How a New Captain Will Affect SKC

A vacant Sporting KC captaincy may lead to renewed winning attitudes and optimism for 2014
by Katherine Rupp   |   Wednesday, February 26, 2014

John Hefti Photography - SKC, Sporting KC

For MLS teams, preseason is the time of year to hone what the upcoming season expectations are, and clubs such as Sporting Kansas City have been on the incline of the league.

There is no timidity or fragility in the goals for the club from Kansas City, or where they plan to end up by the end of the season. Winning is what every club wants but Sporting KC seems to be cut from a different cloth, in terms of MLS teams, and that starts with the mindset of the players – especially the leader.

With the 2013 MLS Cup Championship game happening on Dec. 7, just over 3 months ago, that March 8 – the start of the 2014 MLS season – may seem like it’s too soon to start soccer, but along with the couple of the acquisitions and changes that were made this winter, most supporters are ready to see what Sporting KC have up their sleeve.

Still, there’s even more in this offseason, including the release of the secondary kit as well as the announcement of the newest captain.

Recently retired (from SKC) and newly hired (to OKC Energy FC) former goalkeeper, Jimmy Nielsen, was the captain of the MLS Cup champions and with his parting, Sporting KC is ready to name a new man to wear the band. The captain’s armband hasn’t always been the most coveted honor in MLS as it is in England for Premier League teams or for many national teams, but nevertheless, it is a privilege. The new kit and captain are scheduled to be announced on March 4.

There are many deserving players on the squad who could be given the captain’s title but expect someone who has been a steady player for the team in year’s past, a leader on and off the field, as well as a player who will represent the club well.

With those supposed qualifications, there are multiple people who could be captain and may well be a hometown boy (Matt Besler or Seth Sinovic), a fan favorite (Graham Zusi) or a surprise pick like an MLS veteran (Paulo Nagamura).

Regardless of who is ultimately chosen, the next KC captain should be able to help chalk up future seasons – including the 2014 one – as successful.

Even with a new captain and away jersey, the main structure of Sporting KC has not changed drastically as other clubs have. Much of the roster – minus Nielsen and newly-signed New England Revolution player Teal Bunbury, and adding Sal Zizzo, Andy Gruenebaum, as well as reacquiring Jimmy Medranda from Colombian side Deportivo Pereira from being on loan – has stayed the same for KC, and yet, the buzz surrounding the new season is just as thrilling as previous seasons and has not waned since capturing the MLS Cup.

Although Kansas City have not added as many high profile acquisitions as other teams – especially when comparing those in the Eastern Conference, which will undoubtedly be tougher this 2014 season – those on the Sporting KC squad look to capture multiple titles this year.

The new captain will not only be leading the charge for Sporting to be repeat MLS Champions, but hopefully guide the team to a better US Open Cup showing than last season – where they were knocked out of the tournament by Sporting’s own affiliates, Orlando City Soccer Club – and also the CONCACAF Champions League, with games beginning for that competition on March 12, just 4 days after their MLS season opener in Seattle.

Although having a new captain isn’t everything, the attitude and optimism of that specific leader does matter for the morale of the team. The captaincy will probably turn out to be a minute detail of the season, but nevertheless, the outlook of the team – starting with the captain – will help to hopefully advance the team to new heights and more silverware.

NEXT UP: March 8, 2014 – Sporting Kansas City v. Seattle Sounders, CenturyLink Field, Seattle. 3 p.m. EST, NBCSN.

Katherine RUPP

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.