Even though Kansas City won a trophy for its regular-season triumphs in 2000 (the Supporter's Shield), a very convincing case can be made that this was the most successful regular season for the club.
That case can be made using mostly facts: Sporting Kansas City set season records for most points in a season (63), most regulation wins* (18), highest winning percentage (.662), fewest goals allowed (27), fewest goals allowed at home (12) and most shots taken (542).*In 1997, Kansas City won 21 games but Major League Soccer didn't count ties back then and shoot-out victories were considered wins.
Kansas City also won its first piece of silverware (The U.S. Open Cup) since 2004 and for the first time in franchise history repeated as its conference's number one team.
For good measure, the club's average attendance was 19,404 -- also a franchise record.
So, yeah, this was a great season. I'd call it the best regular season in franchise history personally -- it had everything but the Supporter's Shield.
Now, onto the playoffs.
But first, let's recap the relevant news, notes, quotes, facts and stats from last night's 2-1 win over Philadelphia -- as well as some interesting final regular season numbers.
• The final record for the season: 18-7-9, 63 points.
• Only four teams in MLS history have earned more than 63 points in a season: The '12 San Jose Earthquakes (64), '11 Los Angeles Galaxy (67), '05 Earthquakes (64) and '98 Galaxy (68).
• Livestrong Sporting Park was sold out (or better) 16 of the team's 17 home games. That includes the current streak of 15-straight capacity crowds.
• Sporting Kansas City will enter the playoffs for the second-straight year as Eastern Conference winners. With that comes home-field advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.
• Peter Vermes on the team's success this season: "It was a great effort by the boys to do this two years in a row. It's not easy. It's a consistency from the players. It's a standard of excellence that they've set, and to do that you also have to continue to be able to do it in big games. And I think tonight again, this was a big game. This was a big opportunity. Everyone else was watching, they're waiting to see what the result is, and at the end of the day, it's over. They're just fighting for their spots, and no one can overtake us. It's a good place to be."
• If Sporting Kansas City reaches the 2012 MLS Cup, they will have the right to host if the San Jose Earthquakes do not reach the final.
• This is the fifth time in club history ('97, '00, '04, '11, '12) that Kansas City finished atop its conference.
• This is only the second time that Kansas City has won the Eastern Conference. (The previous three were all as part of the Western Conference.)
Regular Season Potpourri
• KC finished atop the East in wins (18) and goal differential (+15).
• Sporting scored 42 goals -- tied for fifth best in the conference. However: Kansas City allowed just 27 goals, easily the best mark (by 12 goals!) in the East.
• Ten players scored for KC this season -- Kei Kamara (11), C.J. Sapong (9), Graham Zusi (5), Teal Bunbury (5), Jacob Peterson (4), Aurelien Collin (3), Bobby Convey (1), Paulo Nagamura (1), Oriol Rosell (1) and Julio Cesar (1).
• For the season, Sporting scored two or more goals 13 times.
• In the first half, Sporting scored 24 goals, while just conceding 12.
• Kansas City also scored first in 21 of its 34 matches and led at halftime in 13.
When Sapong Scores, Good Things Happen
• C.J. Sapong picked up the game-winner last night in the 82nd minute for his ninth goal this season. That's a career high for him.
• The goal was his fifth game-winning goal this year, tying Preki's record in '97 for most in a single-season for the club.
• Sapong scored the first and last goal of the regular season. Here are both of them.