Long journey has taken a toll on cellar-dwelling Sporting

Roger Espinoza of Sporting KC

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Stuck looking up the table at the rest of Major League Soccer, Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes described the daunting situation facing his team as a “mountain to climb.” And that was before last weekend’s 1-0 defeat to the New York Red Bulls.

After a week of training leading into this weekend’s bye, not much has changed in Kansas City.

Sporting (1-4-1) still sit last in the Eastern Conference. They still have a month of road trips remaining before they get the opportunity to play at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. And they still need as many points as possible from every match they play.

“Going into every game, you want to get points,” Vermes said. “Obviously, if we don’t get any points from the next four, that’s not a good thing. We have to get points for sure in the next couple games. That’s it. There is really nothing else to say.”

And it really is as simple as that. For a team trumpeted by many as contenders for an MLS Cup Playoffs spot after a two-year drought, SKC are getting dangerously close to crippling their postseason chances before a third of the regular season is in the books.  

With four more opportunities to pad their point total before returning home to play in front of their own fans, Sporting will have to dig their way out of this situation the same place they got themselves in it in the first place: away from home.

“We knew it was difficult to get results on the road,” captain Davy Arnaud said, “but we didn’t see them going this way. We feel like we have a good team and one that can get results on the road. It’s a fine line. If you look at it, it could be a lot different right now. We could be in a different position. Things have happened. Once those things turn for us, we’re going to find ourselves closer to where we need to be.”

In truth, Sporting should probably be in a better position, but they have only themselves to blame for missing opportunities in Vancouver, Columbus and New England that led to just one point from the three games.

Now SKC find themselves at the very bottom of the MLS table and, as Arnaud admitted, closing the gap on the rest of league rides exclusively on getting results. Until June 9 rolls around, the only opportunities to do that will come on the road against some of the Western Conference’s toughest sides.

Sporting travel to Los Angeles, Seattle and Colorado starting next weekend before finishing their nearly three-month journey in Toronto, knowing that the results from those four games will either propel them right back into the chase or widen the gap even further.

“To get back into the mix, we have to get results on the road,” Arnaud said. “If we don’t, you fall further behind and you are really relying on being flawless at home. We know that we’re going to be good at home. We know that we are going to get results at home. But it is important that we keep as connected as we can to the pack before we get back there.”