As an elementary school teacher, my mind at this time of the year is really focused on back to school events. Getting my Sporting KC themed classroom set up, getting my list of new students, planning what to teach...all of that fun stuff. My students will arrive for the first day of school on Wednesday and one of the first day activities is about hope. What do they hope the year will be like? What do they hope to learn? What do they hope their teacher is like? They all come up with something that they hope for the year and we kick it all off with a hopeful, positive mindset.
Hope is a funny thing. By definition it is the expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. Right now, all of the Sporting Kansas City fandom has one big hope. To make the playoffs. The team seems to have a habit this year of getting our hopes up and then sending them crashing to the ground.
The year started off amazingly well with a fun and successful first couple of rounds of the CONCACAF Champions League and we all had hope that we might win a trophy, or two or three this season. Then came the Monterrey series and that hope came crashing down a little bit.
Sporting started off the MLS season okay. We had a loss in LA, but we were tired and travel-weary. Then a win and then a draw. The 7-1 thrashing of Montreal at home back in March had us hoping that we were on our way to a long string of good results and then we drew in Cincinnati, drew at home, lost on the road, drew at home, lost at home and our hopes for anything great from the season crashed in a giant heap.
Then June came and Sporting finally got a win on the road in Columbus and we hoped that things were turning, but then SKC lost in Salt Lake and then lost at home and again our hopes were gone. July started off with a whimper, but then Sporting went and won 3-0 in Vancouver and our hope shot right back up that for sure this was the confidence builder, the turning point we had been waiting for, but alas, SKC then lost at home to FC Dallas and then lost in New York and we were all disappointed again.
But then, another hope builder, a win in Seattle and we were up there again thinking if we could just carry this momentum SKC could be right back in this playoff hunt, but then there was a loss at home to RSL and then a loss in Orlando and all hope was lost.
But then Sporting came home and the fans that were at Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday night were still hoping and still cheering and just trying to will the team into something positive. Then Chris Wondolowski scores a header, unmarked, on a set piece and all of our hopeful positivity came crashing down when the all-time leading goal-scorer in MLS isn’t covered!! It seemed that truthfully and totally all hope was lost. Then SKC came out after halftime really working, playing with some passion and our hopes have been lifted again. This time by Benny Feilhaber and Graham Smith scoring two goals in the second half for a 2-1 victory at home.
And just like that this team and this fanbase have hope again!
Currently Sporting Kansas City still sit in 10th place in the West, but are only six points below the playoff line with eight games to play. Sporting still play Minnesota United, Portland Timbers, LA Galaxy, Colorado Rapids, Minnesota again, Portland again and Dallas. All of those teams sit above SKC in the race for the playoffs except for Colorado.
That could be a lot of six point swings. The thing about hope is that it always gives us a sense of happiness, some kind of feeling of a reason to believe that something good is coming. When I ask my third graders this week what they hope to happen, see, or do this upcoming year, none of them hope for something bad! Hope is a good thing! This has been one heck of season. It has had hopes and crashes. It has felt like a roller coaster ride at times, but right now SKC still has hope. Will it come crashing down again or is this the time the expectation and desire actually happen?