The off-season gives us ample time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the new season. The authors of The Daily Wiz pulled together a series of questions and answers on Sporting KC's activities in 2012 and 2013.
Who in Sporting Club/Sporting KC are the unsung heroes of 2012?
Mike McGrew: The LSP grounds crew. Remember the choppy field debacle in 2011? Gone in 2012. Their best moment: dealing with 6 games in 22 days in the brutal heat of late July and August. I never noticed an appreciable drop in field conditions. Well done.
Ben Gartland: Seth Sinovic. Sinovic is one of the best fullbacks in the game, yet he is overshadowed by the excellent centerbacks Sporting KC has. Without Sinovic, The defense we had us simply not as good.
Andy Edwards: Andy Tretiak, Chief Marketing Officer of Sporting Club, and it's not just for having an awesome first name either. Tretiak is the guy responsible for Sporting Radio taking off in 2012 with thanks to Sports Radio 810 WHB. So, big shoutout to him for that. Obviously, I'm biased in this because I'm a part of pretty much all the programming, but serious television AND radio coverage within your city says "big time" to the population.
What is the most underappreciated or underreported moment in Sporting KC last year?
Ben Gartland: The strides players made on the national team. Save for Zusi, there wasn't much publicity for Besler, Bunbury and Sapong getting called into camp. It's an extremely big jump from having virtually no one getting national team attention, to having multiple players getting recognized by Jurgen.
Andy Edwards: I got nothing for this one. I tweet so much that I made sure everything was discussed to satisfactory levels, and then well beyond. Twitter is the worst.
Mike McGrew: June 26th. Sporting KC was playing a mixture of starters and reserve players against a third-tier team (Dayton Dutch Lions) in a difficult-to-understand tournament that was not in the season ticket booklet. Sporting had just one regular season game to promote the match. The Royals were offering free t-shirts across town on the same day. 15,167 people attended the quarterfinal of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup in spite of these constraints. 15,167! It is BY FAR the highest attended quarterfinal game in modern USOC history. I don't know when "soccer will arrive" in America, but for me this absolutely confirmed soccer's hold in Kansas City.
Andy Edwards: Espinoza. Never mind that it's currently looking very similar to my own (scrappy and should have been cut three months ago), the long flowing locks couldn't fit a midfielder that plays like his hair is on fire any better.
Mike McGrew: Aurelien Collin. Many people can work with face stubble. Some people can look good with a shaved dome. A few people can pull off a week-old scruffy beard shadow. No one aside from Collin can rock the beard shadow and something I'll call a "dome shadow" and still look good. Props to him.
Ben Gartland: Kei Kamara's blonde beard.
Predictions: what will be the major *off-field* story for Sporting KC in 2013?
Mike McGrew: A shirt sponsorship that redefines what medium-size market teams should expect in terms of money for a kit deal. Sporting has shown they would rather wait for the right deal than get any deal. The LA Galaxy (10 years, $44 million) and Sounders (5 years, $20 million) are the high-water marks of MLS shirt sponsorships. I am going out on a limb to say Sporting's sponsorship deal will be similar to these two, shifting the landscape of sponsorship expectations for other MLS clubs. It could stand to be the watershed moment that makes the entire league profitable in a few years.
Ben Gartland: Jimmy Nielsen. If we win the MLS Cup, I would not be surprised to see Nielsen retire. I know he has thought about retirement before and he isn't young. He might just be waiting to win that championship.
Andy Edwards: The new home jersey and third jersey will make a serious splash and bring lots of debate. Some will love it, some may dislike it.
Predictions: what will be the major *on-field* story for Sporting KC in 2013?
Ben Gartland: Sporting KC reaches MLS Cup final. I don't know if we'll win, but I think we'll reach it.
Andy Edwards: Can they finally move into the MLS Cup Final and out of the Eastern Conference playoffs? That's the absolute next step for Sporting after two years of failure. Claudio Bieler and Benny Feilhaber were brought in to achieve just this. Get it done.
Mike McGrew: The big story will be Claudio Bieler's chase for the MLS scoring title.
Is there any scenario where you could see Peter Vermes' contract terminated in 2013?
Andy Edwards: If he still has a pulse in December, he'll still be the boss man.
Ben Gartland: Only if he says that Robb Heinemann doesn't care.
Mike McGrew: No. The only way Sporting KC could fall flat and drop to the bottom of the standings is with a series of unfortunate injuries. If this were to happen, I think Sporting Club would allow PV another year to right the ship.
Care to add to the discussion? Offer your thoughts in the comments below.