Sporting KC Earns Three Needed Points Over San Jose


Sporting KC forward Dominic Dwyer (14) celebrates after scoring on a penalty kick against the San Jose Earthquakes during the second half at Sporting Park. Sporting KC won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Dom Dwyer’s penalty kick in the 57th minute was enough for Sporting KC to earn their first win of the 2014 MLS season, a 1-0 over San Jose Earthquakes.

Playing their fifth game in 15 days, Sporting’s defense held strong for the full 90 minutes to preserve the win. SKC had lost opportunities for points in each of their previous two MLS matches because of defensive lapses in the final seconds against Seattle and Dallas.

This time Sporting Kansas City held strong. San Jose managed only one shot on goal – a 71st minute strike from Chris Wondolowski in the penalty area that went wide. Otherwise chances were limited for San Jose.

I thought we did a good job of managing the game at the end,” manager Peter Vermes said in his postgame press conference. “It’s something that we’ve been talking about because of our last two games in league play where we’ve given up goals late. We’ve got to be able to manage the game at the end and manage the result. I thought the guys did a tremendous job. It’s good to see that that hasn’t left us.”

Scoring goals remains an issue for Sporting. Saturday’s winner came from the penalty spot after Steven Lenhart was called for a handball in the box. Dwyer was able to capitalize on the opportunity. Still, Sporting has only two goals in three MLS matches and has received next to nothing from their forwards on offense.

Edwards notes in a later tweet Sporting won an MLS Cup during the 571 minute stretch, but repeating is going to be made very difficult if Sporting cannot get more goals out of their forwards.

How much of the issue has been because Sporting has played five matches in 15 days is unclear, but the schedule is about to return to normalcy. Sporting plays only three times in the next four weeks, with two of those matches coming at Sporting Park. Taking advantage of the next four months may be critical in getting the issues with the attack figured out.

“I always say, the hardest thing about this game is creating chances,” Vermes said. “Being in and around the goal and creating chances. If you can’t create chances, you’re never going to score. It doesn’t matter how good your players are. We wind up creating them, it’s just a matter of us getting into that rhythm. I have all the confidence in the world in the group that we’re going to do it.”

Creating chances is one thing, taking advantage of them is another. Dwyer, C.J. Sapong, and Claudio Bieler must be more productive for Sporting – certainly more efficient – than they’ve been over the first three matches. The trio have combined for 15 shots but only four were on-goal. None of those shots on goal were from Bieler.

There is no doubt the defense of this team is stellar, the class of the MLS. However, Sporting is going to have a tough time repeating as champions without better form from Dwyer, Sapong, and Bieler. Hopefully a more favorable schedule and rest will be what those three need to turn things around.