Sporting Kansas City admit they lost focus leading to draw vs. Vancouver Whitecaps

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Sporting Kansas City had nothing but praise for the free kick that cost them two points at home, and agreed that they should have been more focused on taking a one-goal lead into the locker room at halftime.

But they also said that Vancouver's Camilo should never have been over the ball in the first place.

“For me, there was no foul on the free kick,” said defender Aurélien Collin, whose 35th-minute goal put Sporting up 1-0 before Camilo's equalizer salvaged a 1-all draw for the Whitecaps.

The equalizing sequence began just before halftime, when referee Ricardo Salazar whistled Sporting's Soony Saad for a foul on Johnny Leverón 25 yards from goal.

“Kei [Kamara] and Soony came and [Leverón] fell on the floor by himself,” Collin said. “But you know it’s part of the game. The referee is part of the game so I respect that.”

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Manager Peter Vermes saw the same thing.

“I would agree with Collin,” Vermes said in the postmatch news conference. “I don't think it's a foul. But it was called, and it is what it is. You know we could have maybe managed the situation a little differently, but that’s not as if somebody missed their mark and the guy flicks it in or heads it in. The guy hit a great shot, so that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

Saad, who has made back-to-back starts for the first time this season, echoed Vermes' and Collin's assessments.

“I didn't think I fouled him,” he told MLSsoccer.com. “I had my arms in. It's frustrating, but there's nothing we can do about it.”

And there was nothing goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen could do about Camilo's kick, which flashed over the wall and then dipped under the crossbar in the upper right corner.

“Of course there’s always something you want to do,” Nielsen said. “You have to give him credit. It was a good shot. That’s just part of the game.”

And regardless of whether the foul was deserved, Collin said Sporting have to bear the responsibility for conceding in the last minutes of the half.

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“We talked about the last five,” he said. “I screamed, 'Last five. Be careful, be careful. We weren't focused enough.”

Vermes' matter-of-fact tone in the news conference contrasted markedly with his vehement frustration at the time of the call against Saad.

“I don't deal with it well,” he said with a laugh. “That's all I'll say to that. I never deal with it well.”

Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.