We now have eight Sporting Kansas City games in the books, or roughly a quarter of the way through the season. While we will know more in a month or two, I think it is fair to say we are starting to understand who this team is.
There have been teams that have changed massively throughout their seasons but that is the exception, not the norm. I still expect we see better results from SKC, but will it be enough to carry them into the playoffs? Who knows. Nonetheless, since I am an opinionated man and I get paid* to write about this, I am going to give a few reasons why I think this team could turn it around, and a few why they probably won't.
*Note: My payments are delivered in a manilla envelope, inside are crisp stacks of $500 Monopoly money bills. Yeah, that's right I get the orange monopoly money. Of note, the exchange rate between monopoly money and Garber bucks is surprisingly good.
Reasons This Team is Secretly Alright
The Kids Could Go Off
Younger players are notoriously inconsistent and we have quite a few of them that feel like they are just a little short of being the real deal. If Marinos Tzionis, Cam Duke, and Felipe Hernandez start banging in goals then we don't have to be great defensively to win. Tzionis in particular feels like he is right on the edge of lighting up the league.
Kinda Will Put The Team on His Back
Gadi Kinda being out has hurt SKC so much, and maybe this team is just one dynamic midfielder away from exorcising the yips right out of Daniel Salloi. Kinda, when he is locked in, is one of the most creative and quick-footed attacking mids in the league. So picture this he comes back and starts putting up assists and goals and everything starts clicking again.
This is Peter Vermes. He makes the playoffs.
Say what you want about PV, but his teams basically never miss the post-season. He is Mr. Reliable, and Mr. Reliable knows how to get his team into the playoffs despite slumps in their season. He is a stubborn SoB who can drag this team, through sheer force of will, into the playoffs kicking and screaming.
*Takes off the scary optimistic hat, puts on the comfortable hat of cynicism*
Reasons SKC Are Profoundly Screwed
Because Vermes Does Not Trust Young Guys
Sure “The Kids Could Go Off” but to do that you need to give them consistent non-garbage time minutes. Espinoza and Zusi are not the future, hell half of the starting lineup is on the wrong side of 30. Father time is unbeatable but for some reason, PV thinks his guys can just “try harder” and be forever young. Let's lose with an eye to the future at least.
Because Daniel Salloi is Cursed
Listen I know you don't want to hear this but CURSES ARE REAL!!! How do I know this to be true, because Daniel freaking Salloi did a no-look goal three years ago and the kid has one of the most devastating cases of the yips I have ever seen. Sure you might say last year he banged in goals constantly and listen, I hear you, but I have to say all the evidence points to him getting some temporary relief by using some voodoo doll shit to transfer his curse to Alan Pulido via injuries. Now he can't do that because Alan is already injured and it is dark day for him again.
If You Think This Slump Is Bad, Wait Until August
Normally, we come out of the gates hot. Then we run these “professional athletes” into the ground and curse the gods for the misfortune of them being tired and injured for unknowable reasons. This year, however... yeah that is still gonna happen. PV wants to run out the same guys. Every. Damn. Game. Outside of a couple of exceptions (midfield and left-back). This means sure they are slumping now but trust me there is a deeper darker pit called Sporting Flat.
This season is still young, which basically means the realm of possibilities from here is still large. SKC could and should get better... but by no means are they guaranteed to. Things can always get worse and hell they might. I personally felt encouraged by a lot of what I saw on Sunday against LAFC but it is going to take everyone on the team and staff to find another gear if they want to see the post-season.