Before he talked about Aurelien Collin's third hamstring tweak of the year or Erik Palmer-Brown's solid play in his sophomore outing or the frustration of his club's winless streak reaching five matches, Peter Vermes had something to get off his chest.
“The only frustration in the game was that the game was not managed well by the referees,” Sporting Kansas City's manager said in a conference call after Saturday's 1-0 away loss to D.C. United. “That's my biggest problem. Our team played extremely well. We drove the game away from home in the other team's stadium, so from my perspective it's really simple: The management of the game was horrendous.”
Specifically, Vermes thought the officiating crew was lax on United for time wasting in the second half.
“To watch a game, where every time there's a foul and a player kicks the ball away, when it says in the rule book that you're not supposed to kick the ball away, but players do it time and time again – that will change the game in this league,” he said. “And I'm giving you the story, and it never gets written.
“You ask what's frustrating? That's what's frustrating,” he added. “Because if you're watching the game, what you see is Sporting Kansas City going away from home and controlling the game.”
Vermes acknowledged that goalkeeper Eric Kronberg likely misplayed Fabian Espindola's curling goal in the 28th minute, first coming forward for the ball and then rushing back in vain as it sailed over his fingertips and in for the match-winner – but refused to blame him for the loss.
“It happens sometimes, you make a mistake – that's what happens,” Vermes said. “We can live with that because we made the mistake. But the bottom line is, we drove the game and for 90 minutes, we want to play, we want to play, we want to play, and there's nothing but slowing the game down, and the game's not managed.”
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Collin went out before the 10-minute mark, forcing Vermes to bring in the 17-year-old Palmer-Brown as Sporting's only remaining center back. And after conceding a penalty and drawing two yellow cards in his debut – a 2-1 loss at Chicago on May 21, in which he was the lone center back in a 3-5-2 – he was far more solid and controlled alongside converted fullback Kevin Ellis in Sporting's usual 4-4-3.
“He played really well,” Vermes said. “The team played very well – energy, tactically – and again, with as many guys as we miss in our team, and how many guys play out of position, the resemblance of the way we always play is right there. And that's tremendous for those guys.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.