MLS Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs Sporting Kansas City

Competition: Major League Soccer – Columbus Crew vs. Sporting Kansas City 

Venue: MAPFRE Stadium – Saturday, August 22 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST) 

Match Odds: Columbus Crew 21/20 – Draw 12/5 – Sporting Kansas City 5/2

Match Preview

It’s third in the Eastern Conference against third in the Western Conference this weekend as Columbus Crew host Sporting Kansas City at Mapfre Stadium.

Columbus Crew come into this one off the back of a 2-2 draw with New York City FC in midweek, a game they would have been hoping to win. They have a chance to make home advantage count again here against a strong SKC side.

Gregg Berhalter will be disappointed that his side could not make up any ground on the Eastern Conference leaders DC United. They remain nine points behind with one more game in hand.

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Sporting Kansas City come into this one off the back of a 5-0 thumping in midweek at the hands of San Jose Earthquakes. Playmaker Benny Feilhaber saw red in the latter stages of the game, he will be a huge miss for this tie.

Peter Vermes will not be happy with that result as it was a great opportunity to close the gap on Western Conference leaders LA Galaxy. SKC could have potentially gone above the leaders but still remain three points behind. The saving grace for Vermes is that his side still have three games in hand on Galaxy, but will not want a repeat performance of the midweek tie.

Sporting Kansas City are in a great position despite that loss, they have lost the least amount of regular season games out of any other side and stand a good chance of winning the Supporter’s Shield if they can take positive results from their games in hand.

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This will be a test for the sides who are both having good seasons, SKC came out on top in this fixture last season, winning 2-1 at Mapfre Stadium, and will be hoping for a repeat of that victory.

Team News

Columbus Crew have four injury concerns. Sergio Campbell is set to miss out while there are doubts about Harrison Afful, Emanuel Pogatetz and Ben Swanson. Kei Kamara, Federico Higuain and Jack McInerney are all one booking away from suspension.

Sporting Kansas City could be without up to seven players. Ike Opara, Bernardo Anor and Roger Espinoza are set to miss out. Jalil Anibaba, Graham Zusi, Soni Mustivar and Seth Sinovic are all doubts. Kevin Ellis is one booking away from suspension.

Key Points

Columbus Crew’s last five: W/D/L/W/D

Sporting Kansas City’s last five: L/D/W/W/L

Key Stat: Columbus are unbeaten in nine of their last ten home matches in MLS.

Key Player: Kei Kamara – Crew’s main man has been in inspired form this season. He has netted six in his last six outings and has an impressive tally of 18 so far this campaign.

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Score Prediction

Columbus Crew 2-1 Sporting Kansas City – Crew to edge a close tie as they come into this one in better shape than SKC.


MLS Preview and Prediction: Real Salt Lake vs Sporting Kansas City

Competition: Major League Soccer – Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting Kansas City

Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium – Friday, July 24 – 23:00 ET (Saturday, July 25 – 04:00 BST)

Match Odds: Real Salt Lake 13/8 – Draw 11/5 – Sporting Kansas City 6/4

Match Preview

Real Salt Lake entertain Sporting Kansas City in a Western Conference clash which should be full of action.

Salt Lake are undefeated in their last eight regular season home games and will feel this gives them a great chance in this one.

RSL come into this one off the back of their 2-0 home win against Houston Dynamo, which was their first win four outings.

Jeff Cassar’s side came out on top with a 2-1 win in the clash between the sides earlier in the season.

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Sporting Kansas City have been in great form recently, having lost just once in their last 11 outings. They come into the game after their 2-1 win over Montreal Impact, which was their third win on the bounce.

Peter Vermes will be pleased with his side as they sit in fourth place in the Western Conference, just two points behind leaders FC Dallas. If they can continue their recent run of form they will have a great chance of securing top spot, but this will not be a straight forward tie.

SKC will be aware that RSL will put them under pressure and given how tight the Western Conference is, neither side can afford to lose this one. They are separated by seven points but with RSL sitting outside the playoff places, they will make this a difficult game as they look to pile pressure on the sides above them.

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Team News

Real Salt Lake have three injury concerns. Jamison Olave is out while Jordan Allen and Luis Silva are doubtful for this tie. Luke Mulholland is one booking away from suspension.

