SKC’s Confidence May Be Winning Factor For Playoffs

With a clinched post-season spot, Sporting KC is increasing its confidence and focus
by Katherine Rupp   |   Thursday, October 16, 2014

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

With confidence on the rise, so are the stakes at hand for the regular season and post-season implications for Sporting Kansas City. And with confidence in the team as well as a arc where Sporting Kansas City is riding high, the road into the post-season may lead to a low turbulent ride.

Graham Zusi and Matt Besler, after playing in Brazil during the 2014 World Cup had somewhat of a slump, mainly from playing so much but also from travel and coming back to MLS that took a break – albeit a short one – during two weeks in July. However, with Zusi and Besler now ‘obvious’ call-ups to the national team, the pair also played in the recent friendly with the US men’s national team against Honduras. During the match, Besler stayed pretty quiet – as that’s often a good thing for defenders – and Zusi seemed to mesh well with the formation being deployed on the night. Both Sporting men, as well as Jorge Claros who was in for the first half, played for just over an hour.

Once Zusi and Besler are back with Sporting Kansas City for the last two regular season MLS games, however, means that two of the three designated players with an MLS Cup and World Cup experience are back with the team for more cohesion with players and formation. It also means that co-MVP Graham Zusi, just one of the many awards that was given out to worthy players at the club’s annual Pitch Black night, is back to leading the team in the offensive area of the pitch.

In addition to Graham Zusi co-winning MVP (man of the moment/season, Dom Dwyer, was graciously offered the honor as well), one of the most understated players for Sporting Kansas City, Seth Sinovic, won defender of the year for Sporting KC.

Although not the flashiest player, Seth Sinovic has been in year’s past – but also including this year – one of the most consistent performers in the defensive line. Sinovic, similar to Besler, has honed his skills at defense by constantly stepping up his game and performing at an increasingly higher level, usually every game and if not, most likely every season. The Kansas native has been at Sporting KC since the 2011 season and though his stats show that he plays a lot, they don’t tell the whole story – besides the fact that he does truly have two goals to his name in MLS and that’s only in post-season play; one goal, in fact, was against his former team, the New England Revolution. The story of Seth Sinovic, not just this season but in previous years as well, is the resiliency and tenacity that he shows in the face of opponents, regardless of the level of ferocity of the opposing players.

With the Philadelphia Union – game being played in Philly – and the New York Red Bulls - a home game at Sporting Park – as the last two regular season games to go, all players, whether the starting eleven, substitutes, or even unused subs, will be vital to the morale and the goals (both figuratively and literally) of the club. Whether it’s a popular player from the US national team in Besler or Zusi; Sporting KC’s awarded Defensive Player of the Year, Seth Sinovic; Offensive Player of the Year, Dom Dwyer; or one of the many of important and needed players for Sporting KC, each player will have his place where Sporting Kansas City land in the post-season. What’s more, riding the wave of confidence will help the team gain a greater focus on the pinnacle of the year’s effort: winning a subsequent MLS Cup.

NEXT UP: October 18 – Sporting Kansas City vs. Philadelphia Union, PPL Park, Chester, Pennsylvania. 7 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.