The two overriding themes of Sporting Kansas City’s last five games — injuries and lack of victories — didn’t relent on Saturday in Washington D.C.
Fabian Espindola curled in a cross toward the far post that drifted into the net in the 28th minute, the lone tally in D.C. United’s 1-0 victory over Sporting KC at RFK Stadium.
Sporting KC goalkeeper Eric Kronberg, perhaps reacting to a run by D.C. United striker Eddie Johnson, came out off his line.
By the time Kronberg realized the ball was drifting on target, it was too late.
“The guy got a cross in and he misjudged it. You’ll have to ask him what happened,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said. “From my perspective he overran it and it went in.”
As for the injuries, defender Aurelien Collin aggravated a previous hamstring ailment and departed in the ninth minute in favor of 17-year-old Erik Palmer-Brown.
The Lee’s Summit teenager didn’t fare so well in his MLS debut at Chicago on May 18, conceding a penalty kick and leaving with a red card.
He fared much better on Saturday. He adapted to the speed of the game and more than held his own throughout the match. In fact, Vermes had nothing but praise for his squad despite the loss.
Sporting KC is missing three players (Graham Zusi, Matt Besler and Lawrence Olum) to international duty at the moment. Three more (Ike Opara, Peterson Joseph and Chance Myers) are out for the season with injuries. Then Collin left early on Saturday.
“The team played very well. Energy, tactically… with as many guys as we miss within our team and how many guys are out of position, the resemblance to the way we always play is right there,” Vermes said. “For all the guys giving everything they have to get a result, I have absolutely nothing but praise for the guys.”
It wasn’t the loss that irked Vermes moments after the match concluded. He instead focused on the pace of the match, or lack thereof.
“The only frustration in the game was the fact the game was not managed well by the referees. The management of the game was horrendous,” Vermes said. “The fact from the start of the second half, the slowing of the game down and taking until the 90th minute before you deal with it, it’s not good enough. As a fan, it’s not something I would want to watch.”
Vermes then cut off a reporter’s question and continued to vent his frustration before allowing the reporter to continue.
“To watch a game where every time there’s a foul and a player kicks the ball away, there’s a rule against it in the rule book. And players do it time and time again, you guys are asking the wrong questions,” Vermes said. “You ask what’s frustrating? That’s what’s frustrating. … We controlled the game and for 90 minutes we want to play and the game’s not managed, and I don’t understand how that’s not a topic of discussion.”
Sporting KC, 5-5-4, lost to DC United for the first time since May 5, 2010, and fell behind DC United to third place in the Eastern Conference standings.
Sporting KC will try to end its winless streak on Saturday at Houston. It’s one of just two June MLS matches for the club — both away from home — as MLS goes on hiatus for a few weeks because of the World Cup.