Kansas City sports fans, take notice.
KC has a first place team.
A team that at various times earlier this season floundered during a self-imposed two month road trip. A team that heard many call for the firing of their head coach and technical director. A team that many said was buried half way through the long season, starting off the 2011 campaign with a 2-6-1 record.
A team with grit, personality, and a penchant for late-game dramatics. A team with a local ownership group that doesn’t skirt issues, but tackles them head-on. A team that is committed to winning, and has made public that they will accept nothing less than a playoff berth THIS SEASON.
A team that is in first place in its conference, and is now one of the most feared in the entire league.
Sounds a little different than what we get from the Chiefs and Royals every season, doesn’t it? And I must say, as a Kansas City sports fan, it’s pretty damn refreshing…
Sometimes I wonder if Sporting KC is taking the Costanza approach to success – you know, whatever the Chiefs and Royals are doing, do the opposite.
Whatever it is, things out at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park couldn’t be going better (except for the turf issue). With a huge 3-0 win over the Houston Dynamo on Saturday, Sporting climbed to the top of the Eastern Conference standings, tied with the Columbus Crew.
And who was the man of the match, you ask?
None other than budding MLS superstar Graham Zusi, who set up the first goal of the night with a penetrating 40 yard ball to Teal Bunbury. Then sealed the deal in the second half with a tricky pass in behind Houston’s back line that found a rushing Kei Kamara who side footed the ball across the face of the goal to CJ Sapong for a tap-in.
Yes, Zusi is the real deal, and Peter Vermes deserves credit for making the off-season decision to promote him into the spot held for many years by Jack Jewsbury, who was shipped off to Portland and is having one of his best years there.
A close runner-up for man of the match is Teal Bunbury, who scored two goals and looked more dangerous than he has
in a long time. Those of you who read this column know that I have been critical of Bunbury this season, mostly for his extremely inconsistent play, decision making, and lack of a first touch. But there’s really no arguing with two goals, one from his dominant right foot and one from his left.
Though his technique is still somewhat shaky around goal, there is no denying Teal’s athleticism and size. And as far as Vermes is concerned, the young striker is nowhere near to peaking just yet.
"I don’t think we’ve seen his best yet," said Vermes after Saturday’s game. "Teal is continuing to grow and develop as a player. I think the one thing that he brought in today’s game was when he is as physical as he was and finds himself teetering on that last line. He puts a lot of fear in a lot of teams. He is very direct and can go to goal and really has breakaway speed."