Before Sporting Kansas City regrouped on the training pitch on Monday for the first time since their stunning home loss to Montreal, the players met to discuss what went wrong – and how to keep it from happening again.
While manager Peter Vermes characterized the weekly meeting as “nothing abnormal,” goalkeeper and captain Jimmy Nielsen said it included a frank dissection of Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to a reserve-heavy Impact side.
“The effort was there, but everything we tried went wrong,” Nielsen told MLSsoccer.com after the training session. “We were trying, but we had the feeling that we didn’t leave the heart on the field, and that’s the worst.”
Sporting, the Eastern Conference leaders through the season’s opening two months, were heavily favored against the expansion Impact, especially with Montreal focused on the Amway Canadian Championship semifinals and saving many of their starters for this week’s second leg against Toronto FC.
Instead, Kansas City looked disjointed: failing to put together crisp passes in the attacking third, failing to convert when they did get chances and giving up two goals in a match for the first time this year.
“We didn’t have the right mentality to play the team that’s lower in the table,” Nielsen said. “I don’t know if we were a little disrespectful for their lineup.”
Sporting turned in a solid training session after the meeting, Vermes said, and are already looking forward to halting their two-game slide this weekend in Chicago.
“You’ve just got to learn from it and move on,” he said. “Any time you have a misstep, or you make a mistake, whether it’s on a goal or over the course of a game, you’ve got to be able to learn from your mistakes. You can’t shy away from it and try to bury it. You’ve got to talk about it, you’ve got to get over it and move on.”
Still, Nielsen plans to call a meeting of his own later in the week just to make sure the lessons of last weekend are still fresh.
“We’ll have a little chat,” he said. “Not today, because we already had a long meeting, but we’ll get together again this week.”
One encouraging thing for Sporting is that since their 2011 rebranding and move into Livestrong Sporting Park, they are unbeaten (2-0-2) in their next matches after a defeat at their new home.
“I think we have a very hungry roster,” Nielsen said. “You take pride in your home stadium, playing in front of 20,000 people who are there cheering for you. You want to do as well as you can. It doesn’t always go your way, and sometimes you lose, but that’s when I feel the hunger on this team. We cannot let that happen again.”