Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes did everything short of bringing an excuse rolodex to Friday mornings news conference.
By SAM McDOWELL
Special to the Star
His explanations for Sporting KCs home scoring drought which spans 325 minutes in MLS play entering this evenings match against the Columbus Crew all seemed valid. They were also quite numerous.
Vermes cited tired legs, a lack of available training days, a jam-packed schedule and opponents adjustments as the primary reasons for the scoreless streak. Eventually, though, he blamed the weather. More specifically, he explained, 100-plus degree days have prevented Sporting KC from launching into full attack mode.
He was reminded Friday that todays weather also calls for temperatures reaching 100 degrees.
The comment forced a smile from Vermes.
No, he responded with a purposeful smirk. Its going to be pretty nice tomorrow.
Sporting KC plans to return to its attacking roots when it is host to Columbus at 7:30 tonight at Livestrong Sporting Park.
The timing couldnt be better. Sporting KC, 11-6-4, will need to make more concerted efforts to score against the Crew, 7-7-4. The two teams are tied for the league low in goals allowed with 19, which equates to a shade more than one goal against the Crew per game.
Sporting KC, which is one point behind Eastern Conference leader New York, left Columbus with a 2-0 victory on July 14. The two-goal margin of victory marked just the second time all season the Crew has lost by more than one goal.
(Its) a team that is tough to break down defensively, defender Matt Besler said. They havent scored a ton of goals, but their style is to make sure they dont give a whole lot away. They do a good job of that.
After Fridays training session, Vermes emphasized the need to speed up tonights game in every aspect a point the club stressed during its early-season success. To prevent exhaustion, the team tinkered its style during a streak that included 12 matches in 38 days.
After a weeklong break interrupted only by an exhibition match against Montpellier on Tuesday, Sporting KC expects to have fresher legs when it returns to MLS play tonight.
What weve talked about is getting back to where we were early in the season, Besler said. We have to drive the game. When the ball goes out, were going to get it back in quick. (We want) quick free kicks. Just really going after them.
Even more responsibility will be on the offense tonight for a team missing yet another defender. Sporting KC announced Thursday that defender Aurelien Collin will miss one to two weeks because of two facial fractures he suffered during Wednesdays MLS All-Star Game against Chelsea.
Vermes declined to say who would step into the starting lineup for Collin, but Lawrence Olum seems to be the likely choice.
Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen expects Collin to come back sooner rather than later.
I dont expect him to miss more than a game, Nielsen said. Hes as tough of a guy as we have on this team. I wouldnt be surprised to see him out there next week.