Posted November 08, 2012 on AP on Fox
Sporting Kansas City won the U.S. Open Cup, led the Eastern Conference from start to finish, and perhaps most importantly this season, energized an entire city that had grown accustomed to failure. Next season, the MLS club will try to take the next step. Sporting KC was eliminated 2-1 on aggregate in the Eastern Conference semifinals by the Houston Dynamo, the same club that kept them out of the MLS Cup finals a year ago. Despite dominating the return leg in the two-game series on Wednesday night, Sporting KC was only able to scratch out a 1-0 victory, not enough to send the team into the offseason. ''We're disappointed, and we should be, because we have the potential to be one of the two teams in the MLS Cup,'' said Jimmy Nielsen, whose exemplary play in goal made him a folk hero this summer. ''We had a great season, won our division. Unfortunately, Houston again.'' The fact that Sporting KC dominated the field Wednesday night was at least an appropriate way to finish off the season. The club rattled off seven straight victories to start the season and never wavered while maintaining the Eastern Conference lead into November. Along the way, the club qualified for the CONCACAF Champions League by winning the U.S. Open Cup, defeating three-time defending champion Seattle in a riveting final. It was played before a packed house at Livestrong Sporting Park, arguably one of the best stadiums in domestic soccer, and Sporting KC won 3-2 on penalty kicks to secure the trophy. ''We stayed atop the division for the whole entire season. We won the U.S. Open Cup. We did it,'' Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said. ''We did very well. We have a very good team.'' More importantly, a good young team. Graham Zusi emerged as potentially one of the linchpins of the U.S. national team in future years, helping the Americans matriculate through World Cup qualifying. Kei Kamara showed prowess for finding the back of the net, and Matt Besler earned stripes as a shutdown defender. Most of those pieces are expected to remain with the club, allowing players to grow together and continue the success. ''We have a great age group in this team,'' Nielsen said. ''The future for this team looks absolutely fantastic, and that should be a big motivation for us.'' So should falling short in the playoffs once again. Sporting KC won its second straight regular-season Eastern Conference title, only to come up short in its first playoff series. But along the way, the club packed its glittering year-old stadium with the kind of passionate soccer fans that the MLS is hoping to attract to franchises across the country. It gave the city a reason to cheer for the first time in years. The Royals haven't made the playoffs since winning the 1985 World Series and finished below .500 yet again. The Chiefs are off to a 1-7 start in another lost season and still have not won a playoff game since 1993, the same year that Major League Soccer was founded. Jerseys, scarves and all manner of garb appeared in sporting goods stores all over the city, often flying off shelves faster than merchandise for baseball and the NFL. ''We performed really well throughout the season,'' Kamara said. ''It's good for the city of Kansas City. We've done really well. We just wish we would have pushed it all the way.'' The club could use another precision goal-scorer to help finish off the numerous chances that were wasted this season. It also needs improved depth to sustain the rigors of a longer, more difficult and more grueling campaign with the addition of Champions League games. That work had already begun by Thursday afternoon. ''We're going to look at it and say there were some really good things, but we fell short of all of our goals,'' Vermes said. ''We feel that we're a very competitive team, and to get to the MLS Cup final, that was our goal. We fell short of that one. But again, I don't leave going, `Oh, what are going to do? We can't play.' It's not that at all. I feel very confident in the team we have.''

Butler wins first Silver Slugger award

Courtesy: Kansas City Royals KANSAS CITY, MO Louisville Slugger announced this evening that Royals player Billy Butler is the 2012 Silver Slugger Award winner at Designated Hitter in the American League. Butler becomes the seventh-different Royals player to win a Silver Slugger award (10th time overall), the first since third baseman Dean Palmer in 1998. The Silver Slugger award...

Butler named Royals' player of the year

KANSAS CITY, Mo. Can Billy Butler do even more offensively for the Royals? That's the question that always seems to come up when fans discuss the skill level and contributions of Butler, the Royals' lone All-Star from 2012 who also on Wednesday received the Les Milgram Royals Player of the Year award. It's a tricky question, of course, considering what a force Butler...

Royals trade away two relievers

In separate deals Thursday, the Kansas City Royals traded two relievers who spent most of last season in their farm system. Right-hander Jeremy Jeffress went to the Toronto Blue Jays in a cash transaction, while left-hander Tommy Hottovy went to the Texas Rangers for a player to be named and cash. Both pitchers were designated for assignment Nov. 2, removing them from the Royals...

Should Soria stay, or should he go?

Last week, the Royals declined closer Joakim Soria‘s $8MM 2013 option and invoked a $750,000 buyout, making him a free agent. This wasn’t a surprise move, seeing Soria spent 2012 recovering from Tommy John surgery and he’s not expected to pitch until May or June of 2013. The Royals would like to sign Soria to a lower cost deal with performance bonuses. But his agent, Oscar...

Royals Sign Three To Minor League Deals

KANSAS CITY, MO (November 9, 2012) — The Kansas City Royals announced today that the club has signed three players to minor league contracts for the 2013 season.  The club plans to announce Major League Spring Training invitations at a later date. Catcher Manuel Pina was re-signed by the Royals after appearing in 49 minor league contests for Surprise (R) and Northwest Arkansas...

Billy Butler Awarded Silver Slugger

Kansas City, MO (November 8, 2012) – Louisville Slugger announced this evening that Royals player Billy Butler is the 2012 Silver Slugger™ Award winner at Designated Hitter in the American League.  Butler becomes the seventh-different Royals player to win a Silver Slugger award (10th time overall), the first since third baseman Dean Palmer in 1998. The Silver Slugger award...

Royals trade Jeffress to Toronto

KANSAS CITY, Mo. The Kansas City Royals announced today that the club has traded right-handed pitcher Jeremy Jeffress to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for cash considerations. Jeffress, 25, was designated for assignment on November 2. The right-hander was 0-0 with a 6.75 ERA in 13 relief appearances for the Royals in 2012.

Butler Named 2012 Les Milgram Award Winner

Kansas City, MO (November 7, 2012) – The Kansas City Royals have announced that designated hitter Billy Butler has been named the 2012 Les Milgram Player of the Year.  The award was voted on by the Kansas City Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA). Butler, 26, earned his third Les Milgram Player of the Year award (also 2009 and 2010) after leading...

Should the Angels pursue Joakim Soria?

Ahhh Joakim, how you have been the source of many baseball fan boners across America. Your time with the Royals was nothing short of fantastically increderiffic. Four years of prime-time excellence, two years with sub 2 ERA's, two more below 3. 60+ innings of pure talent a season, a two time All-Star and easily one of the best reliever's in the game. Then 2011 went and happened...

Report: Red Sox ‘Checked in on’ Reliever Joakim Soria, Who Is Recovering From Tommy John Surgery

Joakim Soria is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, but that isn’t deterring from checking up on him. Jon Morosi of is reporting the Red Sox have “checked in on” him, although he wouldn’t be ready to pitch until late-May or June. A two-time All-Star, Soria is two years removed from his last All-Star season as closer for the Royals. That season, he compiled a...
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