Sporting Kansas City will be without Ike Opara. Jalil Anibaba, Bernardo Anor and Seth Sinovic are doubts. Dom Dwyer is one caution away from a suspension.

Key Points

Real Salt Lake last five in MLS: L/D/D/L/W

Sporting Kansas City’s last five in MLS: W/L/W/W/W

Key Stat: Sporting Kansas City have won five of their last six regular season games.

Key Player: Benny Feilhaber – The playmaker has netted six goals so far this season and we can expect his creativity to cause RSL problems.

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Score Prediction

Real Salt Lake 1-2 Sporting Kansas City – Sporting Kansas City to put an end to Real Salt Lakes home form.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Real Salt Lake vs Sporting Kansas City

Competition: Major League Soccer – Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting Kansas City

Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium – Sunday, June 21 – 22:00 ET (Monday, June 22 – 03:00 BST)

Match Odds: Real Salt Lake 9/5 – Draw 13/10 – Sporting Kansas City 6/4

Match Preview

Real Salt Lake host Sporting Kansas City on Sunday evening, with both sides coming into the game off the back of midweek wins in the US Open Cup.

RSL beat Seattle Sounders 2-1 in their cup game, which will fill them with confidence going into this one. They had gone their last three regular season games without a win.

Jeff Cassar will hope this will spur his team on ahead of this tie as they are sitting 9th in the Western Conference.

Their draw last weekend against Colorado Rapids showed just how tight things are in the Western Conference and that they must start to pick up points again otherwise they will run the risk of struggling to make the playoffs.

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Sporting Kansas City continued their good run of form with their 1-0 midweek win over Saint Louis FC. They are now unbeaten in their last seven regular season games and will see this tie as a chance to extend that run.

Peter Vermes will be pleased with his sides run of form and if they were to win their two games in hand they could be top of the Western Conference.

SKC have won their last two regular season games, so the side will be full of confidence, and will be hoping to take six points from their next two fixtures before playing Vancouver Whitecaps, who are well in the race for top spot.

This tie will not be easy for SKC as Real Salt Lake have very strong home form, having lost just once at the Rio Tinto Stadium this season.

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Team News

Real Salt Lake will be without Chris Schuler and Jamison Olave is doubtful. Kyle Beckerman and Abdoulie Mansally are both one yellow away from a suspension.

Sporting Kansas City have five injury concerns; Ike Opara is out, while Bernardo Anor, Paulo Nagamura, Seth Sinovic and Jacob Peterson are all doubtful.

Key Points

Real Salt Lake’s last five in MLS: L/W/L/L/D

Sporting Kansas City’s last five in MLS: D/W/D/W/W

Key Stat: Fortress – Real Salt Lake have lost just once in their last 18 games at the Rio Tinto Stadium.

Key Player: Benny Feilhaber – The creative midfielder has been in inspired form of late and has netted five goals and has five assists so far this season.

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Score Prediction

Real Salt Lake 1-2 Sporting Kansas City – SKC to take all three points against a resilient home side.

Sporting Kansas City hit with injury crisis ahead of New England clash

Sporting Kansas City have somewhat of an injury crisis to deal with as they look set to struggle to select 18 fit players for their clash with New England Revolution on Wednesday night.

SKC manager Peter Vermes has suggested that they only have 16 fit players available and that includes two goalkeepers.

“We need some bodies,” Vermes is quoted as saying by

Vermes has been said to be considering his options, and recalling Saad Abdul-Salaam from his loan spell with NASL side San Antonio Scorpions.

“That’s what we need at the moment. If he (Abdul-Salaam) doesn’t come back, we would only have 16 – and that includes 2 goalkeepers.”

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The current injury list includes the likes of Graham Zusi (head), Ike Opara (achilles) and Roger Espinoza (groin), who all are starters in the current squad.

Seth Sinovic (illness), Eric Palmer-Brown (international duty), Marcel de Jong (groin), Bernardo Anor (hamstring), Chance Myers (achilles) and Paulo Nagamura (back) are all expected to miss the tie too.

With an inconsistent start to the season already behind them, Sporting Kansas City will need to remain competitive during this period, and the double gameweek comes at possibly the worst time for Peter Vermes’ men.

