Pragmatic Sporting "learning to lock it down" on road
This one wasn’t about style points. It wasn’t about time of possession, chances created or drawing oohs and aahs from the crowd.
It was strictly about pragmatism. It was about getting yet another result on the road, about finding a way to come out on top when the odds aren’t necessarily in your favor.
Sporting Kansas City didn’t exactly impress Wednesday night in Philadelphia against the Union, but they did what had to be done, absorbing plenty of pressure and eventually ending up with a valuable, well-earned, and utterly pragmatic 0-0 draw to extend their unbeaten streak to seven games.
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“It’s a huge point for us,” manager Peter Vermes said. “From the perspective of the number of games that we are going through right now and the guys that are out, it’s a huge, huge point. Hopefully, we reserved some energy for Saturday night. That’s the key here.”
Kansas City didn’t have a shot on target, and they allowed the Union to dominate possession to the tune of 60 percent to 40. Philly uncorked 27 shots along the way. But none of that mattered in the end.
Jimmy Nielsen wasn’t beat, the crossbar kept out Carlos Ruiz’s header and both teams split the points. In the process, Sporting put their fourth-consecutive road result in the rearview mirror.
Now, they’ll head back to Livestrong Sporting Park for their fifth game in 16 days with their unbeaten streak intact and another dose of confidence, even if the performance wasn’t anywhere near complete.
“At the end of the day, there are a lot of games that you have to grind out,” Vermes said. “They aren’t always going to be pretty. There have been plenty of teams over the years that have taken a point or three from our place because they sat back and countered. A part of our game plan tonight was to do some of that based on our travel and having to go back home and play again on Saturday night.”
And make no mistake, this game wasn’t anywhere close to pretty.
After starting the season in gunslinger mode on the road, Kansas City seems to have found a formula to walk away with road points in a league known for its unforgiving travels. Apart from the 4-1 shellacking Sporting put on Dallas, their last four road games have been bordering on uneventful.
Seattle barely escaped a 0-0 draw with a stoppage-time winner, Colorado could only manage a 1-1 score line at home, neither side scored in Toronto and Philadelphia couldn’t avoid the same scoreless ending despite dominating play.
Even without Aurélien Collin (yellow card suspension) and Graham Zusi, who was still smarting from the ankle injury he suffered against San Jose, Sporting managed to execute their game plan.
Chalk another one up to pragmatism. It may not be attractive, but it’s working.
“We’re learning how to lock it down,” Vermes said.