Champs no more, proud Sporting KC coach Vermes laments late goal

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All the leads were written for the media after Dom Dwyer sent Sporting KC ahead of New York in their MLS knockout round playoff game on Thursday night.

The visitors were ahead despite being outplayed by New York. The reigning MLS champs were alive, and had hopes of repeating dancing through their fans heads.

[ MATCH RECAP: New York Red Bulls 2-1 Sporting KC ]

But Bradley Wright-Phillips netted twice in the final 13 minutes, the final one off a bizarre cross that had Matt Besler and Erik Kronberg looked mystified, and Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes was left to explain the loss.

From MLSSoccer.com:

Unfortunately, it didn’t go our way,” Vermes told reporters in a postmatch conference call. “But I can’t fault the guys whe were out there for anything. They did what they had to do. Unfortunately, we came up short. I know they’re very disappointed, as is the staff, but they did themselves proud, in my opinion.”

Ambroise Oyongo’s mishit ball from the right wing turned into the perfect cross. Sporting goalkeeper Eric Kronberg was backing away from the ball instead of going to get it, center backs Matt Besler and Aurelien Collin left Wright-Phillips unmarked, and the English forward headed the winner home just inside the left post.

“The way the ball was so high in the air for so long, I think there was an ability for [Kronberg] to come out, for sure,” Vermes said. “We weren’t matched up in the box as well. But again, their guy mishit it.”

It’s a tough year for Vermes, whose team never seemed to find its form after Graham Zusi and Matt Besler left for World Cup duty with the USMNT. Mishit or not, it was an ugly goal to end their dreams, one that perhaps fits the way the second half of their season unfolded.