Sporting KC's Shelton aiming to get in on goals, but team sharing the load

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Sporting Kansas City have had no trouble scoring goals this season, but what’s potentially the most intriguing part about their early success, is that despite scoring at a solid rate, they’ve done it without much from their strikers.

They’ve already bagged 14 goals on the season, and it’s just taken them seven matches. Only one of those goals came from the striker position, and it wasn’t the man who has started in the forward's role since the second match of the year, newcomer Khiry Shelton.

Sporting head coach Peter Vermes doesn’t think this is a concern going forward though.

“He does so much for us in the game,” Vermes said. “Yeah, I’d like to see him score, I think he wants to score, I think everyone wants him to score, sure. But there is a lot of other things in the game that he’s doing, that’s really helping the team, and that’s really important.

“We’re getting results with him on the field as well. So you can’t deny that too,” Vermes added.

The manager installed Shelton as the starting striker in their 4-3 win against the Chicago Fire back on March 10. Since then, he’s had four shots on goal in six matches. Notably, he has notched two assists.

Shelton has had his chances to get on the scoresheet, most notably in the first half against Seattle on Sunday when he was unable to get his left-footed shot past Stefan Frei.

If Sporting KC weren’t scoring plenty of goals from elsewhere on the field, this might be of bigger concern moving forward. But Sporting have “spread the wealth” thus far.

“It is good to spread it around,” Vermes said. “Because I think as much as you want to make sure you have someone who is counted on to be your goalscorer, it’s also good to be able to make sure it can be done by a committee as well. You have to be able to do it in different ways as well, set pieces, all kinds of ways.”

With seven players scoring so far this season, fullbacks Graham Zusi and Jimmy Medranda tripling the production of the strikers is probably something Vermes didn’t see coming. But with nine goals from the midfield and the wingers, they’ve had enough to cover for the lack of goals from up top.

For Shelton, his contributions are still a work in progress, and he knows there are things to improve on going forward.

“Right now I’m still trying to figure out how to throw defenders off in certain ways,” Shelton said. “Tactically I think I’m sound there. But just running in behind, being a menace up top. But, I feel like at the end of the day, I created chances for not only myself, but for other people.”

But that still doesn’t mean that his chances won’t come.

“That’s what Peter has expressed towards the forwards, is to hold the ball up, create chances for ourselves, work hard,” Shelton said. “We’re going to get our opportunities as strikers to score. I’ve had a couple so far and haven’t scored yet, but I’ve just got to be patient. But I’m trying to get one. I’m trying to get one.”