KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Peter Vermes got what he wanted – and what his injury-plagued team needed – out of Sporting Kansas City’s last exhibition of the season.
Vermes had hoped to get extensive minutes for the backups and spot starters who made up the overwhelming bulk of his starting XI in Wednesday night’s 1-1 draw with Stoke City FC of the English Premier League.
That’s what they gave him, with each starter turning in a 90-minute effort – and winger Kyle Miller delivering the stoppage-time equalizer (on a fortunate deflection of a low clearance) in his first start and second appearance with the club.
“I thought they played very well,” Vermes said after Thursday’s training session. “All those guys, with the amount of experience that they don’t have – not that they do have, that they don’t have yet – it was a good game for that group of guys.”
Center forward Teal Bunbury was the only regular starter to play against Stoke, although several others were in the 18 if they had been needed due to injury.
A couple of Sporting’s players wore some extra gear to Thursday’s training session – which, for them, was limited by their recent injuries.
Center back Aurélien Collin showed off his clear face mask, which he will wear as he recovers from facial fractures sustained in last week’s MLS All-Star Game. He didn’t demonstrate its protective capabilities, though.
“No heading,” he said. “I’m not cleared for that yet.”
And forward/midfielder Jacob Peterson, who sprained his right shoulder when he landed awkwardly after a diving header attempt in last weekend’s 2-1 home loss to Columbus, worked out wearing a brace on the injured joint.
“We were joking that he’s got so many bandages and tapes on, he looks like Batman after a night out,” defender Matt Besler told MLSsoccer.com. “Jake’s a really tough guy, and that’s the best thing to do when you’re injured – get back out on the field, even if you’re just doing small things to start working toward 100 percent.”
Sporting have not said how long Peterson will be out with the shoulder injury, but Vermes said Thursday that even limited training work is an encouraging sign.
“He’s running,” Vermes said. “He’s playing with the ball. He’s doing some stuff with our rehab guys. He says he’s feeling pretty good. There’s guys who have played with this injury before, so he’s working on it. We’ll see how it goes. I can’t say whether he’s going to be ready for any games – he won’t be ready by this weekend, by any means – but we’ll see.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.