They travel to Seattle Sounders on Saturday night after their home game with the Revs on Wednesday night.

Can Sporting Kansas City overcome their injury crisis to pick up points this week?

Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake settle for draw as fierce rivalry continues

By Keave Tollington – Twitter: @KeaveT

Real Salt Lake remain unbeaten in their 2015 campaign as they took home a hard-earned point on the road in Sporting Kansas City‘s ‘Blue Hell’ this weekend, after the sides played out a competitive 0-0 draw at Sporting Park.

Sporting Park was of course the scene of the 2013 MLS Cup final, in a game where RSL lost on penalties as SKC were crowned MLS Cup Champions. Real Salt Lake have now had 3 clean sheets in just 5 league games with MLS shutout king Nick Rimando responsible for most of those.

After strong yields from each team it is easy to see why a goalless scoreline might of felt unjust to both sets of supporters – particularly Sporting Kansas City, as they managed 12 shots on goal compared to RSL’s 4.

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The teams have built up a fierce rivalry in the past few seasons that was only accentuated by Sporting KC’s move to the Western Conference this year.

According to former RSL manager, Jason Kreis, the feud began during an extremely physical preseason match between the pair in Arizona back in 2011.

Kreis told back in 2013 that the “very, very physical affair” came as “Kansas City was just starting to implement a really competitive nature about themselves. And we were embarrassing them a little bit preseason, 2-0, knocking the ball around,” the current New York City FC boss said.

The preseason game was halted at 2-2 after a brawl broke out amongst players, as the referee had reportedly sent off the wrong Sporting KC player. Many match reports have disputed whether Real Salt Lake midfielder, Javier Morales, was kicked in the head shortly after the match was stopped but the ‘uncontrollable’ melee has most probably left both camps with ill feelings towards each other.

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Head coach Jeff Cassar will now look to extend RSL’s unbeaten run when Rio Tinto plays host to MLS leaders, Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday, while Sporting Kansas City face a tough trip to reigning champions, LA Galaxy next weekend.

Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City are both tied on nine points in the Western Conference after six weeks and will meet each other twice more this season at Rio Tinto Stadium.

The next installment of their rivalry will come on June 22, with the third and final matchup coming on July 25.

MLS 2015 Season Preview: Sporting Kansas City

As the 2015 season is now just four days away, the excitement is building. We’ve had a new MLS 2015 Season Preview up everyday in the build up and today we take a look at what Sporting Kansas City will be looking to achieve this season…

Sporting Kansas City endured a long and tough season last time out as they limped into the MLS Playoffs only to be knocked out by the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference playoff game. They will take part in the Western Conference in 2015 as the arrivals of New York City FC and Orlando City SC has seen Sporting KC moved back to the West for the first time since 2004, a season in which they were runners-up for the MLS Cup title but won their first-ever US Open Cup. Manager Peter Vermes has seen many changes to his squad this season and will hope a change of opposition in the West can spark a comeback challenge for the championship in 2015.

Dom Dwyer was a real spark as he netted 22 goals in 31 regular season starts and if he can build on his form then Sporting KC will be a real force. The resigning of Roger Espinoza has strengthened the squad but the loss of centre-back Aurelien Collin could affect their defensive stability.

Last season’s finish: Eastern Conference – P34 – W14 – D7 – L13

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What needs to change this year?

Consistency was a problem in 2014. Sporting Kansas City had a great run of form through the middle of the season but ended the year by losing seven of their last ten. Fitness was a key factor as Matt Besler and Graham Zusi looked exhausted after the USMNT’s World Cup campaign and could not help the side to achieve. Sporting Park needs to become a fortress once more if the club are to do well in a fiercely competitive Western Conference this year as they had the seventh-worst home record last season. Picking up more points on the road than at home is a concern and something that must change from the word go.

Key changes to the squad:

Ins: Bernardo Anor – Midfielder, Jalil Anibaba – Defender, Krisztian Nemeth – Forward, Luis Marin – Goalkeeper, Roger Espinoza – Midfielder, Servando Carrasco – Midfielder.

