You've probably heard by now that our very own Major League Soccer team, Sporting Kansas City, has made it to the MLS championship game, called the MLS Cup. The game will be played against Real Salt Lake (pronounced ree-AL) at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan., on Saturday afternoon.
Sporting KC last played in a MLS final in 2004, losing to D.C. United. Kansas City, then known as the Wizards, won the MLS Cup in 2000.
Back then, there was arguably little notice of the Wizards' win, even in a city starved for a winner. But fast forward to 2013, and things are a little different.
Kansas City's soccer fever has been rising, thanks to a successful rebranding, shiny new stadium and a winning record.
In addition, Sporting Park hosted the MLS All-Star Game this summer, drawing soccer fans from around the world to Kansas City and unofficially introducing the city as a true soccer town.
With a winning home team and with predictions that 2014 is poised to be the year for soccer in the U.S., now is the time to get in the know. Here's our six tips for getting on the Sporting KC (and general soccer fandom) bandwagon:
- Soccer fans wear scarves.
The tradition comes from Great Britain in the early 20th century. Fans needed to stay warm at games, and made scarves with team colors and crests. Here's a cool Sporting KC scarf that pays homage to the two Kansas Cities.
- The field is called "the pitch."
Also a European term. It originates from a saying used to indicate setting up a spot, like, "pitch a tent."
- There are two halves.
Soccer games are played in two 45-minute halves.
- The main supporter base for Sporting KC is called "The Cauldron."
The Cauldron is a group of hardcore Sporting KC fans that have a club. They organize events, watch games and tailgate together. They also have a special section at Sporting Park, also called the Cauldron.
- Sporting KC fans make a lot of synchronized noise.
Songs for the kickoff, songs for a corner kick, motivational chants. Check here for lyrics and videos of songs you need to know.
- Sporting KC has several Kansas City locals on the team.
Starting local players are Matt Besler from Blue Valley West and Seth Sinovic from Rockhurst High. Local players are a big point of pride, and one of CEO Robb Heineman's priorities is to cultivate local talent.
After you have these basics under your belt, you are well on your way to informed Sporting KC spectatorship. So get a scarf, find a bar (or a ticket) and start believing.
And, for those of you who are seasoned Sporting KC fans, share additional tips in the comments, or participate in this week's Tell KCUR question about rooting for Sporting.