Donnelly: KC’s Best Team Riding High Atop Eastern Conference After Houston Shutout

C.J. Sapong celebrates vs. Houston DynamoKansas 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. 

Roger Espinoza vs. Houston DynamoA 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."

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18 Responses to Donnelly: KC’s Best Team Riding High Atop Eastern Conference After Houston Shutout

  1. Super Dave says:

    NIce, Very Nice Story
    It’s good to see a KC team doing good sad part is it appears many in KC are not. Whats really refreshing Matt is to see a nice write up on a sporting event that deals with the event and not your personal conquests.

  2. smartman says:

    BFD It’s Still 2nd Rate Soccer
    So few in KC really gave two runny shits when the Wizards won the Championship oh so many years ago

    Only a few thousand more will care if they do this season.

    MLS is like NCAA D2, NAIA Basketball, Indy Lites or the NASCAR Nationwide Series. It’s not best of breed. Yeah, the owners, players and several thousand hard core fans can jizz all over themselves. The Cerner boys might stuff a few extra million into their already bulging wallets. The circles where you can brag about an MLS championship in the US are pretty small.

    There are more HARD CORE GLEE FANS in KC than Soccer Hooligans.

    So far today I’ve received 27 text or e-mail messages breaking my balls about the Chiefs getting mauled. Out of sympathy I no longer get messages about the Royals. NEVER once in my life have I ever received a text, email or phone call/message about the Wizards or Sporting KC.

    If MLS soccer was porn it’d be a 4″ BONER that prematurely ejaculated and Sporting KC would be its’ fluffer.

  3. Matt says:

    Fair enough
    smartman: I hope MLS stays where it is for awhile. It’s pretty damn cool still being a little underground, but also selling 18,500 tickets to every home game. Very funny, by the way.

    Super Dave: Conquests? Like, with the ladies? I think you might have the wrong writer…

  4. smartman says:

    Matthew, Don’t confusing Livestrong Sporting Park with CBGB’s or FIGHT CLUB.

    MLS is not “underground”. It is an INFERIOR product to the sport the rest of the WORLD plays.

    It’s like trying to compare Indy to F1 or Keeping up with the Kardashians to MAD MEN.

    The best and most promising soccer players in the US are still nicked from mummy and daddy by the EURO-CLUBS with the guarantee of at least a WORLD CLASS education as well as a chance at a MONGO PAYDAY not so readily available here.

    At least half of the SPORTING KC season tickets sold were “strong armed”.

    Let’s see how the product holds up both in the US and KC over the next 5-10 years, OY MATE?

    The Cerner boys did what they did more out of a love of MONEY than a love of THE BEAUTIFUL GAME.

  5. Super Dave says:

    Come On matt
    You better reread what I wrote I was giving you a compliment but I guess you don’t like those. Maybe I better change my opinion of you.

  6. Hearne Christopher says:

    Come on Super Dave, Matt was joking.

    If you want though I could urge him to include his dating life in his game stories.

  7. Hearne Christopher says:

    Oh yeah, I’m joking now too.

  8. legendaryhog says:


  9. JB says:

    I know most people in the US don’t like soccer, and that’s fine. Everyone seems to have a hard time wrapping their heads around the fact that the MLS is still very popular with people who ARE soccer fans, and they don’t care that it’s not on the level of the leagues in Europe.

    You have to start somewhere, right? No, Sporting KC winning the title this year would not be as big as the Chiefs or Royals winning a title, but to the people who are fans it would still be a great thing.

    I just don’t get the constant ripping of the team and the league just because they aren’t the NFL.

  10. Max says:

    Attended my first game at Livestrong Saturday and had a FANTASTIC time. The stadium is awesome, the sightlines are great and the team really knows how to put on an entertaining show. I was a bit disappointed at the smallish crowd, but the people that were there were LOUD! Much more energy and enthusiasm than even a Chiefs game.

    I’m slowly learning about soccer, and I find it to be much more exciting than people say. There really are few dull moments as it seems a scoring opportunity can happen at any moment. The players seem really likeable, and you dont’ see them in the police blotter like in other sports. The team seems to know how to treat its fans! Can’t wait to make it out to another match! KC, come out and support the winner in town!

  11. Markus Aurelius says:

    MLS may not yet be the world’s best soccer league but
    in time it will be. Why? Because this is where the dollars are at — MLS is growing and will continue to do so. It may take another 15 years but it will continue to grow. Having soccer-specific stadiums is key to long-term success of the teams and league and their continues to be progress in that regard.

