Sporting Kansas City might still be paying a physical price for their long and successful 2013 season.
“I think that we're maybe a little banged up at the moment,” manager Peter Vermes told reporters in a conference call on Saturday, after left back Seth Sinovic came off with hip tightness in the 7th minute of a 4-1 loss to the Columbus Crew in the championship game of the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic. “That kind of goes with the territory.”
The territory Vermes is referring to, of course, is the long run in last year's playoffs, culminating in December's victory in the MLS Cup final. It will be only three months and a day between that win – which capped a year that saw Sporting play 45 matches across all competitions -- and the club's 2014 opener on March 8 in Seattle.
“You've got a lot of competition,” Vermes said. “You play late in the year. You wind up in the condition where some guys are maybe still a little bit beat. But we'll get through it. We'll be ready. Everything starts next week.”
Sinovic was lifted as a precaution, Vermes said, and replaced by Josh Gardner – who later committed a foul that set up the Crew's first goal on a penalty kick.
“Up until this point, they haven't had a chance to do a ton of diagnosis [on Sinovic],” Vermes said, “but what I hear is that he's just trying to be a little smart and not make something that is very minor into something major.”
In 2013, Sinovic was an ironman for Sporting. He started 31 matches and played the second most minutes on the club, behind only goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen.
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Sporting were also without forward C.J. Sapong on Saturday night, as he continues to recover from a leg contusion sustained a week ago in a group-stage match against Brazilian side Fluminense's U-23 squad.
“He's still not where he needs to be,” Vermes said. “I've always told guys, 'If you think you need some extra time, then keep yourself there.' Right now, it's just about getting the contusion better.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.