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“In the Box”: Release is upon us! (And some predictions and TBT staff measures of success)

Let the games begin.

SOCCER: NOV 22 MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Round One - San Jose at Sporting KC Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2021 Sporting Kansas City season is upon us!

The day you get that new car. The first step into the theater near midnight to see the movie for which you have been waiting. The first time you are freed of stupid grammar rules... I digress...

The last second of a wait for that first time you, well, for all those amazing first times...

Release is here! The 2021 Sporting Kansas City season is upon us!

Get all the latest news and updates from The Blue Testament here and here!

And here are some predictions and thoughts from TBT staffers on what success is for Kansas City this season.

“In the Box” Predictions – write them in stone… or sand. Your choice.

MLS Regular season finish: 3rd in the West (behind Los Angeles FC and Portland Timbers)

Team MVP: Johnny Russell – it is kind of odd how sometimes we can take a player like him for granted. Yah, his goalscoring faded at the end of 2020, but nothing else did. No taking his scoring and assisting abilities and his always giving his all for granted.

Leading scorer: Johnny Russell – it is his contract year and gravity will free him and provide for him as Alan Pulido, Gadi Kinda, and Gianluca Busio pull defenders away and find Russell in open space or in combination. Of course, that works the other way too…

Offensive player: Alan Pulido – he will have a strong year. I’m thinking 10-12 goals… The Sporting KC awards givers always spread the love.

Defensive player: Tim Melia – if he gets a stronger team defense in front of him (and I think he will), Melia can concentrate more on fine-tuning other parts of his game.

Newcomer of the year: Remi Walter – he will get plenty of minutes to show his abilities, which he appears to have plenty of; however, it just may be those inherent traits that make him the player Sporting needs.

Rookie of the year: Wilson Harris – he has shown at every level that he can score. Here is to him begin given the opportunity to be Pulido’s backup.

Comeback player of the year: Tie. Andreu Fontas and Graham Zusi. Both have lots to prove. Both are quality. Both are hungry. And in a tight 34 match schedule, both will be needed.

Player’s player: Roger Espinoza – I know it is not an award Sporting KC gives out. It is one from the old high school coaching days. And it was always the most revered. It goes to that player who epitomizes the work ethic and character that the club or team aim to have. Mr. Espinoza should be on his fifth year winning this award. At least.

Predictions from @TheBackpost

Leading scorer: Alan Pulido

Offensive player: Gianluca Busio

Defensive player: Andreu Fontas

Comeback player of the year: Fontas

Newcomer of the year: Remi Walter

Rookie of the year: Wilson Harris

TBT Staffers give their measures of success for Sporting Kansas City in 2021

From Chad Smith (@PlayFor90)

At a bare minimum, Sporting KC need to make the playoffs. The last time they didn’t (2019) a minor riot started a group (admittedly minority) of fans called for Vermes’ head. In addition to making the playoffs, I’d settle for at least two of the following:

  • A deep playoff run (Conference Finals) or a Trophy (even if the US Open and Leagues Cup aren’t worth as much).
  • Meaningful progression for the majority of the Homegrown players. Some of them will be asked to step up for the first team and lets hope some of them do. For the ones that don’t for the first team, I hope for lots of SKC II minutes and lessons learned there.
  • Busio being sold for a high seven-figure number OR signing a new contract (U-22 Initiative?) to stick around until he is sold.

From Thad Bell (@TheBackpost)

The first level of success for me is they need to keep me entertained and invested. That implies a certain level of competence, they need to look good, play hard and be competitive in most if not all games. This is the base level.

Next I want them to be competing for a top spot in the Western Conference, and do a little damage in the Leagues Cup and Playoffs.

On top of that, score some pretty goals, have a Homegrown player breakout and surprise the league.

If they can do that, I will consider it a success. Of course, going to MLS Cup and Open Cup finals would really make me happy as well. Ultimately, success will be a full stadium of fans. Win, lose or draw.... To be there with the no fear and no limitations. That would be the real success.

Let us hear your predictions or measures below.