Sporting KC vow to turn painful playoff exit into fuel for future success

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – The immediate aftermath of losing such a big match can make it hard on players to reflect positively on the way their season went. Most of the Sporting KC players were in that position Thursday night after their devastating loss in the Western Conference Championship.

Head coach Peter Vermes was ready to reflect, though, and believes that this can be a building block for his side going forward.

“I think situations like this, they’re going to stick with you a long time,” said a candid Vermes after his team’s 3-2 loss to the Portland Timbers. ”It’s a motivating factor in my opinion.”

Sporting had themselves in the situation they wanted this season: one game, at home, to win a trophy and get a shot at MLS Cup. They fell short. However, they believe they’ll be back next year.

They’ll return their veteran core, and still be loaded with tons of young or prime attacking talent. A season full of blossoming newcomers like Johnny Russell and Felipe Gutierrez, and breakout performances from young players like Daniel Salloi, Jaylin Lindsey and Gianluca Busio, gives SKC a lot to look forward to and build on for 2019.

One of those youngsters believes the disappointment of the loss will eventually be used as a positive for them going forward.

“I think there’s a lot of good signs this year,” Salloi said. “Not just bigger names, but Homegrown Players, and I think this team just gets better. I think we’re going to have everybody next year and we’ll get stronger. For sure this is a positive thing.”

Recent history has shown that teams who fall just short in one year, can come back to claim trophies the next year. Vermes harkened back to Sporting's 2012 loss in the Eastern Conference Semifinals as an example.

“I remember years ago, against Houston here at home we won one-nil. But we didn’t score enough, so we lost," he said. "Today feels a little bit like that game ... Hopefully [it will] be a motivating factor going into next year, because we’ve got a lot of different things we’re involved in – especially Champions League right away – and we’ll see where that goes.”