The last time Sporting Kansas City lost a game, their disappointment and anger at falling one game short of the 2011 MLS Cup title match fueled this season’s early surge to the top of the Eastern Conference.
Manager Peter Vermes doesn’t expect his side to spend their bye week beating themselves up after taking their first defeat of the year, though.
“It’s not like we didn’t have the right mentality, or our attitude was bad, or we did something poor in the game,” Vermes told MLSsoccer.com by phone after Saturday’s 1-0 loss to the Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field. “We didn’t have much against us. We went out on the road and took the match to them.”
HIGHLIGHTS: POR 1, KC 0
Only right back Chance Myers’ own goal in the 42nd minute – after he and defensive midfielder Julio Cesar both went to clear Kris Boyd’s cross – kept Sporting (7-1-0) from running their unbeaten streak to eight matches.
It was the first own goal charged to Sporting this year – and, in a cruel twist for Myers, the first time he put the ball into the net in his career.
“Stuff happens sometimes,” Vermes said. “You’ve got to be able to dig out of it. You don’t want it to happen, but it does.”
Vermes would rather focus on Sporting’s positives: 59 percent of possession, a 76 percent pass completion rate and only two shots on goal allowed.
“We didn’t give anything away but one chance in the second half, and we created quite a few chances,” he said. “I thought the guys gave a hell of an effort, and I thought we were good tonight.”
The loss closed out a stretch of three games in eight days for Sporting, who haven’t been home since Monday. Vermes went with his usual starting lineup against Portland, though, after Julio Cesar – who sat out Wednesday’s 3-1 win over Vancouver with a strained right hamstring – was cleared to play on Saturday.
“Physically, for playing three games in eight days, we were good,” Vermes said. “That bodes some big-time dividends for us later in the season.”
One possible area of concern is that defender Aurelien Collin, who battled Boyd to a standstill all night, picked up his third yellow card of the season for a 66th-minute foul on Steve Purdy. Two more cautions, and he’ll have to sit for a game.
“If that happens, we’ll just have to move on and deal with it,” Vermes said. “I’ve said all along that we’ve got other players who can step in.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.