Wednesday’s result didn’t come easy, but Sporting Kansas City found a way to ride out 1-0 winners against Chicago Fire FC at Children’s Mercy Park.
Defender Winston Reid punctuated his brilliant performance with a headed goal in the 67th minute, giving the hosts their second straight win as Manager Peter Vermes’ side kept hold of third place in the Western Conference.
Vermes reflected on the performance and the current state of his team this morning in a 610 Sports Radio interview with Bob Fesoe and Josh Klingler. The 12th-year head coach indicated that although Sporting has yet to hit on all cylinders this fall, the squad is becoming more and more accustomed to winning ugly.
“I don’t think we’re in form with the way that we normally play, but what we are finding is that you have to grind wins out,” Vermes said. “You have to hang onto each game and keep yourself in the game because opportunities present themselves—whether you create them or the other team does.
“Last night, we could have been down 2-0 in the first half with two big mistakes on our part,” Vermes said. “But what you have to do is keep yourself in the game. Then Winston finds a way to score in the second half, and defensively, we’re completely different in the second half. We were lockdown and didn’t give anything away.
“If you can keep yourself in the game mentally and hang on, that means that you have the chance over the course of 90 minutes to get a result. Our guys have kept faith in that regard, so that’s been good.”
Vermes also gave credit to the fans at Children’s Mercy Park for pushing the team over the finish line. Matches at the stadium have been held at a reduced capacity of 18% with comprehensive health and safety protocols in place. It may be far from a full house, but the Sporting head coach said that small presence can make all the difference.
“It helps immensely, just for some type of ambiance at the stadium,” he said. “When you go to a stadium and there’s no one there, it’s so surreal. It’s like a ghost town when you walk into a stadium. There’s no vibe. There’s zero ambiance.
“That’s one of the biggest reason that, around the world, the (quality) of the play is inconsistent. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that the fans aren’t there. The fans keep the players true to their profession. If they aren’t playing well, the players will hear it. Players want to perform well for the fans. Taking that component out of the mix definitely changes things.”
With two straight victories in the rearview mirror, Sporting will look to continue their winning ways Sunday when expansion club Nashville SC (4-5-6, 18 points) makes an inaugural visit to Children’s Mercy Park. Kickoff is slated for 6:30 p.m. CT with tickets available at SeatGeek.com and live coverage on FOX Sports Kansas City, FOX Sports Midwest, FOX Sports GO, ESPN 94.5 FM and La Grande 1340 AM.