When Peter Vermes spoke to his US Open Cup winning side in September he said it was the first of many trophies. Words spoken by him on other occasions winning the Open Cup. 2012 ended in Conference finals, 2015 in play-in game to Portland Timbers.
So hearing those words echoed again for some has hollow meaning.
Go back to the playoffs of each season since winning MLS Cup 2013 and there is a partern.
2014. Face a New York Red Bulls side led by retiring Thierry Henry and lose. This squad showed the late season signs of being a tired side that only just qualified due to a firestorm of a start to the season. That NYRB side made the conference finals.
2015. Face a Portland Timbers side that entered the playoffs hot. The end result was the same in a marathon penalty shootout that was ended by the keepers taking shots. Portland would go on to win MLS Cup. Losing to the champions is okay but same stage as before.
2016. Face off against Seattle Sounders who entered the playoffs hot, notice a trend? Questionable refereeing calls for both sides, not bitter am I? Seattle goes on and wins MLS Cup. Again an exit to the champion is acceptable, only after they get that far.
2017. Sporting Kansas City are still enjoying the moment that was the 2017 US Open Cup. The wall was painted. But what happened after?
In the six matches since the US Open Cup Sporting have limped to a 1-1-4 record. Five points from seven is a worse rate than the 2017 MLS Wooden Spoon winners, the Los Angeles Galaxy got on average during the entire season.
The poor end to the season took Sporting Kansas City, a team that changed during its off-season, from a possible conference champion to one of the two road teams in the playoff play in game.
This is a tired story with Sporting Kansas City over the last few years and with the chance for another repeat of seasons past the fan base is starting to be restless. This all happening despite continuing to be a successful side in comparison to other teams in MLS.
Things to Expect Against Houston
Andrew Dykstra was brought in the off-season for keeper depth. Now he is being called to make or break the team’s season. But with Tim Melia out injured the former Richmond Kicker will get his playoff opportunity.
Playing the Houston Dynamo three times in two weeks will lend familiarity. But this team under Wilmer Cabrera found out Sporting KC and pulled a 2-1 win in Texas and outlasted them in KC days later. Mind games are the separation here.
Attacking weapons cannot be silent. Diego Rubio has taken the Dom Dwyer role but has not made waves in his new starting position. Other players will be asked to play their part but if nobody steps up its on the defense to carry them through
Prediction: Houston won’t give up a thing and will get the comfortable lead early. 2-0 Dynamo.
Sporting Kansas City