Best of 2012: A tip of the hat to Celebration of the Year
MLSsoccer.com polled 20 of our editors, writers, videographers and statistics specialists to bring you the Best of 2012, running Dec. 17 through Jan. 2. Each day we'll hand out an award in a variety of categories culled from the storylines of MLS and US international players, including Biggest Controversy, Breakout Player of the Year and, via fan vote revealed on Dec. 31, the Moment of the Year.
Sporting Kansas City beat writer Steve Brisendine breaks down the dance moves involved in the Celebration of the Year, this year given to the Sporting Kansas City duo of Kei Kamara and C.J. Sapong from March 17.
Picture a couple of 6-foot-plus leprechauns in full soccer kit, dancing away like performers in a St. Patrick's Day parade.
Or just make it easy on your imagination and watch the video of 2012's Celebration of the Year, courtesy of Sporting Kansas City's Kei Kamara and C.J. Sapong. To get the full "You were there" experience, a bit of Guinness and cramming into a room with as many close friends as you can fit wouldn't hurt.
Sporting's winner wasn't just fun for the sellout St. Patrick's Day crowd that packed Livestrong Sporting Park for Sporting's 3-0 win over New England. It also made Kamara look prophetic, given the advance prep (and props) needed to pull off the performance after his putback made it 2-0.
After raising his traditional "heart-shaped hands" post-goal salute, Kamara gave a "Watch this, there's more" wave and walked past the north endline in front of the Cauldron, Sporting's rowdy supporters' section.
Sapong followed close behind ... and the next thing anyone knew, both were sporting bright green hats and step-dancing (or jigging, or something vaguely Lucky-Charmsish) with hands on hips and Sapong's tongue wagging.
"It was just something we wanted to do to get the crowd involved and in good spirit," Sapong said after the match. "It was a nice, little thing Kei and I came up with earlier this week."
They had some help, though. The third conspirator was kit man Michael Flaherty, who — at Kamara's request — had stashed the hats behind the end boards before kickoff.
Not everyone was in the St. Pat's spirit, though. Midfielder Graham Zusi — perhaps still smarting from his earlier caution for excessive celebration — snatched off Sapong's hat, threw it down and walked away. And referee Silviu Petrescu, while he didn't hand out any yellow cards to Sapong and Kamara, had some private words for Kamara as the two teams prepared for the ensuing kickoff.
“The referee came to me and said, ‘You know, you could get a card for that,’” Kamara said. “I said, ‘Oh, really? I didn’t know. [Author's note: Yeah, right.] It won’t happen again.'"
And maybe that particular Magically Delicious celebration won't. After all, it's been done now. But Kamara, the team's resident merry prankster, is probably already cooking up something for 2013.
2. Kei Kamara, C.J. Sapong, Matt Besler in sloooow ... mo ...
Oh, look, it was Sapong and Kamara again. Anyone surprised? . This time, after Sapong's pinpoint header against LA, they were joined by center back Matt Besler for a slowed-down celebration in which nobody really seemed to be sure of what was happening but everyone looked to be having a lot of fun.
3: ... and Steven Lenhart as Himself
Love him or hate him (Are there really any alternatives to those extremes?), you have to give San Jose's floppy-haired forward credit for his double dose of mop top after his stoppage-time equalizer against Chicago. Also good to know that Lenhart donning a Lenhart wig would not cause a rip in the space-time continuum.
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.