The Full 90

It's only the preseason, but winning is important to Sporting KC

There are two schools of thought on preseason games.

In one camp are those who think the results don’t matter; it’s all about evaluating players for the upcoming season.

On the other side, people think every victory is important.

Sporting Kansas City would fall in the latter category. The team was happy to win the inaugural MLS Desert Cup with a 2-2 tie Saturday against the New York Red Bulls in Tucson, Ariz. (

Here's a pic of the trophy.

)

Sporting took the title based on a goal differential, which it racked up with Friday night’s 6-1 victory against the Arizona Sahuaros, an amateur team that competes in the National Premier Soccer League.

“Every time you step inside the white lines, you (want to) win,” Sporting coach Peter Vermes said. “Winning is important. That’s what we do. If we can create the habit now and move forward, that’s fantastic.

“We took it very seriously. We stepped out on the field (Saturday) night, we wanted to win, we wanted to try to entertain, we wanted to make sure we scored goals. I think we came up short in giving up the two (goals), but we also scored two.”

That was important considering that Sporting had scored but five goals in its previous six preseason games.

While allowing two goals didn’t make Vermes happy, it was a learning experience.

“We were put under pressure enough to get an idea of some of the things we need to work on before the season starts,” Vermes said. “Obviously, we won’t rectify everything, but it was a good high-quality match just a couple weeks out from our first game.”

Sporting seems to be ramping up as the season opener at Chivas USA approaches on March 19. The Red Bulls started front-line players like Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez.

Next up, Sporting plays Real Salt Lake on Tuesday at 7 p.m. and Wednesday at 11 a.m. in Phoenix. Vermes expects a challenge in those games.

“They’ve played two very true MLS-quality games in playing Columbus and both playing in CONCACAF Champions League and having to start earlier than everyone else,” Vermes said. “They have a leg up on us, and their level and their speed of play is probably going to be a little bit quicker. It’s going to be a really good quality match for us to play prior to going into our first game against Chivas.”

**Vermes said defender Michael Harrington, who has had a strained leg, likely will play against Real Salt Lake.

| Pete Grathoff, pgrathoff@kcstar.com

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