Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Opening Arguments

I'm starting a new thing that I'm going to try to do weekly to increase more conversation both here and on Twitter.  What I'll do is I'll take some of the best comments and post them in a follow up post later in the week.  I'd wanted to get this out yesterday, but today will have to do.


This week, the topic of discussion is Sporting KC fans themselves.  Are Sporting KC fans becoming cocky, over confident, etc. in the team?  Whether it's on Bigsoccer, Twitter, Facebook, or any other number of social media locations around the net, and even in person, you see a lot of KC fans really talking up the team.  And talking up the team is to be expected, the team is 5-0-0, the first team to have that record in the post shootout era of the league.  They haven't allowed a shot on goal in 245 minutes.  Some great stats.  But there comes a point when the talking up becomes arrogant, cocky, and over confident. 


I see talk of KC going out and winning everything, taking the Supporters' Shield, MLS Cup, and US Open Cup, all because the team has won 5 games in a row.  There are still 29 games left in the season for KC plenty of time to slip up and not win anything at all.  Yes the team is playing well right now, yes there's a lot of cohesion with the team.  But what happens if Graham Zusi, Roger Espinoza, or Matt Besler/Aurelien Collin go down?  Those guys have been key parts of the team.  Losing any of them for an extended period of time is going to be a big loss.  What happens if/when the scoring dries up?  We've been taking tons of shots but haven't been converting the vast majority of them.  Kei Kamara is leading the league in shots (even has more than some teams), but only 3 goals.  No one on the team has scored more than 10 goals in a season in their professional career, there's going to be a point when this offense does struggle to get shots off and put balls in the net.  Then what happens?

For me it is way too early in the season for any of this talk.  KC has traditionally been a fast starter and then slowed down as the season's gone on.  So I'm more on the wait and see approach when it comes to this team.  Can they be good?  Absolutely.  Will they win trophies?  That remains to be seen.  But temper the excitement a little bit.  I know that KC as a whole hasn't really had a professional sports team that has done well in recent memory, but that's no reason to overhype what's there.


On another thing with regards to KC fans being overconfident, is the team's attendance.  KC's attendance has been fantastic since the opening of Livestrong Sporting Park.  Last year was in the top half of the league attendance wise, a great achievement for a team that has in the past usually occupied the bottom or near bottom of the attendance rankings. It's amazing now to see KC fans blasting other teams for their attendance woes, considering the team's history.  All time KC averages around 11,500, that's the second worst in league history behind only the now defunct Miami Fusion.  I know it's great to talk up how good KC is doing attendance wise, but it wasn't so long ago KC was in a boat very similar, or even worse than Chivas or Dallas.


So am I overacting to KC fans being confident?  Or are KC fans the new Seattle Sounders fans in a way? 


Reepicheep said...

The Chivas/Dallas/Columbus (to name a few) attendance woes are pathetic because they have very nice soccer specific stadiums. Two of these teams are in markets WAY bigger than KC. Yes KC's attendance has been historically poor, but our venues have been horrible. But still, I take your overall point and agree it is too early to be making a space at Livestrong for the cup.

bfos said...

I agree on both issues. Despite the impressive stats, anyone watching these games know that we have been on the fortunate end of several dangerous opportunities that didn't find the net for our opponents.

We might also want to give it some time before we beat our chests on attendance. We are likely still seeing a bounce just in the fact that we have a very impressive, new stadium which just so happens to have opened right as the team has become one of the best (and the most entertaining) in the league. When we are packing a stadium that is no longer considered new and when we aren't quite picking up 3 points a game at home, then we can crow.

Nathan Martin said...

Bless my heart: SKC fans as the new Seattle, a welcomed backhanded compliment.

Just as it is too early to award the silverware, it is too early to permanently define the fanbase. Up to this point, the excitement has been a marked improvement over fan apathy. However per your wariness, it is the responsibility of veteran fans and team management to comport themselves in a way that shows enthusiasm isn't the same as braggadocio.

As fans, I hope we take our cues from players like CJ Sapong and not petulant whiners like Benny Feilhaber.

Anonymous said...

