KANSAS CITY, Mo. – First time playing for a team with a winning record. First significant silverware. A single-season high for goals scored.
Jacob Peterson's seventh season in MLS has been a special one for the Sporting Kansas City winger, and he isn't ready for it to be over yet.
"I don't think we're done. I think that's the big thing here," Peterson told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. "We talked about our goals before training today. We've accomplished a lot of those this season, but we still have a couple left."
And with midfielder Paulo Nagamura expected to miss at least Sunday's first leg of the East semifinals with a sprained left ankle, Peterson could find himself playing a significant postseason role for Sporting.
"That's up to the coaching staff," he said. "They know what kind of player I am, what I can bring and what other guys can bring, so it's up to them. I'm ready for whatever role is going to be mine for the push. I haven't been in the playoffs in six years, so I'm ready to taste that again and hopefully have some success."
Peterson reached the Western Conference final in 2006, his rookie season with Colorado, even though the Rapids finished the regular season under .500. But until this year, his first with Kansas City after stints with Toronto FC and San Jose, he hasn't been back to the playoffs.
And despite Kansas City's success this season – a U.S. Open Cup title and a second straight finish atop the East standings – it hasn't been an easy year for Peterson, who has four goals in league play and one in Cup action.
He was a regular starter by midseason, with three goals across all competitions in July, before going down with a right shoulder sprain in a 2-1 loss to Columbus on July 28. The injury sidelined him until mid-September, causing him to miss five league matches and the U.S. Open Cup final.
He heads into the postseason on a pair of strong outings, though. He started Sporting's scoreless draw at New York on Oct. 20, providing pressure at both ends of the pitch, and came off the bench to score his fourth league goal – a Goal of the Week-nominated strike – in last Wednesday's 2-1 home win over Philadelphia.
"You could see when he came in the game the other night, he was back to the form from when he kind of went on a tear," manager Peter Vermes said on Tuesday. "You can see that he's back to that – and it took him a while, coming back from the injury that he had."
After the Philadelphia match, Peterson joked about having "a whopping four goals" this year. Still, he's glad to be back in form.
"It's always good to score in your last game before the playoffs," he said on Tuesday. "I think it's more important is that as a team, we're on a roll. If we can keep what we're doing, I think we can have some success."
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.