Over a three-week stretch in the winter, the Sporting Kansas City roster endured perhaps its most noticeable set of modifications during Sporting coach Peter Vermes’ tenure.
But for all of the personnel maneuvers, the opening month of the season can be defined rather simply.
A lot of zeroes.
Sporting KC played to another 0-0 draw Friday, this one at Toronto FC, for its third scoreless tie in four matches.
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As the calendar turns to April, the loss column remains unblemished. The scoring column could use some help. In 360 minutes minutes of action, Sporting KC has outscored its opponents 2-1. All three goals came during a home victory against San Jose.
The end picture is this: Sporting KC, 1-0-3, escaped March unbeaten for the second straight season.
“The fact that we can continue on this (streak) of keeping goals out of the back of the net, it’s a very important thing,” Vermes said. “I'm very pleased with that aspect.
“I’m feeling very good about the progress of the team. Obviously we have a lot of games ahead of us, but we keep racking up points.”
The flip side: Sporting KC didn’t produce many high-quality chances Friday, furthering an irresolute stance for the opening month.
A rainy, cold, windy evening at BMO Field in Toronto didn’t do the offenses any favors, though a particularly enticing opportunity fell to Dom Dwyer early in the second half. Dwyer stood all alone with Toronto FC keeper Alex Bono, but Dwyer hardly made Bono move to stop the ensuing shot. Gerso Fernandes also lightly tested Bono, who replaced starter Clint Irwin after Irwin had departed in the first half with an apparent knee injury.
Per ESPN's Paul Carr, Sporting KC is only the second team in MLS history to start a season with three scoreless draws in four matches, joining the 2015 Colorado Rapids.
“We missed some situations where they were spread out, and we could’ve went right through them,” Vermes said.
On the other end, Sporting KC effectively limited the touches for all-everything Sebastian Giovinco and U.S. national team midfielder Michael Bradley. One more touch for Giovinco could’ve made the difference. Only a couple of steps in front of the goal, Giovinco — one of the top finishers in the league — whiffed on a ball that slid by his feet.
Toronto FC returned to its home venue for the first time since its suffered a penalty-kick defeat to Seattle in the MLS Cup Final there last December. A tifo in the stands read, “With heartbreak comes a new beginning, a new opportunity.”
The new opportunity progressed a bit similarly as the previous one, with both teams scoreless after regulation.
Sporting KC played without playmaking midfielder Benny Feilhaber, sidelined with a thigh strain. Feilhaber is on track to return to practice Tuesday, Vermes said.
In his absence, Jimmy Medranda dropped from the top line to the midfield, and Soony Saad earned his first start of the season at wing. Matt Besler, Graham Zusi and Roger Espinoza were all in the starting lineup after returning from international duty.
“I thought those guys gave an incredible effort tonight,” Vermes said.