KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Up a man and up 2-0 on Chivas USA, and with another match looming on Wednesday, Peter Vermes sent word to his Sporting Kansas City players: It would be fine if they wanted to throttle back a bit.
They sent their own message back: No thanks, coach.
Sporting KC added two more goals after that, racking up a season high for offense and breaking C.J. Sapong's season-long dry spell in Sunday's 4-0 rout of the Goats.
“I actually was trying to tell some of the guys, 'Listen, just let them come to you,'” Vermes said in the postmatch news conference after Sporting moved back into a share of the East lead with Montreal and New York. “But obviously, they had a little difference of opinion, and I'm not going to fight against it. They wanted to keep going, and I'm glad that they had the mentality to do that.
"Sometimes, you want them to be a little bit intelligent in regards to the fact that we have a game on Wednesday, but I'm not going to pull the dogs back if they want to go.”
Claudio Bieler led the way with his first brace of the year, scoring in the 41st minute off Graham Zusi's assist and converting from the spot in the 57th after Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy brought down Paulo Nagamura in the box and was issued a straight red card. That gives him six goals on the year, tying Philadelphia's Jack McInerney and LA's Mike Magee for the league lead.
“Obviously, playing 11-v-11 in the first half was a good matchup for the team,” the Argentinean Designated Player said through a translator. “We were doing well. When they lost a man, it just became a bit easier. We managed the game, and we kept going forward because we wanted to score more goals.”
Zusi one-timed a cross from Josh Gardner into the roof of the net to make it 3-0 in the 65th minute, and C.J. Sapong's side-footer of Mechack Jérôme's cross in the 87th minute gave him his first goal of the year.
“It's been a while, obviously,” Sapong said. “It's been rough. I've been tested. But hey, that's what makes it all the more beautiful when it actually goes in, right?”
Sunday's result stood in stark contrast to Sporting's previous outing, when they paid for lackluster passing and blew a pair of one-goal leads in last weekend's 3-2 home loss to Portland.
“The difference is every guy on the field worked from the opening minute to the final minute,” Vermes said. “The other is that they all won their individual duels, with and without the ball. When we do that, we wind up dominating teams physically, technically, tactically and psychologically, and today I think we broke them.
"To score four was a small amount. We probably could have scored a lot more, but it's great to see us get four here at home.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.