Sporting Kansas City midfielder Benny Feilhaber says the scoring will come — and that perhaps it will eventually come in bunches — but the process is moving along rather slowly.
It’s been a relatively dry start for the Sporting KC offense, which has produced only three goals in its first four matches heading into Saturday’s tilt with San Jose, which gets underway at 7:30 p.m. at Sporting Park.
The club’s forwards have been shut out altogether. Feilhaber, defender Aurelien Collin and defender Kevin Ellis have provided the three goals.
But if that’s an early-season cause for concern, Sporting KC isn’t admitting it.
“There’s always these problems at the beginning of the season with getting to the goal and scoring — that’s the hardest part of the game,” Feilhaber said. “That will take some time to get linked up and find the right runs and the right passes. That will come. If we’re still talking about this in 10 or 15 games, then yeah, we’ve got a problem.”
Feilhaber worked his way into the solution Wednesday. He scored the only Sporting KC goal in a 5-1 loss to Cruz Azul in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, providing a brief interruption from the lopsided play in Mexico City.
Feilhaber did the heavy lifting on the goal from start to finish — creating his own space before issuing a shot through the Cruz Azul defense. It was a welcome sight, but it’s a different play that has been giving Sporting KC trouble early this season.
That final pass.
As coach Peter Vermes explained it, the issue hasn’t necessarily been putting the ball away as much as it has been finding the right set up for goals.
“It’s one thing to get to the (scoring) areas,” Vermes said. “It’s another thing to be able to give the ball to someone so they can score with it. ... That final pass has to be much more clinical.”
Of course, Saturday may not be the day to expect wholesale changes or end-to-end action. Sporting KC is concluding a string of five matches in 15 days and showed signs of fatigue during the loss Wednesday in Mexico City.
San Jose can relate. The Earthquakes also qualified for the Champions League quarterfinals and, as a result, they are playing their fourth match in 12 days. They played Wednesday in Toluca De Lerdo, Mexico — a match that required 30 minutes of extra time before going to penalty kicks.
In Sporting Kansas City’s case, the heavy early-season workload has led to a lack of training sessions. The club has spent more of its practices recovering rather than building toward long-term success.
“We’re not at peak performance at the moment,” Vermes said. “This is what you have to deal with when you play in multiple competitions.
“Obviously, it’s not going to be easy. Still, physically, the guys haven’t had much time to recover from (Wednesday) night.”
In this instance, the recovery process extends beyond tired legs. The club is looking to bounce back from a four-goal defeat.
“You’ve got every emotion — you’re disappointed, you’re embarrassed,” Vermes said. “But at the same time, there’s always going to be very, very highs and very, very lows. Your objective is to keep an equilibrium state so you can get back to center as quickly as possible.”