Monday, August 29, 2016

Strong Start to College Season - Sporting Academy Players in College

The college season kicked off this past weekend for many teams around the country, including a number of teams that have former Sporting KC academy players on their roster. Sporting's academy players didn't disappoint either as the group scored six goals this past weekend, including Tucker Stephenson for West Virginia in their upset of seventh ranked Georgetown. The goal earned him West Virginia's student athlete of the week.

Here's the full list.

Class of 2013

Joe Amico (Jacksonville) - D - Sr - Started both Jacksonville's 2-0 loss to UNC Greensboro and 2-1 loss to Winthrop.

Matt Bernard (Cal Baptist) - MF - RJr - First game 9/3

Paul Dean (Rockhurst University) - D - Sr - First game 9/1

Seo-In Kim (UCSB) - MF - Sr - Did not play in UCSB's 2-1 win over Oakland or their 1-0 win over Ohio State.

Adam Lightner (Northern Illinois University) - D - Sr - Started in Northern Illinois' 1-1 draw with SIU-Edwardsville.

Clay Stewart - (University of Missouri Kansas City) - MF/D - Sr - Game against Central Arkansas was canceled.

Wes White (Coastal Carolina) - F - RJr - Started and scored a goal in #21 Coastal Carolina's 2-1 loss to #17 Virginia.

Drew Wilson (Fort Hays State University) - D - Sr - First game 9/3

Class of 2014

Darby Cronin (Missouri State)- MF - Jr - Did not play in Missouri State's 2-0 win over Green Bay.

Heath Honold (West Virginia) - F - Jr - Started West Virginia's 2-0 loss to #9 Seattle. Started West Virginia's 1-0 win over #7 Georgetown.

Mason Leonard (Drake) - D - Jr - Came on as a substitute in Drake's 3-1 loss to Pacific. Started Drake's 1-0 win over CSU Bakersfield.

Blake Levine (Baker) - F - Jr - Started #10 Baker's 4-0 win over Ottawa.

Matthew Lewis (Fordham) - D - Jr - Started both Forham's 1-1 draw with UMBC and their 1-0 lossto Delaware.

Andy Lopez (North Carolina) - MF - RSo - Came on as a substitute in both UNC's 3-0 win over Cal Poly and their 3-0 win over St. Louis.

Noah Mudd (Trevecca) - D - Jr - First game 9/1

Joey Piatczyc (West Virginia) - MF - Jr - Started West Virginia's 2-0 loss to #9 Seattle. Started West Virginia's 1-0 win over #7 Georgetown.

Cole Stevenson (Fordham) - F - Jr - Came on as a substitute and scored a goal in Forham's 1-1 draw with UMBC. Started in Fordham's 1-0 loss to Delaware.

Zach Wright (North Carolina) - F - Jr - Started both of UNC's 3-0 win over Cal Poly and St. Louis, scoring a goal in the win over St. Louis.


Andrew Blalock (Drake) - GK - RFr - Did not play in either of Drake's games.

Robert DeWitt III (Xavier) - MF - So - Came on as a substitute in Xavier's 3-1 win over Evansville, did not play in Xavier's 2-0 loss to UAB.

Jack Freeman (Furman) - D - RFr - Did not play in either of Furman's games.

Bryce Gibson (Creighton) - D - So - Came on as a substitute in Creighton's 2-0 win over Rutgers.

Nic Jaimes (Drake) - MF - So - Started Drake's 3-1 loss to Pacafic. Came on as a substitute in Drake's 1-0 win over CSU Bakersfield.

Ryan Krutz (Notre Dame) - GK - So - Did not play in either of Notre Dame's games.

Zane Moxley (Air Force) - D - So - Came on as a substitute in Air Force's 3-1 loss to Army.

Alexis Quevedo (UNLV) - MF - So - Did not play in either of UNLV's games.

Hector Solorio (Niagara) - MF - So - Started and had an assist in Niagara's 4-0 win over Robert Morris.

Tucker Stephenson (West Virginia) - F - So - Started West Virginia's 2-0 loss to #9 Seattle. Came on as a substitute and scored a goal in West Virginia's 1-0 win over #7 Georgetown.

