Sporting Kansas City has not played since June 6th in Houston when they overcame being a man down for seventy minutes to take a 2-0 win into the World Cup break. It was a break that was much needed for Sporting KC.
Despite the rest, they will still not have anything near a full squad when they face Minnesota United in Open Cup play tonight. "We have thirteen guys that are missing, between international duty, injuries and some loans, most of it is injuries," manager Peter Vermes explained. "Obviously a couple guys out for the entire year. It's not easy but the break gave us some time to work on guys and be smart about how we bring them back."
While Vermes would not give away who would be starting or available other than keeper Andy Gruenebaum, it is likely that Paulo Nagamura and Benny Feilhaber will wait until MLS play resumes before joining a lineup again
The break let some players heal but it also gave players and the staff a chance to rest and regroup. "I gave the guys five days off which I think was important from a mental perspective," Vermes said. "Forget about injuries and everything else, just to get away from the game, not have to practice, not have to come here every day. That's an important aspect, it recharges people and gets them excited to come back and train. They miss it, they realize what they missed. At the same time it was good for the staff because the staff usually spends a lot more time working than the players do so they needed a break also. I made sure everyone got away for a short period of time at least. It's all been good mentally and I think that is the biggest thing we gained out of the break."
Vermes wants to win everything
Vermes knows that he needs to put a strong team on the field to win. Last year Sporting KC was knocked out by their affiliate Orlando City and in 2011 by Richmond, both USL division teams.
"We don't take this lightly because we want to win this competition but we also have to be smart going into the second half of the season," Vermes stated. "I am going to put the best group out there that I can based on what we have available to us but as far as the way play, we don't change from that perspective. We truly respect all the competitions we play in, we want to win whatever we are in. It's another championship, it's another trophy and that's important to the whole organization."
The loss to Orlando left a bitter taste with Sporting KC. Exiting early as the defending champions was not acceptable. "I talked to the guys about that all year, we did not approach the game the way we normally do in regards to our tenacity and our aggressiveness. We just never went after the game," Vermes said. "I explained to the guys that over the years I've been here, the one great thing with this group is they have always left it all out on the field except for a couple of occasions. We don't want to be that team. We get beat because somebody is better than us on that day, it's one thing, but not because we get outworked, not because we did not bring it that day, that just can't happen with this organization."