The long-haul Major League Soccer season is nearing the half-way point. (Some teams have crossed, Kansas City will on Wednesday.) And, for Sporting, it's been a tale of two seasons. Literally.
The first 8 games: 1-6-1 (11 goals scored, 18 goals allowed). The last 8 games: 4-0-4 (10 goals scored, 4 goals allowed). The current hot streak has given the season an infusion of much-needed hope (i.e.: "Playoffs? Playoffs!") to go along with an absolutely epic number of upcoming home games. Here are a few things regarding the current streak (and, the season) that every Sporting Kansas City fan should know.1. Sporting Kansas City is the hottest team in MLS.
The Star's stats guru Martin Manley ran the numbers: Since May 22, Sporting are tied with Dallas on the MLS form table with 16 points earned.
As you may recall, Sporting thrashed Dallas 4-1 in June.2. This is the second-longest all-competitions unbeaten streak in KC history.
In all competitions, Sporting Kansas City have gone 10 or more games without losing three times: 2000 (12 MLS games), 2004 (9 MLS games, 1 U.S. Open Cup game) and now 2011 (8 MLS games, 2 U.S. Open Cup games).
That's right, the last two times KC had a streak like this, silverware was won. This streak is in wonderful company.3. In the last 11 games, KC haven't conceded a single multi-goal game.
Chew on this one: After allowing 18 games in the first eight games of the season, KC have allowed just four in the last eight. Only the Los Angeles Galaxy (3) have allowed fewer goals since May 22.
I'd say the Myers-Collin-Besler-Sinovic/Harrington back-line is working.4. The road trip is pretty much irrelevant now.
Kansas City played 13 road games this year and earned 13 road points. If you aren't a math major (I wasn’t), that equates to 1 point per road game (PPRG).
Let’s put that into perspective: Over the last 10 MLS seasons, Sporting averaged 1.001 PPRG a season. (KC have had four seasons with more than 1.01 points -- '04, '05, '07 and '09; three seasons with exactly 1.00 -- '03, '10 and most of '11; and three below 0.99 -- '02, '06 and '08.*)*The high during that span was 1.31 in 2005 and the low was 0.68 in 2008.
So, scientifically, if this had been a typical year with the road games spread across the season instead of clustered at the start, Kansas City would be just about smack dab in the midst of an average season on the road.5. There are just four road games left.
Here they are: July 16 @ Houston, September 17 @ Real Salt Lake, October 1 @ San Jose and October 22 @ D.C. United. Just a win and a draw in those four games and KC ends the season with a 1 PPRG.
There is a two-month gap between the next two road games. TWO MONTHS.6. Three MLS teams still haven't lost a home game; five haven't won a road game.
And guess which category Sporting Kansas City falls into? The good one.
Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Kansas City are unbeaten at home. Houston, Toronto, New England, Portland and Vancouver have yet to win a game on the road.
It's worth repeating, especially for those in the last category, we are halfway through the season.7. Sporting spreads the scoring wealth.
Four players -- all at very different stages of their careers (either with KC or in general) -- are tied for the lead in team goals. Kei Kamara (now a reserve), Teal Bunbury (in a very lengthy slump), Omar Bravo (resurgent after hernia surgery) and CJ Sapong (rookie making his name) have three goals apiece.
One goal behind them: Graham Zusi (June's MLS player of the month) and, oddly, defender Aurelien Collin (on his way to becoming a KC fan favorite).8. Speaking of Collin both of his goals have been game winners.
Not a bad bonus from a central defender. Both of his goals have come from set pieces as well.**It's hard to find the numbers, but I believe KC hadn’t scored a goal off a set piece in an MLS game since George Bush was president. 9. Collin doesn't average a yellow card per game.
It only seems like it. He's been shown yellow six times in 11 games -- including on Saturday night -- which leads the team.10. CJ Sapong is a machine.
The rookie has played a role in each of KC's 16 regular season games, the only member of the team to achieve that. What's more, he's appeared in two of the team's three U.S. Open Cup games. Machine.11. The two most-frequently used numbers in Kansas City history? No. 4 and 18.
As I was perusing the 2011 media guide for this article, I found something quite interesting -- eight players have worn the No. 4 and No. 18 jerseys a peice.
Currently, the No. 4 jersey is available. It's been worn by Scott Uderitz (‘96, ‘98-’99), Richard Gough (‘97), Brandon Prideaux (‘00-’01), Mike Burns (‘02), Carey Talley (‘03), Shavar Thomas (‘04-’06), Amir Lowery (‘07-’08) and Abe Thompson (‘08-’09).
Goalkeeper Eric Kronberg is the current No. 18. He shares that number with Yari Allnutt (‘96), Chris Snitko (‘97-’99), Tahj Jakins (‘00-’01), Chris Brunt (‘02-’03), Antti Sumiala (‘05), Will Hesmer (‘06) and A.J. Godbolt (‘07).
Anyone want to take a guess which of the typical soccer numbers (No. 1-28) have been used the least in Kansas City history?
I'll give you a hint, both are in use now by starters. EDIT: One is currently in use, the other was in use last year by a player who has since changed numbers.
And, yes, you've got me -- I ran out of statistics and needed a filler.