Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday After Stats

Sporting KC won their 100th away game in all competitions.

In the 24th minute, Seth Sinovic hit 10,000 minutes played in league play for Sporting KC, he finished the game with 10,066 minutes played.

Sinovic made his 143rd start in all competitions, tying him with Michael Harrington for 14th on that list.

Matt Besler made his 184th appearance in all competitions for KC, breaking his tie with Matt McKeon for 8th place on that list.

Graham Zusi started his 145th game in all competitions, breaking his tie with Josh Wolff for 12th on that list.

Sporting Get Off the Mark

It wasn't a pretty game last night at Yankee Stadium between Sporting KC and New York City FC, but KC made an early goal from Ike Opara stand up for their first win of the season. The game should have brought back some not so good memories to KC fans watching the game take place in a baseball stadium. Even though the stadium is much bigger, the size of the field looked no different than the pill box that KC played on at Community America Ballpark for three years.

KC set out to try to immediately take advantage of the small field with their long throw-ins. Through the first three games of the season we hadn't seen a lot of the long throw, but KC was using it a lot last night. In the 10th minute after a long throw by Matt Besler, the ball fell to Jalil Anibaba who got enough of a shot to get the ball on goal, but Josh Saunders grabbed the ball in front of Dom Dwyer to settle play down. Two minutes later though Saunders could do nothing as KC took the lead. Again off the long throw Besler put it right on the head of Opara who thundered it past Saunders and into the net giving KC the 1-0 lead. In the 32nd minute that could have made it 2-0 as Jimmy Medranda picked out Benny Feilhaber with a nice through ball, Feilhaber flicked the ball out wide to an open Graham Zusi who skied is effort well over the bar. An effort that Zusi would want back as he only had Saunders in front of him from 18 yards out. Less than 10 minutes later Zusi's night would be done as he pulled up lame with a hamstring injury. A big blow to KC who will now likely be without Zusi for a couple weeks as he recovers from the injury.

NYCFC had injury issues of their own before the game even started as designated player; David Villa was a late scratch from the lineup. Already down another forward in Adam Nemec, who was away on international duty New York was very thin up top and it showed as they struggled to create chances with Opara and Besler both doing very well to shut down the New York attack. In the 43rd KC again had an opportunity to add to their lead and it again came off a Besler long throw. The initial ball was cleared just out of the box, but Paulo Nagamura knocked it back to the top of the 18 where it fell to Medranda who fired an effort just over the goal.

The second half lacked in real quality chances, but each side did create some. KC created a couple in the matter of a couple minutes, first a nice through ball for Dwyer, but it ran a little long and Saunders was quick off his line to tackle it away. The best chance came in the 64th minute after some very good combination play in the middle of the field the ball got played wide to Jimmy Medranda who dribbled into the box and slid a ball to Bernardo Anor near the six yard box, but Anor's one time effort skied over the bar.

New York controlled much of the second half, and the game as they searched for the equalizer. NYCFC thought they'd earned a penalty kick in the 70th minute as referee Edvin Jurisevic called a hand ball in the box. Sporting immediately surrounded Jurisevic, unhappy with the call, pleading with him to confer with his assistant referee. After a conversation, Jurisevic waived off the penalty and gave a drop ball in the box.

Late in the game NYCFC picked up the pressure searching for an equalizer. In the 83rd minute a nice cross into the box found its way all the way through to Andrew Jacobsen at the back post, but Jacobsen appeared surprised that the ball made it all the way through and scuffed his shot wide of the net. In stoppage time New York had another glorious opportunity as Jeb Brovsky played a cross right into the middle of the box for an unmarked Ned Grabavoy but he put his diving header wide of the net. A minute later the final whistle blew and KC were able to walk out with all three points.

Wizards Man of the Match - Ike Opara - Scored the winner and was a rock in central defense for KC last night. Him and Besler controlled the middle of the defense shutting down Patrick Mullins and Javier Calle.

Honorable Mention - Matt Besler

Player Ratings
- Marin 6, Sinovic 7, Opara 8, Besler 8, Anibaba 6, Carrasco 6, Nagamura 6, Feilhaber 6, Zusi 5, Dwyer 4, Medranda 5. Subs Anor 4, Peterson 4, Mustivar 5.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Match Day 4: Still Searching for a Win

Sporting KC are back on the road for their fourth game of the season as they travel to New York City to take on the expansion New York City FC at Yankee Stadium. Kansas City is still searching for their first win of the season after two home draws and a road loss to Dallas. New York on the other hand is actually unbeaten on the season with a 1-0-2 record after a 0-0 draw on the road last week against Colorado.

