For all of his hard work on pressure and ball-winning in Sporting Kansas City's high press, Jacob Peterson has never lost sight of his job description as a forward. And after his first MLS goal in more than a year – a game-winner, at that – he was glad to be back in the club's scoring column.
But what's more important, he said, is the share of the Eastern Conference lead that Sporting now hold, along with New England and New York.
“It was damn good. I was happy,” Peterson told reporters after his 10th-minute goal staked Sporting Kansas City to an early lead in Sunday's 2-0 home victory over the Columbus Crew. “It's been a while, at least in MLS play. That's ultimately your role. We have other facets in of the game, especially in this system, that Peter (Vermes, Sporting's manager) demands of the wingers and the forwards, but you go out there to score.
“So it was nice, but the most important thing is that we won the game and got the three points.”
Before Sunday, Peterson's last MLS goal – also a match-winner – came in the regular-season finale in 2012. At the time, he was playing with a shoulder injury that would require offseason surgery to correct.
He was limited to 16 matches last season, scoring his only goal in a CONCACAF Champions League qualifier against Nicaragua's Real Esteli. That turned out to be a clutch score, preserving a 1-1 draw and a point that eventually saw Sporting through to the quarterfinals.
Sunday's start was his second of the year, with Sal Zizzo sidelined by a groin strain, but he has appeared in five of Sporting's eight matches so far. He repaid his selection to the XI when he turned on a loose ball in the area and sent it inside the left post.
“Jake hasn't necessarily had a ton of starts,” Vermes said in Sunday's postmatch news conference, “but I always know that Jake's going to give us everything he has. He's always going to be busy and around the box. He found himself in a good place. It was a good action for us going forward.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.