SKC Sees No End in Sight

With Dom Dwyer’s banner year and the KC goalkeepers stepping up, post-season is in sight
by Katherine Rupp   |   Thursday, October 09, 2014

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

As the regular season for MLS winds down, out come the accolades, achievements, recognitions, and a little bit of a nostalgic focus on the current season as well as other previous seasons by looking at what went well and what didn’t go so well.

This season will most certainly be identified as the ‘year of Dom Dwyer’ among a few other things. The English Dwyer has been on Sporting Kansas City’s squad since 2012 but only made his mark this year in the 2014 season by, as of early October, with 20 goals to his name, which is also currently the second highest amount of goals scored in the league.

Although each player has his peaks and valleys throughout the season, and in the past few weeks Dwyer – although with 3 goals from him in September – hasn’t had the same pizzazz seen in certain parts of this year, Dwyer seemingly has something up his sleeve for the next (and last regular season) games against Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York Red Bulls. The single-season goal scoring record holder for Kansas City is now Dwyer and that achievement didn’t come easily as Preki, who had recently held the record, scored 18 goals in 1996. The 19-year-old record isn’t the only reason why this year is Dom Dwyer’s year.

In addition, Dwyer has made a name for himself in the league – that many pundits, especially those from overseas, sometimes call boring or unenthusiastic – for his goal-scoring celebrations and his very outgoing, optimistic, and confident demeanor, both on and off the pitch.

Not only did Dwyer make a difference this season, it was the year of the goalkeeper this season as Sporting Kansas City had to deploy three goalkeepers in the span of a few months as injuries came to be. A strong start to the season by Eric Kronberg helped him win the starting role until July when he was injured and had to be sidelined. Then stepped up Andy Gruenebaum who took over for a bit. Then the ‘Hebrew Hammer’ was injured.

If Sporting Kansas City was any other team, having the first two choice goalkeepers go out injured would mean a big blow but luckily, homegrown keeper and Kansas City native, Jon Kempin, has the quality that Sporting Kansas City needed (and needs) and made his MLS debut. Not only was Kempin’s first MLS action against the Vancouver Whitecaps in Vancouver, but he had a penalty kick against him – and saved it – within the 45 minutes he played. With Kronberg, Gruenebaum, and Kempin on the roster for Sporting Kansas City, fans can be rest assured that whomever is in goal at the time, the team is in good hands.

In addition to this season being Dom Dwyer’s year and all the goalkeepers getting some minutes, especially Jon Kempin being able to get his first MLS play, there are some lowlights to this year’s team. With the amount of games along with injuries to players and players being called up to their national teams – including for the World Cup in Brazil – there was a stretch of this season that was shaky. The players weren’t as familiar with their teammates and it was telling through a few losses and draws in late spring and early summer.

Regardless of some lowlights this year, the highlights outweigh them as the direction of the team is to build upon last year’s MLS Cup championship win and sustain a strong team that strives to win trophies. And with a strong team comes achievements such as player of the week or player of the month, save of the week or goal of the month. These accolades point to a team that is trying, and often succeeding, at reaching their goals. With the end of the regular season upon our heels, expect to see Sporting Kansas City players in those ‘week of’ or ‘month of’ awards as the men from Kansas City seek to go into the post-season with gumption and no hesitation towards another – and consecutive – MLS Cup final win.

NEXT UP: October 10 – Sporting Kansas City v. Chicago Fire, 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.