My favorite team played a game of soccer-ball Sunday night. The entire ordeal was painful. Having decided years ago to stop forking over money every month for programming I didn't watch, Fox Sports 1 (the network carrying the match) isn't something we get at home. Normally we would just spend a fraction of what a monthly satellite subscription costs for a leisurely meal at an establishment with the required channel on those rare occasions when we can't watch Sporting over-the-air or on MLS Live. Alas, a 9:00 PM start on a Sunday evening before a busy Monday (there's a reason why this post is going up on a Tuesday) made the regular plan unworkable.
Rather than pirate a video feed, we looked at radio broadcast possibilities--but there wasn't the usual English language broadcast available in Kansas City. Since my Spanish skills are limited to guys' names and "goooooooooooooooooal!" we had to find an alternative. Happily, there was an English language radio feed we could stream; unhappily, the feed was from Real Salt Lake. So, we tuned in to the opposing team's radio broadcast and followed the match on Twitter. We made it all the way to the very bitter end. I was pleased with our endurance, even if the experience was painful.
Turns out that our game experience Sunday night was a pretty good metaphor for Sporting's performance. It hurts to lose in stoppage time, even if it was a game we maybe didn't deserve a point from. Being a glutton for all things Sporting (even the bad things), I've gone back to watch highlights, such as they are. I may even suck it up and watch the entire match.
This is where I once again say that there's plenty of reasons for Sporting fans to be happy.
Most importantly, we remain well positioned within the playoff race, and we even have at least one game in hand on every team ahead of us in the standings. It's never fun to lose, but this loss didn't hurt our post-season prospects.
Speaking of post-season prospects, though, Real Salt Lake's position in the standings made the Sunday night match a near must-win for them. Sure, there's a lot of soccer to be played, but despite their talented roster they were drifting well below the playoff line. They needed the win to move back into playoff contention in the worst possible way. A talented but desperate team playing at home is hard to handle when the game doesn't matter much to the visitors. That Sporting took RSL into stoppage time tied might be a good sign under the circumstances.
Fans like myself also need to bear in mind, as Matt Demlein reminded us on Twitter shortly after the match went final, that Sporting has only lost ONE game in regulation this season. That one loss in regulation down in Dallas happened all the way back in March. We didn't play well in that loss, but we played better than the scoreline would indicate. This Sporting Kansas City team is pretty good, and very hard to beat.
Beyond the encouraging performance so far this season, rumors persist of incoming transfers and improved personnel. The ownership has admitted to shopping for players abroad over the summer. This team is full of quality players, but there are open roster spots and room for improvement.
It's a long season. Sporting hasn't won anything yet, but they've put themselves into a good position to win a trophy this season. Even if the entire process was painful Sunday night, Sporting Kansas City is doing okay.