How’d 2013 Treat ‘Em: 17-10-7 (W-L-T), 47 gf, 30 ga; 2nd in the West (not that they’re bothered)
To get something out of the way right off the bat, I don’t like this team. Sure, they’re good – that MLS Cup was totally deserved and the always make for a tough game – but they have a maddening penchant for pushing the definition of the word “physical.” By that I mean, they’re kinda bullies. But that’s the pisser for me: these guys have enough talent that they don’t need to be physical and, when they’re not bowling into people, these guys do play very nice soccer. Personal biases notwithstanding, KC had a great year, no question. New York won the Supporters Shield, but, I, along with most people (I think) still viewed KC as the East’s team to beat. Once they wrestled that big orange monkey off their backs (that’d be Houston, in the post-season, with the wrench), it was seemed it was only a matter of seeing who the West sent over for the annual game of MLS’s annual Red Rover. So, yeah, good team, lots of good parts; they’re named below…and I cut that list short to save on space.
Exciting Additions! – Sal Zizzo, Andy Gruenebaum
Tricky Departures… – Jimmy Nielsen (Vaya con Dios, Puma!)
Quality Parts: Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Benny Feilhaber, Oriol Rossell, Graham Zusi
It Gets Better If They Come Good: Chance Myers, Claudio Bieler, Dom Dwyer, Zizzo, C. J. Sapong
What I’d Expect Based on the Above:
The MLS Cup holders simply didn’t lose much. I keep reading about how big Nielsen was to their locker room, and that matters, but they have players all over to pick up that slack. That and a stern/scary father figure in head coach Peter Vermes, a man who looks like he cracks nuts with has friggin’ shovel jaw. So, they’ll be in every mix the league kicks up, for sure, and when you see a body flying out, the smart money says it’s KC who knocked them out. They have good players operating in a system that suits them, plus a handful of players (Zusi, Besler, Feilhaber) who are genuinely among the league elite: I’m not sure what there is to add…beyond a really good forward.
2014 Season Opener: @ Seattle, March 8 (momentarily, in fact)