Vermes: Sporting KC getting punished by refs for not diving

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The word "physical" tends to come up a lot in conversations about Sporting Kansas City -- and the numbers tend to bear out that tag for the Eastern Conference leaders.

Sporting's 352 fouls committed rank them third in the league. In fouls suffered, they're in the middle of the pack -- eighth -- with 320.

Manager Peter Vermes, though, said the statistics only tell part of the story. The way he sees it, his players aren't getting the restarts they should because they're staying on their feet after contact with opponents.

Highlights: Sporting 1, New York 1

"I don't like guys that dive around," Vermes said on Wednesday during the team's weekly news conference. "I don't like embellishment. I don't like guys that are constantly on the ground and slowing the game up and breaking the rhythm of play. I also don't like it where, if we have an ability to break through and a guy gets touched, that he's going to dive and fall down and try to get the foul. I want him to try to play through that and keep going."

Consequently, Vermes said, referees are less likely to call fouls against his team's opponents.

"There are many times that opposing players are allowed to get a free shot on our guys, because our guys don't fall down," he said. "They don't take the shot and go down, and now the referee's in that mode of not making the call. They don't get the call, but, really, they should."

Conversely, Vermes believes, Sporting's players -- especially the forwards -- are being charged with fouls when opponents go down on routine contact.

"It's in the rulebook that you're allowed to go shoulder-to-shoulder," he said. "You go shoulder-to-shoulder, the other guy falls down and you get called for a foul -- I just don't understand how that occurs."

Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.