KANSAS CITY, Mo. – After two straight shutout losses, many managers might be inclined to tweak their starting lineups.
Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes isn’t one of them.
KANSAS CITY, Kans. -- Vermes, a champion of the even keel through good times and bad, has never been quick with a hook, and he’s not about to start now – especially with his team still atop the Eastern Conference heading into Saturday’s game at Chicago (8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
“We have the second-best goals-against average in the league at the moment, and there are teams that have played 12 games,” Vermes said on Thursday. “We’ve only played nine. Look, I said from the beginning, when we won our first game, when we won our seventh game, and I maintain it: It’s a very long season.”
Besides that, Vermes said, it’s not fair to single out any player to blame for Sporting’s lackluster 2-0 home loss to Montreal last weekend.
“I don’t look at a game and say, ‘This one guy is the reason we lost,’” he said. “I try to look at things over a consistent period of time, and no way, by any means, is the Montreal game consistent with any game we’ve had at any time.”
The home defeat also saw Sporting’s scoreless streak reach 205 minutes, but midfielder Graham Zusi said the goals will come back.
“We have a team that has firepower, no doubt to it,” Zusi said. “I know that it’s just a matter of time before we stick some in the back of the net, and we have a lot of guys who can do that on this team.”
At the other end of the pitch, Michael Harrington – a former starter who has trained his way back into contention for playing time – is expected to get a second straight nod at left back after Vermes decided to hold out regular starter Seth Sinovic.
Sinovic, who is recovering from surgery to repair his broken right hand, trained with the team this week after sitting out the Montreal game and had hoped to play against the Fire.
“I’m not fully comfortable with the fact that he’s played three or four days this week in training, and him playing in a high-level match,” Vermes said. “He’ll probably play in the reserve match in Chicago. Once I see him play there, which is on Sunday, then he’ll have another full week of training and we’ll start to assess from that perspective.”
Sinovic’s next chance to return, then, would be the following week at Colorado. He broke his hand in the second half of Sporting’s 1-0 loss at Portland on April 21 and underwent surgery during Sporting’s bye week.
Left winger Bobby Convey was listed as “questionable” on Thursday with knee soreness that kept him out of full training. He returned to training on Friday, however, and is expected to start against Chicago.
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.