So much for a sophomore slump.
C.J. Sapong has a chance to match the fastest start for goal scoring in franchise history Sunday when Sporting Kansas City plays host to FC Dallas at 6 p.m. at Livestrong Sporting Park.
Last season’s MLS rookie of the year, Sapong came on in the 75th minute March 10 at D.C. United and buried a Graham Zusi corner kick three minutes into stoppage time for a 1-0 season-opening win.
A week later, Sapong finished off a spectacular buildup two minutes into the second half for the final tally in a 3-0 win versus the New England Revolution in the home opener.
“(My confidence) is high right now,” Sapong said after helping Sporting KC improve to 2-0-0. “I could have had more, but I’m happy to be getting chances and getting in the right spots. I need to keep sharp in training and hopefully it continues.”
He also earned high marks for the tandem Irish jig he performed after Kei Kamara’s 39th-minute goal, but that’s beside the point.
It marks the eighth time a Sporting KC player has scored in the first two matches of a new year. Since the club’s inception in 1996, a player has notched goals in the season’s first three games twice — Preki in 1997 and Chris Klein in 2005.
“I prefer not to (ride one guy), but it’s kind of like a three-point guy,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said. “When a guy is hitting the three, you feed the bear and keep it going. For sure, you want to keep with a guy who’s been scoring.”
But how long can a guy (at least one not named Lionel Messi) be expected to keep up a goal-a-game pace?
“Let’s hope he can keep this up every game,” Vermes said. “Goal scorers are supposed to score goals, so that’s what you’re hoping for. We’d like him to keep it up and see how long he can keep going with it, but the reality is those (streaks) sometimes come and go.”
Vermes said it’s more important how dangerous Sapong is creating chances for himself and others, an area of his game that is still developing.
“He’s still got a lot to work on for us and how we’re going to get better in playing with him, through him and also with his defensive responsibilities,” Vermes said. “He’s really the first line of defense for us when we lose the ball, especially up front. He needs to get in those areas, but he’s been solid so far. He just needs to be consistent with it.”