SKC Strives For More

Beyond the MLS Cup, Sporting KC are looking to hoist another trophy
by Katherine Rupp   |   Wednesday, December 18, 2013

John Hefti Photography - Sporting KC, MLS

More silverware could be coming for Sporting Kansas City.

The 2013 MLS season is gone and done with now that SKC have been named champions after one of the most epic finals in the history of the 18-year-old league. However, Sporting KC are looking for more silverware, and one shiny award they are looking to lift is the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) trophy.

Only 2 MLS clubs (the Los Angeles Galaxy and DC United) have won the Champions Cup competition – the precursor to the present day’s Champions League competition. Sporting KC’s 2013 MLS Cup Final competitor, Real Salt Lake, finished the CONCACAF Champions League as runner-up to one of the tournament’s perennial Mexican powerhouse, Monterrey, in the 2010-2011 season, with LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders losing in the semifinals in 2012-2013.

After winning the 2012 US Open Cup, Sporting KC qualified and are currently in the midst of the 2013-2014 CCL season, but by winning this year’s MLS Final, SKC automatically qualified for the 2014-2015 CCL season that will begin by having its group stage draw in June 2014.  

Implications

With the 2013-2014 CCL season already ramping up to be a cutthroat competition, Sporting Kansas City do not have any games to take lightly. In August 2013, SKC were able to make their way out of the group stage and will continue play against Cruz Azul in the quarterfinals in March 2014.

If they sustain their winning ways, Sporting KC would then play either Tijuana – which have a handful of US internationals on the team including Herculez Gomez, Edgar Castillo and Joe Corona – or constant title contender of the MLS Western Conference, LA Galaxy, in the semifinals.

And finally, if Sporting Kansas City reached the CCL Final in 2014, the humble Midwest team would play either Liga MX’s Toluca, MLS’s San Jose Earthquakes, Costa Rica’s Alajuelense or Panama’s Arabe Unido.

Because no MLS club has won the CCL before, there are few expectations for an MLS club to forge on through to win. And because of that, Sporting Kansas City are looking to fortify their place as a strong contender to represent MLS within CONCACAF and the world.

In the past few years, Sporting KC have seen a great incline in player and coaching quality, advances in scouting, and committed excellence from the owners – shown specifically by the rebranding as well as the kit sponsor of local KC business, Ivy Funds – which all contributes to the success and play on the field. After succeeding in lifting the trophy for both the 2012 US Open Cup and the 2013 MLS Cup, Sporting Kansas City are striving for more and to prove themselves towards peers. Their trajectory has already been on an upward swing, and it looks to continue through the next few years as they face some of the best teams in CONCACAF, and hopefully, some of the best teams in the world.

Ideally for SKC fans, imagine if Sporting Kansas City were to advance to the Club World Cup: They would receive more money, which would be able to fund more roster spots for the different competitions being played, and more focus would be on MLS and Sporting Kansas City as serious contenders within the global soccer world.

The Pinnacle

So although Sporting Kansas City achieved much this year by winning the pinnacle of MLS, the MLS Cup, the mission is not accomplished…yet, as SKC look to advance within the CONCACAF Champions League and finally to the FIFA Club World Cup.

With something to prove, expect SKC manager Peter Vermes and company to strategically plan starting roster spots as well as bringing in specific players where current players might be weaker or may need to rest because of the amount of games that will be played.

There are a handful of North American clubs – specifically from Liga MX and MLS – that are striving for excellence. But seeing how Sporting KC finished out the 2013 MLS season, it is becoming more clear that they are capable of more.

NEXT UP: February 1–Friendly: Sporting Kansas City vs. Portland Timbers, North Stadium at Kino Sports Complex, Tucson, Az. 8 p.m. EST, TBD.

Katherine RUPP

Nationality:
USA
College:
Drake University
Club Domestic:
Sporting KC
Club Foreign:
Tottenham Hotspur
Unabashed Minnesotan by birth. Tried reliving the glory days of collegiate intramural soccer championships but an ACL tear dashed future hopes of adult recreational greatness. Covering a city’s team that’s too big for one state: SKC.
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