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Perseverance and Patience – Learning from the MLS Cup

By Brian Nixon, Special to ASSIST News Service

KANSAS CITY, KANSAS (ANS) – I remember the first time I saw the Sporting Kansas City Stadium. My dad, who lived in Kansas City before his sudden death, wanted me to see the beautiful arena, an 18,400-seat marvel—one of the finest stadiums in the MLS franchise. I was impressed as dad drove me around, letting me to get out and observe the progress of the work. This was around 2010. I knew immediately I wanted to catch a match on its pitch, a wish I’ve yet to fulfill.

Sporting Kansas City Stadium

The stadium opened in 2011. Since it’s opening, Sporting Kansas City has made a mark on the MLS, providing some of the most entertaining football/soccer in the country. And the crowd to go with it! Kansas City has now become a soccer nation. My sister and brother-in-law—both baseball fans—tell me that the fans of Sporting Kansas City are some of the craziest and most dedicated in the city. As a football/soccer fan, this is music to my ears.

Now the fans of Kansas City must be jazzed (to use a popular idiom from the birthplace of jazz saxophonist, Charlie Parker. On Saturday, December 7th, Kansas City took home the MLS Cup, champions of 2013 MLS season.

Game MVP Aurelien Collins

As I watched the match, I couldn’t help but think both teams looked strong. Though the stats favored Sporting Kansas City: shots toward goal were 24 (KC) to 12 (RSL), and shots on goal were 5 (KC) to 2 (RSL). Yet, when all is said and done, it came down to a double overtime penalty shootout.

Fox New Kansas City summarized the game as follows: “It took 90 minutes of regulation, 30 more minutes of extra time, and 10 rounds of penalty kicks, all in extremely frigid conditions. But it was worth it for Sporting Kansas City and its hearty fans. Sporting KC beat Real Salt Lake in a penalty kick shoot-out and claimed its second MLS Cup championship.

“The championship match was tied 1-1 after 90 minutes. After two scoreless overtime sessions, it came down to an intense penalty kick shootout. It was tied 6-6 after nine rounds. In the tenth, MLS Cup MVP Aurelien Collin scored to give Sporting KC a 7-6 lead. Real Salt Lake’s attempt to tie and force another round of penalty kicks hit the crossbar.”

Sporting KC holding the trophy

MLS writer, Jonathan Kaplan, writes concerning the first two goals: “In hostile conditions and amid the coldest recorded game in MLS history (20 degrees), Real Salt Lake striker Alvaro Saborio silenced the crowd in the 52nd minute. The Costa Rican international took a no-look pass from Kyle Beckerman and beat Nielsen to the near post for his first goal of the postseason.

“Real Salt Lake had two more opportunities to double their lead. Beckerman hit a strike in the 62nd minute that hit off the far post and Morales beat Nielsen with a cheeky chip-shot in the 73rd minute but the ball hit off the far post and trickled across the goalmouth before rolling out of bounds.

“Sporting KC found their equalizer in the 76th minute and it came from the team’s leading goal-scorer in the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs. Collin out-jumped Chris Schuler to head a Zusi corner kick to the far post past Rimando. The goal was Collin’s third of the 2013 postseason, most among all MLS players.”

All of the drama in the game, particularly at the end—with the penalty shootout, reminded me that perseverance and patience pays off. Though the score stood at 1-1 in regular time, with Real Salt Lake having almost scored again, Kansas City stuck with it, preserving to the shootout. And then patience entered in the match, with both teams missing key penalty shots. Both teams had to demonstrate endurance, taming their wits and focus, concentrating on the task before them. And patience had its full effect for Sporting Kansas City when Real Salt Lake’s, Lovel Palmer—as reported by Jonah Freedman, “blasted his kick off the crossbar and harmlessly onto the turf, sending Sporting Park into wild celebration.”

MLS Cup: Sporting KC vs. Real Salt Lake

Hope faded for Real Salt Lake, but perseverance, patience—and a little bit of good old fashion luck—helped win the day for Sporting Kansas City. The trophy was theirs!

The Apostle Peter writes concerning perseverance: “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

As Christians, we are involved in a greater match than the MLS Cup, a match to grow in Christ-likeness by the power of the Holy Spirit. This match—as discussed by Peter—has a progression to it. It begins with faith (belief in Christ), moves to goodness (living a moral life), and then develops into an increase in knowledge (about Christ and His world). And because of the knowledge we now have as Christians—the understanding between right and wrong—we must use self-control in our lives, taking the side of holiness.

And then there in them middle of Peter’s list is the word, perseverance. It acts as the bridge between the truths that come before it, and the truths that comes after it. It is like the binding needed to glue the whole sentence together. For when we persevere—have patience in our lives by letting God work in and through us with faith, morality, and self-control—the natural progression will continue: we will grow in godliness, brotherly kindness (mutual affection) and in love. The progression of Peter’s description begins in faith, but ends in love. And this progression from one truth to the other calls for perseverance and patience.

Just like patience and perseverance worked in the MLS Cup, providing a victory for Sporting Kansas City, it will work in the Christian’s life, providing eventual victory, making us productive citizens in God’s kingdom of faith and love. As the Latin poet, Prudentius, wrote, “Patience is a virtue.” A virtue is a quality of integrity in a life, a characteristic of moral asset, a benefit of right living. We do well to seek virtues in our life, particularly the virtue of patience.

Like the team members of Sporting Kansas City had to put in hours of time, energy, and practice to secure the MLS Cup trophy, we Christians, do well to put in time, energy, and practice into the virtue of patience and perseverance. When we do, the victory of faith and love is assured, the trophy—or as St. Paul describes in I Corinthians 9, the prize—a crown—will be ours:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

“Forever” is a long time, and it takes patience and perseverance to get there. Run well, my friends.
See all ASSIST News articles at www.assistnews.net


This story is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of the ASSIST News Service or ASSIST Ministries.


Brian Nixon is a writer, musician, minister, and family man. You may contact him at www.briannixon.com

** You may republish this story with proper attribution.

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