On Saturday evening, Sporting Kansas City will walk into its home stadium with the third-longest shutout streak in club history, a stretch that dates back to last fall. Sporting KC has held its first two opponents to only 15 shot attempts; Graham Zusi has looked comfortable in his new role as a defender; and Ilie Sanchez has provided a layer of comfort in front of the back line.
So what's the problem?
Oh, yeah, there's this: Sporting KC has yet to score in 2017. A re-tooled offense has delivered zilch on the scoreboard in 180 minutes.
That's drawn some expected concern — at least outside of the locker room.
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"I really don't care what everyone else thinks," Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said. "Our plan isn't this weekend; our plan is the entire season.
"When you try to indoctrinate new guys into your team ... that takes time. I know we're building toward an objective. Every day I see us getting closer and closer to that objective. If we're doing that, I feel very good about it."
Vermes has used Gerso Fernandes and Jimmy Medranda on the wings to surround striker Dom Dwyer in the first two matches. Fernandes was an offseason acquisition, and Medranda played almost exclusively as a defender in 2016.
Sporting KC is one of four MLS teams that has not produced a goal in the first two weeks of the season, and it's been shutout in its first two matches for the first time since 1999.
The counterpoint: Sporting KC generated a couple of chances in a draw against FC Dallas last weekend that probably should've produced one. Dwyer was off with a header attempt in front of goal, and Latif Blessing shanked a shot well over the crossbar without a defender to account for him.
"We are still a bit antsy," Dwyer said. "But that's just early season MLS."
The numbers are a bit reminiscent of the 2016 version of Sporting KC, which tied for the league lead with 478 shots but was only 15th in the league with 146 shots on goal.
Through two matches in 2017, Sporting KC is second in the league with 29 shot attempts, but it's only 12th with seven shots on goal. In other words, it has placed only 24.1 percent of its attempts on target, a number it would prefer to be near 40 percent, if not higher.
But whereas Sporting KC often settled for shots from distance in 2016 — attempts that were unlikely to threaten — Vermes has been more pleased with the buildup this month.
"I think we have interesting solutions that I don't think we had in the past that we can now implement into games, and hopefully that helps us in that area," Vermes said, later explaining, "We have so much pace in the team in certain respects. We also have players who can hit balls that we couldn't hit before. It's no disrespect to anybody that's been (here). It's a different way of using the personnel we have.
"I think the solutions will bear themselves over time. I'm fully confident in the group we have."