Manager Peter Vermes has referenced it on multiple occasions in recent weeks.
Sporting Kansas City's current injury crisis—a total of 10 players were sidelined in Sunday's narrow 1-0 loss at D.C. United—has been the worst he's seen in 11 seasons at the helm.
If anyone is searching for numbers to back up his assertion, look no further than this: Sunday marked the first time in Vermes' decade-long managerial stint that Sporting dressed just 15 players for an MLS match.
The customary matchday squad consists of 18 players, with 11 starters plus seven subs available off the bench. Sporting had just four available substitutes in the nation's capital, and only three field players.
Vermes wasn't afraid to address the issue after the match, which saw Sporting deliver a gritty performance only to fall victim to Paul Arriola's terrific strike in the 78th minute.
“Every game is important, only from the perspective that we have to stay within the pack," Vermes said of a Sporting outfit that sits three points below the playoff line with a 2-4-4 record. "Where the difficulty is, is that we have to keep getting players back. Because even still, the players that we have playing right now, the difficulty there is that they’re not getting a break. And they need a break.”
While Sporting's squad may be stretched thin, one player who has avoided any significant ailments thus far is veteran left back Seth Sinovic. The dependable defender was part of a four-man backline that successfully stifled D.C. United for most of the night—no small task with opponents like Wayne Rooney and Luciano Acosta pulling the strings.
In fact, Sinovic's start propelled the Kansas City native into rarefied air among some of his hometown club's most storied players. With his 200th MLS start for Sporting (including playoffs), Sinovic has now reached a feat that only eight others have achieved.
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“I thought all three guys alongside me were incredible tonight," Sinovic said of Sporting's defenders. "I thought Graham Smith made some huge plays, (Botond) Barath made some big plays, (Nicolas) Hasler had a great game and was toughing out an old charlie horse in the back. So I think all three guys put together a really solid performance. Disappointed for everybody not to get the result but we gotta build off of it.”
An opportunity for Sporting to reclaim their winning form presents itself Saturday as a three-game homestand begins against Vancouver Whitecaps FC (3-5-3, 12 points) at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets for the Western Conference clash are available at SeatGeek.com, and the first 5,000 fans through the Children’s Mercy Park gates will receive a clear Sporting bag courtesy of Children’s Mercy. The match will also air live on FOX Sports Kansas City Plus and FOX Sports Midwest Plus.
"We gotta take points from these games," Sinovic said. "We obviously struggled to get points the last few games but this is a huge stretch for us. Hopefully we can build off the experience we got here. Hopefully we get some healthy bodies back and grow from this.”