No music blared in the home locker room. The flat-screens were silent and dark. One after another, Sporting Kansas City’s players shook their heads and reflected upon an upset loss to an expansion side most expected them to crush.
“I think we got outfought tonight, and I can honestly say that it’s the first time that this team, our team, that it’s happened to us this year,” midfielder Graham Zusi said after the Montreal Impact stunned Sporting 2-0 on Saturday night. “I can pretty much promise you that it won’t happen again.”
It was Sporting’s second straight shutout defeat after seven straight wins to open the season, but the mood Saturday night stood in stark contrast to that after a 1-0 away loss to Portland two weeks ago.
Then, manager Peter Vermes praised his team’s fight and all but shrugged off Chance Myers’ own-goal.
After the Montreal loss, in which Sporting’s goalless streak reached 205 minutes, Vermes gave credit to the Impact – but also criticized his side’s inability to finish and overall lack of offensive cohesion.
“We were around their goal and had chances, but everything was off the mark,” said Vermes, whose club was coming off a bye week and facing a reshuffled Montreal lineup as the Impact rested up from the opening leg of their Amway Canadian Championship semifinal against Toronto. “That’s not from being off two weeks. Look, we weren’t there and we weren’t sharp enough.”
His players agreed with that assessment.
“We were off tonight,” said defender Matt Besler, who missed a solid chance to tie the score at 1-1 early in the second half when he floated a header just over the crossbar. “We didn’t do enough to win the game.”
Sporting, who excelled on the flanks over the course of their hot start to the season, tried to work the middle against Montreal, but couldn’t find space to make a decisive run or a timely final pass.
“They played our game – they played it better than us,” said right winger Kei Kamara, who was denied by the Impact’s Donovan Ricketts shortly before Patrice Bernier’s 63rd-minute penalty kick put the game away. “That’s the way we play, with pressure minute 1 to 90, and they came into our house and played the way we play.”
Vermes defended Aurélien Collin, who was whistled for the foul on Lamar Neagle that led to Bernier’s game-icing goal – while at the same time criticizing the defensive lapse that lead to Neagle’s breakaway opportunity.
“If you look at the play that led to it, terrible on our part from the throw-in,” Vermes said. “The whole play should have been totally different. Shame on us for putting ourselves in that position and then you have to react the way [Collin] did. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a penalty, but it was called and that’s the way it goes sometimes.”