Vancouver Whitecaps’ David Milinkovic, back left, and Sporting Kansas City’s Graham Zusi vie for the ball during the first half of an MLS soccer game in Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

New-look Whitecaps drop MLS home opener 3-1 to Sporting KC

More than 22,000 take in match at B.C. Place

VANCOUVER — Alan Pulido and Gadi Kinda each scored their first Major League Soccer goals as Sporting Kansas City defeated the Whitecaps 3-1 on Saturday at B.C. Place.

Former Whitecap Erik Hurtado added a third goal in extra time as Sporting KC began its season with a win.

Pulido signed with Kansas City in December having spent the first 12 seasons of his career in Mexico and Greece.

Kinda was loaned to Sporting KC in January by Israeli Premier League club Beitar Jerusalem.

Jake Nerwinski replied for Vancouver, which saw its record in home openers drop to 5-4-1 in the team’s 10-year history in MLS.

After a last-place finish in the Western Conference in 2019, the Whitecaps opened their 10th season in MLS with 13 new players on their roster, and with original Whitecap Russell Teibert wearing the captain’s armband.

Marquee striker Lucas Cavallini was acquired by the Whitecaps in the off-season to help ignite their offence. After scoring four goals in pre-season, Cavallini was held off the scoresheet in his regular-season debut but showed fans his offensive instinct several times during the match. He rang the ball off the goalpost late in the first half and had a shot smothered from in close by opposing goalkeeper Tim Melia in the 88th minute.

Sporting Kansas City dominated possession in the early going. In the 17th minute, Sporting KC’s new striker Pulido opened the scoring, heading the ball past the outstretched right hand of Crepeau for his first MLS goal after Ilie Sanchez earned a free kick from a dangerous spot just outside the box.

The Whitecaps tied the score 1-1 in the 28th minute. Another newcomer, David Milinkovic, ran the ball along the goal line before feeding it to the sliding defender Nerwinski, who tapped it into the open net from close range for his first career goal at B.C. Place.

In the 39th minute, Sporting KC re-took the lead when their new midfielder, Kinda, converted a pass from Luis Martins with a curling kick into the top corner of the net.

There was no scoring in the second half until Hurtado beat Crepeau in dying seconds of added time. Attendance at B.C. Place was 22,120.

The Whitecaps’ next game will be on the road, against the L.A. Galaxy. They’ll return to B.C. Place on Mar. 14 to host the Colorado Rapids.

RELATED: Canadian women qualify for Tokyo Olympics with hard-fought win over Costa Rica

NOTES: The Whitecaps debuted their new Wave jerseys, inspired by the city of Vancouver and the surrounding water … Cavallini, a native of Toronto, held his two young children in his arms during the singing of the national anthems … Erik Godoy remains sidelined with a left calf strain … The Whitecaps acquired centre midfielder Janio Bikel from CSKA Sofia of the Bulgarian league on Friday. A Whitecaps attack was interrupted in the 49th minute when a fan ran onto the field.

THE CANADIAN PRESS

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