No bright spots. No small victories. Peter Vermes couldn’t find one good thing to say.
Of course, that wasn’t altogether surprising after watching his team give up four goals to a previously hapless Philadelphia Union side without mounting any response of their own.
“We weren’t good. We just weren’t good tonight,” Vermes told MLSsoccer.com by phone after Saturday’s 4-0 away loss at PPL Park. “We were sluggish. That was the biggest thing. We just weren’t ready for the game. That’s my fault, and I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Sporting (9-4-3) had a four-game league unbeaten streak (six across all competitions) snapped by the rout and missed a chance to move back into the Eastern Conference lead.
HIGHLIGHTS: PHI 4, SKC 0
They never got untracked after giving up the first of Jack McInerney’s two goals, which came just under one minute gone in the match. The second, in the 42ndminute, sent Kansas City to the locker room trailing 2-0.
Then the wheels came off, with Lionard Pajoy making it 3-0 on a penalty kick in the 81st minute – the third conceded by center back Aurelien Collin this season – and Antoine Hoppenot finishing things off in the 87th.
“That early goal put us in a hole,” Vermes said. “The one right before halftime hurt us and put us in deeper. It was just a lot to dig out of. We didn’t play well. The other team played better, and they deserved the three points. “
Sporting were playing on a short turnaround after a long trip following Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at Seattle, but Vermes said that didn’t justify their lackluster performance.
“I’m sure it had something to do with it, but I don’t want it to be the excuse,” he said. “I’m sure it was the culmination of quite a lot of things: going from Kansas City to the Pacific Northwest and then flying again, changing temperature by like 35 degrees.
“It’s a big thing. But at the end, we just didn’t play well. They were first to the ball on many occasions, and they scored the goals.”
Sporting won’t have much time to regroup, though, before playing in a match they can’t afford to lose: Tuesday’s US Open Cup quarterfinal against the Dayton Dutch Lions of USL Pro.
And Sporting know all too well the cost of a letdown against a third-tier side. Last year, they also reached the quarters before being stunned 2-0 by the Richmond Kickers – their first loss at Livestrong Sporting Park.
“We’ve got to take this and learn from it,” Vermes said. “We’ve got to get better. In a situation like this, whether the game comes fast or not, you’ve got to be better. That’s really what needs to happen, and this Cup game is a big opportunity for us, so we’d better be ready to play.”