Sporting KC Can't Wait to Defend MLS Cup

A newness and team spark looks to be had in Sporting Kansas City’s post-season future
by Katherine Rupp   |   Thursday, October 30, 2014

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

Sporting Kansas City look to be a little run down after a full regular season of injury bugs, World Cup absences, traveling to and fro, as well as players coming and going through selling and acquisitions. And now with Sporting Kansas City as the five seed going into the playoffs, that means there’s a play-in game to be had with the team’s current Eastern conference foes in the New York Red Bulls.

The last regular season game, very much still fresh in the memories of the Sporting KC players, will have a bit of a sour taste as it was a 2-0 loss at home; of which, home games at Sporting Park during the regular season had a different feel than normal (i.e. losses) than other seasons.

However, the mindset with Sporting Kansas City – as a collective team unit – for this post-season run, is that it is just that: it’s a post-season that is likened to starting a whole new – truncated, however – version of a regular season but a regular season with more at stake.

“We need to inject some newness into the team…change things up a little bit in the next couple of days. The good thing is, if we do get a few guys back – who are injured at the moment – that will help, just in itself, because it will give us some consistency,” Peter Vermes said recently in an interview, where he was a guest on MLSsoccer.com’s ExtraTime Radio.

As Vermes sees it (and rightly so with being the head coach), Sporting Kansas City has just as much chance at advancing through the MLS playoffs with a strong post-season run than any team in the Eastern conference. And to do that, to advance and continue in the 2014 season, Sporting KC has to be on the top of its game. As previously mentioned with injuries and tiredness, and from coach Peter Vermes on a ‘newness’ with the club, the team can be refreshed through the motivation that it has in this post-season. Because of some less-than-stellar games this year – including getting knocked out of Concacaf Champions League games for 2014-2015 in the group stages recently, as well as finishing 5th in MLS regular season play and needing a play-in game – the team is looking ahead to how it can continue on.

Continuing on in the 2014 season means non-injured players will still get knocked around (captain and defender Matt Besler has had a nagging thigh contusion from the World Cup) but will play on with resiliency. Additionally, Sporting KC has something to prove by being the most recent MLS Cup champions. Other teams, and fans, look to Sporting Kansas City as the pinnacle of MLS still – until the next champion is crowned – and whether KC goes out in the 4th/5th place play-in game or they lift up the Cup again, KC has the mindset to play that way that they dictate.

But first up, there’s the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena, with a similar team as Sporting KC is – powerhouse players, silverware from last season (the club’s first trophy was through winning the Supporters’ Shield in 2013), and some injury concerns throughout this season. However, if Sporting KC (or New York) advance, the Eastern conference semis and final will be tough as either the Columbus Crew, New England Revolution or DC United will be on the other side of the pitch during those games.

So no matter how ‘unlikely’ it may be that Sporting Kansas City uphold the name of MLS Cup champions again, the team certainly still has some gumption and audacity, and pride, to play the way that the team wants to direct the play-in game and to survive yet another day. And so even though challenges await Sporting Kansas City in the post-season playoffs, the team is ready for the tests ahead.

NEXT UPOctober 30 – Sporting Kansas City vs. New York Red Bulls, Red Bull Arena, Harrison, N.J. 8 p.m. EST, ESPN2.

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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