Andy Velez (JCCC) - MF - So - Lost 2-0 to Tyler Junior College and 6-0 to Richland College.

Bailey Weeks (Northeastern State University) - D - So - First game 9/1


Dakota Karns (Missouri State) - MF - Fr - Did not play in Missouri State's 2-0 win over Green Bay.

Ryan Kellogg (West Virginia) - D - Fr - Came on as a substitute in West Virginia's 2-0 loss to #9 Seattle. Came on as a substitute in West Virginia's 1-0 win over #7 Georgetown.

John Leisman (Yale) - F - Fr - First game 9/5

Logan Lucas (West Virginia) - D - Fr - Started West Virginia's 2-0 loss to #9 Seattle. Started West Virginia's 1-0 win over #7 Georgetown.

Andrew McLeod (Northwestern) - D - Fr - Did not play in Northwestern's 2-1 win over Florida Gulf Coast. Came on as a substitute in Northwestern's 1-0 loss to Santa Clara.

Absalom Solorio (Niagara) - MF - Fr - Started and had a goal and an assist in Niagara's 4-0 win over Robert Morris.

Paul Whitener (Marshall) - MF - Fr - Started Marshall's 2-0 loss to Western Michigan. Came on as a substitute and had a goal and an assist in Marshall's 3-1 win over Detroit.

Besler, Zusi Called Up, Espinoza Turns Down Call

Sporting Kansas City has a pair of players called up for national team duty in the upcoming international break, Matt Besler and Graham Zusi were both called into the US team that will finish out the fourth round of World Cup qualifying with games at St. Vincent and the Grenadines and home against Trinidad and Tobago. The US currently sit second in their group on seven points through the first four games having last split their two games against Guatemala with a win and a loss. The US can clinch advancement to the next round of qualifying with a win on Friday if Trinidad also beats Guatemala in Port of Spain. If those results occur it would make the USA's game in Jacksonville on Tuesday September 6th meaningless as both teams would be through to the "Hex".

One name not going to World Cup qualifiers that had been expected to was Roger Espinoza. Espinoza was originally on the list of players called up by Honduras for their World Cup qualifiers against Canada and Mexico. Reports stated that he had turn downed the call for personal problems and Sporting KC later confirmed that while Espinoza was called up he was not going to be going. Honduras are currently in second place in their group, tied with Canada on four points. The two teams face off Friday in Honduras, a location where Canada lost 8-1 to see their 2014 World Cup qualifying hopes end. Honduras will want to get a win, and pile on to advance because goal difference is the first tiebreaker. Currently Honduras sits on minus 1 with Canada on minus 4. With Honduras closing out on the road in Mexico and Canada hosting El Salvador, padding their goal difference heading into that file game will be important for Honduras, but they'll be doing it without Espinoza.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sunday After Stats

Here are some stats from last night's game.

Roger Espinoza's red card was his sixth red card in MLS play for KC, breaking his tie with Nick Garcia for the most red cards in team history.

It was Espinoza's seventh in all competitions, tying him with Garcia for the most red cards there.

Matt Besler made his 196th league appearance for KC, breaking his tie with Jack Jewsbury for seventh all time on that list.

Ever Alvarado made his MLS debut.

What We Want to Happen Today 8/28

A couple of results that Sporting KC wanted happened yesterday, especially in the Western Conference where San Jose lost and LA and Vancouver played to a draw. Unfortunately Kansas City didn't take advantage of the results going their way, falling 2-0. Today there are three more games, one of which will have big implications on Sporting.

Seattle at Portland
What we want to happen - draw

Portland and Seattle sit in sixth and eighth currently in the Western Conference, six and seven points behind Sporting KC in fifth place. Sporting really doesn't want either team to gain on them, but keeping both as far away as possible is important. So like LA and Vancouver last night, Sporting is wanting a draw. If you have to go for a winner, Portland is probably the better choice since they're already in the playoff picture right now and it'd keep Seattle from closing the gap.

