• Tuesday Oct 28, 2014

    Sporting KC’s Vermes praises Saprissa

    Head coach Peter Vermes (pictured) can lead Sporting Kansas City to a third straight appearance in the CONCACAF Champions League by winning the 2014 MLS Cup playoffs, which start this week . (Photo: Mexsport)

    SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- Sporting Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes credited the intelligence of Saprissa’s players as a major reason for the elimination of his squad from the 2014/15 CONCACAF Champions League (CCL).

    Last week, in a battle pitting the current United States and Costa Rica champions against each other, the host posted a 2-0 win, propelling it to the Group 2 title and a place in the quarterfinals.

    “In Costa Rica they have very good players with very good technique who know how to read the game well,” said Vermes, whose team advanced to the CCL’s knockout rounds last year.  “I like the ‘streets smarts’ they have on the field and that is important in games such as these.”

    The former U.S. international also highlighted the play of Saprissa’s defenders and midfielders.

    “Saprissa is a very good team,” expressed the 47-year-old.  “Their defenders do very well with their headers and their midfielders play on both sides of the pitch. They are good players.”

    Though his side needed only a draw to advance, first-half injuries to midfielder Benny Feilhaber and forward Igor Juliao -- when already behind 1-0 -- called for substitutions, forcing a change in strategy.

    “For us it was difficult because in the first half we had two injured players,” noted Vermes.  “That changed what we wanted to do in the second half to try to get some other people on and change the game.”

    The commitment displayed by Saprissa’s players also impressed the manager.

    “I want to congratulate Saprissa,” Vermes concluded.  “They play very well.  They played with a lot of eagerness in the match.  They play well in the counterattack and also on dead balls. 

    “It was a good game for them.”

    Sporting can qualify for a third straight CCL by winning the 2014 MLS Cup playoffs, which begin on Thursday with an encounter at the New York Red Bulls.

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