NYCFC is 1-0 on the season at home, winning their home opener two weeks ago 2-0 over the New England Revolution 2-0 on goals by David Villa and Patrick Mullins. Villa, the Spanish international is someone that KC is going to have to account for the entire time he's on the field, shutting him down will be a key to KC's defense. The rest of NYCFC is struggling with some injuries and call ups though (like much of MLS). They'll be without forward Adam Nemec (who has started all three games) and Khiry Shelton (who has played in all three games) who are both on international duty. In terms of injuries, the likes of Sebastian Velasquez is out for the game. NYCFC's defense, which has only allowed one goal in three games, may have to do some shuffling as well. Josh Williams,who started the first two games at right back for New York is questionable still with health concerns because of a blood clot. His replacement, Shay Facey, on loan from parent club, Manchester City FC was red carded in their draw with Colorado. If Williams is unable to go NYCFC may be doing some shuffling of their back line.

KC has some international absences of their own, with two starters, Roger Espinoza and Marcel de Jong, and as well as reserve defender Erik Palmer-Brown away on international duty. In de Jong, KC has a ready made replacement in Seth Sinovic, the starter at left back for the last three plus years for Kansas City, so KC should miss little there. With Espinoza that are a few other questions to ask. KC could insert Servando Carrasco, who came in for Benny Feilhaber late in the 0-0 draw with Portland or they could insert Haitian international, Soni Mustivar, who came into the game for Espinoza last week. I'd lean towards Vermes going with Mustivar, mainly because of the way that Peter Vermes has had Carrasco play in preseason. The former Seattle and Houston man spent most of the time playing deep in the midfield for KC. Mustivar seems likely to play further up the field. That won't be what KC fans want to hear as most would like to see a defensive midfielder inserted and Feilhaber move up to his more traditional attacking midfield role. Unfortunately for fans, I don't see Vermes moving him up, Feilhaber's new role is the deep lying playmaker. Feilhaber's deep play play though has really affected KC's offense, as KC's offensive players had yet to score a goal this year.

Anibaba - Opara - Besler - Sinovic
Mustivar - Nagamura
Medranda -Dwyer - Zusi

Number to Remember - 3 - That's the number of shots on goal that Dom Dwyer has had this season for KC through three games. That average of one shot on goal a game half a shot on goal per 90 minutes less than he last year, and has yet to score a goal this year.

Key Match Up - Ike Opara and Matt Besler vs David Villa - The Spanish international is a handful to deal with, he's going to get his chances, but the goal for Opara and Besler is to limit those chances and keep him from getting clear looks on goal against Luis Marin.

PREDICTION - Traditional strong starters, Kansas City is in very unfamiliar waters as a team, they've picked up just two points on the season through three games, and are winless in seven straight across all competitions since their 2-0 win over Chicago back on October 10th. KC actually has a good record all time against expansion sides, going 6-3-2 against expansion teams in their first meeting against them since 1998. For this game though, it's going to be a question of whether KC's offense can step up, they lead MLS in shots with 45, but have only scored twice, only five teams have scored fewer (three of those five have played one less game). That's only a 4.4% conversion rate of their shots. For a team that wanted to prove themselves this year, and show that the back half of the 2014 season was behind them, they're not doing a good job of it.

The small field tomorrow in Yankee Stadium should bring back memories of the field at CAB for those that attended games at the then Wizards temporary stadium. The low camera angle of the game will bring back similar memories as well. Unfortunately for KC they don't have much of an advantage of experience on the small field any more as only Graham Zusi and Matt Besler are available of players who have extensive experience at CAB. The shorter field though should lend itself very well to the long throw, and if Besler or Sinovic can get a nice ball into the box KC could steal at least one goal on the set play. With the lack of offensive spark this team has shown though I'm not sure KC can grab all three points tomorrow.

