SKC is Confident, Composed For Hectic 2014 Season

Sporting KC look forward to a busy 2014 season with great expectations
by Katherine Rupp   |   Friday, March 07, 2014

John Hefti Photography - SKC, Sporting KC

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” is a storied motto that fits quite well with the offseason for Sporting Kansas City.

Besides the acquisitions of a few players, Sporting KC were relatively quiet with their goings-on. But with the season fast approaching, there does seem to be a new look, more so a new confidence, to the team regardless of the team’s minimal moves after the MLS Cup-clinching game in December.

However, this new confidence doesn’t mean that the players aren’t focused on the goals and aspirations at hand for this season. Along with gaining steam and forging ahead through the CONCACAF Champions League and defending the title of MLS Champions by performing well throughout the MLS regular season, Sporting KC should also look to stay healthy and fit for the many months coming up. Although not a serious injury or ‘Sporting Fit’ concern for the beginning of the season, Seth Sinovic picked up a knock in a recent preseason match but is expected be ready for the opener of the MLS season in Seattle. And even though the leftback is ready for the season, make sure to keep an eye out for Sinovic, as he tends to pick up unfortunate injuries – as was the case in 2012 after flipping over the LED sponsor boards lining the field.

One player who last year had an on and offseason for being injured and in and out of the starting XI lineups, but is looking extremely promising going into the 2014 season is Sporting KC’s designated player, Claudio Bieler. The Argentine forward – or as seen in a few preseason games as an attacking central midfielder – netted 4 goals in preseason games, including a hat trick against the NASL’s Indy Eleven.

Not only is Bieler one to check out for this season as a strong contender to be on the top of the stats list with goals but a perennial competitor to watch who consistently racks up the numbers – usually in the assists column – is fan favorite Graham Zusi. The 27-year-old is highly considered to be gone during the month of June, along with defender Matt Besler, to be part of the 23-man US Men’s National Team roster for the World Cup. Even though his production rates will be non-existent during that time, Zusi – when looking at his increasing stats season over season and the awards he’s received (i.e. 2013 Sporting KC MVP and 2011 MLS Breakout Player of the Year) – could very much be in contention for MLS MVP for 2014.

The other aforementioned player who will be missing for June is defender Matt Besler. His presence will be missed, especially with the direction he will be giving on the pitch now with his new title that was recently bestowed upon him: Sporting KC captain. Besler was just given the captaincy on March 4 and it seems that the Hometown Hero (the nickname he is often dubbed with on social media) is already receiving lots of positive buzz for the worthy honor of wearing the armband and therefore is well-received by players and fans alike.

Despite not having their captain in June as well as a major midfield player in Zusi, and starting the season playing 5 games in the first 2 weeks (which includes 2 CCL games), Sporting Kansas City don’t seem to be backing down from any adversity in schedule or roster changes.

And although one is likely to think that Sporting KC would almost take a collective deep breath before the season, the team and its executives, however, continue to roll with the punches with a recent secondary kit launch, naming of the new captain, and signing Alex Martinez – a SuperDraft pick who impressed during preseason, one of the most innovative teams in MLS looks to take that confidence and determination for the 2014 season.

NEXT UP: March 8 – Sporting Kansas City vs. 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.