Wed, 15 Jul 2020

Vancouver, Sporting K.C. enjoy fresh starts in opener

Field Level Media
29 Feb 2020, 11:55 GMT+10

The Vancouver Whitecaps open the MLS season at home against Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night in a match between two teams that missed the playoffs in 2019.

Kansas City stumbled to a disappointing 10-16-8 record and 38 points in 2019 -- just four points above last-place Vancouver in the Western Conference -- and missed postseason play for the first time in nine years. Both sides used the extended layoff to revamp their rosters with an eye on contending in 2020.

"There's no point in looking back, whether you win the championship or whether you don't make the playoffs," SKC captain Matt Besler said. "There is not a whole lot you can take out of previous years because every team is different ... there hasn't been really any talk about what we've done in the past."

SKC hope a turnaround is fueled by the acquisition of striker Alan Pulido from C.D. Guadalajara. Kansas City paid a club-record transfer fee to bring Pulido to the U.S. and inked the prolific striker to a four-year MLS contract. Sporting also signed defenders Roberto Puncec (HNK Rijeka) and Winston Reid (West Ham) to bolster a backfield that surrendered 67 goals-against last season.

Lucas Cavallini -- a striker and native Canadian who signed with Vancouver in December after three seasons with Club Puebla in Mexico -- will make his MLS debut at BC Place after scoring goals in four consecutive preseason matches.

"It's good to get your confidence up coming into the season," Cavallini said. "We had a really good preseason -- good results in the friendly matches -- but those games don't matter much. Now it's all about Saturday and the games coming."

"The jump from last year to this year is very big," Whitecaps head coach Marc Dos Santos said. "Now, how much is that going to reflect on the standings -- the wins, losses -- I don't know, because other teams are getting very good also ... (but) we did our part."

--Field Level Media

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