COMMERCE CITY, Col. | When Sporting Kansas City forward Teal Bunbury scored his first goal on Sunday night, there was really no debate in his mind about how he would celebrate.
Bunbury quickly spotted Sporting’s small-but-passionate fan section — many of whom decided to make the trip to Colorado at the last minute – and quickly raced to the one corner of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park where he knew he would be welcomed.
“We have some amazing fans,” Bunbury said. “(I have) all the love in the world for them.”
And after Sunday’s win, which puts Sporting one step closer to the MLS Cup, it’s safe to say they feel the same way about him — and their team.
Sam Pierron, who works for the organization as a liaison to the supporter’s club, said at least 75 fans made the trip from Kansas City, despite the fact they didn’t know where Sporting would be playing the opening game of the Eastern Conference semifinals until Thursday.
Pierron knows the number of fans that made the trip because Sporting and Colorado worked together to make sure Sporting fans could all sit in the same section. He said the turnout was the second largest the club has ever had for a playoff game, behind only its MLS Cup appearance in 2000.
And he insists there would have been more, had the game not been on a Sunday — or last minute.
“The fact we have this many people is a good sign,” Pierron said. “For every person you see here, there were at least three people that couldn’t come because of the timing.”
But some, like 32-year old Kansas City native Jake Hendershot, did not let that stop them. Hendershot says he and his wife bought their plane tickets Saturday night, flew to Colorado on Sunday morning and will return to Kansas City this morning — even though he still has to report to work today.
“I just didn’t think I was going to come because the game was on a Sunday night,” said Hendershot, a season-ticket holder. “But we decided we love this team too much. You only live once, right?”
It’s that attitude that inspired Bunbury — and a swarm of other players — to race to their section after his goal in the 49th minute. And with Sporting returning home with a chance to close out Colorado on Wednesday, there’s little doubt in Bunbury’s mind that Livestrong Sporting Park is going to be rocking this week.
“I know they’re going to be excited when we come back,” Bunbury said.