Now, onto numbers 7 through 5 on our list. A few things you won’t be seeing on this list: Jimmy Conrad’s last game in a Kansas City jersey Birahim Diop’s hat trick to close out the season The signing of Indian striker Sunil Chhetri Robb Heineman’s fan-friendly updates on Big Soccer.
Onto the list...
7. The Home Opener/The Diop Game
Our first tie, because, frankly, I can’t decide which result was more shocking: Destroying D.C. and Curt Onalfo to start the season or Birahim Diop rising from the dead to drop a deuce on the Revs. When you get right down to it, these were the two most impressive offensive outbursts for the team in 2010 and deserve equal billing.
Kansas City came storming out of the gates on the 2010 season against former head coach Onalfo and United, scoring early and scoring often. Ryan Smith was impressive. Kei Kamara was impressive. Pretty much every facet of the team was impressive.
Unfortunately, the offensive machine wouldn’t work that well until a hot night in August when a seldom-used defensive midfielder masquerading as a central striker went insane. Diop hadn’t started an MLS game in 8 years, yet, he scored 2 goals against the New England Revolution (and had a dandy assist) en route to a 4-1 mauling by KC. (He scored a hat trick later to close out the season, to finish the season as the team's third-leading scorer with 5.)
The Home Opener:
The Diop Game:
Contrarian point: There's one KC game you could argue was better than either of those, the 4-3 home win against Houston. It was easily the most entertaining game KC took part in and was, at the time, a must-win game. It makes this list, easily, if the team goes on from this win to make the playoffs. Regardless, it was a fun game and deserves a little love in this list.
6. Two August signings, neither play a game in 2010.
Sporting Kansas City made two moves this August to improve the team... somewhere down the line. The first major signing was the very protracted process of bringing Mexican striker Omar Bravo to KC as the team’s second designated player. Bravo has been a prolific goalscorer in Mexico (over 100 for club and country) and, at 31, should have a few more years to contribute as a top-line player in MLS.
He's also expected to be a large draw in KC's hispanic community, a definite plus when dealing with a designated player.
Once the team finally secured his signature, they turned around and loaned him back to the team that was selling him, Chivas de Guadalajara. He will join the team officially in a few days.
The second major signing (who will hopefully give the team many more than just a “few” years) is the first home-grown player in KC history, goalkeeper Jon Kempin.
Before the start of the 2010 season, MLS made it easier (and more beneficial to the teams) to sign academy products. Several teams (Dallas, DC United, New York) have utilized their academies to stock their roster; now many other teams are following suit (13 of the 18 MLS teams have an academy product on their roster). Kempin likely won’t make an impact for a few years, but will have a chance to learn under Jimmy Nielsen and Eric Kronberg.
It's expected that KC (and other MLS teams) will sign a few more academy players in the near future.
5. No World Cup for USA, No World Cup for KC
After months and months of build up, the hopes of a nation (and a city) of soccer-philes were quashed by FIFA President Sepp Blatter. Sepp and his cash-hungry cronies gave the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, where I hear it’s quite hot during the summer. This action robbed thousands of suburban soccer-playing kids from having a chance to see a World Cup on home soil. Instead, they’ll have to watch it on their 3-D holographic TV that’s built into their wristwatch.**I’m making a lot of assumptions about technological advancements in the next 12 years, but I think personal 3-D holographic wrist TVs are a fairly logical next step, don’t you?
The reaction to the Qatar decision has, predictably, been very negative. Discussions are now fluttering about that FIFA might move the World Cup to the winter in 2022, which makes it more evident that the decision to award Qatar the Cup was based more on money and Blatter's reputation than the country's capability to host.
The Sporting Kansas City brass -- specifically David Ficklin -- were heavily involved in the bid process and were, justifiably, devastated by this decision. I think they may have realized a future World Cup meant more for Major League Soccer in the long run than anyone else.
Coming next: You can’t call them the Wizards anymore (seriously, stop calling them that) and you can’t make fun of the