Outs: Antonio Dovale – Midfielder, Lawrence Olum – Midfielder, Soony Saad – Forward, Aurelien Collin – Defender, CJ Sapong – Forward, Sal Zizzo – Midfield/Forward, Claudio Bieler – Forward, Jorge Claros – Midfielder, Eric Kronberg – Goalkeeper.

Key Player: Dom Dwyer – Forward

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Dom Dwyer was incredible last year as he scored 24 goals across all competitions and led the line perfectly for Sporting Kansas City all season. He lacked support at times but the additions of Nemeth and Espinoza, as well as the return of a fully fit Zusi should only make Dwyer more dangerous. The English forward seems to improve with each game and is undoubtedly a favourite for the Golden Boot come the end of the campaign.

One to watch: Krisztian Nemeth – Forward

Krisztian Nemeth has joined the club this offseason and can play on the wing as well as the main striker. He has already netted five goals and picked up an assist this preseason and looks like he could be a real threat. His versatility will make him a real asset for Peter Vermes this season and the Hungarian is certainly someone to keep an eye on.

Predicted finish: Western Conference – 6th

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Sporting Kansas City may take time to adjust to life back in the Western Conference, especially with the quality of teams around them this year. It looks set to be another tough campaign and a lot will depend on how well the team deal with such long trips. No other clubs are closer than a seven-hour drive and that could be a factor. Still, you can expect Sporting KC to make the playoffs for the fifth straight year and from there they could be dangerous. If Zusi and Besler can get back to their best then Sporting KC could be challenging right at the top of the Western but it may take time to adjust to a new conference with so many new players.

What are you expecting from Sporting Kansas City in 2015?

Sporting Kansas City officially announce the return of Roger Espinoza

By Ryan Wright

Earlier today, Sporting Kansas City officially announced the signing of 28 year old midfielder Roger Espinoza.

Espinoza began his professional career with Sporting KC in 2008 when he was drafted in the first round of the 2008 MLS superdraft. He joined Wigan Athletic in England after he left Sporting KC in 2012.

“This summer, my contract was coming to an end and I had a year left. I had to think about what I wanted to do,” Espinoza said during today’s press conference.

“I already had the experience of playing in Europe, I wanted to know what it was like to play there. I had a year left and I looked for somewhere to go. I spoke to Peter about coming back and to see if there was room at the club, and he wanted me back.”

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In 2012 – Espinoza’s last season with Sporting KC during his four-year spell at the club, he was named a MLS All-Star. During his original stint with Sporting KC, he made 130 appearances with two goals and 12 assists across all competitions.

After moving to Wigan, Espinoza helped the club upset Manchester City in the 2012-13 FA Cup final. In the following season, he helped defend the club’s FA Cup title by once again upsetting Manchester City.

He also led Wigan to a semi-final appearance against the eventual champions, Arsenal. Espinoza made 57 appearances during his time in England with Wigan.

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“It’s changed me a lot. Obviously [I left] two years ago to play in the Premier League. While I was there, I had the opportunity to win the FA Cup,” said Espinoza.

“Honestly, that changed my career. You win that type of game, in that type of atmosphere with all the media, it changes you as a player, it gives you more responsibility.

“I had experience in the Premier League and the League Championship, which was a very tough league. It wasn’t easy for me but I learned a lot from the managers, and I think that helps you as a player.”

Espinoza has not only been a successful player on the club level but he’s also an established international player. Espinoza has made 45 appearances for Honduras and has scored four goals.

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He’s represented his country at the 2010 World Cup, the 2012 Summer Olympics and the 2014 World Cup.

At today’s press conference, Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said: “Roger was a big part of us establishing ourselves in Kansas City and Major League Soccer.

“Now Roger returns to a club that has continued its evolution and he has the ability to help take us to the next level. It is rare for a player to leave a club and then come back, but this situation from day one has been great and we are very happy for Roger to don the Sporting Kansas City jersey again.”

Espinoza also spoke of his delight on his return to Kansas City: “I’m thrilled to be back in Kansas City. I always knew I would come back some day and I could not be more excited to re-join this club. I’m ready to get back to work and help this team win another championship.”

Espinoza will be added to Sporting Kansas City’s 2015 roster pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate.

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This is yet another signing in a busy offseason for Sporting Kansas City. So far, the club has signed defender Jalil Anibaba, midfielder James Marcelin, and forward Krisztian Nemeth. They have also signed Dom Dwyer to a contract extension.

