This has been long, cold winter. A lonely winter, even. It's not that my wife isn't lovely company, it's just that there's just the one of her. Sometimes you want to be a single member of a mighty tribe. Say, a tribe of 20,000 people, all clad in blue.
Yesterday the winter ended, at least as far as I am concerned. Sporting Kansas City kicked off their season at home, so our regular seats were waiting for us. We've seen a lot from those seats--heartbreaking playoff losses, disinterested Open Cup matches, dominating performances, one sleep-deprived (for me) Open Cup Championship and the coldest MLS Cup Championship ever.
Last night's match was fitting as an opening to a long season full of question marks for my team. The eventual 1-1 draw was fair, but the way we reached that scoreline was fitting. I am left with an ambiguous feeling on the day after. I suspect that only hindsight will tell us how to feel about the opener.
For stretches we looked a far superior team to the Redbulls, dominating play and forcing dramatic saves. For spells, the newly refurbished midfield pairing of Espinoza and Feilhaber found every loose ball and played those tantalizing short passes at precisely weighted angles. Dwyer looked more dangerous than ever up top, and Nemeth crashed aggressively behind him. A new keeper and a new-look defensive four made the match interesting, to be sure, but they seemed disinclined to break. We looked like we deserved all three points . . . sometimes.
At other times, Espinoza and Feilhaber looked like two guys playing their first competitive match together. For long stretches, Dwyer was once again on his island, with Nemeth disinclined to defend behind him. Then Marin would leave the goal on walkabout, Dia would look like rookie he is, and Besler ultimately went off his rocker. Yet despite all of those errors, a wonder-goal is all we gave up.
My tribe went into Sporting Park with equal parts hope and fear after last season, and we exited with the ratio unchanged. Over the weeks ahead, I hope that we will see more of the good, but I fear we will see more of the bad. We looked like a team with both a high ceiling and a low floor.
I'm hoping we elevate our game next week. Next stop, Dallas.