Sporting KC gunning for nothing but win vs. Toronto
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There’s a distinct difference between an unbeaten streak and a winning streak.
Sporting Kansas City have strung together an 11-match run of the former. They hope Saturday’s game against Toronto FC (8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online) can become the beginnings of the latter.
Kansas City may be unbeaten in the league since May 21, but they haven’t exactly been racking up the victories during that period. The club has seven draws compared to just four wins — the last of which came three weeks ago in Portland — heading into the first of nine-consecutive games at Livestrong Sporting Park.
And although their fortunes are certainly on the upswing from where they were two months ago, the onus is on everyone — from the coaches to the players — to start collecting the full three points instead of settling for one.
“It’s been a little while since we’ve gotten a win,” midfielder Graham Zusi said. “The draws are starting to feel, I don’t want to say like losses, but almost to the point where it’s frustrating. It’s important for us to get three points this weekend. I think we have a very good opportunity to do that.”
That opportunity will come against a Toronto side that’s in last place in the Eastern Conference but has made a flurry of moves in the last few weeks to give manager Aron Winter plenty of options at his disposal.
Most notable were the additions of Designated Players Torsten Frings and Danny Koevermans in the summer transfer window, along with trades that brought forward Ryan Johnson, midfielder Terry Dunfield and central defender Andy Iro into the squad.
All but Dunfield made their debuts for their new club on Wednesday against FC Dallas, a game which Toronto lost 1-0 but displayed enough noticeable improvement to make even casual observers curious to see what the team can do with a little time to come together.
“I thought they played pretty well in the game against Dallas,” manager Peter Vermes said. “We realize that it’s going to be a team that’s new but definitely has an interest in being competitive and getting back into the swing of things in regards to the table.”
The player that appears to be the key to those efforts and who will draw plenty of attention from Sporting is Frings, a former German international and Bundesliga stalwart with Werder Bremen who will look to negate the impact of Jéferson, Kansas City’s own freshly signed DP.
Jéferson, who has only been training with Kansas City for a week, is likely to be paired with two holding midfielders to minimize the amount of tracking back and marking he is required to do. Vermes said the Brazilian’s fitness would likely limit him 60 to 75 minutes. He will have his hands full with Frings should he get the start, which would be his first in the league.
“He definitely holds the middle of the field,” Vermes said of the former German national-teamer. “He’s got a great pass to the outside. He’s great on set pieces in regards to his service. He’s an addition to their team that takes them to another level.”
Kansas City’s task is to ensure Toronto don’t take that step this weekend.
Sporting have five points on the Reds and three games in hand, but they know they have to start finding a way to win — and win at home — if they want to keep climbing up the table.
“It’s a given,” Vermes said. “It’s important to get three points anytime you’re at home. That’s what we are shooting for and that’s what we’ll play for.”