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Sporting Kansas City Kicks Off Season: What to Expect

Sporting Kansas City's MLS season has officially begun, and while they may have lost against a tough Portland Timbers squad 1-0, there's room for optimism. Room for improvement as well, but they certainly did not look like the team that failed to make the playoffs last season. Sporting Kansas City dominated possession throughout the match but just couldn't capitalize. The final numbers showed 57% possession to SKC, 43% to Portland. Portland caught a lucky break and that was that, but Sporting did not look bad by any stretch. They were more disciplined (1 yellow cards to the 3 Portland had, as well as 9 fouls to 12) created those opportunities off great team play, and they got shots on goal. 11 corner kicks to Portland's 3 should also show you just how much Sporting was in their attacking zone, which is promising. Overall, not a bad game, not a good one either, and the boys will move on to face a tough Colorado squad at home.

What can we look for this season though? What makes this team so different from the bunch of all but washed-up veterans and incredibly green young players on the roster? No real in between? Well...Sporting did get rid of a few of the old washed-up veterans at least. Not all of them certainly, but a lot of them. Not only that, but those young guys that got that experience last year will garner even more and be better this year due to that rebuilding experience. They may not have Cristiano Ronaldo like they almost did, but they've got solid players. You've got your old standbys in Graham Zusi, Johnny Russell, Roger Espinoza, and Khiry Shelton, but you've also got a young roster that you can build around. Utilize those veterans in teaching moments, continue to build off last year's successes (how few they may be) and continue the attacking style of play. Tim Melia is unfortunately on his last legs I think, still excellent at what he does but not the same as what he once was. Goalkeeping and defense will be SKC's weakness this year, but cover that up via capitalizing on attacking opportunities, continuing to be aggressive and continuing to create those chances, and something good may just happen. They may have the ability to work around an aging and deteriorating defense.

Overall, I think Sporting's season will be marginally better than last year, but there is still items to address. The age of this roster is sketchy, you've got players well into their 30s and are past their prime, and you've got guys that are 21 and younger and have hardly any professional sports experience. You've got 9 total players between 21-30, out of a 31-man roster. Focus on building this year and molding those younger guys into solid players. You've got plenty of great experience with guys like Graham Zusi, Johnny Russell, and Roger Espinoza all seeing plenty of success with this club, they know what it takes to win games and they need to play more of a mentorship role than a superstar role at this point. Let the young core take over slowly this year and ride out the bumpy road you may have because of that youth and inexperience. Last year, we saw far too much dependence on those aging superstars to be their vintage selves, and it simply did not work. Let the young guys take the reins now, it's their time. Much like the Royals (A bit better history with SKC but similar with the respect to a young core chomping at the bit to play and get experience) this could be a year that sees youth take over, and we must support that as a fanbase. I trust in Peter Vermes to build this roster much like he did back in the days of building up guys like Zusi and Espinoza, it's the reason he's been around so long and why he got an extension this past year. SKC is not dumpster fire status by any stretch, but this is a year that they need to prove they won't end up there...

Burn Notice: 7/10 Blue Hell. I never loved the name to be honest. I envision a room full of Blue Men Group members though and shudder...

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