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03/06/2014
 
When you win the title it puts a target bigger than the United States deficit on your back. Sporting Kansas City in 2013 did just that by winning the 2013 MLS Cup at Sporting Park via penalties against RSL back in December. Now it comes to the question...what to do for an encore.

In 2012 Sporting Kansas City upgraded their year from a playoff appearance and Eastern Conference title from a year before to that of winning the domestic cup, the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, and with that entrance to the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League.

Now that the domestic pinnacle has been reached Sporting has a chance to do what the LA Galaxy did and DC United did, win back to back domestic titles. And possibly a continental title, the first since United in 1998. The team did lose captain Jimmy Nielsen between the sticks but with local boy Matt Besler the armband is with the right player to properly make sure that the club moves forward.

In terms of goals the acquisition of local boy Andy Gruenbaum will give a good competitive spirit to long time backup Eric Krongberg so as to give the club a good quality backup that can be able to play to a high level and not just be someone to fill in at the 3rd round of the Open Cup.

The remainder of the squad has not had any significant changes beyond moving Teal Bunbury to New England there has not been any loses which could upset the basket in terms of what happens going forward. But as the term goes, if you're standing still then you're falling behind. Sporting KC knows that and has been doing some business. Sal Zizzo, a true out and out winger, has been the exact kind of signing that the club needs.

The lack of width has been exactly what Sporting KC needed and lost when Kei Kamara made his move to England. Via his work in the preseason he should take off from the word go, like Carl Lewis. The options that he brings for the club will allow Sporting KC to be better suited to different ways to attack their opposition, something needed when you play in continental competition.

The full signing of Jimmy Medranda will give the squad some additional depth as well. His brief appearance in 2013 was hardly more than a cameo but the sheer fact that in preseason, like with Zizzo, he has done rather well and as the season progresses he will find his minutes and show how truly deep the squad is.

With the added pressure of playing against Cruz Azul in the quarterfinals, in addition to already being entered in the next competition the club is in a position where they can learn from all that comes from this initial quarterfinals against current league leaders in Mexico and progress as a club. Fact remains that in terms of continental experience Sporting KC is venturing into waters that no one on the roster has been to.

The quality of the squad is more than enough to win the league for a second time but beyond domestic honors Sporting has much to look forward to in terms of going forward as a club that as President Rodd Heineman has constantly stated is one that will win trophies.
 
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