At least this one didn’t count in the standings.
Sporting Kansas City’s first defeat of the preseason, a 3-0 loss to Vancouver on Wednesday night in the final group match of the Disney Pro Soccer Classic, saw the club break down in all three parts of the field.
“It’s simple,” manager Peter Vermes told MLSsoccer.com by phone from Orlando, Fla. “They were good. We were nonchalant within the game. We didn’t drive the game, our tempo was too slow, and our attitude wasn’t right for the game. When you play at this level, and those three things aren’t there, you get it handed to you – and that’s what happened to us, plain and simple.”
Sporting, who gave up all three goals in a 17-minute span in the second half, never got untracked in either end despite playing nearly all of its regular starting lineup. Vancouver, meanwhile, played a reserve-heavy squad behind new star forward Sébastien Le Toux.
It didn’t seem to matter. Sporting struggled to complete their passes on offense, and Vancouver exploited breakdowns in defense to create shot after shot at young third ‘keeper Jon Kempin. It also didn’t help Sporting that defensive midfielder Júlio César and centerback Aurélien Collin each had a yellow card by the 16th minute.
Le Toux connected in the 50th minute, Russell Teibert in the 62nd and Carlyle Mitchell in the 67th for the Whitecaps, who were MLS’ worst team in their 2011 expansion season, but have torn through the Disney Classic pool stage with three wins.
“We like playing out of the back, but they kept coming at us, coming at us,” Kempin said. “It’s tough to play against that.”
Still, Kempin said, “We have to take some positives out of this. A lot of guys got 90 minutes out of the game, and this will definitely awaken us for the start of the season. I think we’ll be a lot more ready for D.C. on March 10.”
Vermes agreed that the game – Sporting’s first exhibition loss after three wins and two draws – should serve as a wake-up call.
“It’s always good when it’s like this, when it doesn’t count against you,” he said. “But it only matters when you wake up, so we’ll see.”
Midfielder Graham Zusi was a match-day scratch, held out because of what the club called a slight quadriceps strain.
“He’s fine,” Vermes said. “We just needed to give him the day off. It’s not anything major at all, just a bunch of little knicks and knacks.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.