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Sporting Kansas City determined to correct defensive mistakes in home tilt vs. Houston Dynamo

Matt Besler, Sporting Kansas City

Photo Credit: 
USA TODAY Sports Images

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes still hasn't talked directly to his defenders about what went wrong in their last match. Then again, he hasn't had to.

“There are times when I think that a talk or a meeting can solve certain issues,” Vermes said in the club's weekly news conference on Thursday, a day ahead of Friday's Eastern Conference home match against struggling Houston (8 pm ET, NBCSN/NBCSports.com). “There's other times when talk is cheap, and it's what you do out there inside the white lines that's important.

“We know what we've got to do. We've just got to go do it.”

Sporting's veteran-heavy back line gave up three counterattack goals in a span of less than eight minutes in last weekend's 3-0 home loss to D.C., which dropped them a point behind United for the conference lead. Afterward, in his postmatch news conference, Vermes ripped what he called a “horrendous” performance by the defense.

If those words were painful to read, left back Seth Sinovic said on Thursday, the match result hurt more.

“I think the 3-0 loss stung worse than anything,” he told reporters. “Looking back at tape, those are mistakes that shouldn't happen to a back four where at least three of us are very familiar and comfortable with each other. So we're obviously very disappointed in that performance, and we will have that corrected come Friday.”

There was a difference in training this week as Sporting look to regain both their form and the East lead, Vermes said, but it was from a technical standpoint rather than one of energy.

“It's not as if the guys have come out and worked harder, or anything like that,” he said. “We spent a lot more time on certain little details and concepts that are important to being a solid defensive team. I don't care how you shake it – I said it when I first started here, that you have to be good defensively to win championships.”

Vermes has done that three times with Kansas City, as a center back with the then-Wizards in 2000 and as a manager in Sporting's 2012 U.S. Open Cup title and last year's MLS Cup championship.

“I've been an attacker half my [playing] career and a defender half my career,” he said. “If I never would have defended for half my career, I probably would not have given the credibility to defending that I do today. Lucky that I did.”

Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.