Sporting Kansas City lineup vs. San Jose Eathquakes unsettled after rugged March schedule
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – When Sporting Kansas City step on the pitch against San Jose on Saturday night at Sporting Park (8:30 pm ET, MLS Stream of the Week), it will be their fifth match in 15 days across all competitions.
On top of that, they'll be just two days removed from Wednesday night's 5-1 pasting by Cruz Azul in Mexico City, a loss that eliminated Kansas City from the CONCACAF Champions League.
Manager Peter Vermes expects his squad to still have enough in the tank for Saturday's match against a San Jose side that's also coming off a quarterfinal defeat in Mexico.
“I'd like to think some of it will be mental, that that will take over because you're pissed at your last result and you're ready to get on with the next one,” Vermes told reporters after Friday's training session. “So hopefully, that's going to have a little bit of added benefit here. I think we'll have enough for the game.”
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Midfielder Benny Feilhaber, who scored Sporting's only goal on Wednesday – and briefly put them up on the away-goals tiebreaker with his low strike late in the first half – agreed with Vermes' assessment of Sporting's mindset as they look for their first league win after an 0-1-1 start.
“We want to get back to it,” Feilhaber said. “The great thing about our jobs is that we can kind of get a clean slate every time on the field.”
The Quakes had an even longer outing on Wednesday, battling Toluca to a 1-1 draw through 120 minutes before bowing out after six rounds of penalties.
“Obviously, there's some kind of fatigue going all the way down to Mexico City and then coming back [Wednesday] night and then play on Saturday,” Feilhaeber said. “But San Jose's doing the exact same thing on Saturday, if not worse.”
While expecting both sides to play their usual physical styles – San Jose with lots of balls into the box and Sporting with plenty of high pressure – Vermes said he still hasn't settled on a lineup for Saturday.
“We've had a lot of games, and I've had to manage minutes – not necessarily because I wanted to,” said Vermes, who has used 19 different players through Sporting's first four matches. “It's just the nature of where our team is. I've got to make hard decisions in the short term that are not going to sacrifice the long. That's really where this all stands. And again, there'll be some changes for this weekend just from the short turnaround.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.