KANSAS CITY, Mo. – It may not be fact just yet, but after a little more than a month of play in Major League Soccer this season, there is one trend that is bordering on guarantee.
Teams that score first earn the vast majority of the points, and the statistics more than back up that assertion.
Through 44 games, no team that has given up the first goal has managed to rally for the victory. And the side that has scored first has won 32 of those matches, and settled for a draw just 12 times.
“What that tells you is that every team that gets scored on then all of a sudden something happens to them,” Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes said. “You can say its mentality. You can say its organization. You can say its discipline. You can use any word that you want.
“But at the end, you cannot leave your game plan, what you are trying to do and who you are and what your foundation is.”
So far Sporting Kansas City hasn’t been immune to the trend, defeating Chivas USA and drawing with Vancouver when they found the back of the net first, and dropping both games in which their opponents got the opener.
That lends extra importance to tallying first on Saturday against New England (7:30 pm ET, Direct Kick, MatchDay Live), especially after Sporting failed to react properly to Robbie Rogers’ game winner last weekend in Columbus.
“We have to look at ourselves for that,” captain Davy Arnaud said. “(That goal was) when I think it kind of unfolded for us. We didn’t create any chances after that. We weren’t good enough.”
Part of the blame can certainly be placed on going down to 10 men when defender Julio Cesar received his second yellow card, but Kansas City were out of sorts offensively from the start against the Crew and couldn’t bounce back from going down a goal.
Columbus stayed behind the ball and waited patiently for their scoring chances to come, finally finding a goal through Rogers and leaving a Sporting side that had been accustomed to scoring in bunches flustered.
“We were a little bit impatient at times when we couldn’t go right away,” Arnaud said. “I felt like we became impatient, and there were times we were trying to do too much individually. That’s not us when we are at our best.”
And Kansas City, like every other club in MLS, comes closest to their best when they get on the board first, giving Vermes’ pressing game more oomph as opponents are forced to venture forward and take chances in dangerous areas of the field.
Even at nil-nil, Sporting never found that rhythm against the Crew, but they will have a chance to redeem themselves this weekend in Foxboro, Mass. Though Cesar is suspended for the red card he earned last week, the side is finally getting close to full strength.
That gives Vermes hope that his charges can find the all-important first goal against the Revolution, and, if not, buck the currently trend and find a way to come away with a much-needed result.
“I still believe that we are evolving as a team,” Vermes said. “We’re still working with the group of guys that are available for the game and how we are going to go into it. Just making sure everybody is in sync with each other.”