New England at New York
What we want to happen - New England win

We're back to the unlikely chances that Sporting makes it to MLS Cup. In this instance, New York currently has one less point than Kansas City does, so New York dropping points is a positive.

NYCFC at Orlando
What we want to happen - Orlando win

New York has three more points than Kansas City does right now, keeping them within a win point wise is what Kansas City will want.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Sporting Continue Road Winless Streak

The big talking point of tonight's game for Kansas City fans won't be the result, but will instead be the refereeing, a missed call in the first half and a questionable red card in the second half highlighted the 2-0 loss for Sporting KC. Unfortunately the refereeing decisions will take away from another aimless performance by the Kansas City offense that recorded just two shots on goal, one of those coming in the fourth minute of added time.

From the start Kansas City looked like a team that was on their fifth game in 15 days in five different cities, the Philadelphia Union kept Sporting pinned in their own end for a decent part of the first half. In just the ninth minute, Tranquillo Barnetta fired a shot from outside the box that Alec Kann had to palm away to keep the Union off the board. The Union continued the pressure with Fabinho having a good time early on against Saad Abdul-Salaam on KC's right side, but the Union weren't able to capitalize. For the most part though the first half was pretty uneventful in terms of chances for either side. The biggest point of the half was a refereeing decsion in the 20th minute when Juan Guzman didn't call a foul on Philadelphia's Fabian Herbers for a high boot, instead calling a slide tackle seconds later by Jimmy Medranda and giving Roger Espinoza and Medranda yellow cards for dissent and the challenge.

Things turned bad for Sporting KC just before the hour mark as Medranda brought down Keegan Rosenberry on a give and go pass in KC's defensive third. Medranda was given his second yellow and his marching orders putting Kansas City down to 10 men with 30 minutes to go. Down a man KC actually almost went up a goal as Dom Dwyer did all the work himself in the 65th receiving a long ball and creating space before pushing a shot just wide of the far post. Unfortunately for KC the man advantage worked in Philadelphia's favor in the 67th minute as Roland Alberg got space at the top of the box and curled a shot into the far post upper 90 to give the Union the 1-0 lead that they arguably deserved after their play early on. Down a man and a goal KC still tried to push forward looking to equalize, in the 83rd minute, Espinoza curled a shot just wide of Andre Blake's post that would have equaled the beauty of Alberg's goal, but the Union remained up 1-0. Philadelphia came down the other way and Kann came up with a huge save after a low cross into the box was redirected on goal by Alberg, but the Sporting KC goalkeeper got a piece of his body on it and deflected it over the bar for a corner. Things got worse for Sporting KC in the 87th minute when Espinoza was given a straight red card for what appeared to be an elbow to Alberg, but after reviewing replays it seemed Espinoza was just trying to hold the Philadelphia player back, Peter Vermes has already said the club will appeal the red card to Espinoza before their game against Houston. With a two man advantage, the Union doubled their lead in stoppage time as Alberg played Barnetta in on goal and he beat Kann to make it 2-0 for Philadelphia. Sporting will now get a break before they take on the Hosuton Dynamo at Children's Mercy Park in September.

Wizards Man of the Match - Alec Kann - Made six saves for Sporting tonight to keep Kansas City in the game, the save on Alberg in the second half was absolutely amazing.

Player Ratings - Kann 8, Abdul-Salaam 5, Besler 5, Opara 5, Medranda 4, Mustivar 4, Espinoza 5, Feilhaber 5, Zusi 4, Dwyer 4, Peterson 3. Subs Alvarado 4, Davis 5, Rubio NR.

What We Want to Happen Today 8/27

To make things easier for other Sporting KC fans, for the last few years I've been doing posts late in the season on "what we want to happen" in the other MLS games around the league. This way if you have MLS Live, or are scoreboard watching you have an idea of who you want to win each match up to help Sporting KC. I'll run through all the match ups, both East and West, because on the off chance Sporting KC were to make MLS Cup, point totals in the East will be important. I will focus mainly on the Western Conference though because of playoff positioning.

