Sporting KC

After two-game skid, Sporting KC ratchets up practice intensity

Sporting Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes criticized his team’s performance against Dallas and increased the intensity of practices after two straight losses.
Sporting Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes criticized his team’s performance against Dallas and increased the intensity of practices after two straight losses. jledford@kcstar.com

Sporting Kansas City defender Amadou Dia collected a pass and charged toward the goal. In a one-on-one practice drill Wednesday, defender Seth Sinovic stormed back. Their teammates stood near the action, half of them yelling for Dia to find the back of the net, the other half screaming praise for Sinovic when he stoned the attempt.

The exercise marched on. Again and again.

Three days after Sporting Kansas City lost a second straight match — and pitted the blame on its own mistakes — the club cycled through a drill designed to escalate the intensity of its practices.

It was well executed. There were hard fouls, heated arguments and an obvious competitive flavor to the training session.

Asked if that was the result of a conversation between players and coaches, captain Matt Besler smiled and said, “Possibly.

“That’s a good thing you noticed that,” he added. “Because we’re going to need more of that going forward.”

After Sporting KC lost 2-1 to FC Dallas on Sunday, coach Peter Vermes condemned the mistakes his club made that led to both goals. Sporting KC grabbed a 1-0 lead, but Michael Barrios equalized in the 35th minute after collecting a long diagonal pass that slipped through the defense.

FC Dallas midfielder Mauro Rosales buried a 20-yard free kick that served as the game-winner in the 68th minute. Vermes criticized a foul that led to the opportunity.

“Two very, very elementary mistakes,” Vermes said Wednesday. “These are mistakes that are being made at lower levels — not at the professional level. And they need to take responsibility for them. You can’t just sweep it under the rug. You’ve got to talk about it, and we’ve done that. Those things can’t happen.

“Mistakes happen, but when they happen like they are, that’s something different. That’s a lack of fighting spirit. It’s a lack of attention to detail, concentration, focus — all of these things.”

Those were the focal points of Wednesday’s training session, the team’s first practice since its loss to FC Dallas.

Sporting KC will try to break the two-game skid with a trip to San Jose at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

“At the end of the day, it’s about winning and losing, so whenever you lose a game, you obviously didn’t do enough,” Besler said. “You have to take a look at yourself, and you have to try to correct the things you did wrong. At the same time, we’re not panicking. It’s not at the point in the season when you need to hit the panic button. We need to continue to believe in what we’re trying to do.”

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