KC and the Vancouver Whitecaps battled to a 0-0 draw on Sunday night, takin the MLS is Back match down to at 3-1 KC win in penalty kicks.
The Whitecaps put up a herculean effort, specifically goalkeeper Thomas Hassal, who’s herculean effort kept the Wizards out of the net. Hassal is Vancouver’s third string goalkeeper, and kept playing even after taking a knee to the head late in the match, and he has the scar on his nose to prove it. The 21-year-old wasn’t even supposed to get minutes in this tournament, and he’s now manned back-to-back clean sheets under intense circumstances.
Sporting KC nearly opened the scoring twice in the first 20 minutes, first off a cross from Graham Zusi found Gadi Kinda at the far post for an open look on goal, but Hasal managed to make the save and keep the match scoreless.
Hassal came through again just two minutes later, sprawling out to deny an on-target rocket shot from distance by SKC’s Roger Espinoza, and made six saves in the first half overall.
It was a miracle match for Vancouver, who emerged from the Group stage 11 men down on their roster, and withstood everything that SKC could throw at them.
At the end of regulation, Sporting had taken a staggering 36 shots, a club record, but a go-ahead goal never materialized, and the match came down to penalty kicks.
In the shootout, it was Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia’s time to shine, as the veteran backstop made a pair of saves and saw one shot go off the post. Sporting would convert three of its four looks from the spot, taking the game.
Sporting KC will face the Philadelphia Union in the Quarterfinals.