Last week I had the opportunity to catch a Wednesday night Major League Soccer game between Sporting KC and the New York Red Bulls. My fiancé, some friends and I had a great time as we always do in Kansas City so I thought I would share this experience.
We arrived in the Children’s Mercy Park area about five and a half hours before kickoff. The stadium is literally right across the street from Legends outlet mall, and there were plenty of good food options so we decided to grab lunch at Arthur Bryant’s BBQ. The restaurant provided a perfect game day meal with delicious BBQ sandwiches and French fries (I definitely would recommend). We then wandered through the outlet mall which provided a solid shopping experience and an easy way to kill time until we could enter the stadium.
When we went back to my car to retrieve the tickets before going to the stadium, a black Jeep parked directly in front of us and THE Sydney Leroux Dwyer stepped out and went into a restaurant with her friend. Being the extroverted person I am, I decided to take my star-struck fiancé on a mission to take a photo with one of the best women footballers in the world. Mrs. Dwyer was extremely nice and didn’t mind taking a photo with us; I awkwardly told her how we were big fans and how much I also enjoyed watching her husband (Dom Dwyer) play. Finally, I informed her that we were going to the game that night and she said, “Me too” (as if that wasn’t obvious).
With our adrenaline pumping from meeting such an awesome player, we headed to the stadium for the pre-game festivities. Upon entering we were handed free Sporting KC sleeves, a free Red Bull after participating in a mini-game, and we joined a small pick-up game of Futsal. Kansas City has a delightful feeling of camaraderie and inclusion while in the stadium, and you can really tell the city loves its team. People go out of their way to acknowledge you, chants start early, and the energy in the stadium is felt the second you arrive. What I love about the stadium is the inability to find a bad seat. Even when sitting in the last row (which I have done before), it still feels as if you are on top of the goal and close to the field. Fortunately, this time we snagged seats at half-field 11 rows up.
It was an interesting game to watch as Sporting looked to continue their winning ways after a victory at Real Salt Lake. The Red Bulls suited up what appeared to be their second team, leaving out big name players like Sacha Kljestan and Bradley Wright-Phillips.
The game was a physical, sloppy affair that tested Sporting KC’s organization and mental-toughness. Benny Feilhaber, Matt Besler, and Dom Dwyer all had top class games at finishing with Dom Dwyer scoring two goals in a 2-0 win for the Wiz. I was impressed with the pace, the communication, and, as always, the atmosphere Kansas City had to offer. I would highly recommend taking in a game at Children’s Mercy Park if given the chance. The surrounding area, crowd atmosphere, and quality of play makes Kansas City a perfect place to take a day trip and watch a game of Major League Soccer.
This week, Toronto and Orlando look to stay atop the Eastern Conference while both Texas teams attempt to overtake their counterpart for first in the West. Sporting KC could postpone Orlando’s success with a win and possibly propel themselves past both Texas teams into first. Things are starting to heat up in the MLS, and it seems to be one of the most even seasons to date. It is sure that the intensity and competition will only heat up over the next few weeks, and it will be fun to watch as the 2017 season continues to impress.