Sporting KC had a remarkable turnaround in the second half of the season, securing a spot in the playoffs with a win over Minnesota United FC on Decision Day. The team’s success was fueled by key players getting healthy, including Alan Pulido and Gadi Kinda.
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 missing the entire 2022 campaign with knee injuries, these two players were integral to the team’s success.
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. 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, the team did not give up, and some players started to feel they were coming back to who they truly were as a team.