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 ...