KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes was, in his own words, ticked off following Tuesday night’s loss to the Richmond Kickers in the US Open Cup quarterfinal round.
He promised retribution for what he perceived to be his players’ lack of effort and respect for themselves and their lower-league opponents.
But, for all his postgame venom, Vermes brought up what he classified as an embarrassment just once this week, addressing the debacle Wednesday morning, then leaving his team to prepare for what promises to be a tough test in Houston on Saturday (8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
“We haven’t talked about it since,” he said.
And while Kansas City’s 12-game unbeaten run in all competitions was undone by an opportunistic Kickers side, their 10-game streak in league play remains intact. They’ll look to continue that vein of form against a tough Dynamo squad (5-6-8) that’s lost just once in five games and is a point ahead of Sporting (5-6-7) in the Eastern Conference standings.
So even though Kansas City remain disappointed by their uninspired display against Richmond in midweek and the lost opportunity the Open Cup represented, they’ve been following Vermes’ lead. It’s time to move on to the next one and put all their focus on the league.
“I would love to play the semifinal here at Livestrong [Sporting Park] and get another opportunity to play,” goalkeeper Eric Kronberg said. “It is what it is. We’ve just got to move on, focus on the season now and keep getting points.”
To do that, Sporting will have to keep the Dynamo from stretching them out on Robertson Stadium’s narrow pitch and prevent the home side from playing route one soccer into their bruising forward core of Brian Ching, Will Bruin and Cam Weaver.
Key to those efforts will be stopping Brad Davis, who pulls the strings from all over the field with a cultured left foot and an understanding of how to best set up his teammates for dangerous opportunities. That skill set has allowed him to dish out a league-high nine assists through 19 games.
“To control a guy like that is not easy because of where he shows up,” Vermes said. “He starts on the left, but he could be in the middle or on the right. It’s really making sure that whenever he is around the ball you get pressure on him quickly because he can find those seams, those channels, that final pass.”
To apply pressure on Davis and extend their streak to 11 games, Kansas City will have to rely on their fitness in order to push through the heat and humidity in Houston. The game-time temperature is expected to be around 90 degrees with the humidity making the conditions feel five to 10 ticks hotter.
It’s enough to make the average man sweat just thinking about it, but Sporting aren’t daunted. After all, Kansas City isn’t exactly experiencing temperate conditions this time of year, and a Texas temperature approaching triple digits did nothing to deter Sporting a few weeks ago in Dallas.
“It’s hot here; it’s hot there,” Vermes said. “It’s really about how we as a team execute the game plan and compete. This game will be that. It will be competitive.”