Sporting Kansas City finished the 2018 season with a Western Conference championship and franchise record for most goals scored in an MLS season — 65.
One year later, the club completed its 2019 slate ranked 11th in the conference, having conceded the most regular-season goals in franchise history — 67. Sunday afternoon’s 6-0 loss to FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium made sure of that.
The last time Sporting KC conceded as many goals in a season was 1996, when the then-Wizards allowed 64. This year’s 67 also ties for the ninth-most allowed in the history of the league.
With Sporting KC (10-16-8) having nothing to play for on the league’s annual Decision Day — missing the playoffs has long been a foregone conclusion — coach Peter Vermes opted to give four homegrown players the nod in the starting lineup at Dallas.
Seventeen-year-old Gianluca Busio remained in the starting lineup, but Felipe Hernandez featured alongside Busio in midfield, making his first appearance since a five-minute MLS debut against Portland Sept. 7.
Right-back Jaylin Lindsey earned his first minutes of the season, while Eric Dick made his MLS debut in goal in place of KC stalwart Tim Melia.
“It was a great experience for (the young players) because they got their butts kicked and now they understand what it takes to be at this level ... and whether they have a good performance or not, it really doesn’t matter,” Vermes said. “A good performance doesn’t mean anything — you have to get results at this level.
“So this was a very, very good lesson for these guys.”
Sporting KC’s young core was immediately put under the microscope as Dallas (13-12-9) took a 2-0 lead within 12 minutes. Both goals were in the back of the net before Dick got a touch of the ball in open play.
Dallas’ Zdenek Ondrasek got things started for Dallas after latching onto a long ball in the ninth minute, sliding the ball past Dick in the ensuing one-on-one.
“It was ridiculous; the first two goals are ridiculous, the first goal especially,” Vermes said. “Should never have happened. Both of our central defenders — what they’re doing, I can’t explain that — but it’s a big letdown.”
Sporting KC had looked like the more dangerous team until the opening goal, including a slick through-ball to Daniel Salloi that cut open Dallas’ defense. But Ondrasek’s opener took the air out of Sporting KC’s sails.
Matt Hedges made it 2-0 three minutes later from close range after Santiago Mosquera manufactured a foot of space from Lindsey in the box before sending a low ball across goal. The second goal was the beginning of a rough game for Lindsey, who struggled to deal with Mosquera after spending the whole season with the Swope Park Rangers.
“It’s evident that there’s a total lack of confidence in the group, and once the first goal went in we just never found ourselves again,” Vermes said.
Alternatively, the two early goals were an unfair assessment of Dick, whose debut was promptly thrown into disarray by his defense leaving him out to dry.
When not pinned in its own half, Sporting KC’s young midfield struggled to produce opportunities for the front three. They managed to generate just two shots on target, with the few moments of action going forward coming from Felipe Gutierrez or substitute Gerso Fernandes.
Looking for a response in the second half, Sporting KC instead imploded in a fashion similar to its 7-2 loss at the L.A. Galaxy, conceding four goals after intermission.
Ondrasek picked up his brace, while Mosquera, Michael Barrios and 18-year-old Jesús Ferreira all scored a goal apiece.
The result means FC Dallas claimed a much-needed win as it clinched the final playoff spot in the West. Sporting KC, meanwhile, can finally put this difficult season in its rearview mirror after failing to make the playoffs for the first since 2010.
“We don’t deserve to be in the playoffs,” Vermes concluded. “It’s good that we’re not there.”