It’s the end of another year, and with 2019 coming to an end I wanted to take a look at the wishes I made back at the beginning of 2019 for Sporting Kansas City, the Swope Park Rangers (now Sporting KC II), the Kansas City Comets, and the men’s and women’s national teams. Here’s a look back on how each of my wishes ended up.
1. Silverware: The easy answer to this one is a disastrous no. A season that started with high hopes ended poorly all around. Unfortunately as the decade came to a close, Sporting Kansas City had their worst finish of the decade, finishing with just 38 points on the season, one point lower than the 39 the club got in 2010, obviously nowhere near the Supporters’ Shield. That left KC out of the playoffs and a chance to compete for MLS Cup. In the US Open Cup, KC fell in their first game in the competition for the first time since 2010, suffering a humbling defeat at the hands of Minnesota United. The final competition Sporting had a chance at winning, the CONCACAF Champions League, started promisingly (more on that further down), but ended without a trophy as well.
2. Daniel Salloi continues to develop into club’s next star: Another wish that basically turned the complete opposite direction. Salloi had a massive drop in form in 2019, after leading the team in scoring in 2018 (11 goals in league play 16 in all competitions) and finishing third in assists (seven in league play, seven in all competitions) Salloi had just one goal and one assist in 2019, the goal coming in the second to last game of the season. To call this season a disaster for Salloi might be an understatement, his frustration was clearly evident as his struggles to score continued throughout the season. The hope at this point has to be that Salloi will recover some semblance of his form in 2020.
3. At least 20 starts between KC’s teenage trio of Gianluca Busio, Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal, and Jaylin Lindsey: Unfortunately another wish that didn’t come true in 2019 as KC’s teenage trio made just 11 starts in MLS play in 2019, 10 of those going to Busio. The situation wasn’t helped by the fact that Lindsey missed most of the 2019 season with an injury, if he’d been healthy there’s a chance he would have gotten more time with the first team spelling Graham Zusi at times. Kuzain didn’t make a single appearance for Sporting in 2019 instead seeing all his playing time with the Swope Park Rangers.
4. Continue to get playing time for younger players at Swope: The average age for the team formerly know as the Swope Park Rangers starting lineup in 2019 was under the age of 21 at 20.8 years old. Only one player, Ethan Vanacore-Decker was 25-years-old or older and made more than 10 appearances for the club in 2019. Kaveh Rad, who was on an academy contract made 20 starts for the Rangers at 18-years-old. The club’s leading scorer, Wilson Harris (12 goals) is still a teenager at 19. The club’s MVP in 2019, Felipe Hernandez earned himself a homegrown contract with Sporting late in the 2019 season. So in those aspects, this wish was a success for 2019, the struggle though ended up on the field as the young Rangers found themselves struggling throughout the season, they won just one of their first 15 games and finished with the fewest points in the USL Championship in 2019 with 26 points. Hopefully the experience that players like Rad, Harris, and others got in 2019 will help the team improve on the field in 2020 to go along with the youthful roster.
5. Advance past Toluca in the CCL: Probably the highlight of the entire season for Sporting in 2019 came very early in the season. It started with a strong 3-0 win at home with Krisztian Nemeth, Gerso Fernandes, and Ilie Sanchez getting on the board for Kansas City giving themselves a big advantage heading to Mexico. Sleeping in altitude tents during the offseason and preseason helped the team prepare for the altitude in Toluca. KC continued the dominating performance in Mexico beating Toluca 2-0 at home controlling the game so much that the home fans started “oleing” Kansas City’s passes late in the game. To be fair, Toluca at the time was in a free fall, but the level with which KC defeated the Mexican side had every KC fan salivating at the prospect of the season and had many in MLS circles awed by KC’s performance. Unfortunately it was all down hill from there this year.
6. Comets make the playoffs: This wish was successful as the Comets returned to the playoffs after a one year absence. KC finished second in the MASL’s South Central Division with a 13-11 record, three games ahead of the 10-14 St. Louis Ambush. Unfortunately for the Comets they fell to the eventual champions, the Milwaukee Wave in the South Central Division Final two games to zero losing 5-2 at home and 10-3 on the road in Milwaukee.
7. USMNT establish an identity under Gregg Berhalter: I mean you could say that he worked to establish an identity for the national team, for better or for worse. One of the things that has been a complaint against Berhalter this year has been that he’s trying to establish a passing out of the back style with a team that doesn’t have the talent to really play that style. That’s not to say that there isn’t talent in the national team pool, but unlike club ball where you can go out and sign players to fit your style, with a national team your pool is limited to the players available to you, and sometimes those players aren’t going to fit the style that you want to play.
8. USMNT wins the Gold Cup: Unfortunately this wasn’t a wish that came true for the USMNT, they won their group, going unbeaten and unscored on, including a 1-0 win over Panama in Kansas City. They then defeated Curacao (1-0) and Jamaica (3-1) before meeting up with Mexico in the final. Mexico though came out as 1-0 winners in the final to win their eighth Gold Cup.
9: Another World Cup for the USWNT: The women’s national team though took care of business in their World Cup this year in France. Like the US men in the Gold Cup, the women went unbeaten and unscored on in the group stage beating Thailand 13-0, Chile 3-0, and Sweden 2-0 to advance as group winners. The women then were able to defeat Spain in the round of 16 2-1 before facing off against the hosts, France, in the quarterfinals. They won 2-1 there as well with Megan Rapinoe scoring all four of the USA’s goals. In the semifinals, the US defeated England by another 2-1 scoreline before defeating the Netherlands in the final 2-0 with Rapinoe again getting one of the goals on her way to winning the tournament’s best player award as well as FIFA’s Ballon d’Or Feminin.