Armchair Analyst: Matt Doyle

Armchair Analyst: SKC need to find the range | #MLSIsBack in 4 Days

It should be hard to complain for Sporting Kansas City fans. Since 2012 they've won three US Open Cups and an MLS Cup, and were Supporters' Shield runners-up twice. They've got the league's best record in the 2010s, and they've made the playoffs seven straight times. They've developed international players through the draft and bought a couple via the transfer market. They found a Goalkeeper of the Year on the scrapheap and rehabbed a Defender of the Year after half-a-decade of injuries.

They are always among the best defensive teams in the league, and when they're locked in they can/do smother just about anyone. They have a style and they execute it.

That, however, is not working as well as it did in the not-too-distant past:

Since 2014, Sporting have made a habit of hot starts and brutally cold finishes, generally running out of gas in mid-summer before limping to the end of the regular season and then out of the playoffs entirely within 90 minutes.

My rule of thumb is "any fanbase whose team wins a major trophy should shut the hell up and stop griping." (Yes, I do consider both the US Open Cup and Canadian Championship to be major trophies). But in SKC's case... I mean, I get it at least a bit. Winning the USOC and spray-painting that wall is thrilling, and is one of the league's best traditions. Losing the Knockout round and going home with nothing is demoralizing and one of the league's most utterly hilarious traditions if you live anywhere outside of the Missouri River valley. It just keeps happening.

And look, there's not much left to say about KC that hasn't been said a million times before. This is a team that defends like champions, creates just enough, and can't finish worth a damn. So here's what their 2018 season is resting on:

  1. Can Ike Opara stay healthy?
  2. Can Yohan Croizet replicate (or even better) Benny Feilhaber's creative output?
  3. Can anybody finish?

Even if Nos. 1 & 2 are answered in the affirmative – definitely not a given – No. 3 is just sitting there, staring SKC fans in the face right up until the bitter end. For four straight years the answer has been "no" and thus SKC have seen their season come to an early end. If it happens again, the griping will be real and sustained, and 100% justified.