November 30, 2023 1:03 am

Sporting KC had a strong showing to close the year, going 12W-7L-5D and securing a spot in the playoffs with a win over Minnesota United FC on Decision Day. The team’s performance in the second half of the season was a significant turnaround that was fueled by key players getting healthy.

Alan Pulido and Gadi Kinda, who missed the entire 2022 campaign with knee injuries, were integral to the team’s success. Pulido’s 14 goals and 3 assists earned him the title of 2023 MLS Comeback Player of the Year, while Kinda, also recovering from injury, contributed 1 goal and 3 assists in the playoffs.

However, the road to success was not without its challenges. Manager Peter Vermes recalled the disappointment of watching the 2022 postseason from home, despite the signings of Willy Agada and Erik Thommy, which inspired an unsuccessful playoff push. The scars from that time still lingered, adding an extra layer of difficulty to the team’s journey to success.

Vermes explained that getting the team to maintain their belief, commitment, and effort when results were not coming easily was a significant challenge. It involved a lot of individual and team meetings, as well as effective communication. Despite moments of doubt,

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