Sporting KC isn’t done adding new players to the roster. Vermes told media: “This isn’t the final piece. The roster is fluid. It’s always breathing; it has to have new opportunity; it has to have new life in it; it has to have fresh bodies in it.”

The front office at Sporting Kansas City seem to be doing everything they can during the offseason to put themselves in prime position for another MLS Cup title and the return of Roger Espinoza could be a vital addition.

Will Roger Espinoza help Sporting Kansas City get back to the MLS Cup Final in 2015?

Sporting Kansas City bolster attack with addition of Krisztian Nemeth

Sporting Kansas City have continued to rebuild their squad ahead of the 2015 MLS season by adding Hungarian international forward Krisztian Nemeth.

The news comes one day after the club re-signed star striker Dom Dwyer to a long-term contract and Peter Vermes is delighted to have another attacking option in place for next season.

“Krisztian [Nemeth] is a player who has extensive experience playing in a 4-3-3 system,” Vermes said.

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“He also fits well in the overall model of play for Sporting Kansas City and we look forward to his adaptation.”

Nemeth is a vastly experienced player having played in Hungary, England, Greece and most recently the Netherlands, but at 25, he has a long career ahead of him.

He joined Liverpool as an 18-year-old in 2007 and although he never played a competitive first-team game with the Reds, he was a star in the Premier League Reserve League – ending his first year as top scorer in the division.

He trained with the likes of Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano and Robbie Keane while at Anfield and he can’t wait to experience the new challenge of soccer in the US.

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“I am very excited to be joining Sporting Kansas City,” he said. “It’s an exciting time to join the club and MLS. Peter [Vermes] is a great coach and I look forward to working with him and the team.”

Nemeth has been without a club since leaving Eredivisie side Roda JC Kerkrade in July. He scored eight goals and recorded six assists in 24 games during the 2013-14 campaign and will hope to make a real impact with Sporting Kansas City in 2015.

Is Krisztian Nemeth a good signing for Sporting Kansas City?

Exclusive: An interview with new Orlando City star Aurelien Collin

Aurelien Collin has a new home in Major League Soccer. The dominant French defender joined expansion franchise Orlando City from Sporting Kansas City in Monday’s half-day trading window in exchange for allocation money and future considerations.

Collin spent four successful seasons in Kansas City, making over 100 appearances for the club and although he must now concentrate on the next exciting chapter of his career, the 28-year-old centre-back will never forget his time with SKC.

“The last four years were the best of my life. Winning the MLS Cup and the US Open Cup were special moments for me,” he said.

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Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes revealed on Monday that Collin was only let go as a result of salary cap constraints and the 2013 MLS Cup MVP will definitely be missed at Sporting Park.

But Collin is glad that he has been able to stay in MLS by moving to Orlando, and is looking forward to playing alongside Brazilian superstar Kaka in 2015.

“I’m very happy. MLS is growing very fast and Orlando is a big city with big plans.

“Playing with Kaka will be an honor for me, both as a Christian and a soccer player, and I will learn a lot from him.”

Collin has played in France, Spain, Scotland, Greece, England and Portugal. But he has belonged in MLS ever since moving to the league in 2011.

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He knows the league and what is required to succeed, having won both the MLS Cup and US Open Cup with Sporting Kansas City. His experience will be vital for Orlando in their debut campaign and he will need to be a leader for those new to MLS in the Lions’ locker room, including Kaka.

Wednesday’s MLS Expansion Draft is another huge day for Orlando City as they have the chance to add some more much-needed depth to their squad.

And although many may assume the new boys will try and ease their way into life in Major League Soccer, Collin is targeting success from the onset.

Aurelien Collin Orlando City

When asked what his hopes for the team were in their inaugural campaign, he simply replied: “We want to make the playoffs!”

It will be fascinating to see how Orlando perform next season. But in Aurelien Collin, they already have a leader in defence. And the three-time MLS All-Star certainly knows how to succeed in the ever-growing world of Major League Soccer.

How good a signing is Aurelien Collin for Orlando City SC?

