I sure enjoy watching Sporting Kansas City win. I confess that I also enjoy watching Real Salt Lake lose. Lucky me: I got both last night. I'm a little worried by how I'm beginning to feel about this year's Sporting KC team. They feel like a Team of Destiny to me sometimes. Last night they beat RSL to reach the Finals of the US Open Cup after previously drawing once and losing twice to the vile Claret and Cobalt. It sure feels like Sporting KC is a team that finds a way to win when it really counts.
This team plays with grit and determination leavened with skill and tactical acumen. I see a flashy talent like Benny Feilhaber turn into a hardworking box-to-box midfielder while retaining his creative flair. I see Kevin Ellis step up when Ike Opara goes down injured; I see rookies contribute big time minutes almost every game; I see last year's pool keeper turn in big performances. I can't help myself: I've started to think that this Sporting KC team may be destined to hoist some hardware this season, maybe more than once. I've started dreaming of Open Cup trophies and Supporter Shields and MLS Cups and painting the wall at Sporting Park.
I'm too seasoned a fan to feel comfortable with this kind of feeling about my team.
Most teams end up in the dustbin of history--even really good teams. Eventually, even the best teams get unlucky or tired or hurt. There's no accounting for luck, and ours could turn anytime. We sure might get tired with the rugged two-games-a-week schedule we have before us now. A player's legs can only run so far in a week, even if the player is Sporting Fit. We already are plenty hurt. Roger Espinoza will be missed over the coming weeks, even if Nagamura can stay healthy in his spot in the lineup. We need Zusi back from injury, and it would be nice for Seth to get back out there for both the team and his sake. Fatigue and injuries turn into bad luck and losses, and suddenly that team of destiny can look just kind of meh as it slides into the dustbin. I'm afraid to get my hopes up too soon.
Despite my fears, though, this team just keeps finding ways to win. Last night yet another Sporting backline limited RSL to a single goal off of a defending error. Once Sporting leveled with a goal, the outcome was never in doubt. Our Most Valuable Player candidate drove the team onward to victory, and Dom Dwyer worked like a madman to snatch a victory. Now we just have to go beat a truly terrible Philadelphia Union team to win our first (!?) trophy of the year.
I don't know if we can keep going or not, but I can't stop watching this team.
Vancouver comes to town this weekend for a match that will go a long way to deciding who will finish atop the Western Conference this year. We could easily lose this game, but we just might win.