SKC Must Prove It Belongs in CCL

Sporting KC look to prevail over MLS regular season and CONCACAF Champions League opponents
by Katherine Rupp   |   Thursday, March 13, 2014

State of SKC - a column on Sporting KC and the Kansas soccer scene

Players learn from the past to write the future and yet somehow it’s been in the cards for Seattle to grab the metaphorical lion by its tail and win the game. In the last few years since 2009, the Seattle Sounders have won this battle, between the heavy contenders of the Eastern and Western Conferences, in the last 15 minutes – along with added time – with 8 out of 12 goals scored against Sporting Kansas City.

This is no time to think that Sporting KC are in dire need of help or more direction, as even with a nearly last-ditch, last-second goal from the Sounders, the pieces are coming together for the puzzle that looks to be the beginning of Sporting Kansas City’s season. The momentary heartbreak and frustration of the situation that seems to happen nearly every time SKC play Seattle doesn’t mean to be wholly disheartened but rather to look ahead to the bigger picture.

The MLS regular season is usually the most important aspect that an MLS team focuses on from March until December, but often – if the team has proven itself able in the past – a squad will have the ability to represent MLS in tournaments like the CONCACAF Champions League. Three strong MLS teams, the Los Angeles Galaxy, San Jose Earthquakes and SKC, will be the stewards for the American game this year. For offensive depth reasons because of the many games on the schedule between the CCL, US Open Cup, and MLS games, Sporting KC recently signed Alex Martinez – a SuperDraft pick midfielder – as well as Spaniard Antonio Dovale, who is also a midfielder and is being transferring from La Liga’s mid-table Celta Vigo.

Not only do Sporting KC play Cruz Azul, the formidable Mexican team who are tearing it up recently (although they did lose to competitors Tigres Monterrey) in Liga MX, the KC men also play a few days later for their MLS regular season schedule in Dallas. In addition, there is another game just a few days after playing in Texas, this time in Mexico City to finish the home/away series for which the CCL games are scheduled.

Because of barrage of games in a short period of time, for the first game of the season at Seattle, Peter Vermes made sure to keep options open for fresh legs, especially because injury concerns hit a few players before the season opener. Defenders Chance Myers and Seth Sinovic are out because of injury, however, other usual starting players like Uri Rosell and Claudio Bieler should be game-ready against a dominant Cruz Azul after being on the 18-man game day roster against Seattle but not subbed in.

So although other teams in MLS have advanced and played in the CCL, albeit maybe not with such a tight schedule as Sporting Kansas City, why is now the time to take the reins? The roster is finely tuned – which helps from not trading or acquiring too may players this offseason – and there is nothing to lose.

Having much of the same roster as last season – the MLS Cup-winning roster – will most certainly help morale and boost confidence, as the players know they can win a trophy with the teammates that are currently on the squad.

In addition to their assurance of play on the field, this first leg victory will be especially important because it is at home at Sporting Park in not the best of weather for a Mexican team, and with some of the most difficult fans to play in front of in an MLS stadium – as judged by’s recent Manager Survey. Sporting KC in 2012 – with much of the same roster carried over to win the MLS Cup in 2013 – were winners of the US Open Cup trophy in dramatic fashion. Both finals were held at Sporting Park and proved to be the tipping point for the victors as the home fans boosted the team in voice and song and assurance.

Winning the 2 trophies is great, but with the taste of victory comes the hunger for more greatness. Therefore, even with their recent year’s trophies, Sporting KC have more to prove this year: MLS can make progress in the CCL, and Sporting Kansas City are the team to showcase the talent and dynamic play of Major League Soccer.

NEXT UP: March 15 –Sporting Kansas City v. FC Dallas, Sporting Park, Kansas City, Kan. 8:30 p.m. EST, MLS Live.

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.