One raised flag, one converted penalty, and Sporting Kansas City would have left Toyota Stadium with a road point in their Western Conference opener.
They didn't get either one in Saturday night's 3-1 away loss to FC Dallas, their first to their new conference rival since a 3-2 home defeat on Aug. 27, 2011.
Blas Perez's second goal of the night, a back-post finish in the 52nd minute, stood as the match-winner for the hosts – even though replays showed that Perez was one of four Dallas players well offside when Michel played the ball into the area after a short corner.
“How you can miss four or five guys being offside, I have no idea,” Vermes told reporters in a conference call after the match. “I really don't. I don't get it.”
What upset Vermes the most was that his back line, with one rookie and two players who didn't start in last weekend's season opener, held the shape he wanted on the play but weren't rewarded for it.
“It's a difficult thing to swallow,” he said. “As I've said in the past, the problem is that you work with your team in the preseason, week after week, and you institute very specific situational training in regards to play, certain plays within a game. What transpires is that you go to your guys and you tell them to do this at this moment, and they do it.
“I have absolutely no understanding how the referee can't see it – and with that many guys offside. That's what I don't get.”
The no-call forced Sporting to press for an equalizer – and, Vermes said, likely contributed to Fabian Castillo's insurance goal off a textbook counterattack in the 73rd minute.
“At that moment, you're pushing,” he said. “You're pushing and you're trying to get yourself back even again, and time's starting to run away from you. So yeah, that definitely affected it. Everything has a cause and effect, and unfortunately, it was a big miss by the linesman.”
Sporting had a chance to pull within 3-2 in the 79th minute, after Matt Hedges pulled down second-half sub Bernardo Anor in the penalty area, but Chris Seitz dived to his right to parry away Dom Dwyer's spot kick.
That left Dwyer, who set a handful of single-season scoring records last year for Sporting, goalless through the first two matches of 2015 despite solid chances in both.
Vermes expressed faith that the center forward would find his touch, and praised his effort throughout the match.
“His movement off the ball, his pressure up front, all that stuff was very, very good,” Vermes said. “I look at the number of opportunities we're getting as good, and we're going to stick them away. I'm not worried about that.”
And despite the scoreline, and a six-match winless streak across all competitions since last Oct. 10, Vermes said his club took steps forward on Saturday night.
“I'm just unhappy about the three goals,” he said. “I felt the second goal changed things a little bit, but there were times where we lost possession in some very easy situations or put ourselves in dangerous positions. Other than that, I thought we were very good.”
One of those costly lost possessions led to Perez's first goal in the 17th minute, after rookie right back Amadou Dia misplayed a long ball into the Sporting end. Castillo took possession and passed to Tesho Akindele, who set up Perez for the finish.
“Unfortunately, Dia made a little mistake on the first goal,” Vermes said. “He went to settle and the ball got away from him a little bit. Drops right to Castillo, who made a very good pass. For him, maybe that's a little bit of a growing pain, but I thought he had a good performance tonight. He was very good in parts of the field.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.