KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Jacob Peterson knew the job description when he joined Sporting Kansas City: train hard, perform well in Reserve League games and be ready to go when and where he was needed.
After doing that well enough to earn his first start with Sporting, the versatile forward is sticking with that approach as he makes his case with manager Peter Vermes for another shot in the starting XI.
WATCH: SKC 2, COL 0
“At the end of the day, it’s up to [Vermes], and I’m going to work hard at whatever he asks me to do,” Peterson (above left) said Tuesday night after going 72 minutes in a 2-0 US Open Cup win over the Colorado Rapids. “It’s all of our jobs to make it a tough decision for Pete, all those guys who are on the bench and who are fighting to get into the 18. If we do that, it’s healthy competition.”
Peterson, who joined Sporting KC as a free agent in the offseason after previous stints with the Rapids, Toronto FC and San Jose, earned generally high marks from Vermes for his play on the right wing in Tuesday’s match.
“I thought he was very good defensively,” Vermes said. “I think maybe he rushed it a few times offensively, but he got it into very good spots and had good moments where he got behind the defense, especially in the first half, and served some good balls in, which is what we’re looking for from that guy in that situation.”
Peterson started in place of Kei Kamara, who is away on international duty with Sierra Leone, and could get another nod when Sporting return to MLS action against Toronto FC on June 16. Sierra Leone have a critical second-leg African Cup of Nations qualifier the day before against São Tomé and Príncipe, and Kamara is not expected to be back in time for the Toronto match.
Even so, Peterson understands Kamara is going to remain ahead of him on the depth chart.
“By no means is one win here going to displace Kei when he comes back,” said Peterson, who has logged 133 minutes in eight league appearances this year. “He’s a dangerous player. He’s one of our most important, but it’s my job right now to push him and keep him on his toes.”
Peterson has also been a frequent sub for left winger Bobby Convey, who is continuing his recovery from a calf strain that has kept him out of one league match and both of Sporting’s Open Cup games. And while he’s most comfortable on the wing, he can fill in at center forward, in the midfield and outside back as well.
“I’ve played just about every spot on the field except center back,” Peterson said. “[My versatility is] something I like to take pride in.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.