Sporting Kansas City have done the unthinkable by uprooting the number one seed in the Western Conference, St Louis CITY, to advance in MLS Cup playoffs.
After triumphing 4-1 at CITYPARK in game one, Sporting KC had nothing to lose after essentially stealing the first game on the road. However, Vermes and his team didn’t see it that way, as they took advantage of the situation and eliminated the best team in the West to punch their ticket to the second round of the playoffs.
Logan Ndenbe was on the scoresheet for the second straight game for SKC, striking first on the brink of halftime before longtime winger Daniel Salloi got in on the act in the 73rd minute to put the hosts in a favorable position. St Louis’ Celio Pomeu pulled one back near the end of regulation, but SKC held on for the impressive victory.
“I told you guys this time and time again as we were going into this series,” Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes said after the game. “This is not about a rivalry. It’s about the playoffs. It’s about trying to get as close as we can to winning the MLS Cup. That’s our objective, so all that other stuff goes off to the side.”
While it wasn’t an elimination game for the home side, Vermes revealed that his team still treated it like one to help them advance to the next round.
“We have to win the game and that’s what’s most important. If you win the game, all the other stuff lines up as well. It’s the playoffs. That’s really what it meant to us. The guys worked so hard. As I said many times, they worked so hard to get to the playoffs. It’s a great reward, but it makes me even more pleased that they’re not just satisfied with getting to the playoffs. They want to try and go for it,” he said.
Vermes, who’s been in charge at Children’s Mercy Park since 2009, explained that his team knows what lies ahead of them as they’ll be on the road for the remainder of the postseason.
“I think we all know that playing on the road is really difficult in soccer. We all know that, but we have to find a way in our next game because it’s on the road. We’re going to have to find a way to get a result. I look at it as, wherever we go it’s going to be a final for us and we have to go and play it that way. We have to try to do the best we can to understand that we’re in the lion’s den and we have to become a lion,” said Vermes.
With the decisive win, Kansas City will wait until playoff action resumes after the November international break, where they’ll take on the winner of the Houston Dynamo and Real Salt Lake series.
“What I would say is I believe that the guys were capable of doing what we’re doing for sure. I believe in the roster. I believe in the players.”
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