Shutout loss at Colorado has Sporting KC reconsidering road approach

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The headaches away from home continued for Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night.

Despite leading in nearly every possible offensive metric against the Colorado Rapids, SKC fell 1-0 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Saturday to drop to 1-4-3 on the road in 2017.

“It’s tough to swallow when you play as well as we did and you walk away with zero,” SKC manager Peter Vermes said after the game. “I’m disappointed for the guys because of the effort and the level of play. It was just a class game from them, but again, we couldn’t find the net.”

Sporting KC outshot Colorado 25-6 and controlled 73 percent of possession on Saturday, but couldn’t overcome Kortne Ford’s 11th minute goal, frustratingly falling 1-0.

“Sometimes the game is cruel, and this is what happens,” Vermes explained. “When you’re away from home and dominating a game like this, you usually get more.”

To date, SKC only has three goals in eight road matches. Kansas City was shutout again on Saturday, continuing a trend of six shutouts in those eight matches.

“It’s been a trend that we haven’t scored enough goals on the road. That’s definitely something we need to work on this season: figure out a way to get more goals on the road,” said SKC midfielder Benny Feilhaber. “In terms of outplaying teams on the road, we’ve been able to do that too, so it’s mostly about being able to get those goals and keep the other team off the board.”

Against Colorado, creating chances was not an issue – it was being effective with them. Despite their massive advantage in total shots, SKC actually ended the match with fewer shots on goal than the opportunistic Rapids, who put three shots on target to Sporting’s two. In what was billed as a battle of two of the best ‘keepers in MLS in Tim Howard and Tim Melia, Howard was rarely tested, ending the match with just one save.

“If you’re not getting clear cut chances, the shots from the top of the box, you’ve got to hit the target,” said Feilhaber. “It’s fine to hit shots from 20-25 out, but you’ve got to make Tim Howard work.”

If SKC are to right its ship on the road, Feilhaber believes his team must take the “quality over quantity” approach.

“I think we created some chances. I wouldn’t say that they were 100 percent clear cut chances. But when you create enough chances to create 20-something shots, you’ve got to put more on target. That’s really the bottom line.”