The Full 90

OnGoal deserves a hand for soccer surge in KC

Has there ever been a better time to be a soccer fan in Kansas City?

A new stadium is being built. The Wizards are actively seeking a designated player and have publicly stated they are pursuing Omar Bravo. And the world’s most famous soccer team is coming to town.

Sure, it would be nice if the Wizards were leading the Eastern Conference, but why quibble?

In fact, just look back five years. The Wizards missed the playoffs in 2005. But worse was the uncertainty. The team was for sale, and there were a lot of rumors flying around. It certainly seemed possible that the team could move.

That’s why OnGoal deserves a round of applause. Or maybe a chant at Sunday’s game.

Robb Heineman, Cliff Illig, Neal Patterson and the rest of OnGoal’s ownership group have done a ton for soccer in Kansas City.

First, they kept the team in Kansas City. That was obviously huge. Then they stabilized the franchise. In the final days under the Hunts, there didn’t seem to be a lot of money spent on the team or promoting it.

OnGoal came in and built a wonderful training facility and hasn’t been shy about signing a designated player. Having Claudio Lopez play here was no small accomplishment.

And now Manchester United is coming. How many times through the years have we seen these big European teams come to New York or Chicago or Los Angeles? It seemed like KC would always be passed over.

But last year we had Chivas and Club America face off at Arrowhead. Man U will be there Sunday, and the Wizards would like to open their new stadium with another big-name team (Manchester City perhaps?).

It’s good to be a soccer fan in Kansas City. And that’s not something you could always say.

| Pete Grathoff, pgrathoff@kcstar.com

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