After three months of waiting to get on the pitch, Soony Saad made an immediate scoring impact for Sporting Kansas City.
But despite his two goals in Tuesday night’s 3-2 US Open Cup win over Orlando City, the young forward isn’t a lock to start in next week’s fourth-round game against the Colorado Rapids.
“He’s in the running,” manager Peter Vermes told MLSsoccer.com after Thursday’s training session, “but there’s got to be other things involved, not just the scoring. There’s got to be defensive work as well.”
And on that side of the ball, Saad didn’t begin impressing Vermes until after scoring in the 65th and 69th minutes against the USL Pro side.
WATCH: Highlights, reaction from USOC victory
“For about 70 minutes of the game, he didn’t help us a lot defensively,” Vermes said. “The good thing is, the last 20 minutes he started to get what we were trying to tell him. It’s both sides of the ball that we’ve got to be prepared to play, and we’ve got to have all 11 guys doing it. It can’t be one, two, three, however many guys not doing it — we all have to be on the same page.”
That said, Vermes was glad to see Saad provide the game-winner and a critical insurance goal.
“Him getting the goals obviously helps,” Vermes said. “That’s part of his job. He’s a goalscorer. Now it’s just getting the other pieces of the game, more consistently.”
For his part, Saad was glad to finally make his 2012 debut — and said he’ll put in the work to earn more chances.
“It is frustrating, not being able to be part of a great team,” he said on Thursday. “But that’s part of being a professional. You have to pick your moments and go 100 percent, and that’s what I’m going to do, to show that I’m ready to keep it going.”
Saad, who joined Sporting at midseason last year, is trying to crack a talented front line corps that has accounted for all five of SKC’s goals in their last three league matches.
“It is a loaded group,” he said. “We have a lot of firepower up top. But I like the challenge. If we all work hard, we’ll get the best out of our front group.”
Good grades for Warzycha
Konrad Warzycha, who made his Sporting debut in Tuesday’s USOC win, earned generally high marks for his play in central defense.
“I thought he was solid in a lot of different areas,” Vermes said. “There were a couple of things he made some mistakes on, but it’s a learning process for him.”
Warzycha, who moved to the back line from the midfield at Vermes’ suggestion, was instrumental in breaking up several Orlando City attacks.
“He has a good soccer brain,” Vermes said. “I think that will serve him well at that position.”
Reserve center back Cyprian Hedrick, Sporting’s second-round pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft, is expected to be out for four months after breaking his left shinbone in Thursday’s training session.
Hedrick had appeared in several Reserve League and exhibition matches for Sporting.