All signs pointed to a successful evening for Sporting Kansas City on Saturday at San Jose.
The club enjoyed a full week of training in advance of an MLS match for the first time after wrapping up its CONCACAF Champions League run. And it was facing the Earthquakes, a recent perennial doormat in the Western Conference who only had one MLS win on the season heading into Saturday’s game.
Instead things started bad for Sporting KC and only got worse in a 4-1 loss at Avaya Stadium.
Sporting KC looked sluggish, and that reality was reflected in more than just the score line.
“They had a ton more energy than we did,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said. “They were willing to exploit the space by multiple guys making runs, and we were just very stagnant tonight. I think we’re for sure suffering a little bit from all the games leading up to now. In the end, they deserved the points.”
San Jose’s Danny Hoesen torched Sporting KC’s back line twice in the first 12 minutes, scoring two quick goals. Hoesen split center backs Matt Besler and Botond Barath — starting for an injured Andreu Fontas — in route to both goals.
The latter cost Sporting KC more than just a goal. Besler, the team captain, suffered a leg injury on the play.
“I don’t know what the extent of it is, but it’s a hamstring. “We’ll have to check when we get back,” Vermes said.
Abdul Rwatubyaye, 22, made his MLS debut in the 15th minute when he replaced Besler. Vermes thought Rwatubyaye had a solid outing in the unexpected circumstances.
“His athleticism was big. He was best in the one-v-one duels on the field for us tonight,” Vermes said. “He was tough, strong, and solid.”
Sporting KC (2-2-3) did have its chances to get back in the match, none bigger than Krisztian Nemeth’s 26th minute penalty kick.
Gianluca Busio — starting for an injured Roger Espinoza — drew the foul. Midfielder Ilie Sanchez normally takes the club’s penalty kick, but Nemeth stepped to the spot instead. His attempt sailed over the crossbar.
Any thoughts of stealing a point were dashed before the echo of the second-half whistle faded, when San Jose captain Shea Salinas scored just 13 seconds into the half.
Felipe Gutierrez scored for Sporting KC on a penalty kick in the 66th minute. Sporting KC did test San Jose goalkeeper Daniel Vega in the second half, but he was up to the task, making six saves.
Sporting Kansas City has the opportunity to accumulate some much-needed points in the coming weeks as five of its next six matches are in the familiar surroundings of Children’s Mercy Park. Next up is a match next Saturday against New England Revolution at 7:30 p.m.