On a gray, cloudy Monday morning at Swope Soccer Village, an array of cones, hurdles and goals lined the Sporting Kansas City practice field.
But more than an hour after the club was scheduled to start its practice, the field remained absent of players.
Fastened in a six-match winless streak, Sporting KC held an extended team meeting Monday that covered a host of topics, most notably what coach Peter Vermes perceived to be a “lack of hustle” during Saturday’s 2-0 loss in Houston.
“When you’re going through a bad patch, it’s always a lot of different (reasons why),” Vermes said. “You just have to make sure you face them head-on, and you get ready for the next game.”
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Sporting KC, 4-5-2, travels to take on the Colorado Rapids at 8 p.m. Wednesday as part of a string of six matches in 22 days. Sporting KC will be looking for its first victory since April 9 against the New York Red Bulls.
After Saturday’s loss in Houston, Vermes criticized the team’s intensity during the match, clarifying Monday that some players did not consistently provide full effort. Asked what his response to that will entail, Vermes offered a couple of scenarios.
“Can it be a change in the lineup? Sure, that’s an idea,” he said. “(Or) it could be giving guys who have been playing an opportunity to know this is unacceptable, and you have to get yourself out of it.
“The last thing I’m going to do is tell you guys what I’m going to do.”
Sporting KC midfielder Benny Feilhaber characterized Monday’s meeting as productive, adding that the team’s morale remains high, despite its recent run of form.
One-third of the way into the season, Sporting KC still holds the sixth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“We have a really good locker room. I think everybody is close-knit,” he said. “Nobody is pointing fingers. It’s still so early in the season, as well. We all have all the confidence in the world that we can turn this thing around.
“This league is like that, man. You go through spurts. We just have to flip the 180 and have one game go our way, and I think we’ll be back on the right side of things.”