SKC - 1 (Dwyer)
NYCFC - 1 (Villa)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Braithwaite Charged with Assault

Former Missouri Comets' defender, Andre Braithwaite has been officially charged with a Class A misdemeanor of Assault in the Third Degree by the Jackson County prosecutor for his actions after the Comets 10-7 loss to the Baltimore Blast that ended the Comets season. After the final whistle while Baltimore defender, Pat Healey was talking with Comets midfielder, Josh Gardner, Braithwaite walked up to Healey, put his hand on the back of his head and headbutted him. Healey suffered a gash above an eye that required five stitches to close.

The quotes from Independence police that were made after the event occurred made it sound like Independence police and Jackson County prosecutors hands were tied because the event occurred on the field, but it appears that is not the case and things will move forward.

When the Comets were reached for comment regarding the charges, the Comets said that they did not have one since the player had been released by the club.

While they may not want to comment on the charges against Braithwaite they may not be able to avoid a comment on this news that came out with the charges. According to the report, Baltimore owner, Ed Hale says that the Comets are culpable for the actions of Braithwaite and said he would be looking to file criminal and civil charges against the Comets owners.

To me that seems like that would be hard to prove. Braithwaite didn't have a history of behavior like this and it'd be hard in my opinion to make that argument, but I'm not a lawyer. I've also never heard of an incident where an owner has sued another in the same league for an action that took place on the field. I mean there have been instances of an owner suing another owner or suing their league, but this I haven't, I guess we'll see what comes of it.

#TBT Kansas City's Worst Start to an MLS Season

With Sporting Kansas City off to their worst start to a season since the team started 0-3 in 1999, I figured I'd use this week's Throw Back Thursday to take a look at the start of the 1999 season and how Kansas City got to the point in that season of starting 0-3.

To get to the start KC had in 1999, we first need to look at the end of the 1998 season. To close out the 1998 season, the KC Wizards won just two of their final 10 games, going 2-8 with one shootout loss in that stretch (sound familiar? KC went 2-1-7 down the stretch in 2014). KC ended up losing their final three games, all by shutout, 1-0 to the Fire, 1-0 to Dallas, and 2-0 to San Jose. Kansas City finished bottom of the Western Conference, five points out of a playoff spot.

In the offseason, Kansas City made a big move, trading away MLS Best XI member, Mark Chung and goalkeeper, Mike Ammann to the NY/NJ Metrostars in exchange for US national team veterans, Alexi Lalas and Tony Meola. At the time both teams had to have felt good about the move, NY/NJ got themselves a very good midfielder and a goalkeeper who did quite well for KC in the 1997 before having a down 1998. KC meanwhile got two of the most recognizable US Soccer players of that time in Lalas and Meola, so hopes were renewed and high for the 1999, especially with the addition of 1990 World Cup veteran, Chris Henderson as well. Unfortunately, for both teams actually, things don't always turn out as planned as 1999 was a disaster for both.

The season took a big blow just days before the season started, Meola tore his ACL in practice (while playing in the field) and had to have an arthroscopic ACL reconstruction done that put him out for six months. On top of that, his back up, Chris Snitko hurt his back and would miss the first two games of the season. In their place, Kansas City brought in unknown Cesar Delgado for the season opener against the Dallas Burn in Dallas. Relatively little is known about Delgado, even by the club, for years his number had been represented as ?? on rosters because his actual number wasn't known/remembered. Needless to say the opener didn't go well as Delgado and the KC defense gave up four goals as the team fell in the opener 4-0. Once the team got back to KC, I remember hearing stories that the next day at practice, Delgado didn't practice with the team, instead they had him sit inside and watch the tape of the game in Dallas. Delgado was unceremoniously waived by the club and the team started their home opener against the Chicago Fire with veteran David Winner in goal. Winner had been in MLS since its inception, mainly as a backup, spending time with Columbus, New England, Chicago, and Miami before coming to KC in the 1999 season. Winner would go on to play in eight games for KC, but the opener against Chicago saw Winner give up three goals as the Fire won 3-0, putting KC at 0-2 and stretching their goalless streak to five straight games.

For the third game of the season, Kansas City had Snitko back and able to play, so he got the start ahead of Winner, but the losing streak continued as KC lost 1-0 at home to the New England Revolution. At this point the Wizards hadn't scored since the 80th minute of the team's 5-1 win over the San Jose Clash in the fourth to last game of the 1998 season, a span of 550 minutes as the team headed into their fourth game of the season against the same Clash team.

