BRIDGEVIEW, Ill.—After watching his Sporting Kansas City side ring up four goals on the Chicago Fire and steal a late victory, SKC head coach Peter Vermes was easily able to dismiss suggestions that his side was short on attacking firepower.
“I always think it’s really interesting, the season starts off and people have those comments,” Vermes told MLSsoccer.com. “The game’s not an easy one, the most expensive players around the world are all attackers, and they’re usually goal scorers, and the last time I looked I didn’t see anyone in our league buying anyone for $100 million to be a goal scorer. And sometimes they don’t work. I believe in the guys that we have.”
The visitors raced into a deserved 2-0 lead at the break through goals from new signings Felipe Gutierrez and Johnny Russell, and although the home side staged a stunning second-half comeback to lead 3-2 in the 82nd minute, further strikes from Jimmy Medranda (83') and Gutierrez (86') secured Sporting a their first three points of 2018.
Two of the club’s high profile offseason additions were instrumental in the victory, Gutierrez’s brace underpinning an excellent performance, while Johnny Russell’s industry and guile on the right was rewarded with his first goal for the club and a key role in Gutierrez’s winner.
Gutierrez, 27, who signed as a Designated Player from Real Betis (and has 35 caps and four goals for his native Chile), attempted to deflect attention toward the greater good.
“I am more happy about the result, this is the most important thing,” Gutierrez said. “I think the team, we played really good over the 90 minutes. I think in 20 minutes of the second half we were less in the performance, but over the 90 minutes I think we played a really good game. I think we tried to fight for 90 minutes and that’s the most important thing.”
After an offseason that completed a significant roster turnover that begin with erstwhile talisman Dom Dwyer's summer 2017 trade to Orlando City SC, Vermes knows the transition process is only beginning.
“I think the new guys we have are still getting adjusted to the league, because they don’t understand our league yet,” Vermes said. “Honestly, it’s a different league in a lot of respects, the travel, you name it, and I think at times it can be a physical league. The fighting spirit in the United States and MLS is pretty strong, that’s why anybody beats anybody any week. So these are all good experiences for them but I’m glad they had a good mentality in the game as well.”