It's game day at Sporting Park.For the second year in a row, Sporting KC's home will be hosting a final. Last year, Sporting prevailed over the Seattle Sounders on penalty kicks to win their first trophy since 2004.
And while that trophy was important to the team and the fans, this afternoon at Sporting Park is a much bigger game. The MLS Cup final, the highest award in the league. People can argue about the Supporters' Shield and it's importance and the championship, but in the records it shows the MLS Cup winner as the league's champion. Today Sporting have a chance to bring home their second, and add another star to their jersey.
It's a big day for Sporting. In the 18 years that this team has played, the coverage of this team has never been greater. The support from not just soccer fans, but much of the general sports community has never been higher. I've had people that usually couldn't give two licks about soccer come up and ask me about the game and how we'll do. It's amazing to see how the support for the team has grown with this run. It may not be permanent, but it's a nice step in the right direction, when every night on the news stations in KC they are talking about the game, talking about the importance, talking about how cold it's going to be. In 2004, the last time KC played in MLS Cup, the team was an after thought. So seeing the coverage of the team is fantastic.
Keeping all of them around after the cup, even a little bit, will require a win. It was said best in the video's from last year's Open Cup final; "you know how starving this town is to see somebody actually life some hardware and win something here."
The Open Cup certainly was a step, but as I said earlier, it's not the league title. That's the thing that is the most important. The Open Cup, other sports fans see as some weird soccer thing.
Now don't think I'm trying to bad mouth our Open Cup last year, I'm not. But the Open Cup has a different meaning. Sporting can try to convey it's importance to the greater community in KC, but again it doesn't have the same meaning as winning the championship. Now, today, Sporting has a chance to do that. And they get that chance in front of their home crowd at Sporting Park.
It's funny, last year for the Open Cup final I was full of "The Terror." Worried about what would happen, and expecting in the end to be disappointed. This year for the Open Cup final is oddly different. That's not to say that "The Terror" is not there this year. Anyone that knows me, knows for a fact that it is there, I'll be worried sick and at times today will be the last person in the world that someone will want to talk to.
But this year, I have a level of confidence that I didn't have last year. And I think last year's Open Cup did that. Despite comments from some people about KC's lack of experience, I think that final was immense when it comes to experience, especially at home.
I've made a point to state my displeasure in the disappointing home form during the regular season for KC. But I feel the team has learned how they need to perform in knock out games at home, and the key is the Open Cup game. This team is ready for it.
I absolutely have doubts about today, but unlike last year, there is more confidence than doubt. Whether that confidence is misplaced or not, we'll find out today around 5:30-6 o'clock.
Last year I took creative licenses with a quote from the movie Troy, and the team won it's first trophy under the OnGoal regime. I'm going to do that again. OnGoal has done a fantastic job of turning this team around from a team on the cusp of being moved or contracted, to one of the envies of Major League Soccer, now in the words of Jake Taylor, there's only one thing left to do.