Sporting Kansas City reaping rewards of Soony Saad's skills, versatility on the field this season
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Soony Saad came to Kansas City to score goals. He's become a fixture in Sporting Kansas City's starting lineup, in part, because of his increasing aptitude for helping his teammates find the net.
Saad's four assists this season tie him with Benny Feilhaber for second on the team, and he's coming off a two-assist outing – his first career multiple-assist game – in last weekend's 3-0 win over New England.
“When I was younger, assists were not that big of a deal,” the forward told reporters after that match. “I want to help the team any way I can by contributing, whether that's a goal or an assist or working hard defensively – so I'm not really worried about getting multiple assists in a game but having a complete performance.”
That whole-game approach is a sign of the 20-year-old's increasing maturity, manager Peter Vermes said on Wednesday during Sporting's weekly news conference.
“I just think it's a part of his growth,” Vermes said. “He understands it's about getting three points. It's not about the guy who scores, or the guy who makes the assist, or what-have-you. It's about how you help the team get that. If it's him through an assist, great. If it's him scoring a goal, great. If it's him through running back and stopping a guy, and that ultimately ends up getting us three points, I think he's maturing enough to realize that that's the ultimate goal.”
Saad, who is naturally right-footed, has thrived on the left wing and become Vermes' No.1 at that spot, with three goals to go along with his four assists.
“For a long time, I think he's considered himself a center forward – that guy in the middle,” Vermes said. “He's really adapted and adjusted and acclimated himself to the wide position really, really well. I think he's added a different dimension to his game, which is only going to make him more dangerous and valuable as time goes on.”
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And despite not being left-footed, Saad sent in a spot-perfect cross with that foot to set up Kei Kamara's first goal against the Revs – and followed it up with an on-target pass, also to Kamara in the area, with his right foot.
“When it comes to using my left foot, I feel that I always have the safety of going back to my right, because it's easy to cut in and attack through the center,” Saad said during Wednesday's news conference. “But my dad's always been telling me to use my left foot, since I was younger.
“I think he got to my brother Hamoody, and now he takes corners with his left foot. He's basically left-footed, even though he's a right-footer. We always joke with him and say that his left foot is better than his right. I want to get close to that point, and I think that's just going to take practice and working at it every day.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.