Rivalries For Sporting KC Help Grow the Game

Sporting Kansas City rivals fuel the excitement for impending matches
by Katherine Rupp   |   Thursday, April 17, 2014

State of SKC - column on Sporting KC (SKC) & the Kansas City soccer scene.

There are some teams that can get under other teams’ skin, and Sporting Kansas City is such a team.

Not only do Sporting KC have inventive, creative and intelligent players, but they have people on the current squad who have the chops to frustrate opponents. Even when the club was in the Western Conference, there were teams that could be seen as rivals, and now that Kansas City is in the Eastern Conference – for how much longer is the question as it’s likely once Orlando City, Miami, New York City FC, Atlanta and 1 other MLS expansion clubs join, KC will be in the Western Conference yet again – there are clubs that can be pitted against Sporting Kansas City– not just through soccer rivalry but through a city rivalry as well.

Currently, 2 of the most significant rivals for Sporting Kansas City are because of geography while the others are more because of the play on the field and the dislike of the other team.

As there is no other significant MLS team within the Midwest vicinity nearest to Kansas City, Chicago is the go-to geographical city that is automatically qualified as a ‘rival.’ Although more recently, judging from conversations of Kansas City and Chicago fans, it’s evolving into a more mature antagonism instead of a head-to-head clash of the titans. However, whenever Sporting KC and the Fire come together on the pitch, the result ends up – usually – in favor of Chicago. Since 2009, for instance, the two teams have played twelve games with 3 games won by KC, 4 draws, and 5 losses.

Besides Chicago, the team that has been overtaken as the other geographical rival, which happens to be in the same conference for now, is the Houston Dynamo. Sporting KC and the Dynamo have played 18 regular season games harkening back to 2006, including 6 post-season games played between the two teams, with 5 of those 6 games from 2011 to 2013. Under coach Dom Kinnear’s leadership, Houston have become more and more of a shoe-in for Eastern Conference post-season play the past few seasons.

This 2014 season has Sporting Kansas City play the Chicago Fire 3 times, once at Toyota Park in a few weeks while the 2 games at Sporting Park are on tap to be in July and October.

One team that has transformed itself to be a strong contender for any match against Sporting Kansas City is Real Salt Lake. There is no love lost when players or supporters groups think of the more recent games that have been played between the two exceptional teams as the matches have often been contentious and chippy. This season’s only grudge match between the 2013 MLS Cup champion and the runner-up was a few weeks ago and the 0-0 result showed that the contest between these teams will most likely stay aggressive in nature in the coming years, especially if Kansas City is transferred to the Western Conference in a few years.

Another team, one that Sporting KC play in a few day’s time, that isn’t so much a rivalry but always is a tough draw for KC, is the Montreal Impact. With just 6 games played between the clubs, this matchup has the look of two teams wanting to make an impact (pun intended) in the Eastern Conference but also hold respect for each other’s players, even if a coach gets thrown out of the game from time to time as was the case in June of 2013 in their game. The tense games from the past should be a foreboding signal for the upcoming match for Sporting KC to take the Impact seriously, as should be the case for Montreal coming to Sporting Park and playing the most recent MLS Cup champions.

As is the case in most sports, rivalries help to fuel the game’s passion for the supporters, players and coaches. For Sporting Kansas City, having the Chicago Fire, Houston Dynamo, Real Salt Lake, the Montreal Impact, as well as a handful of other teams in MLS be healthy rivals can only help the club and the league with building a rapport of the exciting and electric atmosphere on and off the field for those games. As is wont to do, Sporting Kansas City will more than likely become challengers to other teams in MLS because of the quality of on-field play and the respectful, funny, and arrogant territorial nature of supporters. Make sure to buckle up because MLS and Sporting KC fans are in for a fun ride.

NEXT UP: April 19 – Sporting Kansas City v. Montreal Impact, Sporting Park, Kansas City, Kan., 8:30 p.m. EST, MLS Live.

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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