Just like the supporters who reveled in a 3-0 win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes loved what he saw from forwards Alan Pulido and Daniel Salloi on Sunday afternoon at Children’s Mercy Park.
Speaking with Sports Radio 810 WHB host Soren Petro this afternoon, Vermes reflected on a comprehensive victory that vaulted Sporting to third place in the Western Conference ahead of Saturday’s trip to the San Jose Earthquakes.
Pulido bagged a brace and Salloi scored his second goal of the season to spark the triumph against Vancouver, drawing praise from the manager himself.
“Alan’s ability to play amongst congestion on the field is second to none in this league right now,” Vermes said of Pulido, who converted a 32nd-minute penalty kick before doubling his tally in the 58th minute. “His ability to play with his back to goal, receive balls between the lines under pressure within tight spaces, and then to be able to execute the way he did on his second goal is world class.”
Impressively enough, Pulido leads MLS with 0.92 goals and primary assists per 90 minutes played since joining MLS at the start of 2020. He has a team-best three goals this year and appears well on his way to a stellar sophomore campaign in Sporting blue.
“Alan has (street smarts) inside the white lines,” Vermes said. “It was extremely evident when (Sunday’s) game kicked off, based on the way he was initiating our defense, that he was on a mission. It’s that mentality that he has that goes along with his ability and talent. That makes him a very special player on the field.”
As for Salloi, the 24-year-old Sporting KC Academy product has shown legitimate signs of reclaiming the form that vaulted him to Sporting KC golden boot honors in 2018. After notching 11 regular season goals that year, the Hungary-born winger scored just once from 2019 to 2020. He has bounced back in 2021, however, with two goals and an assist through six appearances.
During his discussion with Petro, Vermes shared insight on the recent conversations he has had with Salloi regarding his attacking form.
“I put you out there because I have the confidence in you,” Vermes told Salloi. “If I didn’t, I wouldn’t put you out here. You’re getting into really good spots and getting really good chances. I still think you’re hurrying things up a bit because you’re thinking too much. Guys miss chances all of the time. You’ve got to move past that and the next time you get a chance, you’ve got to take it in a way that feels comfortable for you—not in a way that other people want you to.”
Vermes then referenced a specific example from Sunday’s match. In the 27th minute, Salloi fired inches wide of the mark off a Graham Zusi cross. Rather than dwell on the miss, he was back on the attack 60 seconds later to tuck away Sporting’s first goal of the game.
Pulido and Salloi will look to carry their scoring ways into Saturday’s contest at San Jose. Kickoff at Avaya Stadium is slated for 9 p.m. CT with live coverage on Bally Sports Kansas City, Bally Sports Midwest, BallySports.com, the Bally Sports app, Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM.