A surprisingly calm, perhaps even upbeat, disposition engulfed Sporting Kansas City’s training session Monday, only three days after the club had yielded three goals for the second straight match.
It wasn’t for a lack of care. Instead, the players and coach Peter Vermes would later explain, the team didn’t see a need to panic. At least not yet.
That time may be nearing.
New England extended Sporting Kansas City’s losing streak to three games when it pulled away for a 3-1 victory at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
Sporting KC has dropped three straight matches for the first time since May 2012.
“You have to look yourself in the eyes. You can’t back off it,” Vermes said. “And right now we have to look this in the face, and we just have to work harder. The bottom line is we have to work harder.”
Sporting KC was hopeful a return to the road might cure its recent troubles. It took the league’s best road record into Wednesday’s match.
Instead, it was more of the same. A typically stout Sporting KC defense gave up three goals for the third straight match.
An early lead couldn’t even change the trend. Soony Saad put Sporting KC on the board in the ninth minute when his header finished off a play started by a long throw-in from defender Matt Besler. It was the third goal of the season for Saad, one shy of his career high set last year.
But the lead didn’t hold.
New England forward Teal Bunbury stung his former team with a goal just before halftime, and the second half belonged to Lee Nguyen. Nguyen scored three minutes into the second half — capitalizing on a turnover at midfield from Jorge Claros — and he punctuated the victory with a goal three minutes into stoppage time.
“For 44 minutes, we actually played pretty darn well. We gave nothing away,” Vermes said. “We give up a cheap goal, and now all of a sudden it changes the course of the game.”
The momentum-changer came courtesy of a former friend. Sporting KC traded Bunbury to New England in the offseason.
His first goal with the Revolution came against his old club. His latest one did, too.
A minute before halftime, Bunbury ripped a shot that deflected off Besler’s back, giving keeper Andy Gruenebaum no possibility of making the save. Gruenebaum made his first start since straining a muscle in his rotator cuff Aug. 10.
While he returned to the lineup, defender Aurelien Collin was removed from it. Vermes benched Collin in favor of pairing Lawrence Olum with Besler in the center of the defense.
“He hasn’t been in form,” Vermes said of Collin. “It’s better sometimes for a guy to sit on the sideline and see what’s going on.”
Vermes wouldn’t commit to starting Collin on Saturday, when the club plays in New York.
Sporting KC played Wednesday without its leading scorer, Dom Dwyer, and midfielder Benny Feilhaber, who were each serving one-game suspensions for yellow card accumulation.
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