It's frustrating enough to Peter Vermes that his club have lost four of their last five. Getting shut out in three of those four defeats is even more galling to Sporting Kansas City's manager.
“We're not putting our chances away,” Vermes told MLSsoccer.com by phone after Friday night's 1-0 away loss to the Chicago Fire. “I don't know what else to say. We're creating them, even on set pieces. We had an unbelievable throw-in in the first half, and it goes right through their six-yard box. You've got to be hungry and you've got to be there to finish off the ball.”
Not even midfielder/winger Graham Zusi's return from a quad strain that sidelined him for three league matches could keep Sporting from drawing a blank for the second time in as many matches. Kansas City held 59.3 percent of possession and outshot the Fire 18-12, but put only four of those shots on frame and hit several right at keeper Sean Johnson.
“We created many opportunities. We created too many not to score,” Vermes said. “That's the most frustrating aspect of it. We had so many chances in on goal to not put one of them away.”
Kansas City's 180-minute scoreless streak has also coincided with Kei Kamara's absence due to a sprained ankle, suffered two weeks ago against New England when he was cut down from behind by the Revs' Andy Dorman after scoring twice in Sporting's 3-0 victory.
That's no excuse, Vermes said.
“He's a good player for us,” he said. “He helps us find opportunities, for sure. But we had more than enough chances today. More than enough chances today to score. And to not put any in, that falls on us.”
And with Sporting likely to fall out of their first-place tie in the Eastern Conference after the loss, they'll need to solve the problem quickly to stay with the crowded playoff field.
“You just have to have the guts to keep getting in front of the goal,” Vermes said. “And when your chance comes, you've got to stick it home. You can't shy away from it.”
Despite the shutout, center forward Teal Bunbury got good marks after his first start since tearing his ACL last summer. Bunbury started up top in place of Claudio Bieler, who was in the 18 but did not play ahead of Wednesday's key CONCACAF Champions League away match against Honduran side CD Olimpia.
“I thought his movement was good,” Vermes said. “I thought he did a decent job of holding the ball up for us. He got a few good chances as well.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.