Sporting KC Show Podcast: Erik Hurtado making the most of his chances in attack

Running throughout the season on Sports Radio 810 WHB, the Sporting Kansas City Show is available on several podcast hubs including Spotify and iTunes as well as With Nate Bukaty, Carter Augustine and Aly Trost hosting the weekly program, Sporting fans have a place to go to catch up on club storylines, guest interviews and more.

Striker Erik Hurtado was the star of the Sporting Kansas City Show on Tuesday night, joining hosts Nate Bukaty, Carter Augustine and Aly Trost to reflect on the club’s recent performances and look ahead to Sunday’s showdown with Minnesota United FC at Children’s Mercy Park.

Hurtado, 29, earned his first start of the season in Saturday’s narrow 2-1 road loss to the Houston Dynamo and made a strong impression, bagging the go-ahead goal in the 30th minute to culminate a stunning sequence in which 10 Sporting players touched the ball from back to front.

“A moment like that feels good because the work we put in during training pays off,” Hurtado said. “In the moment, it didn’t feel like anything special. It felt kind of routine because that’s what we do in training. But when you look back at it and see how many players on the field touched the ball, the number of passes that we had, the formation in the (buildup) and to get a goal off it, that’s a really good thing.”

Hurtado has notched two goals in just 97 minutes of regular season action this year. His 1.86 goals per 90 minutes rank first among players to score at least twice and log 90 minutes of playing time in 2020.

His first five appearances this season came from off the bench, and although he was entrusted with his first start on Saturday, Hurtado said he didn’t feel any extra pressure for the occasion.

“I don’t feel like I need to go out and prove anything because I’m confident in myself, and I know my teammates and coaches are confident in me, too,” Hurtado said. “I just try to go out there and battle as hard as I can for the team, create chances and do what they ask of me. Any chance that I get I’m happy for, but I’m going to play the same way regardless of if I’m playing every game or coming on as a sub.”

Despite Hurtado’s goal, Sporting surrendered a 1-0 halftime lead as Houston struck through Alberth Elis and Mauro Manotas in the second stanza. Manager Peter Vermes’ men are 0-2-2 in their last four games but still occupy first place in the Western Conference, two points clear of second-place Seattle Sounders FC.

“We weren’t happy, especially in the locker room after the game,” Hurtado said of the Houston trip. “The bus to the plane and the plane back home was really quiet. We know that we need to do better and can do better. We’re still at the top of the West, but that’s not good enough for us. We have a chance this weekend to get three points and stay at the top, so that’s really our main focus right now.”

Saturday’s clash marked the end of a grueling 16-day stretch in which Sporting played five times. Vermes’ side will now enjoy a full week of rest and recuperation ahead of Sunday’s home tilt with Minnesota, which will kick off at 7:30 p.m. CT on FOX Sports Kansas City, FOX Sports Midwest and FOX Sports GO. Hurtado welcomes the rest period but said he has relished the experience of Sporting playing twice a week.

“Honestly I kind of like playing every fourth day. It’s a lot of competition and that’s what it’s about,” Hurtado said. “We’re here to compete and we’re here to win. It feels like a long week right now and I’m ready to get back to the games. That’s what I like and that’s what we’re used to right now. We’re used to the grind.”