Post Match Musings on Sporting Kansas: A Rivalry is Being Birthed
by Jason Goodbody
Well that was less than ideal. Sporting Kansas, or the Kansas City Wiz for you originalists, bested Our Boys in Red 2-1 in its second of three games in what will surely become sports greatest rivalries…crossed fingers.
A bit late to the punch on this one but it's Labor Day weekend and trying not to labor too much.
On to the musings.
- A great deal has been said about the abysmal location of Children's Mercy Park and I don't want to contribute to the needling more than is necessary. So here is my necessary level of needling. Yes, Sporting Kansas is nestled between the Kansas Speedway parking lot, a Nebraska Furniture Mart, an Applebees, and Famous Dave's Bar-B-Que. Yes, the outlet mall vibe is real because there is in fact an outlet mall right there. Yes, there is a Noodle Bar Thai and Vietnamese restaurant nearby (so good!) and so at least there's some redemption. However, let's get back to Famous Dave's. If you were to put a list together of the top 100 barbecue joints in the Kansas City area, Famous Dave's would famously not make that list. The best barbecue within 12 miles of the stadium, and the hotels, and the other "attractions" is a cafe inside the Nebraska Furniture Mart. Why place your most iconic food experience prohibitively out of reach? I can get really good toasted ravioli from 8 different locations within two blocks of CITYPARK.
- In a season of firsts, this was the first time City SC had lost a game after being first on the board, coming into the game 13-0-2 after scoring first. Whew. thats a lot of firsts.
- Season of Firsts part two. This was also the first time newly acquired Anthony Markanich and Nökkvi Thórisson started a game. Am I alone in pausing to say, often out loud, "Nökkvi Thórisson" when I read "Nökkvi Thórisson"? I hope that never stops being fun. Nökkvi. Thòrisson. Incidentally I've been writing his name with the wrong accent over the "o" for some time and so now I need to retrain my autocorrect. Damnit.
- With hopefully three games between these two teams season moving forward, much has been discussed about finding a neutral site for the Yet To Be Named rivalry game between St Louis CITY SC and Sporting KC, even floating Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium at the University of Missouri in Columbia. But judging by the number of CITY fans who made the trip to Children's Mercy Park and the noise level on the broadcast, guys….I think we found our neutral site.
- My son and I took the Supporters Bus caravan to the game. Our 4 hour Louis and Clarkian trek out west was masterfully organized and led by the St Louligans supporters group. Left on time and arrived on time. It ain't a bus road-trip unless something goes wrong but the goal is to keep the disasters minor. Mission accomplished as the glitchy toilets, leaky air conditioning, and malfunctioning seats didn't take away from the amazing experience. Well done.
- As all good rivalries go, we are off to a good start, but there's some work to do by our neighbors out west. In their biggest game of the regular season at home, thousands of Sporting Kansas City ticketholders proceeded to sell their seats to demonstrably more loyal St Louis fans. What resulted was a "Blue Hell" with huge swaths of CITY red throughout. It looked like a Bomb Pop popsicle. CITY fans made up around 30% of Children's Mercy Park but by the sounds of the replay, contributed to 70% of the decibel volume. Oh. And we stood the entire time.
Got my steps in during the Supporters March logging nearly a mile from the Orange Lot to our seats. It was a fantastic parade of drums and flags and shouting encouraged by tailgating CITY fans and honked horns along our path. I swear that mid-way through our journey, my Apple Watch notified me, "You seem to be on a seemingly never-ending walk through a parking lot wasteland. Would you like me to record this as an outdoor walking exercise? Or call for help?" But I may have been hallucinating from the heat and the lack of water stations along our journey.
By all accounts, Children's Mercy Park was a great host. Every fan and stadium staffer I ran into was welcoming and pleasant. Then we had the 90 minutes of the yelling and the screaming and the gestures. But after the game and as we made our way out into the great asphalt plains, the Midwest nice returned as we all went our separate ways. The way a rivalry should be.
The reffing was disappointing for sure and I understand that games should never be so close such that a fallible human with terrible eyesight and poor judgement should decide the outcome, but geez, that handball in the box. Klauss made his trademark backheel to AZ who then proceeded to move towards goal but not before bouncing the ball off of defender Andrew Fontàs' left hand causing both the hand and the ball to move in a Newton's 3rd Law kind of way, all equal and oppositey. So obvious to all but the people who are supposed to see such things in an official capacity.
We need a rivalry name. The Cease And Desist Cup has been bandied about after the previously named "The Soccer Capital Podcast" received a strongly worded Cease and Desist letter from the Sporting KC legal team, claiming a trademark on Soccer CapitalTM. So petty. There are proposals such as Darby-que, Copa Infierno, and others involving I-70 or something. There's no rush. No hasty decisions. Let it be organic.
In a combination of managing a rotation of players in a short game week and testing the versatility of his defense, Carnell placed Kyle Hiebert at right back in the absence of Akil Watts and a suspended Jake Nerwinski. I don't think that worked out so well but I'm not the one watching film afterwards and grading positioning and decisions and execution. Maybe Carnell saw exactly what he needed to see. He has to prepare both for playoffs as well as make off-season decisions and see how his guys respond to playing different roles. Tinkering is absolutely necessary as is developing and understanding his depth with a team he's had for less than a full year. It will all work out but man, can it be frustrating.
So with that behind us, we look towards our second match against an improved LA Galaxy who is 4-1-4 since we last played in June. Buckle up sports fans. It's going to be a wild ride into the playoffs. It'll all work out.
Check out musings from the Dallas game.