If you guys aren’t sick of hearing how great your club and your stadium are, here is another account of the beauty of Sporting. On September 10, 2011, I was lucky enough to attend Sporting v. Houston at LSP. Below, I will give you my reviews of the team, the stadium, the supporters, and the experience in general. Why should you care? You probably shouldn’t. I do not write this as any kind of authority on anything but thought you might be interested in how an outsider viewed what was going on at your club.
First, a bit about me. I am Sounders season ticket holder (yes, we invented football, all live on yachts, and look down on all other fans of every other team all over the world). I am generally fond of Sporting (and the Wiz and the Wizards) due to having a friend in Kansas City and because of the style of ball that Sporting plays. When I came into town for a wedding, I immediately got tickets to go see Sporting and LiveStrong. On to the important things:
I will be the first to admit it: I was blown away by the quality Sporting displayed. The touches, flicks, passing, and finishing were much better than I expected. My only question is how the hell Sporting was in last place (I know, I know, ten game road trip and injuries, but still). I am no soccer genius so I will not get into tactics, etc., but two players really stood out to me. First, Teal. I knew he was good, but both of his goals were excellent finishes that a lot of forwards don’t finish off. Hopefully those goals get him rolling for you guys. Second, Roger Espinoza. I have not seen a lot of this player but came away from Saturday very impressed by him. His passing, possession, and tackling were all bright. If he can stay healthy, I think he can be a top midfielder in this league.
Warning: No judgment should be read into these words. I love anyone who supports their team, even Timbers fans.
I thought the supporters were solid. Your captains were hardworking, the chants were original, and the noise level was high. I liked how the songs have incorporated the Sporting moniker without completely leaving the Wiz and Wizards in the past. While changing team names is not the best thing to have to deal with, it does allow a lot of creativity in writing songs and the supporters certainly take advantage.
The one thing I was surprised by was the language in some of the chants. I am no shrinking violet and severely disagree with the notion of family friendly football but I am surprised the club has not come down on the language. I have a feeling that the league is going to be more and more involved on language issues (especially with the new NBC deal) and would expect that to become an issue in the next year or so for Sporting and the supporters.
There is nothing I can say about LiveStrong that hasn’t been said. Quite simply, it is the nicest sports facility I have ever seen. The sight lines, the closeness of the seating, the attention to detail, the technology, and on and on and on. It is brilliant. Two highlights for me: First, the soccer-playing bathroom signs. While this may seem strange, the bathroom signage demonstrates the commitment to detail that the club showed while building the park. They could have left the signs as plain and boring and no one would have ever noticed. Instead, they spent time and money to get unique and soccer related signs. It is one example of a hundred small details the park gets right.
The second gem is the supporters bar. What a facility! Tons of tvs showing soccer, lots of seating, and ample food and beer options that are quite affordable. The nicest touch: a 20 ounce Bud for $6.00. Granted, its not cheap in the outside world but, for stadium pricing, that is practically giving it away. In addition, the same beer is $8.50 in normal seating. That is a great touch from ownership and shows a commitment to the supporters that many groups do not get. I am truly envious of the supporters bar and wish we had a facility like that for the Sounders.
I hate cars. It is just a fact. I like to go to games, have a few beers, and not have to worry about driving home. That is not happening at LiveStrong. However, it is not the worst situation. At least when you get to LiveStrong, there are restaurants and tons of retail within walking distance. Compare that to, let’s say, Pizza Hut Park where there is very little within walking distance and it blunts the location issue. Besides, my friend tells me I am too sensitive to driving and that KC people are quite comfortable and used to getting out to that area.
Which brings me to a final issue: empty seats. The game was at 3 p.m. on a Saturday and there were lots of Sporting fans dressed up as blue seats. I was a little disappointed as I thought the attendance numbers had been quite high. However, again due to the stadium design holding the noise in, the atmosphere was loud and lively. I don’t know the dynamics of the attendance in KC but I would have thought a weekend home date would have been more popular.
There are a lot of other things I could say but this is far too long already. I apologize for any ignorance or mistakes in the writing. I had a great time visiting Sporting and feel that the club is one of the flagship clubs in MLS. I hope you enjoy the rest of the season, beat the hell out of the East, and that the Sounders beat you guys on November 20 in LA. Thanks for reading.