The first time time Jacob Peterson took the pitch at Stade Saputo, he ignited a streak of three goals in four matches across all competitions.
A lot has happened since Peterson recorded the final tally in Sporting Kansas City's 3-1 Fourth of July victory at Montreal, though.
Peterson is still playing his way back into form, with two appearances off the bench since his return from a right shoulder sprain that sidelined him for two months. But while the attacker is making no goalscoring guarantees, Peterson said he's ready to start Saturday's road match against the expansion Impact if need be (1 pm ET, TSN/RDS in Canada, MLS Live in the US).
“I've been training hard for the last three weeks. My lungs and legs are ready,” he told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Friday. “If my number's called, I'm ready to go.”
Peterson could give Sporting a true left winger in the starting XI for the first time since Bobby Convey went down with a hamstring strain early in a 1-0 win at New England on Aug. 4. The issue, manager Peter Vermes said, is how long Peterson could go – especially after taking a slight knock in Wednesday's 2-0 road win over New York.
“I don't think he's 90 minutes, that's for sure,” Vermes said on Friday. “I don't know what he has in him. I think he's about 45, maybe 60. It would depend how the game progresses.”
Whether as a starter or off the bench, Vermes said, it's important for Peterson to get minutes if he is to get back into his solid midseason form by playoff time.
“After all of the other things, now it's matter of getting back into a consistency of routine for him,” Vermes said. “He's getting back into the rhythm again. That rhythm broke when he got injured.”
A start by Peterson would also allow Graham Zusi to drop back from the wing into his usual attacking midfield spot, although Vermes said Zusi – who leads MLS with 14 assists – has been solid on the front line.
“I feel he can play both positions really well,” Vermes said. “It just depends on our roster, the opponent, the game plan, all those things.”
If Zusi does stay up front against the Impact, that leaves a spot open in the midfield due to Roger Espinoza's one-match suspension for yellow-card accumulation.
Michael Thomas has joined the team in Montreal and will be in the 18 on Saturday, Vermes said, but Thomas – who has seven appearances and three starts this season – has been used in more of a defensive mid role than as a box-to-box midfielder.
“We've been contemplating a lot of things over the last couple of days,” Vermes said. “That last game was a battle, and we expended a lot of energy.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.