After Sporting Kansas City’s 2-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes landed them as a No. 5 seed in the Western Conference, head coach Peter Vermes reflected on the lineup the team looks to rely on during the playoffs.
It’s one that resembles what Vermes chose at the beginning of the season, as swings of form, injuries and inconsistent performances from younger players having all been the cause of this.
Despite difficult runs of form and several disappointing late-match performances for Sporting, Vermes set his sights no lower. Sporting KC has made the playoffs six straight years, but Vermes didn’t want to celebrate just that.
“I look at it differently,” Vermes said. “I want to win an MLS Cup. Obviously, it’s a few games away but we have to take care of this first one and it’s not going to be easy.”
Coming off some positive performances to close the season, Sporting KC has found itself relying on many familiar faces.
Roger Espinoza continues as the team’s midfield dynamo, albeit in a different way as he lined up on the left wing in the last two matches. Midfielder to left back convert Jimmy Medranda impressed this season, but Sporting opted for experience by starting Seth Sinovic as the playoffs approached. As for other core players like Benny Feilhaber and Matt Besler, Vermes said he was happy with their recent form.
“[The lineup has] been pretty good here recently,” Vermes said. “We have had a good solid nucleus of players with a lot of experience in this league and also in these kinds of moments. Today we had a lot of experience.”
Vermes pointed out how similar the lineup against San Jose on Sunday was as to the ones he selected in the 2012 U.S. Open Cup final and the 2015 U.S. Open Cup final. Sporting fielded six players who were on the field for the Open Cup win four years ago.
Advancing to the playoffs isn’t quite as significant this season for some Sporting KC players, however, since the team has been battling for more games in the last few games of the regular season.
“The last ten games have been like playoff games for us,” Espinoza said. “Going to Salt Lake, that was a playoff game. That’s how you have to play on the road. Today was like a playoff game. I don’t think you have to change anything, we just have to keep going. It’s a new season, but it starts right away and that’s good.”
Although the team sounded positive about going into the playoffs, nothing will be certain on Wednesday in Seattle when Sporting faces the Sounders.
“As far as our lineup goes, I’m probably a little hesitant to talk about it, not because I don’t want to give anything away but more importantly, I have to take inventory of how everybody feels after this game,” Vermes said.