During Sporting Kansas City's four-week stay in Walt Disney World for the MLS is Back Tournament, select players and staff painted a behind-the-scenes picture at life inside the bubble.
The end product was Sporting Diaries, a six part series brought to you by your local Audi dealers. Snippets of all six installments can be found below with links to the full diary entries.
"I thought the Black Players for Change demonstration at the beginning of the tournament was extremely powerful. Those guys did such a great job at organizing a powerful gesture that so many people had the opportunity to see. With these games being broadcast on huge stations like ESPN and FOX, hopefully we’re getting huge audiences as well. It made me proud of the black players in this league and their leadership to find actual change. And I truly believe that change is coming. I think we’ve reached a tipping point in this country, and the leadership that we have on this team and throughout MLS is special. I think a lot of ears and minds are starting to open, and I think that’s a very good thing."
"The day we trained on Daniel Salloi's birthday, a few of the players were doing interviews with Carter Augustine. I got called over for an actual interview, then they called Daniel over so that we could egg him. I don’t think Carter had planned many serious questions for Daniel, so I was just kind of standing behind Carter and making faces and playing around to distract him. While Daniel was laughing and focused on me, that’s when Johnny Russell and Khiry Shelton snuck up and egged him on his head. If I hadn’t done my part, he probably would have noticed and turned around. So I think I played a good part in that."
"We’ve played mini golf twice now, where we split up into two teams and go head-to-head. It’s me, Wan Kuzain and Cam Duke versus Daniel Salloi, Gianluca Busio and Jaylin Lindsey. My team won the first time we played and then they beat us in round two. We’ll have to settle it with game three before we leave.
"Mini golf has probably been my favorite free time activity we’ve done. Lots of laughs, too. The first time we went, Daniel’s very first shot on hole 1 took a few weird bounces and skipped into the pond. Later that night, Duke was about to take a shot to tie the game, and it was a really short, easy shot. He was kind of messing around and guys on the other team were trying to throw him off. He accidentally tapped the ball with his putter and everybody went crazy. It was pretty heartbreaking since I was on his team, but it was hilarious—one of those moments where you just had to be there."
"For my birthday on July 2, my family bought me a sketchpad and some pencils to bring down here to Florida. I obviously spend a lot of time at the hotel watching tape of games, preparing for opponents and planning training, but with some of the free-time opportunities I do have, I’ll get out my sketchpad.
"I started off by playing a little game with my daughter. She enjoys art and she’s taken a few art classes at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. She really likes drawing, so I started sketching a few Disney characters knowing that I was coming down to Disney World and knowing how much she liked Disney. I would draw Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Elsa from Frozen, any of the Disney characters I could get my hands on. But then I started branching into different aspects like drawing famous landmarks. I’ve drawn Notre Dame and L’Arc de Triomphe, which were based on a Christmas trip we took to Paris this past year."
"At night I enjoy talking with family back at home, especially FaceTiming my wife and 20-month-old boy back in Kansas City. My other free-time activity is running and working out. Running here in the Florida heat and humidity is a challenge, but we also have access to a few peloton bikes here at the hotel. That’s most definitely been a nice stress relief.
"My wife happens to be eight and a half months pregnant and has a due date of Aug. 5. The timing of the tournament for me personally wasn’t ideal. As everyone knows, the baby will come when the baby is ready. It’s definitely been an interesting time, but the excitement the players and my family have for me and my wife has been great."
"TikTok is a way to show that (assistant equipment manager) Sammy Jaksen and I do have fun. There’s a special relationship here. It’s work hard, play hard. To me, it’s an opportunity to show others why I like going to work. And it’s not stuff that we stage or make up. It’s really just the silliness that happens every day. It started with Sammy mispronouncing things or saying things that were just a little off. He kind of just makes up clichés and sayings as he goes, and it’s hysterical to me. It’s fun for us, plus we get a good response from it. We’ve had a lot of positive feedback, so it’s good to hear that people are liking it—at least for now."