In the game against the Clash, Kansas City found themselves with a man advantage early on after San Jose's Caleb Porter (now Portland's coach) was sent off just after the half hour giving about 60 minutes to play with the advantage. KC couldn't take advantage of it though, and fell behind with a goal just before half time by Ronald Cerritos, who caused KC all sorts of problems throughout his MLS career. As the game rolled on it looked like KC was going to be shutout for the seventh straight game. In the 87th minute though, Chris Brown was able to get down the line, past his marker and roll a shot towards the far corner that was just a bit too far in front of Henderson, but the ball rolled into the net tying the game, and ending KC's shutout streak at 637 minutes. The game ended up going to a shootout where Cerritos and Eddie Lewis both scored while Nino Da Silva, Preki, Paul Wright, and Mo Johnston all missed (all had their efforts saved except Preki who put his effort wide). KC did catch a bit of a break in the shootout, Snitko got sent off during the shootout for a handball outside the box. Referee Kevin Stott though incorrectly allowed KC to bring in Winner to finish out the shootout.

After the game, things really came to a head as Meola and head coach Ron Newman traded jabs in the media with Meola saying that Newman didn't prepare the team to play San Jose during the week before the game, and Newman responding, calling out the goalkeeper for speaking publicly about it and stating his disgust with the comments.

On the surface, the quotes from Meola would seem to point towards a coach who has lost his locker room when players are that critical in the media about the coach. And sure enough, Newman "resigned" from his position later in the week. Newman was replaced by Ken Fogarty as the team's interim head coach. Fogarty was in charge of the club for 3 games, going 0-3 (1 a shootout loss), getting shut out two times before new head coach, Bob Gansler was hired. In his first game, Gansler led KC to its first win, 2-1 over the LA Galaxy. The season as a whole though didn't go well for KC, they finished the season 8-24, second worst in the league, just ahead of the previously mentioned Metrostars.

Hopefully KC can reverse the fortunes for their second worst start in team history here quickly. Below are the highlights of Newman's last game in charge, the 1-1(0-2) shootout loss to the San Jose Clash.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Jerome Signing with San Antonio? - Former SKC Wizards Update

When the recent international rosters were announced for the upcoming international break, former KC defender, Mechack Jerome was named to Haiti's roster for their friendly against China. In the announcement it said that Jerome, who last we knew was without a club, was signed by NASL club, the San Antonio Scorpions. Jerome has been on trial with the Scorpions, but I can't find any official word on his signing. Here's the rest of this week's update.

Active without a club or unknown
Federico Bessone
Bobby Convey
Mechack Jerome
Will John
Michael Kafari
Neal Kitson
Jonathan Leathers
Nelson Pizarro
Ivan Trujillo
Konrad Warzycha

Davy Arnaud - DC - Started and played 90 minutes in DC's 2-0 loss to New York.
Teal Bunbury - New England - Out injured.
Aurelien Collin - Orlando City - Started and played 90 minutes in Orlando's 1-0 loss to Vancouver.
Luis Gil - Salt Lake - No game this week.
Michael Harrington - Colorado - Started and played 90 minutes in Colorado's 0-0 draw wtih NYCFC.
Jack Jewsbury - Portland - Started and played 90 minutes in Portland's 0-0 draw with KC.
Eddie Johnson - DC - Out on leave.
Kei Kamara - Columbus - No game this week.
Chris Konopka - Toronto - No game this week.
Eric Kronberg - Montreal - Not eligible for Montreal's 2-0 win over Alajuelense. Dressed but did not play in Montreal's 0-0 draw with New England.
CJ Sapong - Philadelphia - Out injured.
Khari Stephenson - San Jose - Did not dress in San Jose's 2-1 win over Chicago.
Tyson Wahl - Columbus - No game this week.
Sal Zizzo - New York - Started and played 65 minutes in New York's 2-0 win over DC.

Stefan Antonijevic - Tampa Bay - No game until 4-4.
James Marcelin - Fort Lauderdale - No game until 4-4
Rauwshan McKenzie - Atlanta - No game until 4-4.
Kyle Miller - Atlanta - No game until 4-4.