    If you haven’t been to a match at LSSP you’re missing out. The atmosphere is head’s above what you experience at Kauffman right now and the play on the field is much more inspired (and further bolstered by the prospect of post-season play). AND you can go out to eat before the game at somewhere other than Taco Bell – the only restaurant “development” around Kauffman in the past 39 years.

    Zusi was a stud on Saturday. We owned the mid-field the entire game. Great game SKC!

  12. Markus Aurelius says:

    Hey Hearne – how about an update to the site to
    allow people to edit/correct their comments? Maybe I’m an idiot but I have a hard time proofing a comment within a text box – would be nice to correct spelling/grammatical errors after the fact. Then again, what do you care if we make ourselves look illiterate. 🙂

  13. Hearne says:

    Quality of play
    Using the argument that MLS isn’t worthy of watching because the play is inferior to Europe is like saying college basketball isn’t worthy because few of its players will ever start or play in the NBA.

    Why would anyone attend high school or college sports at all, or the races at Lakeside or anything less than the best of the best. Why drink a $30 bottle of wine when you can drink a $100 bottle?

    Here’s the answer.

    MLS soccer is very entertaining to watch. Just like college basketball where the majority of players will either being trying to sell insurance or looking for a real job in three or four years. I went to see a JV girls basketball games in a small, sold out auditorium in rural Kentucky when I was living there and locals packed the place, hollered their heads off and had a great time.

    If it’s entertaining, then that’s entertainment.

  14. smartman says:

    It Is What It Is
    For starters I’d rather watch COLLEGE HOOPS than an NBA game any day.

    You can find people packing barns and arenas all over the US to watch midgets wrestle, horses fuck, cocks fight, and yes, even girls playing basketball.
    It’s called killing time while waiting for the RAPTURE.

    MLS popularity will certainly grow in direct proportion to the growing Hispanic population in the US. How will the WASPS react when the stadiums are 50% Hispanic with some MS13 and Le Emme tats staring them in the face? It’s only a matter of time before MLS rosters have as many Hispanic/Latino players on them as NBA clubs have Black Dudes. You gotta play to your demo, Si?.

    SKC like the T-BONES is a great ENTERTAINMENT VALUE, if not so much great SOCCER or BASEBALL.

    I just want MLS to admit that the level of play is a few notches below the international game. Some truth in advertising. Chiefs and Royals might wanna do that too.

    Importing a few aging Spinal Tappers and Menudo’s hasn’t really raised the level of play in the US. Even in his first year with the Galaxy David Beckham was not the best player on the club but even now still he manages to run circles around many MLS players despite his diminished skills.

    So to the old standby; don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining.

  15. George Wilson says:

    Great Entertainment
    Guys, if you haven’t noticed, according to Smartman almost everything in Kansas City sucks and most times can be used in a simile involving either aberrant sexual behavior or racial stereotypes. He’s very predictable and frankly not worth responding to. Meanwhile, as Smartman posts his 3,236th diatribe about why KC is so terrible, many of the rest of us actually get off our computers once in a while and go out and enjoy life. And that includes a very fast paced, entertaining brand of soccer being played at Livestrong. Sporting is now in first place and leads the league in goals scored. To me it is one of the best entertainment options I have experienced in a long time.

  16. Hearne Christopher says:

    Agree with you on preferring college hoops to the NBA. But to your point about quality of play, the vast majority of college players are massively less skilled than NBA starters.

    You, rightly, prefer to watch the lesser skilled player in college. MLS fans are happy to watch the lesser skilled players in American soccer. Besides, just like preferring to follow your local teams as opposed to teams a million miles away, it’s more satisfying and interesting to follow a Kansas City team for most locals than an Italian Serie A league team.

    Does that make sense?

  17. Hearne Christopher says:


  18. Blackjack says:

    smartman not so smart – again!
    He makes so many contradictory, inane statements I cannot even bother responding to them all. I’ll bet he, and most people who hate on MLS and the local socer team have never been out to a game and witnessed the 15,000-18,000 fans in attendance, and the world-class atmosphere out there. SportingKC, as with most teams in the league, has a handful of players who are regulars on their respective national team duty, so the lev el of play is mostly on par with professional, club-level soccer in most countries. Certainly not the EPL, or La Liga, but those leagues are in a class by themselves. SportingKC certainly does not need smartman to jump on the bandwagon. But what can you say about someone who sits in their parents’ basement and posts comments on local bloggers websites all day?

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