Starting in the midfield with veterans Paulo Nagamura and Julio Cesar sidelined with injuries for the second leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals, a pair of young replacements received praise from manager Peter Vermes as two of the bright spots in a series-ending defeat.
Peterson Joseph and Oriol Rosell took over the midfield and offered a glimpse into the future of Sporting Kansas City.
“Two young guys come into the park and play such a big game like this, and to play with the composure and ability those guys played with — what a great future for those guys in our organization,” Vermes said.
Cesar missed the game after straining a quad in Sunday’s first leg. Nagamura sat out with a sprained ankle.
That put Rosell and Joseph into a tough spot with the season hanging in the balance, but both performed brilliantly.
“We’re putting them into a situation where they don’t have rhythm,” Vermes said. “They’re not playing game after game. Those guys came in today without missing a step. Their performance, both of those guys, was outstanding. We’re not talking above average. They were fantastic — the two of them.”
• A two-goal aggregate deficit did little to deter Sporting Kansas City fans from showing up in droves Wednesday as Livestrong Sporting Park welcomed the second-largest MLS crowd in its history — 20,984.
Fans in The Cauldron led a crowd that experienced peaks and valleys throughout the night. A loud start gave way to a more nervous, quieter bunch as Sporting KC experienced a scoreless first half.
Seth Sinovic’s first career goal in the 64th minute — pulling Sporting KC within one goal in the aggregate scoring — re-energized the fan base, but it ultimately left disappointed.
“Thanks to all the fans that came out,” forward Kei Kamara said. “The support was great. We were going at them since minute one, and we didn’t get the goals that should count, but that’s part of the game.”
• It was three years ago Friday (Nov. 9, 2009) that Vermes officially was made the fourth coach in Sporting KC history. Vermes, who was technical director for the then-Wizards, took over midway through the 2009 season for Curt Onalfo and finished the season 3-6-3. Vermes led Sporting KC to the Eastern Conference title two years later in his second full season at the helm.