KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Whatever was said during Monday morning's team meeting, with Sporting Kansas City now on six matches without a win, there were no public shots fired by the players afterward.
“I think any time you go through a stretch without winning games, it's always difficult,” Besler, the club's third-year captain, told MLSsoccer.com. “It's not fun. As players – and I'm sure the coaches will agree – we're all trying to do everything we can to turn things around. At the same time, we all believe in what we're doing. We have to stick together through times like this.
“We're well aware that things can turn around very quickly, and if we put together a couple of results we can be right back where we want to be.”
On Saturday, after Sporting fell 2-0 away to Houston, manager Peter Vermes spoke critically of his club's effort and execution.
“These are environments where players have to make a decision as to what they want to do,” Vermes said in his postmatch news conference. “It's about competing. It's about not making mistakes, the same ones time and time again. That's a big piece of it.”
On Monday, Feilhaber agreed with his coach's assessment.
“We weren't good enough in more than one aspect, I think,” he told reporters. “I think we've had some good conversations about it this morning, among the players and the coaches.”
Sporting have little time to regroup from Saturday's match, with another away date on Wednesday against the Western Conference-leading Colorado Rapids (9 pm ET, MLS LIVE), this season's surprise team. Vermes said on Saturday that he might shake up his lineup for that game, given the short turnaround and his displeasure with Saturday's result. On Monday, however, he seemed to hedge a bit.
“There's no specific thing,” he said. “It's so many different things. You can't just say it's one thing. It never is. When you're going through a bad patch, it's a lot of different things, and you've got to make sure that you face them head-on and you get ready for the next game. That's really what it is.
“Changing lineups? Sure, that could be an idea. It could be [that you] give guys who have been playing the opportunity to know that 'This is unacceptable, and now you have to get yourself out of it.' There's different ways to approach it, and the last thing I'm going to do is tell you guys what I'm going to do.”
Whoever's out on the pitch on Wednesday, Feilhaber said, solid defense from front to back has to be Sporting's top priority.
“You pretty much look at the goals we've gotten scored on this year, and I'd say 90 or more percent of them are our own doing, our own mistakes and not necessarily great goals from the other team,” he said. “We've got to take that out of our game. We've got to get a shutout, got to get a clean sheet.”
It's also important to take a long view to the season, Besler said, making the same point he made -- although from a different perspective -- when Sporting opened the season with three straight wins.
“There's no perfect season,” he said. “There's never been a team to go through an entire season and be perfect. As much as we would like to be perfect, and win every single game, the reality is that that does not happen. We just have to stay focused, stay strong in the things that we're trying to do.
“We have to find a way as a group to start getting results. That's what we're working for. That's what we all want.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.