OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The rain was falling in sheets and wall clouds threatened to postpone the proceedings, but not even dreadful weather could keep Sporting Kansas City from fully enjoying their first home game of 2011.
Currently suffering through a brutal five-game losing streak in league play, Sporting took a step in the right direction Wednesday night against the New England Revolution in the final round of US Open Cup qualifying, scoring five goals and registering their second straight shutout in the competition to send a drenched contingent of fans home happy.
“There was a real joy in being able to play in front of our home fans because everywhere we go right now we are the enemy,” manager Peter Vermes said.
Playing for a spot in the third round of the tournament proper, Kanas City dominated the visiting Revolution, scoring three goals in the first half and tacking on two more in second 45 minutes to put together a complete performance on both sides of the ball.
Strikers C.J. Sapong and Chance Myers led Sporting with two goals apiece while the home side’s back line and goalkeeper Eric Kronberg were rarely tested in the 5-0 victory.
All things considered, it was a much-need jolt of confidence for a team that has struggled to get results but hasn’t let those failings sink in too deep just yet.
“Internally, we all know what we are capable of,” Sapong said. “I think that’s why that whole skid stung so much. We knew we were as good or better than the teams we were facing. We knew we could do a lot better. For us to finally come out and show what we could do, it felt like a training session out there. Everybody was just on point.”
Perhaps nobody more so that Omar Bravo, who tormented New England in the first half and showed why Sporting was so eager to make him a Designated Player.
Even though the striker has been injured for most of SKC’s current winless stretch, he admitted the victory was a breath of fresh air for a team trying to work its way into form.
“Without a doubt, we let out some frustration,” he said. “I am confident that we are recovering.”
Bravo, Sinovic tag team Revs' right side
Seth Sinovic, making his first appearance of the season at left back after signing with Sporting last month, made quite an impression against his former club Wednesday night, showing off some impressive chemistry with Bravo on the left flank.
Sinovic played the ball that put Bravo in position to assist on Myers’ first goal and got an assist of his own when the Mexican returned the favor 15 minutes later, connecting with Sapong on Kansas City’s third.
“Obviously, Omar is very smart and easy to play with,” Sinovic said. “I was just trying to make runs off him and read how he was playing the game. He played some great balls in behind.”
Sinovic also did his best to make it easy for Vermes to look his way once current starter Roger Espinoza leaves for Gold Cup duty. The Leawood, Kan., native looked comfortable alongside current starters Matt Besler and Aurélien Collin and was nearly perfect on the night.
“He anticipated plays very well and he chose the right moments for when to go forward and when to hold,” Vermes said.” I think we commented at some point around the 80th minute that he hadn’t played one bad ball yet in the game. That’s a big help.”
Sapong making Open Cup his own
Sapong may only have two Open Cup games under his belt, but the rookie striker has already made his mark on Sporting’s record books.
After scoring the game winner against the Houston Dynamo in early April, Sapong scored twice more against New England to move into fourth place on the club’s all-time Open Cup scoring chart.
“I try to take advantage of every opportunity I get and be grateful for every opportunity I get,” said Sapong, who now has four goals in all competitions. “When I found out I was starting, I told myself that from minute one to minute 90 I was going to be working hard. I didn’t want to be in [the locker room] at the end of the game wondering what if I did this and did that.”