Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes is a man who prefers consistency. He’s not unlike most soccer coaches in that he expects it from his players. But Vermes takes it a step further, practicing consistency himself in the way he constructs lineups, strategy and formation.
Well, when he can.
Over the past several weeks, stability hasn’t been much of an option. Seven Sporting KC players have spent time on international duty, which comes during a rapid-fire schedule featuring U.S. Open Cup matches in additional to the regular MLS schedule.
The result, therefore, has been a revolving door of lineups.
“If you look at us over the last few years and you look at my decisions when it comes to lineups, I don’t like to fix something that’s not broken,” Vermes said. “But when you start playing multiple competitions like we have and then you talk about international duty with a number of guys on your team, you’re going to have a different lineup game after game.
“And that’s something we have to get better at dealing with as a team.”
So far, Sporting KC has managed only mixed results.
The club hasn’t won an MLS match since May 12 when it ended Houston’s 36-match home unbeaten streak. Sporting KC is 0-1-2 in MLS play and 1-2-2 overall since that victory.
There is, however, a bit of good news as Sporting KC travels to face FC Dallas at 7:30 Saturday night for its first MLS game in three weeks. The club is set to welcome back Graham Zusi and Matt Besler after the pair helped the United States national team to three wins in three matches during its latest wing of World Cup qualifying matches.
Besler and Zusi return with confidence, and they expect that to carry over to the Sporting KC locker room.
“Hopefully we can use that as a turning point because the last two, three, four weeks, our results have been up and down,” Besler said. “We haven’t been good enough. I’m anxious to get back with them and right the ship.”
While Besler and Zusi participated in only light training Thursday, Vermes expects both players will be fully available Saturday in Dallas. He also says Chance Myers participated in the entire week of training and appears ready to go when called upon, and forward Teal Bunbury can supply some late-game minutes.
That provides Sporting KC with a fuller allotment of assets than it’s had over the past month. In other words, consistency will soon be an option once again.
The challenge, therefore, becomes working the regulars back into the rotation in a smooth manner. Easier said than done against FC Dallas, which leads the Western Conference with 28 points. FC Dallas is unbeaten at home this season.
“The biggest thing is if you have the same lineup every game, you start to build a continuity and consistency,” Vermes said. “When you get the guys back, being away as long as they (have), you try to get their relationship to be instinctive again.”