From Mexico to Sporting Park: Sporting Kansas City supporters among most dedicated in MLS

By Ryan Wright

Soccer is constantly gaining popularity in the United States but Major League Soccer still has so much room to continue its growth. Although you would never know that by visiting Sporting Park.

“Soccer Capital of America” is plastered everywhere inside and around the Sporting Kansas City stadium. Each match, Sporting KC fans fill Sporting Park and are loud for the entire 90 minutes.

Sporting KC’s loyal fan base support their team through thick and thin and one of the most notable examples of this was seen last year during the final of the MLS Cup. More than 20,000 fans attended the match against Real Salt Lake despite the bitterly cold 12 degree weather.

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The Kansas City Cauldron is the largest Sporting Kansas City supporters group. Under the Kansas City Cauldron, there’s an umbrella of several other supporters groups – most are based in the Midwest. Two of these supporters groups are 417 Loyal and the Wichita Wanderers. 417 Loyal is based in Springfield, MO and the Wichita Wanderers are based in Wichita, KS.

Sam Ringenberg of Springfield, MO and 417 Loyal became a soccer fan in the spring of 2006 while studying abroad in London. He has supported Sporting Kansas City since they were called the Kansas City Wizards.

“Kansas City has become the Soccer Capital of America for several reasons. First must be the success of Sporting KC, and all of their affiliates. They are growing soccer throughout the Midwest, and will make the next generation of US Soccer even more successful,” he said.

“The majority of soccer fans living in the US follow other leagues, or international soccer more than they do MLS. But Kansas City has that perfect mix of supporting their local club, while being knowledgeable and passionate about the world’s game too,” Ringenberg continued.

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Over the past few years, it’s become obvious that Kansas City supports Sporting KC as strongly as it does the Kansas City Chiefs (NFL) and the Kansas City Royals (MLB).

Matthew Isaacson, also of Springfield, MO and 417 Loyal says: “It is actually a pretty recent phenomenon. I remember going to games at Arrowhead where there were only a couple thousand in attendance.

“I think the city and the surrounding region support Sporting because of the world class stadium they play in, and the attitude of the players and ownership towards the fans. It’s affordable entertainment and the players are still approachable. It also helps that they are winning and have international level players on the roster,” Isaacson continued.

Chris Baldwin of Wichita, Kansas, and the Wichita Wanderers became interested in soccer during the 2010 World Cup and has been a fan of Sporting KC for four years.

He says: “I think part of why Kansas City has supported the club so strongly is that Sporting KC gave them a winning team when the Royals and the Chiefs weren’t doing so hot.”

Some fans have even travelled as far as Mexico to support Sporting KC. This past March, Sam Ringenberg’s brother, Thomas, traveled to Mexico to see Kansas City take on Cruz Azul of Liga MX. It was a CONCACAF Champions League match and Sporting KC fell to Cruz Azul, 5-1.

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Ringenberg, a graduate student at the University of Kansas, planned his spring break around attending the match.

He said: “The Sporting game at Estadio Azul was really amazing. Sure, we ended up getting eliminated, but we were playing arguably the best soccer club on the continent at an altitude much different than KC, so a loss I think is forgivable.”

Ringenberg and his girlfriend were the only Sporting KC fans in the stadium. But according to Ringenberg, the Cruz Azul fans were cordial, despite a few whistles and boos.

“We were celebrities at the stadium, we had a line of 30-40 kids waiting to take pictures with us and our Sporting KC scarf,” Ringenberg said.

On September 26, the same night that the Royals clinched their first playoff berth in 29 years, Sporting Kansas City had a match against the New England Revolution. Despite the important game the Royals had, Sporting Park was filled to the brim and was as loud as ever.

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During the post-game press conference, Peter Vermes, manager of Sporting KC said: “We’re part of the Kansas City community. In the past we were fighting for a place in the sports landscape in Kansas City. We have our own niche.

“Success brings people in and they’re proud to be a part of it. When fans understand that our team goes after it for 90 minutes, they come back,” Vermes continued.

Unfortunately, Sporting KC lost in the MLS Playoffs this season, falling at the first hurdle to the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference knockout round. However, supporters are anxiously awaiting next season and according to the club currently has a 6,000 person waiting list for season tickets.

Does Sporting Kansas City have one of the support bases in MLS?