Thursday, March 12, 2015

#TBT The Worst Road Trip Ever

With the big trip to Dallas this weekend, when there will be over 750 people traveling down the Toyota Park to watch Sporting KC take on FC Dallas I figured I'd use this Throw Back Thursday to look back at probably the worst road trip I've ever been on, and hard to think many others have been on worse.

First, let's set the stage, the year was 2009, the then Kansas City Wizards were headed down to Dallas to take on FC Dallas. The Wizards at the time were 5-6-6 having draw their last two games on the road 0-0 with New England and 1-1 at home against the LA Galaxy (the game Claudio Lopez scored from midfield). At this point KC's chances of making the playoffs, weren't hanging in the balance, but getting some sort of result was needed for Curt Onalfo's men. Adam Cristman got one of his three starts for KC in the game while Rauwshan McKenzie made one of his five league starts in that game. KC's current captain, Matt Besler was at right back.

From the start KC struggled to deal with Dallas as they came forward, the Wizards faced a lot of one way traffic, with Jack Jewsbury struggling to deal with Brek Shea and Jair Benitez on Dallas' left side. KC's defense held though for much of the first half either from saves by Kevin Hartman or from the offside flag. Finally in the 38th minute Jeff Cunningham opened the scoring as Atiba Harris was played in behind Besler and played a cross to the back post where Cunningham was unmarked to tap home. Only minutes later it was 2-0. Again Dallas broke down KC's right side way too easily and Shea played a ball into the middle where David Ferreira ran in front of McKenzie to flick on the cross and put it past Hartman to make it 2-0 before the teams headed into half time.

At half time, Onalfo tried to stop the bleeding, subbing out Herculez Gomez for Lance Watson, sliding him to right back and pushing Jewsbury into the midfield after all the trouble he had dealing with Shea. The move didn't hurt KC early on at least, Davy Arnaud forced a good save out of Dario Sala just after the half started and KC showed a little bit of life. It didn't last long though and in the 65th minute, after Hartman had come out of his box and muffed a clearance, Cunningham won the ball off McKenzie outside the box and proceeded to get fouled inside the box as the Dallas attacker carried forward. Cunningham stepped up and buried the PK for his second of the night. As if things couldn't get worse, a minute later Claudio Lopez got sent off for an elbow to the throat of Dax McCarty as KC's designated player tried to hold off the Dallas midfielder. Up a man, Dallas made it 4-0 in the 76th as a long Shea cross into the box caused Hartman to start to come out, then back pedal back towards goal. The hesitation led to the ball falling to the fee of Cunningham who finished off his hattrick. Two minutes later, a poor turnover in KC's defensive half of the field by Santiago Hirsig led to Ferreira going right at Hartman in a 1v1 situation. Hartman came off his line and tried to make a slide tackle just outside the box, but missed badly as Ferreira basically walked the ball into the net to make it 5-0. Cunningham officially finished the game off in the 89th as Hirsig hesitated in cutting out a through ball that made it to Cunningham. The striker hit a shot on goal that wasn't extremely hard, and hit right at Hartman, but the ball went under the KC goal keeper and rolled slowly into the net to finish off the second worst loss in KC history.

In the aftermath of the game, the Wizards fired head coach Onalfo on August 6th. KC was off until the 16th of August so the team had time to integrate under interim head coach, Peter Vermes, but KC proceeded to lose the next three games as well, 2-0 at home to Chicago, 1-0 on the road to San Jose, and 1-0 at home to Salt Lake. Only one player on the field for that game really suffered in terms of playing time for that game, and that was McKenzie, who would make only one more appearance for KC over the final 12 games as the Wizards limped to an 8-13-9 record. You can see the low lights of the match below.

Now I'm going to share my personal experience on this trip, those that know me have probably heard this story, for those that haven't, you'll be shaking your head by the end.

Yes I was at that game, you can see me and the rest of the traveling Cauldron in the far right corner in the highlights, a far cry from the nearly 1,000 that went in 2013 and the 750 plus headed there this weekend. At the time the Cauldron stayed in a hotel that was literally right across the parking lot from the stadium, so tailgating with the Dallas supporters was very easy. And like always on the trips to Dallas, they've treated us well. At the time I was actually doing my fair share of drumming in the Cauldron, a surprise simply because of my lack of musical talent. This was actually one of my last games doing it, because about five to seven minutes into the game I had ripped the skin on my thumb, not a pretty picture.

So by then I had drunk my share of beer, had my thumb torn open, and KC was playing like shit, needless to say I wasn't in a good mood. By half time I was sitting down in the section and I didn't get up for the second half, I figured if the players weren't going to put in the effort, I wasn't going to. Well as I explained above, things got even worse and the Wizards lost badly. As the group of us headed back out to the Dallas tailgate after the game to drink with them more before heading to a nearby bar to watch an LA Galaxy friendly (I believe it was against Real Madrid but it's been a while). Well to do that we had to walk by the bus where the team was getting on to head back to the hotel. I saw Onalfo walk out to the bus and proceeded to give him a piece of my mind, saying that we played like shit, that I was embarrassed to be a fan, and embarrassed that I'd traveled to that game. Onalfo walked straight onto the bus and sat in the front row. Unfortunately for him I could still see him and continued to give him a piece of my mind until I grew tired and walked back over to the tailgate. Not one of my prouder moments of supporting this team, course it wasn't one of the team's prouder moments either.

Enjoy this weekend traveling Sporting fans, hopefully your weekend is better than this one was.

No comments: