Two games, two clean sheets. If the recipe for success in Major League Soccer begins with stingy defense, Sporting Kansas City is off to a perfectly respectable start.
Manager Peter Vermes’ men are still hunting for their first goal of 2017 as attention turns to next weekend’s home tilt with the San Jose Earthquakes, but back-to-back shutouts to open the campaign suggest that Sporting Kansas City won’t be an easy out for anyone.
Saturday’s 0-0 draw against FC Dallas epitomized the effects of Vermes’ high-pressure system coupled with a raucous sellout crowd at Children’s Mercy Park. The visitors managed to complete just 14 passes in the attacking third of the field, a record low for FC Dallas since Opta began tracking the statistic in 2011.
Only once was Sporting Kansas City’s back line breached — in the 29th minute when Cristian Colman latched onto Tesho Akindele’s cross and pelted a shot off the woodwork.
“One of the great things about Dallas is normally they are a very good counter-attacking team,” Vermes said postgame. “But tonight they only had one in the first half. After that, everything else was taken away from them because I think we never really gave up the ball in bad situations. That’s very important over the course of a 34-game season.”
Indeed, Sporting Kansas City’s ability to control possession (68.4 percent) and territory silenced the defending U.S. Open Cup and Supporters’ Shield champions for much of the evening, as the table below illustrates.
FEWEST SUCCESSFUL PASSES IN ATTACKING THIRD
(FC DALLAS - MLS REGULAR SEASON SINCE 2011)
|3/28/15||31||Seattle Sounders FC|
Saturday marked the first time since 2012 that Sporting Kansas City has opened a season with consecutive shutouts. Dating back to last year, the club has posted four straight clean sheets in the MLS regular season. The last time that happened was in April 2013, when the club went on to hoist the 2013 MLS Cup.
In fact, Sporting KC’s current shutout streak is tied for the third-longest in the club’s regular season history.
SPORTING KC'S LONGEST SHUTOUT STREAKS
(ALL-TIME - MLS REGULAR SEASON)
|6 games||4/22/00 to 5/20/00|
|5 games||3/16/13 to 4/17/13|
|4 games||10/15/11 to 3/17/12|
|4 games||10/16/16 to present|
With another point in the bag, Sporting Kansas City took its record in home openers to 13-2-7 all-time. The club’s two home opening defeats remain an all-time low among MLS charter members.
HOME-OPENING LOSSES (MLS CHARTER MEMBERS)
|Sporting Kansas City||2|
|Columbus Crew SC||3|
|New York Red Bulls||4|
|New England Revolution||5|
|San Jose Earthquakes||8|