The year 2022 is coming to an end and it’s time to take a look back at my wishes for 2022. At the beginning of each year, I put my wishes for the new year out there. Come December I go back to look at them and see how my wishes did.
1. Silverware. No silverware was brought home for any of Kansas City’s teams this year. For as bad as the season was for Sporting KC, they made a semifinal in 2022. They fell in the semifinals of the US Open Cup on penalty kicks to the Sacramento Republic. For Kansas City’s other professional teams, the Kansas City Comets took the Florida Tropics to three games in their MASL semifinal series before falling in the game three mini game. The closest team to bringing home some silverware in 2022 was the Kansas City Current who made it all the way to the NWSL Championship game before losing 2-0 to the Portland Thorns.
2. No COVID related postponements/cancelations/forfeits in 2022. This wish came true as none of the professional teams in Kansas City lost a game in 2022 to COVID. That’s not to say that teams didn’t have issues though. In May, the KC Current were hit with a number of COVID cases in the squad and had to sign Jada Talley as a COVID replacement player ahead of their game in Los Angeles against Angel City FC. The Current for the game were without head coach Matt Potter along with four players and ended up losing 1-0 to the expansion side in the game.
3. More playing time for the kids. This one appears to have been a fairly good success for Sporting Kansas City in 2022. Felipe Hernandez, who turned twenty-four during the 2022 season was one of two players to appear in all thirty-eight of Kansas City’s games across all competitions. Other younger players who were regular contributors in 2022 were Marinos Tzionis, who in 2022 appeared in twenty-seven games and Cam Duke, who appeared in twenty-six both turned twenty-one this year. The minutes played for the two may have been a little lower than I’d have liked but the two were regular contributors. Kansas City had two young outside backs get plenty of time as well. Twenty-two-year-old, Logan Ndenbe started over half of KC’s games and played over 1,700 minutes. While nineteen-year-old Kayden Pierre made nine starts in his first full season with the first team. Overall, the youth were much more involved for Kansas City than in past years.
4. Peter Vermes uses more substitutions in 2022. Looking over FBref’s stats for 2022, Peter Vermes did technically use more substitutions in 2022. But based on his 2021 numbers it would have been hard to use less. Kansas City used 117 of their 170 available substitutions in 2022. That’s thirty-four more substitutions than he used in 2021 so that’s a fairly marked increase. Basically, Vermes averaged another whole substitution in 2022 compared to 2021. The bottom three in the league in terms of substitutions used were the same as last year with the Philadelphia Union and Minnesota United once again making up the other two teams in the bottom three in substitutions used. Kansas City did use more subs than both those teams, so technically they did move up the list. So, can we count this one as a success?
5. A U22 initiative player. Well Kansas City signed three of these ahead of the 2022 season, filling their allotted compliment of U22 players in 2022. The highlight may have been Ndenbe who started over half of KC’s games at left back, though he lost that spot late in the season to veteran Ben Sweat. Tzionis may have been the flashiest of the U22 signings showing a number of flashes of skillful, improvisational movement with the ball when he did come on. Tzionis played in twenty-seven games, six starts, but averaged just 31 minutes over his twenty-seven appearances. The third U22 player, Robert Voloder made twelve appearances, seven of them starts as he was mostly behind starters Andreu Fontas and Nicolas Isimat-Mirin at center back along with Kortne Ford much of the season.
6. Double digit goals for Pulido. Okay, I had to keep myself from laughing when I started typing up my review of this wish. KC announced just eleven days into 2022 that Pulido would miss the entire 2022 season following his knee surgery. What was more frustrating at the time of the announcement, and through the season until the acquisition of Willy Agada is that Sporting did not place Pulido on the season-ending injury list, opening up his senior roster spot, international roster spot, and some salary cap relief.
7. Salloi continues 2021 form, proving to be a consistent goal scorer. This wish probably fell somewhere in the middle and was hurt by the fact that Pulido did miss the entire 2022 season. Salloi finished the season as Kansas City’s third leading scorer with seven goals and added five assists. Johnny Russell and Agada with eight goals were the only two with more goals in league play than Salloi. He did add two more goals for Kansas City in the US Open Cup, giving him nine across all competitions in 2022.
8. Playoff push for the KC Current. This wish was a rousing success as the Current made it all the way to the NWSL finals, winning twice on the road as the five seed against the fourth seeded Houston Dash and one seeded OL Reign. It was certainly a massive turnaround year for the women.
9. The MLS Next Pro League proves to be a successful move for SKCII. So, the Team Formerly Known as Swope Park Rangers (TFKASPR) finished the 2022 season with nine regulation wins and one on penalty kicks. The nine regulation wins were as many as TFKASPR had in the 2020 and 2021 seasons in the USL Championship seasons combined. So, in that sense the move to the MLS Next Pro was a good move for Sporting. At the same time, the team still continued to struggle. As an example, they scored thirty-one goals in 2022, but thirteen of those thirty-one, forty-two percent came in just three games in 2022. Rauf Salifu was the team’s leading scorer with six, with all six of those goals coming in a four-game stretch in June and early July.
10. Comets make push to MASL finals. When I wrote this, the Comets were 5-0 on the season with a game against Baltimore that was being decided by the league. After the new year, the Comets went 8-9-1, with the game against the Baltimore Blast being declared a draw and each team getting one point. KC won just four of their final thirteen games as they seemed content to coast into the playoffs. KC finished as the three seed, needing the mini game to beat the six seeded Dallas Sidekicks. KC took the Tropics to the mini game before bowing out, but the club’s struggles in the second half of the season after the likes of Kyle McLagan and Matt Lewis departed for their outdoor teams, the ‘retirement’ of Kevin Ellis, and injuries led to a number of struggles for KC down the stretch.
11. World Cup qualification for the USMNT. The US made it to Qatar, finishing third in CONCACAF qualifying on twenty-five points going 3-2-1 in 2022 in qualifying and 7-4-3 over all of qualifying.
12. USMNT makes knockout round of Qatar 2022. Not even knowing if the US would qualify was one thing, but also not knowing who they would be grouped with in Qatar made this wish very open ended. The US ended up grouped with Wales, England, and Iran. Getting draws against the first two, the US needed a win against Iran to secure passage to the knockout rounds. A 1-0 win over Iran got the US through to a match up with the Netherlands. The Dutch were able to take care of business against the US, winning 3-1, sending the US home. But the US did make the knockout round, so this wish was successful.
13. KC picked to host games as part of the 2026 World Cup. Probably the biggest soccer news in Kansas City for this year, if not this decade, or even all time, came out on June 16th. FIFA announced the sixteen host cities for the 2026 World Cup to take place in the US, Canada, and Mexico. Kansas City is one of six cities grouped in the central region for the tournament. KC is grouped with Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Mexico City, and Monterrey. Obviously there’s still a lot of work that will need to be done by 2026, including work at Arrowhead to allow a larger field to be used, but the all-time attendance record for soccer in KC (52,424 KC Wizards vs Manchester United) and in the state of Missouri (54,184 Real Madrid vs Inter Milan in St. Louis) seem a good bet to fall in 2026.