Mission impossible? Maybe not, but Sporting Kansas City are well aware their path to the Eastern Conference finals just took on a staggering degree of difficulty.
And although odds are certainly against Sporting following a second straight 2-0 playoff loss to the Dynamo, manager Peter Vermes wasn’t willing to label the admittedly disappointing result as disastrous. Sporting aren’t getting that far ahead of themselves, but overriding theme in the locker room was clear: There is always hope.
“It would be better if it was 0-0 or 2-0 our way, right? I wouldn’t use [disastrous],” Vermes said. “There have been many teams that have come back from this situation in the league. … Like I said, it’s halftime, so we’re getting ready for our home game.”
In order to advance, Kansas City will have to do defeat a Houston side at Livestrong Sporting Park on Wednesday (9 pm ET, MLS Live) that, once again, seems to have found their form at exactly the right time. Not only that, Sporting are 0-3-2 against the Dynamo since knocking off a 10-man side, 3-0, last September.
They’ll have to walk out 3-0 winners to accomplish that feat in regulation, this after scoring more than two goals just three times during the 2012 regular season. Meanwhile, Houston have given up at least three goals six times this season, but has outscored Kansas City 7-2 during their five-game unbeaten run against Vermes’ squad.
Still, Sporting aren’t willing to let the past dictate their future.
“It’s going to be very tough, but it’s not impossible. I’ve seen it happen many, many times,” midfielder Roger Espinoza said. “I don’t think I’ve been on a team before that’s done that, but it’s happened before. This is what we play for – to make amazing things happen.”
Amazing might be an understatement.
Kansas City will have to find a way break down a resolute Dynamo defense that seems to have their number to turn the series around. On Sunday, Houston held Sporting to one shot on goal, and never allowed Kei Kamara, Graham Zusi or C.J. Sapong to settle into any sort of rhythm.
Making the task even more daunting, Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear figures to make things even more difficult for Kansas City in the second leg.
“Obviously, they’re not going to come out and play 2-0 up,” Espinoza said. “That’s just the nature of the game.”
“I wouldn’t mind if they did that. That means we can have 90 minutes of attacking,” Zusi added. “If they sit back and let us come at them for 90 minutes, I think we have a pretty decent chance of getting two goals.”
Of course, pretty decent won’t get it done on Wednesday night in Kansas City. Sporting need nothing less than a dominate performance on both sides of the ball to prolong their season.
And although recent history is against them, nobody in the visitors’ locker room was ready to put their heads down just yet.
“We are down two at halftime. We are going to come back in the second half and we are going to win it,” defender Seth Sinovic said. “There is plenty of game left.”