Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes joined Sports Radio 810 WHB on Wednesday afternoon, reflecting on a pivotal victory over the San Jose Earthquakes and looking ahead to tonight’s encounter against Minnesota United FC at Children’s Mercy Park.
In a candid discussion with The Program host Soren Petro, Vermes said his team flipped a switch when Benny Feilhaber slotted home an excellent equalizer in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat of San Jose. Graham Smith would open his professional scoring account later in the second half to help Sporting secure its first comeback win of the 2019 regular season.
“We needed a belief moment, and that to me was a belief moment,” Vermes said of Feilhaber’s half-volley, which earned an MLS Goal of the Week nomination. “The guys got a little spark there. All of the sudden, that gave us another gear.”
Vermes and Sporting will now turn their full attention to an all-important battle with second-place Minnesota. The Loons currently occupy second place in the Western Conference, while Sporting are six points shy of the seventh and final playoff spot in the division. Tickets for the 8:30 p.m. CT matchup are available at SeatGeek.com and fans can catch the action live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, the ESPN app, Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM.
Sporting is amidst a club-record eight-year playoff streak and will aim to make a ninth consecutive appearance in the MLS Cup Playoffs this fall. In order for that to happen, Vermes acknowledges that his side needs to perform consistently at a very high level.
“Our objective is always to make the playoffs, but the bigger picture to that has to be your performance as a team,” Vermes said. “How do you find a way to win each week, every game? We had a good result this past weekend, but we have a big match coming against Minnesota—a team that’s playing very, very well and feeling good about themselves. They’re one of the best teams in the league.
“We have got to find a way to out-work them in the game and penetrate them defensively. We also have to be concentrated and rock-solid defensively. The most important game in front of us is the one (tonight). If we do all those things well and get three points, ultimately that puts us in a better position to make the playoffs. All of our remaining games are against Western Conference opponents, so our fate is in our own hands.”
Listen to the full podcast below.