Musings on the Sporting Kansas Re-Rematch: Well, That Escalated Quickly
by Jason Goodbody
So, Sporting Kansas, we meet again...again
Western Conference Champions!!!!
With the 4-1 victory and LAFC's upset loss to Real Salt Lake Sunday night, St Louis CITY SC clinched its spot at the top of the Western Conference. This means that save for one game during the best of three series in round one, CITY will have home field advantage during the playoffs for as long as they want to playoff, up until and maybe even the championship.
It also means CITY will be invited to participate in the CONCACAF Champions Cup tournament in 2024, so start making travel plans.
CITY also set an MLS record for most wins (17) by an expansion team in their inaugural season. We are continually reminded that these records don't include the "shootout era" as if this were some magical time where no rules existed, the laws of physics were suspended, and nothing seemed to matter; an era forever to be known as The Asterix Age.
Welcome back, neighbor
It was good to see all 750 of you who made the trip, a number that I presume also included the team players, coaches and staff. The sparseness of your support is understandable given how costly CITYPARK seats are in the secondary market, particularly for this game. I don't mean to use this as a flex because ticket prices are a sensitive subject for us with costs being all supply and demand-y and all without even having to contend with a Messi effect. It is an ECON 101 world and we are merely living in it. Glad you came, glad you lost, hope you had a great time and had a safe drive home.
I did see a handful of what appeared to be Sporting jerseys from afar that turned out to be light blue CITY polos. C'mon people. Let's have some situational awareness. It needn't be said, but no green CITY shirts (if those exist) on Oct 21st please.
Well, that escalated quickly
The barrage of goals laid down upon a hapless Kansas team over the last 20 minutes of the game was so intense we couldn't even finish a celebratory singing of "Happy Birthday" for Sam Adeniran's goal before Jared Stroud, apparently jealous of all the attention being poured onto the birthday boy, proceeded to score one of his own merely two minutes later.
MLS NEXT Pro playoff system is bonkers
For those who are only casually following professional soccer, you may know that all MLS teams have what can be best described as a developmental team similar to that of minor league or AAA ball in baseball, and you might expect them to have a playoff system for those teams that have performed particularly well. But what you may not expect, and what I was just reminded of this week, was that MLS NEXT Pro has a playoff format that is as goofy as their logo's text font. In a system reminiscent of middle school kickball team selection, higher seeded kids, I mean teams, get to pick their opponent from a list of lower seeded ki—teams. So, Sporting Kansas 2 surprisingly picked Austin FC2, leaving St Louis CITY2 (No. 5) to play the Earthquakes II (No. 6) at home. Sporting Kansas ended up losing to Austin2 and CITY2 dropped their game Sunday night as well. All this was really an excuse to comment how goofy I think the NEXT Pro logo is. It's like the MLS marketing team also has a development squad. You could use some more minutes guys.
Klauss's filthy goal(s)
Klauss, who typically goes by…well Klauss, but sometimes João is added in case announcers wonder if viewers are asking themselves "which Klauss are we talking about?"
Depending on where you are in the MLS app, it will be one or both names listed and when a substitute on the game tracker, he is designated by his alter ego name "J. De Mello" as if CITY was trying to disguise him on the bench so opposing teams can't effectively prepare. So it is rumored that João Klauss de Mello, sitting on the bench throughout the first part of the Minnesota game last week, ripped off his fake nose, mustache and glasses disguise, took the Loons by surprise, and led his team to victory in St Paul. But I digress. This week, no such deception was needed, Klauss came out simply as Klauss and scored twice in succession late in the game, each goal in mind-altering acrobatic style, and each filthy in their own way.
Fan Polls: CITY Socials are in peak form
This week there were two fan polls. Njabulo Blom was nominated among others for last week's goal of the week and CITY 2's Johnny Klein for goal of the year. Now, both goals were great. Were they up against stiff competition? Yes. Were they the best goals? It doesn't matter. That's the point. The point is St. Louis CITY socials are in peak form and for the entirety of the season whenever one of our "Boys in Red" finds himself in an MLS fan poll they have won, regardless of which performance was tied to which player. You could have had a video of ball bouncing off of a St Louis CITY opposing defender's backside for an own goal and it would have won. Also it didn't help that this week a Cincinnati FC supporters group made a disparaging comment about Blom, attracting the ire of the South African fanbase and losing the poll in a metaphorical own goal, which by the way they would have lost too if there was voting on metaphorical goals where CITY was involved.
Pulido returns from injury after a micro-Klauss
Sporting Kansas forward Alan Pulido had been listed as "questionable" for this game due to a quad injury. CITY fans were surprised to see him in the starting lineup as our experience with quad injuries lead us to believe that they take an indeterminate but frustratingly long time to heal, or as we have come to know it as a Klauss.
"Be Taller!!!!" - Tim Melia….probably
After Sam Adeniran's goal where the 6'4" forward deftly scored off a Löwen Set Pieceᵗᵐ with a header you can see Kansas Goalkeeper Tim Melia yelling at the 5'9" Alan Pulido who had attempted to "cover" Adeniran. Presumably Pulido couldn't grow 6 inches and 40 lbs at that critical moment.
Can we not continue to do this?
Sporting Kansas forward William Agada scooched past Kyle Hiebert to head in a goal at 90' +2:28 (40 seconds remaining in the game) ensuring that CITY continues to lead the league in giving up late game goals that don't matter but seem like they could at some point when it will be important. Gotta figure that out.
This Wednesday, CITY travels to the Pacific Northwest in a melee with the Vancouver Whi–CITY IS WESTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS!! Ok, they are headed to play the Whitecaps and will look t–CAN YOU BELIEVE IT???? WESTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS!! Sorry…who are we playing this week? I've completely forgotten. It's just…. CHAMPIONS!! THIS IS SO CRAZY. For the next two games, CITY could just put me in goal and the staff of Steve's Hotdogs on the field and it wouldn't matter. CHAMPIONS!!!
Check out musings from the Minnesota rematch.
Header Photo Courtesy of Jason Patrylo Photography