“They are dreadful. They are horrible. They are just awful. They’re pathetic. I’m just treating them like we treat everyone else in this town. That’s what they want. They’ve
got a major-league facility now and they’re big time now. Somebody’s got to say it. This little feel-good, I love soccer ain’t getting it for me. That pathetic problem they are putting out there on the pitch right now is just terrible – mind-numbingly bad and boring.”
Kevin Kietzman, after watching Sporting Kansas City’s home opener at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park last June, 810 AM
GH: KK ripped Sporting KC last June like they had drafted their entire roster from a collection of former Nebraska football players and immediate members of Jay Nixon’s family. And his harsh words were well earned and accurate. So much so, that they prompted the best phone call to a sports talk radio program in 2011. It is easy to forget the problems with Sporting back earlier this summer now that they are playing Sunday for a chance to make the title match. But back in June, here is how Robb Heineman, one of the team owners, responded to Kietzman’s verbal trashing…
“I can’t agree with you more about the performance on the field last night. It was
atrocious. It was a perfect night right up until we kicked off. … I absolutely agree with the standard that you hold us to. If that’s the sort of stuff we’re going to put on the field, people shouldn’t come out and watch. Period. It was bad.”
Robb Heineman, member of Sporting Kansas City’s ownership group, 810 AM
GH: I wrote the following back in June after hearing Robb’s call to Kietzman: Heineman was listening to KK’s afternoon show and called in to respond to Kietzman’s critical comments about his team. It was the kind of stuff you NEVER hear from a representative of a professional franchise, let alone one of the owners. Refreshing isn’t a strong enough word to describe Heineman’s reaction to media criticism. How about ground-breaking and inspiring?
“I can just tell you that it won’t be for lack of effort. We will do everything we can to get this thing righted.”
Robb Heineman, responding to Kietzman’s question of what he was going to do about fixing his team, 810 AM
GH: Here we sit, five months later, and the proof is in the success of his team. Heineman and his ownership group didn’t offer excuses or hide in Notevenclose, Arkansas. They rolled up their Plaza-bought shirtsleeves and got dirty fixing their investment. How else do you explain the incredible excitement this group of local businessmen have
brought to Kansas City?
“Without Lamar and Clark Hunt, there wouldn’t be soccer in America, and there certainly wouldn’t have been the Kansas City Wizards. But because they didn’t live in the
community, it was difficult to get them to apply the resources and the time to be able to deliver some of the things this [Sporting Kansas City] ownership group has been able to deliver.”
Don Garber, MLS Commissioner, in a conversation with The Star’s Sam Mellinger, Kansas City Star
GH: So living in the community is a positive if you want to grow your franchise’s success within that community? Imagine that. Somebody send a text to Dallas and Bentonville – “We need your help. Things not going real well. Wish you were here.”
“All of us [including The Clarks and the Glasses] have a little different vision. Is one better than the other? No, I don’t think so. But we do understand we have the ability to be
more innovative because our league’s young.”
Robb Heineman, Kansas City Star
GH: The Sporting Kansas City ownership group is new to their task. They are not unlike Lamar Hunt in his early days as an AFL owner – when I’m sure Lamar was full of excitement over his new team. Sporting’s owners held their fantasy football draft in their new stadium and projected their draft picks on the video board. How cool are these guys? My hope is they remain innovative and a bit “out there.” We have enough old-school thinking here in KC with the Chiefs and Royals. It is a pleasure to see Sporting’s
boys-but-men enjoying be owners rather than hiding from the task.
“We’re still a fledgling league. Clark Hunt, they [the Chiefs] need to be more cautious about some of the things they do. Quite frankly, we don’t.”
Robb Heineman, in an interview Wednesday with Nick Wright, when asked about not being as buttoned down as the NFL, 610 AM
“We sat out there an hour before the game and it was just brutal! Rain, wind… I was hoping it wouldn’t hurt the crowd [turnout] and it didn’t.”
Jake Gutierrez, on the rotten weather for Sportings’ match against Colorado Wednesday night, 810 AM
GH: I had to attend a four-hour musical workshop Wednesday night with our youngest son. As we walked to the parking lot just before 10 PM, the rain and wind from the north destroyed my sad excuse for an umbrella. After sneaking peeks at Twitter all night for Sporting updates, I could only imagine how it must have felt to be out in that weather the last three or four hours. Soccer is a young person’s sport. I would be interested to
know the average age of those inside Livestrong Wednesday evening. I am guessing it was under 30.
“They have to be some of the best fans in the city for any sport.”
Jake Gutierrez, on the rowdies that make of Sporting’s famed “Cauldron” at Livestrong, 810 AM
GH: What fan base has the best niche group of crazies? Is it the Cauldron? Mizzou’s Antlers? That newspaper-shredding bunch of Jayhawk students inside Allen Fieldhouse? How about the mass hysteria K-State fans create inside the Lair of The Glare? Do
the Chiefs and Royals have any group to rival these maniacs?
“When things become cool, do they become uncool?”
Nate Bukaty, fearing that the coolness of Sportings’ popularity along with a seat in The Cauldron will fade as the team moves more mainstream, 810 AM
GH: Well, the word “cool” has been around longer than The Fonz. I think The Cauldron and Sporting have a chance to rate a thumbs up for quite some time.
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