For those of you that read my old blog at Down the Byline, one of the things that I did that pretty much everyone does is post their wishes for the upcoming year. One thing that I liked to do that not many people did is go back to those wishes for 2017, look at them and see how they turned out over the course of the year. So here’s a look at my 2017 wishes that I posted over on the old blog and how they turned out over the course of the year.
- Silverware: This was a success again for Sporting Kansas City as they won the US Open Cup for the third time in the last six years, and the club’s fourth overall with a 2-1 win over the New York Red Bulls. The win was Kansas City’s fourth trophy since their rebranding, and their first that hasn’t gone to penalty kicks. The four Open Cup championships are tied for the most in the modern era of the competition with the Chicago Fire and Seattle Sounders and is one short of the record for championships set by Bethlehem Steel and Maccabi Los Angeles.
- Secure a home playoff game: For a long time this year this looked like it was going to happen, KC got out to a strong start to the season and even by midseason was riding an extremely strong defense to what looked like a top three seed in the Western Conference. Unfortunately the late season dip in form haunted KC again as they were winless in their last five league games, which saw them slip to fifth and go on the road for the fourth straight year where they lost 1-0 in extra time to the Houston Dynamo.
- Find a secondary goal scorer: In a way this was actually a success for Sporting KC in 2017, as the club’s new signing Gerso Fernandes scored eight league goals and added two more in all competitions this past season. Unfortunately while those numbers would be pretty good for a secondary goal scorer, those were the numbers for KC’s leading scorer in 2017. The club traded expected leading scorer Dom Dwyer in July when he had five goals for KC and hadn’t scored in over two months for the club. Dwyer’s replacement, Diego Rubio scored six for KC after returning from a knee injury. So while technically I could count this as a win, failures higher up the goal scoring chart made this a loss.
- A consistent center back pairing: This one was certainly a success in 2017, as the partnership of Matt Besler and Ike Opara really worked out well for the club in 2017. Opara showed the promise that he had coming out of college but had failed to reach due to injury history throughout his career. The step up allowed him to claim the defender of the year award in a run away. His partner, Besler had a solid season as well while splitting some time with the US men’s national team in 2017. The pair started 23 of KC’s 34 league games together, with the majority of the missed games coming when Besler was away on international duty.
- A quick decision on EPB: This one didn’t really happen. Palmer-Brown missed a good portion of preseason and early part of the season with the US U20 team for World Cup qualifying and then recovering from an injury. After that he spent some time with the Swope Park Rangers to get game time before the World Cup. Upon his return he slowly worked his way into the team more, eventually supplanting Kevin Ellis as the third center back behind the previously mentioned Besler and Opara. KC didn’t find any last minute buyers in the summer transfer window, and while it’s not been officially announced, Palmer-Brown is set to move to Machester City in England before being loaned out to club in mainland Europe as Palmer-Brown does not quality for a work permit. The move didn’t come until September, when rumors really started coming out.
- Swope Park Rangers continues to play the "kids" and develop the likes of Amer Didic and Kevin Oliveira: This one I feel was a big success for Kansas City in 2017, as not only made is back to the USL final, but really started to integrate homegrown players into the team. Two specifically, Felipe Hernandez and Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal started 17 and nine games respectively for SPR after signing USL contracts directly from the Sporting KC academy. Based on comments the club has already made, this seems likely to grow in 2018.
- US qualify for Russia 2018: ... Yeah... the less said about this one the better, an abject failure in Trinidad saw the US fail to qualify for their first World Cup in the MLS era, an embarrassing situation, especially given some of the talent that was on the team.
- Comets start run in second half of season: The Comets certainly did go on a run in the second half of the season, losing just one of their final 10 games to go 15-5 on the season. Unfortunately lost their playoff series with their old rivals, the Milwaukee Wave in the mini game after splitting the first two games.
- FCKC return to the playoffs in 2017: Unfortunately this is a bit of a sour point, not only did the club not qualify for the playoffs, but the 2017 was the club’s last season in Kansas City. After an ownership change last offseason, the club was looking for new ownership again after the 2017 season and with no one stepping up, the ownership of Real Salt Lake stepped up and earned a franchise with the rights to all the FC Kansas City players. As for the 2017 season it finished with the club in seventh place in the NWSL going 8-9-7, the club suffered from the loss of Amy Rodriguez in the 2017 opener to an ACL injury and couldn’t really get their offense going. Combined with the ownership issues and the club struggled greatly at times in 2017.
There’s my review of my 2017 wishes, I’ll have 2018 wishes up soon.