KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Maybe Sporting Kansas City should schedule something big before every one of their home games.
They handed out championship rings for the 2013 MLS Cup before a match against Columbus on May 4, and played some of their best ball of the season in a 2-0 win over the Crew. And on Saturday, just after announcing long-term Designated Player contracts for center back Matt Besler and winger/midfielder Graham Zusi, they extended their winning streak to three matches and their unbeaten string to six with a 2-1 victory over the LA Galaxy.
“When you're making an announcement like that, you don't want to come in here after the game and be talking about negatives,” Zusi said in a post-match news conference. “I think the win was great for Matt and I in the situation that we were in. It didn't change the way that we played. I think we came out and played the same way.”
Besler, on the other hand, said he didn't feel any differently about Saturday's match than about any other.
“I wanted to win the game because we were playing LA and we needed to win at home,” he said, “but I didn't feel too different today.”
Sporting won for just the fourth time in 10 home matches, behind a trademark high press that kept the Galaxy from establishing much of a rhythm throughout the game – a defensive effort that began with the front line, left back Seth Sinovic told reporters.
“I don't think the guys up top get enough credit, to be honest with you,” he said, “especially Dom [Dwyer]. He's not only scoring goals, but he's busting his butt every single game, the whole game, putting pressure on those back four. So he's huge for us, and when he's putting pressure on, and the wingers are doing the same, and we're all in sync, that's how we win games – with our defense and our pressure and making them turn the ball over in bad spots.”
And they did it against a quality opponent that came in on an eight-match unbeaten run, manager Peter Vermes said.
“The first thing I would say is that LA is by far the best team that we've faced this year,” he said. “Very good team, excellent in transition – just a very good team. I think it made for a very entertaining game for all the fans, and for television, because both teams went back and forth, which I think is great for the league as well. So my hat goes off to them, in regards to the way they came and played tonight.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.