Christian Duke - Oklahoma City - No game utnil 3-28
Brian Fekete - Austin - No game until 3-28
Adnan Gabeljic - Sacramento - Started and played 83 minutes in Sacramento's 4-2 loss to Seattle.
Cyprian Hedrick - Oklahoma City - No game until 3-28
Alex Martinez - Charlotte- No game until 3-27
Victor Munoz - Arizona - No game until 3-28
Tony Rocha - Austin - No game until 3-28
Michael Thomas - Oklahoma City - No game until 3-28
Yomby William - Richmond - No game until 3-28

Jamar Beasley - Ontario - Offseason.
Adnan Gabeljic - St. Louis - Offseason.
Josh Gardner - Missouri - Offseason.
Pat Healey - Baltimore - Offseason.
Mike Jones - Dallas - Offseason.
Michal Mravec - Tacoma - Offseason.
Boris Pardo - Wichita - Offseason.

Korede Aiyegbusi - Auerbach - Germany - Started and played 82 minutes in Auerbach's 1-0 win over Viktoria Berlin.
Scott Angevine - Vasa - Finland - No games until 4/12
Vicente Arze - Blooming - Bolivia - Did not play in either of Blooming's games.
Claudio Bieler - Quilmes - Argentina - Came off the bench and played 28 minutes in Quilmes' 1-1 draw wtih Newell's Old Boys.
Omar Bravo - Chivas - Mexico - Came off the bench and played 9 minutes in Chivas' 2-1 win over Chiapas. Started and played 77 minutes, scoring a goal in Chivas' 1-0 win over Toluca.
Reinaldo Brenes - Saprissa - Costa Rica - Dressed but did not play in Saprissa's 1-0 win over Cartagines. Did not dress in Saprissa's 4-0 win over Santos de Guapiles.
Mitchell Cardenas - Atlético Coatzacoalcos - Mexico - Lost 9-0 to UAEM Potros.
Sunil Chhetri - Bengaluru - India - Started and played 90 minutes in Bengaluru's 1-0 win over Salgaocar.
Jorge Claros - Qingdao Jonoon - China - Started and played 90 minutes in Qingdao's 2-0 win over Wingdao Hainiu.
Eloy Colombano - AD Berazategui - Defeated Excursionistas 3-0.
Daneil Cyrus - Ha Noi T&T (W Connection) - Vietnam (Trinidad) - No game until 4/3
Toni Dovale - CD Lugo - Spain - Started and played 88 minutes, scoring a goal in Lugo's 3-2 win over Deportivo Alaves.
Pablo Escobar - Cúcuta Deportivo - Colombia - Did not dress in Cucuta's 2-1 loss to Atletico Bucaramanga. Started and played 90 minutes in Cucuta's 0-0 draw wtih Alianza Petrolera.
Herculez Gomez - Puebla - Mexico - Came off the bench and played 20 minutes in Puebla's 2-1 loss to Pumas.
Jermaine Hue - Harbour View - Jamaica - Defeated Reno 2-1.
Jeferson - Boavista - Brazil - Did not dress in Boavista's 2-0 loss to ABC. Came off the bench and played 30 minutes in Boavista's 4-0 loss to Bonsucesso.
Peterson Joseph - Azam FC - Tanzania - No game this week.
Igor Juliao - Fluminense - Brazil - Dressed but did not play in Fluminense's 1-1 draw with Tigres do Brasil.
Carlos Marinelli - Universidad San Martin - Peru - Did not dress in San Martin's 2-1 win over Cienciano.
Igor Kostrov - FK Kyzyl-Zhar - Kazakhstan - No game until 4-4.
Neven Markovic - Servette FC - Switzerland - Dressed but did not play in Servette's 0-0 draw with Wil.
Yura Movsisyan - Spartak Moscow - Russia - Dressed but did not play in Spartak's 1-0 win over Torpedo Moscow.
Lawrence Olum - Kedah FA - Malaysia - No game this week.
Akeem Priestley - Sheikh Russel KC - Bangladesh - Offseason.
Pablo Punyed - Stjarnan - Iceland - Defeated Thor 1-0.
Oriol Rosell - Sporting Club de Portugal - Portugal - Dressed but did not play in Sporting's 4-1 win over Vitoria Guimaraes.
Soony Saad - BCC Tero (loaned fromBEC Tero Sasana FC) - Thailand - Defeated Chamchuri United 3-1.
Peter Schmetz - Wuppertaler SV - Germany - Drew 0-0 wtih SF Baumberg.
Yann Songo'o - Blackburn - England - Dressed but did not play in Blackburn's 1-0 loss to Brighton.
Martin Steuble - Ceres-La Salle - Philippines - Defeated Stallions 3-0.
Milos Stojcev - FK Sarajevo - Bosnia - Came off the bench and played 22 minutes in Sarajevo's 1-0 win over Borac Banja Luka. Came off the bench and played 20 minutes in Sarajevo's 2-0 win over Velez.
Matt Taylor - Saarbrücken - Germany - Started and played 89 minutes in Saarbrucken's 1-0 win over Nottingen.

