When Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes brought in Designated Player Gerso Fernandes to man the right wing, he knew Fernandes needed to provide something his reputation prior to MLS wasn’t built on.
“When he came here, he didn’t have much of a goal-scoring record and I think that had a lot to do with the way he played in the system that the played,” Vermes said. “The big thing about him that I said to him is he is going to be put in a lot of situations in front of the goal and you need to start finishing them off.”
Fernandes started anew with a match-sealing goal in the 58th minute of Sporting KC’s 3-1 win over the Colorado Rapids Sunday night. The 26-year-old Guinea-Bissau international only scored three goals during his last two seasons in the Portuguese Primeira Liga.
“You need to start thinking that you have the ability to be a goalscorer and tonight, the goal that he scored, was tremendous,” Vermes said.
The goal to open Fernandes’ scoring record in MLS represents an uptick in form for a Sporting KC attack that has struggled to finish at the start of the 2017 season. Fernandes and star striker Dom Dwyer both notched their first goals of the season.
The attacking might spells relief for fans and alleviates the pressure and attention on a Sporting KC attack with a lot of potential.
“We knew it was only a matter of time and maybe it just took that one to get some momentum going,” Sporting left back Seth Sinovic said. “It’s always great when our striker, Dom, gets a goal because that’s a good confidence boost for him and hopefully that will be a lot of our goals going forward.”
For 85 minutes, nothing seemed to go right for Dwyer. Botched first touches and errant shots characterized a difficult night for the goalless target forward.
Then Sinovic slid a cross to Dwyer’s right foot on a counter attack in the 85th minute. It was Dwyer’s first goal since Oct. 1, 2016.
“I had a feeling coming into tonight that I would get one,” Dwyer said. “I needed one. The guys encouraged me and believed in me. Coach stuck with me. You guys kinda stuck with me. It’s just nice to get a goal and more important to get three points.”
Sporting’s attacking ability looks to be showing up after three scoreless draws in four games to start the season. The team’s problems, however, could be worse. The Sporting KC defense has been the reason the team has stayed undefeated, recording three shutouts and allowing only two goals on the season so far.
Vermes expressed his excitement about both scoring production picking up alongside defensive stability.
“Obviously, goals are important, but just the way that we play and the idea,” Vermes said. “It’s not just if someone is playing well tonight, it’s more of a true idea of when we have the ball what are we going to do and when we don’t have the ball what we we going to do. I think the guys are pulling that off. We have a lot more to work on, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a pleasure to see that coming out.”