Sporting Kansas City have a chance for some immediate payback on the team that knocked them out of the US Open Cup, but a few things will have to change between Tuesday night's 3-1 home loss to the Portland Timbers and Friday's away date with the same side (10 pm CT; 38 The Spot & SKCTV) in their return to MLS action after the World Cup break.
“From front to back, on the ball and off the ball, organizationally, it's just got to be 100 percent better,” left back Seth Sinovic told reporters after Tuesday's match. “This was one of the really bad performances I've been a part of. We know we're better than that, and we expect better than that. We have to take a serious look at ourselves and improve because we have to face them again on Friday.”
The biggest improvement, manager Peter Vermes said repeatedly during his postmatch news conference, has to come when the Timbers have the ball.
“We've just got to be harder to play against defensively,” Vermes said. “We weren't hard enough [Tuesday], by any means, any stretch of the imagination. We weren't hard enough. It was what we weren't doing.”
Fixing that and getting back to their usual solid defense will require a return to concentration and communication in the back, defensive midfielder Lawrence Olum said – especially when defensive players join in the attack. On Tuesday, Portland repeatedly found countering space on the right flank, sending passes into open areas behind Sinovic after his runs forward.
“We've got to be more concentrated, especially when we're going forward,” Olum said. “That's how they got their chances, when we went forward. We were susceptible in the back, and that's what we've got to clean up next time. Hopefully, we'll work through it the next few days, and we should be ready for Friday.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.