Espinoza and Honduras Find Themselves in a Hole

The week of international matches for Sporting KC players did not get off to a good start. Roger Espinoza were in French Guiana to take on their national side in the Gold Cup playoff. The two teams are playing a home-home schedule for the final spot in this summer's Gold Cup.

Honduras got off to a good start as Jerry Bengston got a goal in the 18th minute to take a 1-0 lead. From there though things went down hill. A pair of goals in the 25th and 27th minute put French Guiana on top with Marvin Torvic finding the net off a corner kick and Sloan Privat finishing off a low cross. Privat finished off the scoring in the 62nd minute scoring his second on a long cross.

Sporting's Espinoza started the game for Honduras and played the first 65 minutes before making way for Andy Najar as Honduras tried to chase the game. Honduras will now need to over come a two goal deficit on Sunday at San Pedro Sula or else they'll miss out on qualification for the Gold Cup. The winner of the series will face off against the USA, Panama, and Haiti in Group A.

Here are the highlights from the game.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Conflicting Stories on van der Vaart

Over the past two days, a pair of conflicting stories have come out regarding Sporting KC and their potential new designated player, Rafael van der Vaart. The Dutch international has been linked with a summer move to Kansas City once his contract expires with German club Hamburg.

Yesterday, KC Star beat writer, Sam McDowell provided an update on the situation saying that Peter Vermes and SKC were still in contact with van der Vaart, but that the two had no movement in regards to a new contract. Peter Vermes, Robb Heineman, and Mike Illig met with van der Vaart after his club played Eintracht Frankfurt in Bundesliga action. In the article though, Vermes claims that "there is nothing happening at the moment."

Then today came a story from that was picked up by Univision about KC's pursuit of van der Vaart. The article claims that the deal to bring van der Vaart to the US is done and that the 32 year old will sign a two and a half year contract with the club. The only quotes in the article are old ones from Heineman referencing the fact that van der Vaart is unlikely to come until the summer when he'd be available on a free transfer unless Hamburg were to release him early the same way that Wigan did.

In response to this latest story today, McDowell took to Twitter today to explain that nothing had changed from his reporting the day before regarding van der Vaart's status on signing with Sporting KC. For what it's worth, I put more faith in the reporting of McDowell than I do That's not to say that I don't think a deal will get done, just that I believe McDowell's sources on where things stand right now.

With the way that KC continues to play right now, the van der Vaart move makes more and more sense for KC. Vermes seems dead set on keeping Benny Feilhaber in that deep lying playmaker role, which has reduced his role in the offense. KC's passing from the midfield in the final third has really lacked this year with Paulo Nagamura, Roger Espinoza, and even Krisztian Nemeth filling in at the advanced role. Another playmaker on the field in front of Feilhaber would help to release some of that pressure that is currently on the attacking midfield position. My early concerns about his health, fitness, and defensive play are still to be answered though.

Lopez Loaned to OKC

Sporting Kansas City has announced the first player that they have loaned to USL affiliate club, the Oklahoma City Energy. KC is sending third year pro, Mikey Lopez to OKC to begin the season with the Energy. OKC kicks off their season on Saturday with a game against in-state rivals, the Tulsa Roughnecks.

Lopez appeared in eight MLS games last season while splitting time between KC's two affiliates, Orlando and OKC. Those were his first MLS appearances for the club, having appeared in one US Open Cup game in his rookie campaign. He is currently still a Generation Adidas player, meaning his salary does not count against the cap for KC. But with this being his third season, this is going to be a big one for him to prove that he still deserves to have a spot on this team. That'll likely mean needing to have a big season this year, whether that's in Oklahoma or in KC.

