What we learned about this year’s Sporting KC squad from their home opener win [with photos]

Near the end of Sporting KC’s 1-0 win in its home opener against Houston, Dynamo defender Tim Parker threw up his hands in frustration.

The veteran Parker is a big man with flaming red hair, so his gesture caught the crowd’s attention, but he probably wasn’t alone on his side. This Sporting KC team is nettlesome and persistent—the type of team that drives opponents batty.

Sporting has a veteran squad, fielding the oldest starting lineup in the league. Not only is Sporting manager Peter Vermes the longest-tenured manager in MLS history, but defender Graham Zusi has played longer with one MLS team than any player in history.

Houston was coached by a longtime former Sporting player and assistant, and the Dynamo players seemed well-prepared. But there’s a big difference between knowing what your opponent is likely to do and stopping them.

Sporting was able to keep relentless pressure on the Dynamo defense until something leaked through. That methodical pressure offense makes for a squad that’s satisfying for spectators, and the friendly, family-oriented tailgating scene around Children’s Mercy Park is especially appreciated with Royals baseball delayed a few weeks.

Photographer Jeremey Theron Kirby was on the field, snapping shots at the game, which you can see below.

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