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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sporting Kansas City: MLS Cup justified by penalties

Penalties have been called anti-football many times in the past. But it just so happens that once in a while the luck inherent in a penalty shootout goes the right way. That is what happened yesterday when Sporting Kansas City won the MLS Cup from the PK spot.

This was a justified win. Justified because the team was consistent throughout the season. Because the ownership has taking incredible strides in recent years with its new stadium, fan base and player development. It is a justified win for Peter Vermes, the first person to win an MLS Cup as a payer and as a coach.

MLS is building its tradition and doing so in small steps sometimes and in giant leaps in others. With KC you can make a claim for both. The team exited the cavernous realm of Arrowhead stadium only to be confined by the Community America Ballpark--a venue that held less than 12,000 spectators. But now they have Sporting Park and fill the stands frequently.

It doesn't stop there. Sporting KC has provided two of the more instrumental and versatile players in the national team player pool: Matt Besler and Graham Zusi. Without Besler the tie in Mexio was unlikely. Without Zusi Donovan's absence would have been far more significant and Mexico might have missed out on the World Cup.

Kansas City proved to be a complete team. They were consistent in the playoffs and throughout the season. They also had unexpected help in an Aurelien Collin that came through when the team needed a player--any player--to step up. From "old man" Jimmy Nielsen's timely saves, to Besler's buildup from the back, to Zusi's darting runs and Sapong's return to form, this was the team Real Salt Lake hoped it wouldn't encounter.

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