Don't expect Lopez to be the only player to go on loan though, I expect a few others to eventually make their way there. KC's entire 2015 draft class could eventually go to OKC, but Saad Abdul-Salaam, Connor Hallisey, and James Rogers would likely be the favorites to go on loan. Amadou Dia could also be a possibility once Chance Myers returns and is able to go, especially if Jalil Anibaba does well.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday After Stats

The two points through three games is the fewest KC's had through three games since they had 0 points through three in the 1999 season.

In the 90th minute, Matt Besler moved past Jack Jewsbury and into 7th place for minutes played in league play for KC. He finished the game with 13,276 minutes played.

Besler made his 183rd appearance in all competitions for KC, tying him with Matt McKeon for 8th all time on that list.

In the 7th minute, Graham Zusi moved past Michael Harrington and into 12th place for minutes played in all competitions. Zusi finished the game with 13,360 minutes played.

Zusi started his 144th game in all competitions for KC, tying him with Josh Wolff for 12th all time on that list.

Roger Espinoza made his 116th appearance in league play for KC, breaking his tie with Jose Burciaga for 20th all time on that list.

Dom Dwyer made his 50th start in all competitions for KC, he's the 53rd player to hit that mark for KC.

Sporting's Defense Cleans Up, but Offense Still Lacks in 0-0 Draw

Sporting Kansas City is off to their worst start to the season since 1999. Last night at Sporting Park made it three straight to start the season without a win as they played the Portland Timbers to a 0-0 draw. The defense stepped up against a Portland team that has shown to cause Kansas City trouble on the counter in the past, shutting out the Timbers offense while Luis Marin came up with saves when he was called upon.

Kansas City had much of the early pressure and created probably their best chances of the game in the early going. Ike Opara had two good chances early on off a pair of Marcel de Jong corner. The best of those two being the second when Opara got himself some space against Nat Borchers but flashed his open header wide of the net. In the 15th minute, Jimmy Medranda did a good job of breaking down Portland's defense, going between a couple defenders. From there Medranda played the ball to Dom Dwyer who fired a shot but it was imediately deflected. The immediate deflection though almost worked to Dwyer's advantage as it carried his shot over goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey, but it carried it just over the cross bar and out as well. KC's early pressure led to no goals for the team though as Portland's defense held firm and kept KC out of the net. As the half went on, Portland started to get more of the play, but KC's defense and Luis Marin both held firm keeping Portland off the board.

The second half saw both teams trade possession without much in the way of chances. In the 60th minute, Fanendo Adi broke past Jalil Anibaba and raced in on goal, but his shot from a tight angle was right at Marin. It had enough pace on it that Marin could only knock it away, but Marin kept it out of the net. KC's best chance of the second half came in the 77th minute when a cross by de Jong was put right on the head of Opara, but Opara put this effort just over the bar. Minutes later, Anibaba had a glancing header go just wide of the goal. In the end though Kansas City really lacked in terms of creating chances last night, and creating dangerous chances. KC recorded 16 shots, but only placed two of those on goal. For the most part Dwyer was marked out of the game by Portland's back line, and Benny Feilhaber's role last night left him so far away from goal that he wasn't able to really be involved in KC's attack, something that leaves KC without a lot of dynamic play when it comes to their attack.

Wizards Man of the Match - Luis Marin - Not a lot on the field to be really impressed with overall, but Marin had himself a very good game, making some good saves and his distribution was on point more of the night.

Player Ratings - Marin 7, de Jong 6, Besler 6, Opara 6, Anibaba 6, Feilhaber 5, Nagamura 4, Espinoza 4, Zusi 4, Dwyer 4, Medranda 5. Subs Anor 4, Carrasco NR, Mustivar NR.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Match Day 3 - Still Searching for the First Win

Sporting KC return home for their third game of the season,welcoming the Portland Timbers to Sporting Park. Both teams are looking for their first win of the season, Sporting sitting 0-1-1 with one point after drawing with New York and losing to Dallas. Portland sits 0-0-2 after home draws against Salt Lake and LA.

Portland comes into this game with a midfield that is still beaten up. The team has three long term injuries in their midfield with Diego Valeri, Will Johnson, and Ben Zemanski all out with long term injuries. The three being out have changed Portland tactics a bit this year. Without any of those three in the midfield, Portland has taken a more direct approach, bypassing their midfield and getting the likes of Darlington Nagbe and Rodney Wallace involved in the play much faster. Against LA, Nagbe and Wallace both caused the Galaxy a number of problems with their pace as each had an assist on one of Fanendo Adi's goals last week.

