Peter Vermes expected some rough spots for Sporting KC early on in Sunday's Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic match against the Montreal Impact – and he was right.
However, the SKC manager also expected his team to come around – and he was right on that count, too.
Fielding a team of reserves, new arrivals and trialists, Vermes watched his side struggle in the first half against the Impact. But after trailing 1-0 at the break, Sporting controlled the second half and scored to remain unbeaten over five preseason matches with a 1-1 draw.
“I thought in the first half, we were rough around the edges, sort of disjointed, with no really fluid play,” Vermes said in a postgame phone call to MLSsoccer.com. “We’ve got a lot of talented guys, but they haven’t had enough time with the way we play.
“The great thing, though, was that the guys picked it up in the second half and worked on specific things to improve their level of play, especially in the outside channel,” he added. “I thought we moved the ball a lot better and built a lot better from the back.”
The second half also offered a bit of redemption for second-year forward Soony Saad.
Saad earned a penalty kick a half-hour into the match – and then banged it off the left post. But in the 70th minute, he took a pass from new midfielder Michael Thomas, lifted the ball to himself, and slotted the equalizer past Evan Bush.
“It’s always disappointing to miss one,” Saad said. “That’ll probably haunt me for a little bit, but I was happy to get the goal in the second half. You just have to put the misses behind you, and I think I was able to do that.
“We won the second half, put pressure on them and created a lot of opportunities for ourselves,” added Saad, who has two goals in the preseason. “If that game had gone on for a couple more minutes, I think we could have scored another goal.”
Sporting’s defense also got better as the game went along, after giving up Mike Fucito’s 37th-minute goal that put Montreal up 1-0.
“We made a mistake on that goal by committing ourselves instead of keeping the game in front of us,” Vermes said. “But I thought we were good overall, even though we still have a lot of things to work on.”
Vermes, whose team will face Vancouver on Wednesday in another Disney Soccer Classic match, singled out second-half sub Mozzi Gyorio, a midfield trialist who most recently played for the NASL’s FC Tampa Bay (now the Tampa Bay Rowdies).
“He brought a pause to us, really slowed the game down,” Vermes said. “I really liked that part of what he gave us.”