For all intents and purposes, 2015 was a successful year for Sporting Kansas City. The club added to its trophy case with a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title and advanced to the playoffs for a fifth straight time. Multiple players enjoyed breakout seasons, while Manager Peter Vermes became Kansas City’s all-time winningest coach.
Before the calendar turns to 2016, it’s time to reflect on the notable achievements Sporting Kansas City and its players compiled during the club’s 20th season in Major League Soccer.
2015 Team Milestones
Sporting KC scored 64 goals across all competitions in 2015, second most in club history behind the inaugural 1996 campaign (71).
Sporting KC became the fourth MLS team to win the U.S. Open Cup three times (Chicago 4, Seattle 4, DC 3). It also became the fifth team to lift three major trophies in a four-year span since 2005 (Seattle, DC, LA, Columbus).
Sporting KC made its fifth straight postseason appearance, tied for the longest streak in club history (2000-04). Only Seattle (7), LA (7) and New York (6) have longer active streaks.
Sporting KC won 14 home games across all competitions in 2015, tying the club record.
Sporting KC set club records with a nine-game home winning streak (May 3 – July 21) and a 16-game home unbeaten streak (March 8 – Aug. 15) in all competitions.
In a U.S. Open Cup win over FC Dallas on July 1, Sporting KC reached the six-goal mark in a competitive match for the fifth time in club history — and the first time since 2005.
Sporting KC became just the 10th team in MLS history — and the third club since 2003 — to have three players reach double-digit goals in a single regular season (Dom Dwyer 12, Benny Feilhaber and Krisztian Nemeth 10).
Sporting KC went unbeaten in four regular season trips to the Pacific Northwest in 2015, going 2-0-2 with shutouts in every match.
In a 4-3 victory over Vancouver on Aug. 15, Sporting KC's three late goals marked only the second time in MLS history that a team which trailed by two goals in the 80th minute came back to win in regulation.
Peter The Great
Peter Vermes became the winningest coach in club history, ending 2015 with 90 regular season wins and 113 victories across all competitions. He entered the year trailing Bob Gansler in both categories.
Vermes’ 90 regular season victories are eighth most in MLS history and fifth most among active coaches.
Benny Feilhaber set a club record with 20 assists in all competitions, while his 32 combined goals and assists in all competitions were second most in team history behind Preki (36 in 1996).
Feilhaber set MLS career-highs with 10 goals and 15 assists during the regular season, becoming the third player in club history to reach double digits in both categories (Josh Wolff, Preki). His 15 assists were second most in MLS.
Feilhaber recorded five assists in Sporting KC’s run to the U.S. Open Cup title, becoming the club’s all-time assist leader in the tournament.
Krisztian Nemeth’s 23 combined goals (16) and assists (7) in all competitions were the most by a Sporting KC newcomer since the inaugural 1996 season.
Nemeth scored five goals in Sporting KC’s run to the U.S. Open Cup title. His five goals in the tournament are tied for the most all-time in club history.
Nemeth became the first MLS Goal of the Year winner in club history for his stunning solo effort against the Portland Timbers on Oct. 3.
Nemeth earned eight caps for Hungary in 2015 and helped the Magyars qualify for UEFA Euro 2016, the nation’s first European Championship appearance since 1972.
Tim Melia became the first goalkeeper in MLS history to record six shutouts in his first nine league matches for a new team. He ended 2015 with a 15-8-5 record in all competitions and made two saves in a penalty shootout win over the Philadelphia Union in the 2015 U.S. Open Cup Final.
Melia, who became the fourth Sporting KC player to win MLS Comeback Player of the Year, finished third among goalkeepers with a 72.6 save percentage. He also ranked in the top 10 in wins, shutouts and goals against average.
Dom Dwyer’s 34 regular season goals since 2014 are the most over a two-year span in Sporting KC history.
In a 6-2 U.S. Open Cup win over FC Dallas on July 1, Dwyer became the first player in Sporting KC history to score four goals in a competitive match. It was the first hat-trick scored in Sporting Park’s five-year existence.
Dwyer scored five goals in Sporting KC’s run to the U.S. Open Cup title. His five goals in the tournament are tied for the most all-time in club history.
Other Standouts in 2015
Matt Besler led MLS with 217 clearances and ranked sixth with 124 interceptions.
Kevin Ellis’ five MLS goals (including postseason) were the most by an MLS defender in 2015 and the second most by a defender in a single season during the Opta era (2011-present), trailing Aurelien Collin’s six in 2013.
Soni Mustivar led MLS during the regular season with 6.1 interceptions per 90 minutes played. The defensive midfielder recorded 20 interceptions in a 1-0 win at Vancouver on July 12, a single-game MLS record during the Opta era (2011-present).
Graham Zusi became the second player in Sporting KC history to tally at least five assists in five straight regular seasons for the club.
Sporting KC’s three rookie draft picks — Connor Hallisey, Saad Abdul-Salaam and Amadou Dia — played a combined 56 regular season matches, a club record for appearances by first-year draft picks and the most in MLS. The trio’s 28 starts and 2,817 minutes played were also most in MLS among all rookie draft classes in 2015.
In a 1-0 win over Portland on Oct. 3, Sporting KC started three rookie draft picks in an MLS match for the first time since 2007.
Shout-out to #SKCNation
Sporting Park — to be named Children’s Mercy Park beginning Jan. 1, 2016 — has sold out 70 straight MLS matches dating back to April 2012. The venue has averaged 105 percent capacity over the last five MLS seasons, drawing more than 19,400 fans per league match (seated capacity of 18,467).
In 2015, Sporting Park set single-game U.S. Open Cup attendance records for the round of 32, round of 16, quarterfinals and semifinals.
Roughly 1,000 Sporting KC fans traveled to Philadelphia for the U.S. Open Cup Final on Sept. 30 at PPL Park — one of the largest Roaddrons to date.
Looking Ahead to 2016
Dom Dwyer ranks fourth in Sporting KC history with 45 goals in all competitions. If he scores at least eight goals in 2016, he will pass Josh Wolff (46) and Davy Arnaud (52) into sole possession of second place behind Preki (81).
Matt Besler ranks seventh in Sporting KC history with 219 games played in all competitions. He is 11 appearances shy of tying Jimmy Conrad for sixth, 16 shy of tying Chris Klein for fifth, and 35 shy of tying Preki for fourth.
Graham Zusi ranks third in Sporting KC history with 44 regular season assists, one shy of tying Chris Klein for second behind Preki (98).
Entering his eighth MLS season, Peter Vermes will tie Bob Gansler (1999-2006) as the club’s longest-tenured manager.
Sporting KC would set a new club record with its sixth straight playoff appearance in 2016.