KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Like every other club in MLS, Sporting Kansas City have a crowded schedule this month as the league heads into June's World Cup group stage break. But not every other club is due to lose two key players in mid-May, as Sporting will do when winger Graham Zusi and center back Matt Besler join the US national team ahead of the tournament in Brazil.
Sporting have seven matches this month – starting with Sunday's home date against Columbus (4 pm ET; NBCSN) – and eight before the start of the break. They expect to have Besler and Zusi for only half of them at the most.
“We know we have them for a few more games, but we go into every game the same,” right back Chance Myers said on Friday, during the club's weekly news conference. “It's always about getting the result. We've got to go in, these next few games while we have them, to get the most we can out of it. Then when they do leave, just be prepared to make sure the guys who've stepped in are ready to do the same.”
After Saturday's matches, Sporting sit in a three-way tie for third place in the East, a point behind the Crew and three behind New England.
“I think it's just important for us to get results,” manager Peter Vermes said earlier in the news conference. “We're in a good position within our table, but that doesn't mean we're satisfied with that. I think we're playing some really good soccer at the moment. Now it's a moment of making sure that the performance yields results.”
Sporting's solid start, which included a five-match unbeaten streak before last weekend's 2-0 loss at New England, came despite a series of lineup changes dictated by injury, international duty and CONCACAF Champions League competition.
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It's been a difficult year because of our schedule and because of injuries,” Besler told reporters on Friday. “We've been forced to play a lot of different guys in a lot of different games or competitions. So we haven't been able to quite find that rhythm yet. I think the last three or four games, you've seen it. We've had some consistency. So yeah, we want to ride that as long as we can the next three or four games while everyone's here. Then we'll regroup when we need to.
“I think ideally, the plan would be when other guys are on for the World Cup, certain guys on the team step up, take advantage of their opportunity,” Besler went on, “and then when everyone comes back you have a stronger team and you can go on a run the last part of the season. That's the best-case scenario.”