Hallisey finds "comfortability" at Sporting KC but still hunting first goal

Connor Hallisey - Sporting KC - closeup

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – The 2016 season is bringing more starts and more responsibility for 
Connor Hallisey
. Whether Sporting Kansas City's second-­year left winger can keep building on that, though, depends a lot on whether he shows
 up more in the scoring column.
“He's got a lot of stuff that he needs to improve on – I mean, a lot of stuff,” manager Peter Vermes told reporters earlier this week. “But sometimes it's just being there. It's his second year. He's been around a little more. He's got a 'comfortability.' He's got more routine, and all those things can help over time.”
One of three first-­round picks for Sporting in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft,
has eight starts in nine appearances across all competitions this year, including a 120-­minute outing on Wednesday night as Sporting opened their US Open Cup title defense with
a 2­-1 
extra ­time victory over NASL side Minnesota United
Part of the reason Hallisey has featured so much has been the absence of
Graham Zusi
, who is on
Copa America Centenario
duty with the US national team. But the 23-­year-­old Hallisey has been solid in several areas, Vermes said.
“He's got a great engine, No. 1,” Vermes said of Hallisey. “No. 2, there's a lot of little things there. He's got very good service with his left foot. Those are probably two of the biggest things, at the moment.”
Hallisey made eight starts in 17 appearances last year, six of those in league play. He has yet to score yet with Sporting, though, and has just one assist in each of his first two pro seasons.
“It feels good to have more of a role and play more games,” he told reporters on Tuesday, “but at the same time you're always looking to improve and you always want to do better. So even though I'm on the field, I think I need to have more of an impact and change the game in different ways.
“I think in terms of the mindset – fitting in, confidence, stuff like that – I've definitely gotten better. I think the biggest area where I need to improve would be getting points – scoring goals, getting assists, actually being on the scoresheet. I've had my chances this year, and now I just have to finish them.”
Hallisey has put five of his 10 shots on frame in MLS competition this year, but always at the goalkeeper. He did not take any shots in Wednesday night's Open Cup game.
“He's actually had some good chances over the last two years for us, and he hasn't stuck one away,” Vermes said. “He needs to do that for himself. It'll break that seal, and the next thing you know he's got a little more confidence. He gets himself in good positions. Now it's just about having the killer instinct and finishing it.”
That will come, Hallisey said.
“It's going to be huge for me,” he said. “I know when the first one goes, more will come. I've just got to force that first one in.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.