Sporting Kansas City’s 2018 campaign delivered thrills from beginning to end, packing entertainment, emotion and drama on a weekly basis as Manager Peter Vermes’ side ascended to the top of the Western Conference table and brought the MLS Cup Playoffs back to Children’s Mercy Park.
In a year chalk full of stunning goals, wild wins and momentous developments off the pitch, assembling the top 12 moments of 2018 was no easy task. There simply hasn’t been a dull moment over the last 12 months, which is why this season will be fondly remembered well into the future.
Nevertheless, SportingKC.com has taken its best shot at counting down the dozen moments of 2018 that stood out above the rest. The countdown will run from Dec. 20-31, beginning with No. 12 on Dec. 20 and culminating with the No. 1 moment of 2018 on New Year’s Eve.
For several years, Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes had visions in his mind of how the club’s new training grounds would look. The Sporting Club ownership group jumped into the planning phases of said venue back in 2012, aiming to build one of the best athletic training facilities on the planet.
It was an ambitious project, to be sure, but when the building and its surrounding fields were finally completed, Vermes was nevertheless blown away.
“You see the blueprints and the renderings and you have a vision, but seeing it and walking in here, it’s still hard to believe,” Vermes told the Kansas City Star on Feb. 5. “I’m still amazed every time I walk in here.”
Located a mile from Children’s Mercy Park and Wyandotte Sporting Fields in Kansas City, Kansas, Pinnacle officially opened in early February when Sporting KC trained at the $75-million, world-class venue for the first time.
Formerly unveiled as the National Training and Coaching Development Center, Pinnacle is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between a professional sports team (Sporting KC), a national sports federation (U.S. Soccer) and a sports medicine provider (Children’s Mercy). The state-of-the-art complex has welcomed thousands of visitors in 2018 and will continue to do so for years to come as a premier destination for the development of elite players, coaches and referees of all ages.
What makes Pinnacle one-of-a-kind is its details: cameras surrounding the three-field “super pitch” with audio and visual capabilities, ventilated lockers, check-in fobs for players that alert them to daily responsibilities, a stunning trophy wall and much more.
“As you can see, no stone has been left unturned,” Sporting KC defender Graham Zusi said at the time. “They thought of everything.”
Sporting KC welcomed U.S. Soccer, Children’s Mercy, MLS Commissioner Don Garber and a host of other dignitaries for the grand opening of Pinnacle on May 16. By then, the club had already begun leveraging the facility to their advantage en route to a record-breaking season that culminated in a first-place finish atop the Western Conference.
In addition to serving as the new training home of Sporting KC, Pinnacle accommodates the Children’s Mercy Sports Medicine Center at Village West and the U.S. Soccer National Development Center. Among Pinnacle’s numerous amenities are five full-size soccer fields, a cutting-edge sports performance lab, an expansive sports performance gymnasium and multiple spaces uniquely specialized for coaching education, including a two-story coaching pavilion. For more information and photos, visit PinnacleNDC.com.