SEATTLE – Sporting Kansas City has boasted the stingiest defense in MLS this season, with 19 goals conceded in 23 matches representing a league-low total.
But after their 1-0 road defeat to the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field on Saturday, Sporting have played seven league games without keeping a clean sheet – probably a longer drought than head coach Peter Vermes would like.
Even so, Vermes said he’s not too worried about his team eventually getting back to its lockdown defensive form.
“When you’ve got guys that are away for international duty as long as [we have], you’re going to be a little bit inconsistent in some areas on the field,” Vermes said. “But our results have been good. No doubt, with regular training, I’m not really concerned with that all.”
Vermes said SKC's problems on Saturday mostly owed to a lack of attacking punch in the final third, one that could potentially be attributed to a fatigued and reserve-heavy side. The club was coming off a 120-minute US Open Cup match against the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday that influenced Vermes to alter his lineup accordingly, with linchpins like Graham Zusi and Ike Opara not even making the trip.
“I think we put the effort in,” Vermes said. "I think the game came down to one chance and they scored and we weren’t very dangerous in the attacking third. I think we lacked a little bit of final push.
“We were just mentally and physically tired. And you have so many changes, we were a little bit disjointed as a team but more importantly, not all of those guys were 90 minutes fit. So I think that had a little bit to do with it as well.”
Vermes still said he was pleased with how his side competed on Saturday. Clint Dempsey’s 36th-minute game-winner was the only tally his team conceded to Seattle’s star-studded and in-form attack and, with more clinical finishing, the visitors very well could have left CenturyLink with a point.
SKC remain atop the Western Conference table despite the defeat, albeit in a three-way tie with Seattle and the Houston Dynamo.
“I don’t think we got worked over by any means today, at all,” Vermes said. “I thought we were good on the ball. The only thing where I think we weren’t good today is we weren’t dangerous in the final third. We didn’t really put a ton of pressure on them in and around the goal.
"Outside of that I thought our game was good. They got one chance, they scored, and they get the three points. That's the way it goes sometimes."