Historic start doesn't interest Sporting KC's Vermes
The Kansas City Wiz never did it. Neither did the Wizards. Sporting Kansas City didn’t even come close last year in their first rebranded season.
So when this year’s edition hit 4-0-0 for the first time in the club’s 17-year history, with Sunday night’s 1-0 victory at Chivas USA, manager Peter Vermes responded with a resounding, “Yeah, but …,” with a little “So what?” mixed in for good measure.
“I don’t put much stock in that,” Vermes told MLSsoccer.com by phone after the match. “It really doesn’t matter other than we have had good performances and are getting results.
“I’m not making any disrespectful comments to you guys [in the media],” Vermes added. “From your point of view, I understand it. But for us, there’s so much more we have to accomplish as we move forward.”
HIGHLIGHTS: Chivas USA 0, Sporting KC 1
Still, there’s no denying that Sporting have already accomplished a good deal in the early going.
They’re the only club with 12 points after four matches. They’ve outscored opponents 7-1, with three clean sheets for goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen.
And out of eight halves played, Sporting haven’t been outscored in once.
“That shows we’ve been organized,” Vermes said, “and have made a good commitment to making sure we don’t give anything away.”
There’s more than a bit of taking involved there too, though, as Sporting showed on C.J. Sapong’s game-winning header in the 47th minute.
Midfielder Graham Zusi smacked a shot off the crossbar, then tracked down the rebound and headed the ball to Sapong. Sapong buried it for his third goal, and Zusi recorded his league-leading fifth assist.
It was just the kick-start the visitors needed, after Chivas surprised them by packing the middle through a scoreless first half.
“I just told them that the great thing was that we got in even at halftime, got away without giving up a goal,” Vermes said. “They knew they needed to start the second half really alert. When we scored, it wasn’t with second effort. It was third effort, and I was really pleased with that.”
In the defensive third, Sporting gave up one excellent scoring chance in the 54th minute, but were spared the equalizer when Nick LaBrocca’s shot hit the left post.
“We survived that, and the rest of the time we were pretty good defensively,” Vermes said. “We were pretty solid the second half, not so much in the first half. The first half, they were running over us a little bit on second balls. But outside of that, we were pretty solid.”
Vermes won’t be satisfied with “pretty solid” anywhere on the pitch, though.
“We still have a lot to work on,” he said. “We haven’t hit the stride we want to. We’re slowly growing. It’s a long season and, so far, this is nothing to write home about. Now, we just have to get ready for our next game against LA.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.