Not exactly like Portland, but KC has a midfield problem of their own after the first two games of the season. With KC's inverted triangle this year in midfield that has seen Benny Feilhaber play a more withdrawn playmaker role, KC has struggled defensively in the midfield. At times both Feilhaber and Roger Espinoza have been going forward, leaving KC's back four exposed without the safety net in front of them to break up plays. Peter Vermes tried to negate that a bit against Dallas by inserting Paulo Nagamura into the midfield, but KC still struggled with gaps between the midfield and defense. With Portland's direct style that they're playing right now, leaving gaps like that will cause KC a lot of problems.

The big question for the team may be who starts at left back, Canadian international Marcel de Jong, or last year's starter, Seth Sinovic. Whoever gets the call will be the one called upon to mainly deal with Nagbe for Portland, not an easy ask at all.

Dia - Opara - Besler - Sinovic
Feilhaber - Espinoza
Zusi - Nemeth - Anor

Number to Remember - 1999 - If KC fails to get a win tomorrow, it'll be the first time since 1999 that the team has gone through the first three games of the season without recording one win. The last time the team went two games into the season without a win was 2009 when the team won their third game 2-0 over San Jose. KC has traditionally been fast starters.

Key Match Up - KC outside backs vs Darlington Nagbe and Rodney Wallace - As I previously mentioned, Portland has been playing a more direct style this year because of their midfield injuries. That, and with KC's style of high pressure means that KC's outside backs are going to have to be on their toes tomorrow because the combination of the two styles could leave Sporting very exposed in the back for the likes of Nagbe and Wallace to have a field day. Whether it's Sinovic or de Jong on the left, and whether it's Dia or someone else on the right, they're going to have to be on top of their game defensively to deal with Portland's wingers. Last weekend against Dallas the team struggled to cope with another pacey winger, Fabian Castillo, hopefully they've learned their lesson.

PREDICTION - This isn't a must win game for KC at this point, but a win would certainly be a big boost here. KC hasn't won a game since a 2-0 win over Chicago on October 10th. That's four straight league games without a win, and six straight in all competitions with the CCL loss in Costa Rica and playoff loss to New York. It's not something that Sporting has had to deal with in a long time. Shutting down Portland's wing play will be key. Unfortunately that's really not something that KC has been successful with over the last year or so. The team's high pressure leaves them exposed, especially on the wings. If KC is going to continue the high pressure, KC's forward and wide midfielders are going to have to be really tight with their pressure, giving a lot of space will get Nagbe and Wallace the time to get open against KC's outside backs and we've seen how well that's gone for KC. Both teams are really needing a win to get their season going. While I'm not overly confident that KC can get all three points, I think KC does get things done tomorrow night against Portland.

SKC - 2 (Dwyer, Nemeth)
PTFC - 1 (Wallace)

Kempin Loaned to San Antonio

Sporting Kansas City announced today that homegrown goalkeeper, Jon Kempin is headed out on loan, and it's not to the place that most people expected him to go though. Most people expected Kempin to be headed to Oklahoma City to continue to play under Jimmy Nielsen with affiliate club, the Oklahoma City Energy. That has turned out not to be true, instead, Kempin will go to the NASL and has joined the defending NASL champion, San Antonio Scorpions for the 2015 season.

Kempin not going to OKC, while surprising, does make some sense, as the Energy currently have three goalkeepers on their roster, including Evan Newton, who played 28 games for Arizona United in the USL last season. So with three goalkeepers already, and a goalkeeper with experience playing at this level, OKC doesn't need Kempin at this time. After last season when Kempin was recalled with plenty of time left in the season, I'm sure Nielsen wanted to get some further consistency in goal.

So into the picture comes San Antonio who had a similar situation last year when they had current NYCFC goalkeeper, Josh Saunders, in on loan before that club started up this year. This will give Kempin the chance to be a consistent starter and get him game time that he desperately needs at this point in his career. With Tim Melia in town to back up Luis Marin, this gives Kempin the chance to go to San Antonio, fight for the starting job there and get a number of games he likely wouldn't get here.

There's no word yet on whom on the roster Sporting will send to Oklahoma City at this point, but the likes of Saad Abdul-Salaam, Jimmy Medranda, and James Rogers seem like a few that could be on their way south.