The year 2021 started out with so much hope, both on and off the field, now as we reach the end of another year it’s time to take a look at my wishes for the year 2021. Back on New Year’s Day I posted my wishes for 2021, here’s how they turned out.
1. Silverware. This was not a successful wish as none of KC’s four professional soccer teams won a trophy in 2021. Sporting KC was knocked out in the conference semifinals, the KC Comets were knocked out in the MASL semifinals, and Sporting KC II and KC Current didn’t make the playoffs this year.
2. There is a 2021 MLS season. There was a 2021 MLS season. In fact, there were actually no postponements or cancelations of games in the 2021 season due to COVID. There were a couple instances of players or coaches missing games, but no games were lost or moved due to infections.
3. Fans are safely allowed to return in full to stadiums. Another wish that was successful in 2021. KC played the first three home games of 2021 and the first seven games overall under reduced capacity in the stadiums they played in. After the delayed start to the season KC welcomed a full stadium for the club’s May 29th home game against the Houston Dynamo when 20,086 people watched KC win 3-2.
4. Pulido plays in at least twenty-eight games. This wish went unfulfilled as Pulido played twenty-one league games plus one playoff game in 2021. Injuries and international call ups limited Pulido’s time in 2021. In his twenty-one games Pulido scored eight goals and assisted on three more.
5. Busio is sold in a mid-seven figure deal. This was a wish that succeeded in being successful wish on just the initial part of the deal. Reports at the time of Busio’s sale to Venezia FC were that there were very attainable incentives in the deal that would see it rise from six million to $10.5 million. Well over the mid-seven figure deal I’d wanted.
6. Sporting continue to transition the roster. This wish was partly fulfilled I feel like. Peter Vermes still relied on Roger Espinoza a lot in 2021 as he played thirty-two of KC’s 34 games. At the same time, he started to get more involvement from other midfielders, the likes of Jose Mauri and Remi Walter. Add in more attacking minded midfielders like Cameron Duke and Gadi Kinda and the midfield transition seems to be happening. The transition at right back with Graham Zusi took a big hit when Jaylin Lindsey ended up going down for the season with a hamstring injury with almost half the season remaining requiring KC to rely more on Zusi. Zusi, like Espinoza, isn’t currently signed for the 2022 season but at the same time KC has no right backs currently other than Duke, who played there in an emergency role when Zusi was suspended. The roster still has some transitioning to do to get younger, but some moves were made in 2021.
7. A playoff run for NWSL-KC. Unfortunately, the first season in the NWSL was a rough one for KC NWSL/KC Current. KC finished bottom of the table on sixteen points with a 3-14-7 (W-L-D) record. They scored the fewest goals in the league, with just fifteen, and allowed the second most with thirty-six. Given how everything with the founding and moving of the team was last minute it’s not surprising, but certainly not the season the team was likely expecting.
8. Sporting KC II continue to get younger players time with further success on the field. The first part of this was successful with more young players getting time and the emergence of both Kayden Pierre and Isiah LeFlore both showing very well at the outside back positions for KC. Unfortunately, the success on the field didn’t come. KC finished with a 4-20-8 record, fewer wins than they got in the 2020 COVID shortened season.
9. Comets and MASL have a safe season, Comets make playoffs. Comets 2021 season came to pass without shutdown, though without all the teams that it would have had without COVID. Comets went 7-5 on the season, made the playoffs only to lose in the semifinals to Ontario. A successful wish.
10. US men have successful start to World Cup qualifying. Just over halfway through World Cup qualifying, the USMNT sits second in the Octagonal on fifteen points. They’re one point behind leaders Canada and one point ahead of third place Mexico and fourth place Panama. The US is six points clear of fifth place Costa Rica. The top three teams will qualify with fourth place going into the inter-confederation playoff against the Oceania confederation winner. Could qualification be going? Certainly, draws against Jamaica and El Salvador on the road don’t look the best, but through eight games the US is in a good spot.
11. US men qualify for the 2021 Olympics. The US U23 team finished second in their group and advanced to the semifinals where they played Honduras. The US fell 2-1 to Honduras to the semifinals and did not qualify for their third straight Olympics, and fourth of the last five.
12. US women win gold at the Olympics. The US women finished second in their group at the Olympics behind Sweden before beating the Netherlands on penalty kicks in the semifinals. They fell to eventual gold medal winners, Canada 1-0 in the semifinals. The women did walk away with a medal beating Australia 4-3 in the bronze medal match.