Peter Vermes doesn't have a lot of time to dwell on yet another stoppage-time loss to Seattle, not with a critical CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal looming in just four days. But he'll tell you this: He doesn't believe in jinxes, fate or karma.
Sporting lost this one for the same reason they lost the others, their manager said – by committing defensive lapses at the worst possible time.
“You've got to learn these lessons,” Vermes told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Saturday, after Sporting lost 1-0 on Chad Barrett's second-chance goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time. “In the midfield, we committed too much out and we had too many holes. They got that chance and broke us down a little bit. That was the problem.”
That open midfield gave the Sounders space to get deep into Sporting's half of the pitch, and Seattle nearly converted when Sean Okoli's deflected cross found Clint Dempsey in front of the goal. Dempsey's header smacked the crossbar, but Sporting failed to clear and Barrett punished them with his match-winner out of the resulting scrum.
It was the Sounders' sixth stoppage-time goal in their last seven matches against Kansas City.
“If we'd just been a little more disciplined right there at the end of the game, there were 15 seconds left,” Vermes said. “We could have easily slowed everything down.”
Up to that point, longtime understudy Eric Kronberg had been working on a clean sheet in his first match as Sporting's No. 1 keeper – and doing it behind a makeshift back line, with left back Seth Sinovic (hip tightness) and right back Chance Myers (groin strain) unavailable for Saturday's match and still questionable for Wednesday's CCL home leg against Mexico's Cruz Azul.
“He played fantastic. He really did. He played fantastic,” Vermes said after Kronberg's four-save performance. “He's got a lot of good games ahead of him. He has nothing to be upset about, other than the fact that we lost. He played very, very well.”
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Seattle keeper Stefan Frei, making his debut with the Sounders after an offseason trade from Toronto FC, had a rockier day in goal – spilling a couple of balls and letting a free kick bounce in his penalty area – but Sporting couldn't convert on any of his lapses. Kansas City took 10 shots, putting only three on frame.
“We had some good chances that could have dropped for us, but they didn't,” Vermes said. “Now we get on to the next game. That's where we've got to go.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.