Sideline Report: Wait, there’s another Kansas City team in the playoffs?

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Braden Shaw, JagWire editor-in-chief

Amidst all of the World Series fever in Kansas City, there is another team that hopes a run at a championship. Our hometown soccer team Sporting Kansas City defeated Los Angeles Galaxy 2-1 to clinch the final spot in the MLS Cup playoffs as the sixth seed in the Western Conference.

The road to the playoffs has been up and down to say the least. Sporting had to adjust to switching from the Eastern conference to the Western conference, which resulted in a tougher schedule. It also didn’t help that our top defender Aurelien Collin was traded to Orlando City SC and we had uncertainty in the goalkeeper position. Due to these offseason changes, Sporting had to adjust their mindset heading into the season.

More times than not, this team held it together with the help of stellar play from midfielder Benny Feilhaber and forward Krisztian Nemeth. Not to mention the work of Tim Melia as goalkeeper once he won the position over Luis Marin and Jon Kempin. Sporting managed to contend for most of the season, even winning the U.S. Open Cup over the Philadelphia Union in a penalty shootout their third trophy in four seasons. When this team was playing together and getting results, this team was a force to be reckoned with.

But when Sporting wasn’t all on the same page, this team was hard to watch at times. They even went on a stretch of four losses in five games, even being shut out at home 5-0 by the San Jose Earthquakes. They lacked consistency at times and head coach Peter Vermes looked sick at times on the sidelines. The lineups changed constantly and this led to head-scratching performances from the team. Soon enough the team was on the brink of not even qualifying for the playoffs.

The stage was then set for the last two games of the season. Sporting had to win to guarantee a place in the playoffs. Both of the games were at home against the lowly Colorado Rapids and of course the season finale against the Galaxy. The Rapids should have been an easy win that catapulted Sporting into the postseason. But, alas, the Rapids shocked everyone and won the game 2-0. I, along with the rest of the Sporting fan base, was very pessimistic about our chances from here.

But we managed to pull off the win against the Galaxy, giving us a shot at another MLS Cup. Sporting’s first test is in the knockout round at Portland. This won’t be an easy matchup as the Portland Timbers always plays well at home. With high-flying players like midfielders Darlington Nagbe, Diego Valeri and Will Johnson, this won’t be easy.

I think Sporting will pull this game out in a tight 3-2 game that comes down to the final minute. But the road stops there. The winner of this game has to go play the one seed FC Dallas, which is a favorite to win the whole tournament. It’s been a great season, but I don’t think this particular Sporting team has the right pieces to make another deep run in the playoffs.

As much as I would love another Kansas City team to make a run at a title, Sporting just doesn’t have what it takes this year, even with a great young core and some seasoned veterans.

Junior Braden Shaw is a passionate sports fan who follows sports at both the college and professional level. He loves to defend his unpopular opinions on the University of Nebraska, Sporting KC, Chiefs and Royals and is always up for a debate over any game or team.

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