There is a “Magic” tree that stands in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, about 30 minutes from Sporting Kansas City’s Children’s Mercy Park. The fact that it excites some people and promotes charitable giving lights me up, as much as I find the tree itself bright and colorful yet underwhelming. The website boasts a “beautiful and unique photography setting” even as it sits on the edge of a construction site. But that site will become a large, multi-sport (mostly soccer) resofflodgactivity complex, which does excite me!
If there were a “Magic tree” at Children’s Mercy Park, what would be in the boxes under it? Here is a six item “In the Box” Holiday Wish List for Sporting Kansas City:
Gift #1 - Wetting the appetite
With the release of Spaniard Ilie Sanchez and the mid-season leap to Italy of Gianluca Busio, Kansas City’s midfield is a bit vanilla at the moment. Outside of the relentless, dynamic attacker that Gadi Kinda is, there are the solid Remi Walter, possibly the 35-year-old Roger Espinoza if he re-signs, the hopeful return of Felipe Hernandez, and the forward-looking Cameron Duke.
The wish is that with some “getting acquainted” time this season (after his mid-season free transfer) and a preseason under his belt, 25-year-old Argentine/Italian Jose Mauri adds some spice and makes Sporting’s midfield not only a solid, dependable engine on both sides of the ball, but one to be at least a little more feared going forward and one that can beat opposing midfields with flair to complement Sporting’s fearsome frontline.
Is there an addition in the offing? Only Santa knows.
Gift #2 – No one left out
Have you ever had someone wrap a present in luxury, make it look so enticing and thoughtful, and then look on with anticipation as you open a large-ish box that contains another box and then another box and ultimately nothing? Fun, huh? Ok… maybe.
Right now, Sporting’s left back position is that… empty. And rightfully so.
It will be a surprise to no one when Sporting fills that position with a youth from their pro pathway. But one has to anticipate a more mature signing too.
The wish here is a speedy left back who is a strong one-on-one and spatially aware defender proficient and occasionally spectacular at not only combining and crossing, but most importantly at being able to beat a defender to the line or by cutting inside and attacking the interior of the field, drawing attention from opposing midfielders and center backs. Like that $100 book on my personal wish list, that’s not asking for much, is it?
Gift #3 – Socks and underwear (or USB cords for the 21st Century first-world basics)
A season-long healthy Alan Pulido – I find tinsel distracting and Alan Pulido injuries irritating.
Gift #4 - Fan fever
(Disclaimer: This is not about those fans who bring it every game, every season.)
At one time, Sporting Kansas City fans were arguably in the top three of MLS fanbases. Now there are fervent fans across the ever-broadening league footprint. Is it an anthem that is needed to inspire and unify? Is it an expansion of The Cauldron to up the ante? Is it a change in fan perception that although Sporting is consistently competitive in the regular season, they falter in the postseason – a tease to some if you will. Or is the level of fandom as it should be?
To me, nothing inspires like celebrating with those who sincerely appreciate the blessings (including you) that they are surrounded by… my wish for all of you in your Sporting and Holiday gatherings.
Gift #5 – Give’em hell, you filthy animal
It is no secret that Kansas City needs depth up-front. Dangerous depth. Top teams have depth that can kill.
A versatile, pacey, TAM/DP level attacker is perhaps the gift that most desire for Sporting Kansas City. Here is where quality control becomes a must. Going “off-brand” ain’t gonna cut it here. Dear Mr. Vermes, Mr. Bliss, Miss Cameron… (oh, ok, I just realized former Sporting KC Assistant Director of Player Personnel Meghan Cameron moved on to Inter Miami back in September.) Edit: Dear Mr. Vermes and staff, Mr. Bliss, and Sporting owners: Please don’t go front line attacker shopping at Five Below.
Gift #6 – Oh what fun it is to ride in a full throttle open sleigh
Portland Timbers: “frankly incredible team speed”
NYCFC: “Multiple runners make it much harder for any defense. That, more than anything else, is NYCFC’s attacking ethos.”
Speed. It’s fun in a Ford; it’s fun in a Ferrari. It’s fun to watch. It is something that so few things in life are – a pure good.
Tactically, speed aides all areas of the field. The more speed Sporting has all over the pitch, the more numbers can get forward more easily, the more can recover defensively if needed, the more electrifying and dynamic is Sporting Kansas City.
Frankly stated... Speed is a gift that “keeps on giving the whole year, Clark”
So there it is. A list that will satisfy most Sporting Kansas City supporters and Sporting themselves. Ain’t it fun (and easy) to spend other people’s money?!!
What is your Holiday wish list for Sporting KC? Let us wish with you in the Comments.