Discipline key for Sporting KC's aggressive style of play

With the third-most disciplinary points in MLS, it's a safe bet that Sporting Kansas City are out of the running for this year's Fair Play Award. But for all of their league-high 442 fouls committed and 414 disciplinary points, Sporting haven't paid much of a price.

They've had one player sent off all year, and that was more than three months ago – and not for anything done during the run of play. And while defensive midfielder Uri Rosell will serve his second suspension for caution accumulation when Kansas City visit the Columbus Crew on Saturday, that will mark only the sixth time a player has had to sit out a match for disciplinary reasons.

“Thanks for asking me about that at this point of the season,” manager Peter Vermes told MLSsoccer.com with a laugh. “Knock wood, right?”

Vermes isn't even all that upset about Rosell's latest suspension, saying that cards come with his position.

“Of all the ones he's received, I would say there's probably three I would question,” Vermes said on Tuesday. “He's pretty aggressive, and the other thing is that some of the ones he's gotten were well-taken. He destroyed an action that could have turned into something else, so he's pretty good and smart in those. When you look at him, and he's leading the league in balls intercepted, it goes with the territory.”

Center back Aurelien Collin has served two yellow-card suspensions, midfielder Peterson Joseph has served one, and forward C.J. Sapong saw Kansas City's only red card of the year on June 22. That was for deflecting an already-rolling ball into the head of FC Dallas' Andrew Jacobson while Jacobson lay on the pitch after being fouled.

And while the Disciplinary Committee has had plenty to do all year long, it hasn't handed out any after-the-fact suspensions to Sporting players.

But on the other side of the equation, Sporting have seen nine opposing players sent off from the pitch this year – seven of those on straight red cards. Six of those red cards, and both second yellows, were for fouls committed during live play.

“That's a testament to the players,” Vermes said. “They're disciplined. They know that we need to finish games with 11 players on the field. You can't have a selfish act where you feel like you were wronged. You have to let the referee take care of it, and you can't retaliate. That takes a lot of discipline, and I think our guys are very good about it.”