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Review of 2020 Wishes for Sporting and US Soccer

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A look at how my wishes for 2020 turned out.

MLS: Sporting Kansas City at Real Salt Lake Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

The year 2020 was a year many people will probably want to forget and most people probably won’t be able to forget after everything that has gone on in the world. Back in January (when everything seemed more “normal”) I’d put together my wishes for the year 2020. With the year about done, here’s a look back on my wishes for the year and how they turned out.

1. Silverware: Kansas City missed out on all three trophies available to them in 2020. They were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the MLS is Back Tournament, losing 3-1 to the Philadelphia Union. A rough stretch in August and September cost them a chance at the Supporters’ Shield, Sporting finished the season with 39 points in 21 games, 1.86 Points Per Game (PPG), behind the Union, 47 points in 23 games (2.04 PPG) and Toronto FC, 44 points in 23 games (1.91 PPG). Then KC was eliminated in the Western Conference semifinals 3-0 by Minnesota United. KC has now gone three years without winning a trophy, the longest stretch since the club went seven years without winning a trophy from 2005 to 2011.

2. A new CBA done before the season is supported to start: In February of this year the MLS Players Association and MLS came to an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement through 2024. The thought at the time was that MLS got the better end of the deal while the players got a little more freedom of movement. Unfortunately just a few days ago, MLS informed the players’ union that they would invoke the force majeure clause in the CBA which brings both parties back to the table to renegotiate changes to the CBA. The players are obviously not happy about this move and it sets up a fight in 2021 between the league and the MLSPA.

3. 15+ goals for Alan Pulido: Pulido’s first year in KC was marred by the pandemic shortening the season, forcing quarantine after his return to the Mexican national team, and injuries. Playing in just over half of KC’s league games in 2020 (12), Pulido scored a goal every other game for the club (6). Stretched out over the course of a 34 game season and Pulido finishes with more than 15 goals if he can stay healthy. That of course will be the key for the club in 2021.

4. Daniel Salloi have closer to his 2018 goal total than his 2019 goal total: Unfortunately this wish didn’t come true at all. Salloi’s 2020 season amounted to just 165 league minutes played and another 74 minutes in the knock out round of the MLS is Back tournament. In that time he didn’t score a goal for the club. He was regularly on the bench but couldn’t get onto the field and a loan move to Sporting KC II for some games seemed unlikely due to COVID restrictions.

5. A clear heir for Roger Espinoza’s position in Sporting’s lineup: This is something that didn’t really happen in 2020, while KC got time for a number of younger players in the midfield in 2020 with Felipe Hernandez and Cameron Duke both getting time in the absence of Felipe Gutierrez, neither appeared to be the “bulldog” in the midfield that Espinoza was. Unfortunately even Espinoza didn’t appear to be the bulldog as much either, which led to the exposure of Ilie Sanchez’s lack of speed more. Hopefully the addition of Remi Walter will help to resolve some of these issues in 2021, but a clear heir to Espinoza didn’t appear in 2020.

6. Continue the youth development at SKC II, but also combine that with more on the field success: The USL Championship season saw Sporting KC II spend the majority of the season on the road, getting just two of their 16 games at home. SKCII finished at the bottom of their four team pod with a record of 5-10-1. That’s just one win fewer than they got in a 34 game season in 2019. With just two home games, that’s a strong showing by a young team. Four players appeared in all 16 games for SKCII, three of them (Wilson Harris, Petar Cuic, and Dominik Resetar) are 21 or younger. Only nine of the 33 players that appeared for SKCII in 2020 were 23 years of age or older, and three of those were from the first team’s roster in the season opener back in March. The club got a lot of contribution from young players this season. Along with the prior three mentioned the club got contributions from teenagers like Jake Davis and Kaveh Rad. Definitely a step in the right direction for the club in 2020.

7. Comets win a playoff series: Unfortunately the 2019-2020 MASL season didn’t finish because of the COVID pandemic. It wouldn’t have matter for the Kansas City Comets though as by the time the season was stopped due to the pandemic, the Comets had been eliminated from the playoff race and sat with a 10-11 record.

8. Olympic qualification for the US men: Like many things in the world this past year, the Olympics were canceled before qualification even took place and moved to 2021. This wish can carry over to 2021 for the US men’s team.

9. A Gold Medal for Vlatko Andonovski and the US women’s team at the Olympics: As with the last entry, this wish also is carrying over to 2021 because of the pandemic.