KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Chance Myers couldn’t have picked a better time to rejoin Sporting Kansas City’s starting XI.
The right back, who had missed three MLS matches with a groin strain and hadn’t started since July 14, went all 120 minutes in Sporting’s US Open Cup victory over Seattle on Wednesday night at Livestrong Sporting Park.
“I wasn’t going to miss this one,” Myers told MLSsoccer.com after the shootout win, which came after the two teams were deadlocked 1-1 at the end of extra time. “I had a week of good training. I just wanted to make sure I was fit enough to go 90-plus [minutes], and I wound up going 120.”
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He nearly didn’t go the distance, but manager Peter Vermes didn’t want to tinker with his club’s on-pitch chemistry in the closing minutes of extra time.
“I was actually kind of contemplating taking him off,” Vermes said. “But we were talking as a staff on the sideline, and we felt – and this is no disrespect to the rest of the players – that the guys out there felt it. They locked themselves together. They were playing. And maybe, to take a piece out would disrupt that cohesion.”
The opportunity to be part of Sporting’s first trophy-winning effort since 2004 drove Myers to push himself back to match fitness for the final.
“The day I got hurt was the day I thought to myself, ‘I need to get back for this game,’ and it happened,” he said. “The trainers really pushed me to get me back fit. A lot of credit to them.”
And although there were fewer overlapping runs from the backline than usual for Sporting, the back-and-forth, gritty final still required Myers to be active at both ends of the pitch.
“My mentality when I go into a game is to build through the whole game, so at the end I’m flying. I don’t know if I did it, but that’s my mentality, to get stronger as the game goes on.”
And through it all, Myers said, he felt no reminders of the groin injury.
“I feel great,” he said. “Obviously, my legs are tired – but your legs are going to get tired after 120 minutes.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.