The Hardest Way

I don't believe that winning anything in a competitive sport is ever easy. Even teams that dominate by virtue of superior resources and the resulting more talented rosters than their competition have to work hard for their wins. Yes, Chelsea may have bought their title, but the players involved still worked hard.

Sometimes winning is even harder than normal.  Perhaps injuries require second string players to step up, or a star has to grit it out, or other circumstances conspire to make a hard victory even harder than normal. Teams and players that do the hard work of winning, even when winning is harder than usual, are the stuff of legend. Search the internet for "Michael Jordan flu game" and you will see what I am talking about.

Then there's this 2015 Sporting Kansas City team.  They take the hardest route possible to victory, it seems.

There was no good reason for Sporting to enter the final day of the MLS regular season needing to defeat the defending champs to secure a playoff berth. Winning against the woeful Rapids midweek was never going to be easy (like I said, winning is always hard), but it would have been a damn sight easier than beating the Galaxy. Hell, a single draw to San Jose somewhere along the way would have done the trick.

Nevertheless, there we were, needing to defeat the team with the most name brand talent in the league--and somehow we did. That was the hardest possible way of making the playoffs, but at least it's A WAY of making the playoffs, so that plus a US Open Cup makes for a successful season in my book. [As it turns out, San Jose helped Sporting by losing to Dallas, so Sporting was in regardless, but with the games happening all at once on Sunday there was no way for the team to know that.]

The result of making the playoffs is a long and difficult road to a potential MLS Cup: a single elimination game in Portland on Thursday followed by a home-and-away with Dallas commencing on Sunday, and that just for the right to play in the Conference Finals.

As the last team make the playoffs, the bracket gives Sporting the hardest possible route to a championship.

Maybe that's okay with this team.