By Clemente Lisi – NEW YORK, NY (Aug 19, 2019) US Soccer Players – MLS is loaded with notable defenders. Among the best, and most consistent, over the past decade has been Seth Sinovic. The Sporting Kansas City left back was raised in Kansas and has been a part of the team since 2011. Over that time, Sinovic helped the team win the 2013 MLS Cup and three US Open Cups.
Sinovic played college soccer at Creighton and was drafted by the New England Revolution in 2010. Waived by the Revs a year later, his MLS career was in real doubt after going on trial with Real Salt Lake, but not offered a contract. After his time with RSL, Sinovic signed with Sporting KC on May 10, 2011.
Fate was again on Sinovic’s side after Sporting KC left him exposed in the 2011 MLS Expansion Draft, where he was selected by the Montreal Impact. Five days later a trade sent Sinovic back to Sporting KC. His career thrived in Kansas under coach Peter Vermes, helping the team capture the 2013 MLS Cup. He was one of seven Sporting KC players to score in the shootout to defeat RSL for the title 7-6 after the tense final had ended 1-1 after overtime.
Sporting Kansas City has been one of the best teams in the Western Conference over the past few years. Alongside a backline that has featured another mainstay in Matt Besler, the team has made the playoffs every year since 2011. That was the same year the old Wizards rebranded into Sporting KC. It was also Sinovic’s first season at the club. Last year, Sinovic was again a regular in the Sporting KC backline, started 21 games out of 25 appearances in all competitions. This season, the 32-year-old Sinovic continues to be a defensive mainstay as the team continues to battle for a playoff spot.
We caught up with Sinovic, where the defender discussed what his team is doing to make the playoffs, the toughest strikers he’s ever faced, and what advice he’d give to a child looking to make it as a professional soccer player.
This is your ninth season with Sporting Kansas City, where you are playing for a team located in the same place you grew up. What does it mean to be part of this team and for this long?
I think it’s special for a lot of different reasons. I don’t think you see it too often, not only in soccer but in professional sports where you play for one team for as long. To be able to do it in my hometown, before my friends and family, on a regular basis is pretty incredible. It’s very special and I am very lucky to be in the situation I’m in.
You helped Sporting KC win an MLS Cup and three US Open Cups. Which of these four titles means the most to you?
I thinks MLS Cup means the most. I think that’s the hardest one to achieve for us – not to discount the U.S. Open Cup trophies – but when you have a few of them it makes the MLS Cup that much more special. Hopefully we get another one before my time is done.
You guys are fighting for a playoff spot at the moment. As the league grows, more teams fight for a spot in the postseason. What has been the team’s biggest obstacle this year?
I think there are a lot of obstacles. We lost a little bit of rhythm in the beginning of the year and had a few injuries. Now that everyone is coming back, I think we’re starting to get the rhythm back and everyone is gelling a little bit better and hopefully we make a run near the end.
The fans in Kansas City have been great over the last few years. How did the city become such a great place to watch a soccer game?
Kansas City has always been a very passionate sports town, with the Royals and Chiefs and all the college sports teams, and the Wizards back in the day. It’s always been a hot spot for passionate sports fans and I think the organization and ownership really honed in on that. It was something that was really important to them when Sporting rebranded and took over the opening of a new stadium. I think it’s been a culmination of a lot of things – investment from the ownership, an already-passionate fan base in Kansas City and that we’ve been successful for as long as we have.
Which striker has been the toughest to defend in your MLS career?
I’ve got two. Robbie Keane is probably one of them. He’s probably the best player I’ve ever had to play against in terms of making runs off the ball, so you always have to be focused and aware of where he’s at. Carlos Vela is probably the other one. He’s one of the best players I have ever played against on the ball as far as 1 v.1 defending. So I’d say these two guys.
You had some ups and downs early on in your career. What advice would you give to a young boy or girl looking to make it as a pro?
First and foremost, work hard. Work ethic is the most important when it comes to making it in anything, not just sports. Second thing I would say, especially at a younger age, is play as many sports as you can. I think that it really helps you, not only figure out what you really love and enjoy playing the most. Every sport provides different benefits for soccer. I think every sport I’ve ever played in, I take little things from that sport or I’ve grown as a soccer player because of little things that I learned and improved on in other sports. Skills, how your body moves and things like that. So I’d say play every sport and enjoy it.
Clemente Lisi is a regular contributor to US Soccer Players. He is also the author of A History of the World Cup: 1930-2018. Find him on Twitter:http://twitter.com/ClementeLisi.
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Photo by Fernando Leon - ISIPhotos.com