Bet you didn't know Sporting Kansas City lost to the New England Revolution 2-0 last Saturday night in a Major League Soccer game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
Bet you didn't know that the American soccer league shows signs of growth as 14,806 fans showed up in the New England Patriots stadium configured for soccer to seat 20,000.
Bet you didn't know Sporting followed up last week's loss with a 2-0 win against the Columbus Crew on Sunday, the same day they<NO1><NO> received their rings as MLS champions a year ago.
Bet you didn't know that Eric Kronberg — raised in Bennett Valley, educated at Montgomery High and Cal — accepted one of those rings.
Bet you didn't know that Kronberg is now the starting goalie for Sporting.
"It was like one of those things where people would ask you what you want to be when you grow up," Kronberg said earlier this week, "and I'd say 'a professional soccer player' without really thinking about it.
"Well, it really happened."
It happened because Kronberg persevered. Now 30, he has lasted eight long years in the MLS background, until now. He toiled mostly behind Kevin Hartman and then starting and championship goalie Jimmy Nielsen, who retired during the off-season. When that moment was announced, Kronberg's moment arrived.
"It was a pretty exciting time," Kronberg admitted. "When Jimmy retired after the championship, I felt like I was the guy. And I went in and told them during the offseason that if I'm not the guy then I want to go elsewhere."
Well, now 30 years old and married with his first child, it turned out he was the guy that Sporting wanted and so far, so good. Really good.
His .86 goals against average headed into the weekend is the best among all MLS goalies who have played three or more games. And after Sunday, he has a league-leading four shutouts this season. He would have five, but last Saturday at New England, the Revolution scored on a misdirected kick in stoppage time against a Sporting defense playing a man down and then added a penalty kick goal for a 2-0 win.
Sporting is currently 4-2-2 and in a three-way share of the Eastern Conference lead.
"Eric has been very patient but more so he has always been a very team-oriented guy. Even when he had to sit behind some people, he always continued to keep a great attitude and he worked. I think that's one of the reasons why he's been given his opportunity," said Sporting manager Peter Vermes. "At the same time, while he's been able to see a lot of things and work on a lot of things, it has not had the same wear and tear on his body, which I think is really beneficial in the long run."
Kronberg, who tried baseball and basketball as a kid, gravitated to soccer because it was something he could play in the back yard. That led to high school soccer and several seasons playing for Santa Rosa United.