Sporting KC still in "thick of things" despite losing streak

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Based on recent form, it might appear Sporting Kansas City are in dire straits.

But in a larger context, Sporting are still in an enviable position despite their three-match losing streak. With 21 points from 10 matches, defender Matt Besler said he and his teammates understand that Sporting are still well ahead of many teams in the league.

“If someone gave us a contract in preseason that we were going to win the first seven out of 10 [games] and have 21 points, I think we all would have signed it,” Besler told MLSsoccer.com after Tuesday’s training session. “We’re in a good spot. We’re right in the thick of things.”

That stands in sharp contrast to last season, when Sporting KC were 1-6-3 after opening the season with a grueling road stretch while the finishing touches were put on Livestrong Sporting Park. One year later, Kansas City sit one point behind the New York Red Bulls for first place in the Eastern Conference with a game in hand.

“If you look at the standings, we’re in a great spot,” goalkeeper and captain Jimmy Nielsen said (above). “We just have to be careful not to get frustrated. It’s painful to lose three games in a row, but we’re not the first team to lose three games. We just have to get back on track, do what we’re good at, play with full discipline for 90 minutes. We all know we’re a strong team if we do all that.”

Regardless, the streaky nature of Sporting’s 2012 campaign has made for some emotional extremes.

“What I’ve learned during my professional career is that you live week to week,” Nielsen said. “One week, you think you can walk on water. The next week, you’re afraid of walking out of your door. You’re afraid of what you put in your mouth. You’re afraid of everything.”

The cure, according to the Danish veteran: “We just have to stop thinking about everything and do what we’re good at. If we question what we’re good at, just put on the tape of the Vancouver game.”

The game to which he is referring – a 3-1 away victory last month – capped Sporting’s franchise-record 7-0-0 start.

“We played a great game all over,” Nielsen said. “It was a solid game on the road. We really worked hard for each other. That’s how we should play.”

Sporting have to continue to look forward as well – especially with another road test looming this Saturday when SKC visit Colorado (9 pm ET, MLS LIVE). No matter what effect the streaks – hot or cold – might have on the fanbase, head coach Peter Vermes reiterated that the players’ approach won’t change.

“Whether we’ve won seven games in a row, or whether we’ve lost three in a row, we’re getting ready with the same passion, the same work ethic as we were on the first one,” Vermes said. “It’s the way we go about our business.”

Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.