One lapse aside, things are clicking again for Sporting Kansas City.
They picked up seven points in a nine-day span, capped by Sunday's 2-1 win against a resurgent Chicago squad that hadn't lost in nine straight across all competitions, and now sit second in the Eastern Conference.
“It's been a good week for us, especially when you can get some points on the road in a tough place to play, in tough weather,” midfielder Graham Zusi told MLSsoccer.com after Sunday's match. “It was really hot and humid out there. So yeah, it was a good week for us. We're doing what we wanted to do, which was climb up the standings and put ourselves in a good position.”
What's even more important is that Sporting's two wins over that span – Sunday's victory and a 3-2 decision over Columbus on June 29 – came against East teams trying to climb into one of the conference's five playoff spots.
“It was a very good week to get seven points,” manager Peter Vermes said on Sunday. “Maybe we were a bit unlucky against Vancouver [in a 1-1 draw on Wednesday], where Graham hit the post, but at the end of the day we got a little bit of a roll going here.”
And it doesn't matter where the East opponents sit on the table, Zusi said, so long as Sporting pick up the points.
“When you're winning and you're beating teams in your conference, those are the important games,” he said. “Whether they're ahead of you or behind you, you're either catching up with them or distancing yourself from them.”
And after the disappointing midweek draw, Zusi was glad to see his side net twice in the first eight minutes – with a pair of Goal of the Week nominees – even though he didn't do a lot of celebrating after his long diagonal ball curled in for a 2-0 lead.
“It was a cross,” he said. “I mean, yeah, a goal's a goal. I'm just glad it went in.”
Zusi had higher praise for Benny Feilhaber's quick-thinking, sixth-minute finish off the left post, though.
“I wouldn't call Benny's a lucky goal,” he said. “I think that was a great finish. Mine was definitely lucky. We've been on a team that was on the wrong side of some breaks at times, and it's nice to see something go our way this time.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.