I think ultimately we are all collectively trying to will the ball to continue rolling. We want this town to talk about this team and we are willing to hype things up a bit to do it. I think a lot of the core of this fan base grew up playing soccer, watched the team form when we were young, spent years wanting this team to mean something to this city and get covered by at least the local media, and now we are all in our 20s and 30s and able to afford things like jerseys and season tickets and we have an amazing new stadium and a great fun to watch team and are rightfully enjoying the moment after so long wondering if the team and the league would even last.

hartley said...

I pretty much agree with you. But I would like to point out one thing. The SKC fans are the only ones really doing the talking in this town.

The media in this area has been better about "mentioning" Sporting KC. But they still only barely talk about the best team in town before moving on to the Royals or the Chiefs. It's pretty sad when you hear two or three callers to sports talk shows talking up Sporting KC and the stadium and the show's hosts have almost nothing to add.

As a fan, I feel I must be stoked. I must hype and talk. I don't want to be like Sounders fans. I do appreciate that this great start has had some very fortunate moments. I also recognize that the team is going to go through some rough parts this season. I also know that this team hasn't even come close to playing its best. Each season is a work in progress.

So, let's shout! Our team is hot. Our team is playing great right now. And if we don't talk about them around here, no one else will.

Go Sporting!

Morry said...

I don't know if you are over reacting or not because I haven't spent a ton of time on facebook or twitter on this topic but I have been the one leading the BigSoccer push for redefining our expectations of this season.

To be fair to me and my ranting, I did so much earlier in the season and so far it appears that I have been correct. I did analysis on our schedule, the new workings of MLS Playoffs and came to a conclusion that this team should expect to win the Supporters Shield and by doing so should be playing the MLS Cup in KC. I honestly don't think we should win anything just because we are 5-0-0, I think a good amount of that is or could be purely luck. However I do thing over the course of 34 games we should be the best in the East, the EAST which is assumed to be pretty weak. I have never said we are the best team in the league, or that we would beat Santos or Monterrey, just simply that we should win the East and by doing so that we should win the Supporters Shield and earning home field advantage.

Ben said...

The soccer season, it's so long. To win the cup, the team must be hot in autumn, a very long time from now. But Kansas City is obviously a good team and I'm enjoying the winning streak.

I think fans should take pride in the home game atmosphere. But I've always thought competitiveness over attendance is unbecoming. Every city has its sports traditions, and soccer is more popular some places than others, and what is the relevance? When KC was at the ballpark and only sat 11k, it didn't stop me from enjoying the games or the Cauldron from chanting.

Morry said...


I'd say this, how do you like our chances versus
New England

I ask because those are who we play for the final 20 games this season- our last match versus the West is @Seattle on June 20th.

jtreg said...

Seattle would say we could never be the new Seattle fans ...

I think you're slightly over reacting, but admit I'm not as wired as everybody else. I don't have a facebook account so I may not really have an idea of the extent to which our fan base is becoming the annoying "look at us" types.

I think it's safe to say that our a large portion fan base, while probably not ignorant to the sport, are very 'new'. People are excited about this new amazing thing they found and want to flaunt it. It's only natural. Of course talking about the treble at this stage is bonkers and every fan base has those guys.

But for the most part, I believe Kansas Citians are a very humble people (almost to a fault), and this will all even out come the dog days. Of course if SKC continue on to a 15+ unbeaten run, we may just have to shrug our shoulders and admit that we really are the cat's pajamas, but haven't won anything yet.

Travis said...

Mike- I commend you for your conservative approach. However, as a passionate and confident, not over confident fan, I see nothing wrong with be excited for things to come. If we falter and win nothing then guess what? Nothing. You hope for next season. I just think taking the conservative approach is a negative and doubful feeling towards your team's success. So instead of saying "we might" say "We will". But then again its up to you. I Believe WE WILL Win. Believe Mike. WE WILL win the Supporters Shield. WE WILL win the 2012 MLS Cup. WE WILL.

Ben said...


Ok you have a point, KC is a good bet to win the East. And we have a schedule conducive to winning the SS, so it's not ridiculous to talk about it.

At this point I would give Houston and New York the best chances to get hot and compete for the East.

Nathan Martin said...

Wearing down the starters is a big risk over the season.

SKC substitutes have only played 172 minutes. The 9 other teams who have played 5 games average 276 minutes of substitute play (median of ~271).