Friday, January 02, 2015

Review of 2014 Wishes

With the calendar turned over to 2015, it's time to take a look back at my wishes for the year 2014.  Back in January I posted my wishes for 2014.  Here's how they turned out.

1. Silverware - Elimination in the quarterfinals of the 2013-2014 CONCACAF Champions League, elimination from the US Open Cup at the hands of the Portland Timbers at home, the third time in four years KC's USOC run has ended at home, elimination in the group stage of the 2014-2015 CCL, finishing 5th in the Eastern Conference and 10th in the overall table, and elimination by the New York Red Bulls in the wild card round of the MLS Cup playoffs. So no, there was no silverware this year for Sporting KC.

On the other hand though, the Missouri Comets and FC Kansas City both brought titles to Kansas City this past year winning the MISL and NWSL respectively. So while it may not be as big as Sporting KC, I'm counting this one as a win.
2. Kronberg or Gruenebaum emerges as a clear number 1 goalkeeper - This turned into a negative as well. Eric Kronberg looked decent enough at the start of the season, although he had some shaky moments. But after an injury never seemed to get any sort of form back once he returned. After his return from injury he again lost the starting job after his performance in the 3-2 loss to the New England Revolution. Unfortunately Andy Gruenebaum didn't fare much better, missing time three separate times this season with injuries, including once after the Revolution game, after Vermes had named him the starter ahead of Kronberg, leading to Kronberg's third run as the starting goalkeeper.

3. Whichever keeper gets established as the clear number 1 finishes in the top third of the league in most goalkeeper categories. Actually despite the issues that the two seemed to have, they both had decent numbers for a goalkeeper. Playing 1,800 minutes, Kronberg had the second lowest goals against average of regular goalkeepers (1.1), second only to Nick Rimando (1.04). Gruenebaum playing 945 minutes wasn't too far behind, finishing with 1.14 goals against average.

When it came to shutouts, Kronberg finished with seven for KC, tying him for 7th in the league. Unfortunately, none of those came after June 27th. Gruenebaum meanwhile picked up three. On the plus side you could say that combined, the 10 shutouts was good for a second place tie, unfortunately it was the lack of consistency more than anything.

When it comes to wins, Kronberg picked up just seven, while Gruenebaum picked up six. Again, combined as one keeper, that's not bad, it's the fact that it was split between two that's the problem.

The last stat I'll look at is save percentage. Here's an area where Kronberg especially struggled. His save percentage was just 62%, tied with Zac MacMath. The only regular starters with a worse save percentage were Dan Kennedy, Clint Irwin, and Tally Hall, all three from teams that missed the playoffs. Of the five goalkeepers mentioned, Kronberg faced the fewest shows, 73, 40 fewer than Hall who faced the least of the other four. Kennedy meanwhile faced boudle the shots. All but one of the keepers, Hall, made at least as many saves as Kronberg faced shots, with Kronberg saving just 45 of the 73 shots he faced. Gruenebaum meanwhile was actually a decent shot stopper for KC, with a save percentage of 76%, saving 34 of the 45 shots he faced. Only Andre Blake (90 minutes) and Brian Rowe (270 minutes) had a higher save percentage than Gruenebaum did.

So overall, in places Sporting's goalkeepers were still in the top third of the league, unfortunately stats don't tell the whole tale and both goalkeepers are out in KC for inconsistencies.

4. Whatever the Bieler situation, resolve it quickly - I guess the resolution here involved Bieler staying in Kansas City, so technically I guess it was resolved quickly. Bieler's time in KC this year though was rather rough. Thanks to the performance of Dom Dwyer this year, Bieler was limited to just 421 minutes over the course of the season and two goals. He started just 1 regular season game after the team's 2-1 loss in Chicago on 5/18, and that was due to the suspension of Dwyer.

5. Find a forward that will excel in this system - When I wrote this originally back in January, I'd said that Dwyer "provided that pressure from the forward spot, but didn't score enough." Well this year Dwyer added the scoring punch to his active pressure up top as he finished second in the golden boot race to Bradley Wright-Phillips and set a single season club record for goals. His extension that he signed in December shows that Sporting sees him as the forward who excels in this system, and who am I to argue.

6. USA gets out of their group at the World Cup - This was a success for the US, although there was plenty of disappointment. After Jozy Altidore went down with an injury, the US really struggled to create dangerous chances. In what was a fairly open World Cup, the US played very conservatively. But at that stage it's all about getting results and advancing, which the US did before losing to Belgium in extra time after a heroic performance by Tim Howard.

7. Besler and Zusi have stand out World Cups - Stand out may not be the best word, but I think both had decent ones. Besler started all four of the USA's games in the tournament, playing all but the second 45 minutes against Ghana after picking up an injury in the first half. Of the four expected center backs (Besler, John Brooks, Geoff Cameron, and Omar Gonzalez) Besler is the only one to play in all four games. Zusi finished the World Cup with two assists, including the game winner against Ghana on a goal by Brooks. Overall the two had solid efforts for their country. So much so that Sporting signed both to designated player deals to help keep the pair in Kansas City going forward.

8. Neither Besler or Zusi leave KC this year - This one was a win, neither player left KC after the two signed new deals with KC making them designated players. While the pair didn't look like DPs much after the World Cup, both looked exhausted but both will now be a big part of the club as they move forward.

9. Comets return to the MISL championship - Not only did the Comets return, but they won themselves the MISL championship, beating the Baltimore Blast in the mini-game game 3 to take home the title.

10. Amy Rodriguez becomes the goal scorer FCKC need to take pressure off Lauren Holiday - I'd say 13 goals, including three in the playoffs as FCKC won the NWSL title makes this one a success. Rodriguez was a tremendous pick up for the Blues and was a huge reason they won the title this year.

11. FC Kansas City top last year's attendance mark - After I'd originally posted this wish, it was made known that FCKC was moving venues from Shawnee Mission's district athletic complex at Shawnee Mission North High School to Durwood Stadium on UMKC's campus. With the move, FCKC made capacity at the stadium just 3,200, over 1,400 smaller than their average during the 2013 season.

Unfortunately for FCKC with the move attendance took a nose dive, falling over 50% from their average in 2013 to 2,018 in 2014. They went from the second highest attended team in the league in 2013, to the second lowest behind only Sky Blue FC (who finished last in 2013 too).

12. National training center gets go ahead and ground breaks - Well this one was half right. The training center did get the go ahead to move forward and be built. Unfortunately ground has not broken yet. But according to Robb Heineman's latest Q&A, it's coming in the first quarter of 2015.

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