Defending champs Sporting Kansas City earn first win of year: “We really needed three points today"

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Sure, Dom Dwyer was glad to open his 2014 scoring account and Eric Kronberg enjoyed his first clean sheet of the league season.

But the most important first, both said after Sporting Kansas City held off San Jose 1-0 on Saturday night, was the first three-point result of the year for the defending MLS Cup champs.

“We really needed three points today,” said Dwyer, who calmly slotted one home from the spot in the 57th minute after a handball call on Quakes forward Steven Lenhart. “We can't keep dropping points – at home, especially. We needed to get a solid win in the league, and we did that. That's the most important thing – but yeah, it's nice to get a goal.”

Dwyer also downplayed the fact that his goal was the first by a forward in 564 minutes – going all the way back to his 63rd-minute finish against Houston in the second leg of the 2013 Eastern Conference finals.

“Honestly, I don't care,” he said. “As long as we keep scoring goals and keep winning, there's no problem with me. Obviously, I'll do what I can to score and help out the team, but at the end of the day we'll take 1-0 every single day.”

Dwyer had no hesitation in taking the penalty, though.

“For me, I think forwards should take penalties,” he said. “They're goalscorers. That's what they should do.”

Kronberg had a quiet night at the other end of the pitch, needing to make only one save as Sporting kept the Quakes' offense largely in check.

“It feels really good, but the team played fantastic defense in front of me,” he said. “I didn't have much to do, so props to them. They really held down the fort against a good team that puts numbers forward.”

Kronberg had come close to getting clean sheets in each of Sporting's first two league matches, only to see Kansas City concede a late goal each time. This time, though, they closed it out against MLS' comeback specialists.

“I'm pretty proud of this win because they're very dangerous the last five minutes of the game,” Kronberg said. “That's something we've been working on with the last couple of games, and we got it right this time. We managed the clock, took the ball to the corners, did everything right to close out a win.”

Manager Peter Vermes, who had criticized his team's late lapses after last weekend's 1-1 home draw with FC Dallas, said he was happy with the way Sporting responded from that match and from a 5-1 loss to Mexico's Cruz Azul on Wednesday that knocked them out of the CONCACAF Champions League.

“The one thing I wasn’t worried about was us coming out and giving good effort,” Vermes said in his postmatch news conference. “The thing I’m proud about is we really managed the game very, very well. The last five to nine minutes of the game was excellent. It’s recognition of what we need to do. One thing is positioning, the other is making good choices with the ball.”

Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.