Sporting KC's Jacob Peterson finds the net for first time in 2013, but laments the one that got away

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Two days after scoring his first goal of the season, Jacob Peterson was still unhappy about the chance he didn't put in the net.

Peterson came off the bench to score the equalizer in Sporting Kansas City's 1-1 home draw against Real Esteli in Tuesday's CONCACAF Champions League match, but he also put a close-range shot wide right deep in stoppage time, one of a number of Sporting's late missed chances against the Nicaraguan underdogs.

“That's something I have to score,” he told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “If I do, we win the game. So that's something I need to do.”

Still, Peterson was glad to find the net for the first time since he underwent offseason surgery on his right shoulder, a procedure that – with his subsequent rehab process – kept him out of action until late April.

“It's been a long drought for me, coming back from the injury, so it was nice,” said Peterson, who matched a career high with four league goals in 2012. “But at the same time, we're in a business that all of us are trying to be perfect, even though we know it's impossible. [The miss] was a pretty simple finish, really. At a minimum, I've got to hit the target. It's something I work on every day, and I don't think I miss in training, ever.”

After making 23 appearances with nine starts in MLS play last year, Peterson has seven starts and 11 appearances in the league this season. And when he's been in, manager Peter Vermes said on Thursday, everything has been good but the finishing.

“It's something I've told the entire team,” Vermes said. “When we get in the final third, we've got to be more efficient. We've got to be more productive, whether that's with assists or with goals. That goes for all the forwards, all the guys who play up there, and he falls into that group of guys. It's good to see him finish that ball, and it's good to see him get a couple more chances as well. Hopefully, that form or routine continues, because that's what has to happen.”

And with Sporting in the thick of the race for the Eastern Conference lead and closing in on a playoff berth, Peterson still has chances to make an impact on the scoreboard down the stretch.

“Any time you score, you feel a little better about things,” he said. “My job right now is to get my form back. That's a battle I've had since the injury last year. Hopefully, that translates onto the field on game days. But at the end of the day, it's not about me. It's about the team. If my role this stretch is being on the bench and supporting the guys, I'm happy to do that. The most important aspect now is pushing for the playoffs and getting a good seed.”

Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.