Sporting Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes credited the work of Daniel Salloi and Ilie Sanchez ahead of their clash with Chicago Fire.
The hosts are winless in their last four, most recently going down to a depleted Los Angeles FC side 4-0 to lose ground on the top-two in the Western Conference.
Sporting are also without a win in their last four home games, last suffering a five-game winless run between August and October 2005.
However, Salloi leads the goal involvements chart in the MLS and converted centre-back Sanchez has provided Vermes cover as his side cling onto third place, two points behind leaders Seattle Sounders.
“Daniel continuing this form is huge for us,” Vermes said.
“He’s got huge confidence, but he’s also putting in work on both sides of the ball, which helps immensely. I’m really happy to see that he’s in the form he’s in.
“Everything started coming together as Ilie and (Andreu) Fontas formed an immediate relationship. Ilie has just been excellent in the way he sees things.”
The visitors sit seven points off the Eastern Conference playoffs, defeating New York Red Bulls 1-0 to end a 19-game winless run on the road.
Indeed, the Fire have won three of their last five games and they now search for consecutive away wins for the first time since October 2013.
But forward Robert Beric just wants to take one game at a time as the Fire keep their faint playoff hopes alive.
“Let’s just try to keep going from game to game,” Beric said. “It’s difficult to think about playoffs now.
“I would like to say that we have to try to fight every game and we will see where we are going to finish the season.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Sporting Kansas City – Daniel Salloi
Salloi leads MLS with 18 combined goals (12) and assists (6). Salloi has become the third player in Sporting history to record 12 goals and six assists in a single MLS season for the club (Preki in 1996, 1997 and 2003; Eddie Johnson in 2007).
Chicago Fire – Robert Beric
Beric was tied for second in MLS with 12 goals last season but has scored just three times in 22 appearances this year, though he did net against New York Red Bulls on August 28.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Sporting Kansas City has won five straight home matches against the Fire after winning just four of the previous 16 meetings between the sides in Kansas City (D9 L3). Sporting has kept clean sheets in seven of the last ten meetings between the sides in Kansas City.
– Sporting Kansas City’s 4-0 loss at LAFC on Friday was its largest defeat in nearly two years, since a 6-0 loss at Dallas in October 2019. Sporting has bounced back well from losses this season, recording a victory following each of its first four defeats in 2021.
– The Fire’s 1-0 win at the Red Bulls in their last match ended a 19-match road winless run that dated back to the start of the 2020 season. A victory at Kansas City would give the Fire consecutive away wins for the first time since October 2013.
– Sporting Kansas City is winless in four straight home matches (D3 L1) for the first time since April-May 2019 (D3 L1). Sporting last went five straight home matches without winning, tied for the longest such streak in club history, in August-October 2005, a run that included a home defeat to the Fire.
– Robert Beric’s winning goal against the Red Bulls on August 28 came off a throw in, the second time Chicago has scored off a throw-in this season, also doing so against the Red Bulls on August 8. There have been only four other goals scored on throw-ins in all of MLS this season.