Out to ease the sting of being eliminated from the CONCACAF Champions League, Sporting KC looks to continue its strong start in MLS play Sunday when it hosts New York Red Bulls.
Sporting KC (2-1-2) is mid-table in the Western Conference, but it does hold the distinction of being the last MLS team standing in the CONCACAF Champions League. Though the 10-2 aggregate in their two-legged semifinal loss to Monterrey is not visually pleasing, KC took some positives from Thursday’s 5-2 loss at home in the second leg.
Gerso Fernandez scored both of Sporting’s goals in the first half-hour, but with the competition now done, coach Peter Vermes is looking for his team to have a positive response with only one set of responsibilities going forward.
“For me, when you get beat, you’re always going to have something inside you that’s going to want you to be better the next time you go out,” Vermes said. “That’s going to be up to see how the players react from that perspective. Our staff will be the same. We’ll work and be ready to get ready for the game.
“At the end of the day, the players have to perform on the field. They’re going to have to show that they have something inside them.”
Sporting has gone unbeaten in its last four matches (2-0-2) in league play after starting the season with a loss to Los Angeles FC. Krisztian Nemeth has started his second go-round with KC in blistering form with eight goals in nine matches across all competitions, including four in five league contests.
Sixteen-year-old Gianluca Busio provided the offense in Sporting KC’s 1-1 draw at Cincinnati last Sunday and has scored goals in his last two league matches.
The Red Bulls (1-3-1), who were eliminated in the Champions League one round earlier, are trying to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat after a 2-1 loss to Minnesota on April 6. Cristian Casseres scored his first MLS goal to account for New York’s offense, with the 19-year-old Venezuelan trying to stick with the senior side while also getting playing time with NYRB II.
“It was a very important goal in my career, and in my life,” Cásseres told the club’s official website. “It’s my first goal here. I’m very grateful for that, I’m happy. I came here and I’m trying to play in MLS, but if I play in USL, I’ll play the same way, because ultimately, I represent the New York Red Bulls.”
New York is trying to avoid its first four-match losing streak in league play since April 1-16, 2016. The Red Bulls’ 3-2 win in last season’s only meeting ended a four-match winless run (0-3-1) in league play to Sporting KC. Marc Rzatkowski scored the equalizer and match-winner seven minutes apart in the second half for New York.
(Gianluca Busio photo courtesy Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports)