Sporting KC ended the year on a strong note, winning 12 games and securing a spot in the playoffs with a victory over Minnesota United FC on Decision Day. The team’s second half of the season saw a significant turnaround, fueled by key players recovering from injuries.
Alan Pulido and Gadi Kinda, who missed the entire 2022 campaign due to knee injuries, were instrumental in 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 contributed 1 goal and 3 assists in the playoffs.
Despite their successes, Sporting KC faced challenges along the way. Manager Peter Vermes spoke about the disappointment of missing out on the postseason in 2022 despite signing Willy Agada and Erik Thommy, which inspired an unsuccessful playoff push. The scars from that time still lingered, making their journey to success all the more difficult.
Vermes highlighted getting the team to maintain their belief, commitment, and effort when results were not coming easily as a significant challenge. It required individual and team meetings as well as effective communication. Despite moments of doubt, the team persevered and some players started to feel they were returning to their true selves as a team.