Sporting Kansas City reaped the benefits of a busy offseason as Alan Pulido and Gadi Kinda scored in the first half of their MLS debuts for SKC, which defeated the host Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1 in the teams' season-opener on Saturday night.
SKC paid a club-record transfer fee to add Pulido -- the leading scorer of Liga MX last season while playing with C.D. Guadalajara -- and he needed just 17 minutes to record his first MLS goal.
The Whitecaps' Yordy Reyna fouled Ilie Sanchez to set up a free kick for Kansas City. Graham Zusi's strike caromed high into the air before Roberto Puncec settled under it and sailed a header that Pulido redirected past diving keeper Maxime Crepeau to give Sporting a 1-0 lead.
The home side needed just 11 minutes to respond. Vancouver's David Milinkovic sprinted by Zusi and attacked the SKC end line before centering to a sliding Jake Nerwinski, who tapped home the equalizer from inside the goal area.
In the 39th minute, Luis Martins found Kinda just inside the penalty area, and the Israel native drilled the go-ahead goal under the crossbar to give SKC the 2-1 advantage at intermission.
The Whitecaps had several chances to tie the match in the second half but were not able to beat SKC keeper Tim Melia.
Melia denied the Whitecaps' top striker Lucas Cavallini from point-blank range with a sliding save in the 88th minute. Sporting controlled the ball throughout stoppage time, and Erik Hurtado sealed the win over his former team moments before the final whistle with his 15th career-goal.