San Jose at Columbus
What we want to happen - Columbus win

The Earthquakes are currently in seventh place in the West on tiebreakers with Portland. They are only six points behind Sporting with two games in hand. Meanwhile the Crew are sitting bottom of the Eastern Conference. Here it is very simple, KC fans want San Jose to lose.

Dallas at Houston
What we want to happen - Houston win

This one isn't as straight forward, but keeping Dallas within touching distance for Kansas City isn't bad although it's highly unlikely that KC will catch them. On the other side Houston is currently 13 points back of Sporting, catching them seems extremely unlikely, so let the top of the West continue to stay crowded.

Vancouver at LA
What we want to happen - draw

Vancouver is in ninth place in the West, but only trails KC by eight points. Meanwhile the Galaxy are one point ahead of KC. Sporting really doesn't want Vancouver to close the gap further but at the same time doesn't want LA, and a potential home wild card game to get away from them, especially with LA having two games in hand on Sporting at this time. Unfortunately both teams can't lose, so splitting a point is probably the best.

Chicago at DC
What we want to happen - Chicago win

Really this doesn't have much in it for KC, DC is in a playoff spot in the East, but is nine points behind Sporting. Chicago currently sits in ninth place on 23 points. DC dropping points in the unlikely event of a KC vs DC MLS Cup is a good thing.

Montreal at Toronto
What we want to happen - draw

Another match up that is all about MLS Cup, Sporting want Toronto (43 points) to stay close enough to catch while Montreal (34 points) doesn't catch up with Sporting. Again a split of the points is in KC's favor.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Match Day 28: Finishing the Long Haul

Sporting Kansas City end their five cities in 15 days tour of three countries tomorrow in Philadelphia where Sporting KC take on the Philadelphia Union. Sporting have so far gone 1-1-2 on the trip, winning their loan home game, drawing in Dallas and Trinidad, and losing in Vancouver. Sporting will now try to finish out the stretch in the same location where the club lifted their last trophy last season before taking a break for next week's international break.

Philadelphia is coming into tomorrow's game having also played a midweek game, defeating the Columbus Crew 2-1 in Columbus on Wednesday night. Unlike Sporting in Vancouver, Philadelphia put out their first 11 for the game. The Union had a busy summer transfer window, adding the likes of Roland Alberg and Alejandro Bedoya to their team in their push for the playoffs. Currently Philadelphia sits in a tie for third in the East with 37 points, nine clear of seventh place Orlando City. They'll also have a resurgent Chris Pontius who leads the team in scoring with 10 goals, and familiar face, CJ Sapong, who is finally regularly being played as a center forward.

Kansas City's issue heading into this game is a familiar one, a lack of center back options. Lawrence Olum and Nuno Coelho are both missing the game tomorrow due to injury, while Kevin Ellis (who has played 325 of 360 minutes played since the start of the Dallas game) is suspended for an elbow during the game against Vancouver at Children's Mercy Park. That leaves just Matt Besler and Ike Opara as the only centerbacks on the roster who will be available tomorrow. Both players are coming off injuries themselves (MCL sprain and ankle injury). While Peter Vermes made it seem like he wasn't sure on how long Opara could go, both starting tomorrow seems likely. If one can't go, then KC is in a bind of who they play in centerback, the likes of Roger Espinoza, Saad Abdul-Salaam, and Soni Mustivar all options. Elsewhere on the field things seem more straight forward as the midfielders and forwards look like they'll be the same as last Saturday.

Peterson - Dwyer - Davis
Espinoza - Feilhaber
Medranda - Besler - Opara - Zusi

Number to Remember - 139 - That's how many days it has been since Kansas City last won a road game against a first division team. KC last one on the road against a first division team when they beat the New York Red Bulls 2-0 at Red Bull Arena on April 9th.

Key Match Up - Graham Zusi vs Chris Pontius - With Saad Abdul-Salaam getting the full 90 minutes on Tuesday in the CCL I'd expect Zusi to play his third game this year at right back for Kansas City. This time he'll likely face his most challenging match up against the likely comeback player of the year in Chris Pontius. Pontius leads Philadelphia with 10 goals so far this season, so for someone who is still working his way into the position it could be a difficult one for Zusi.

PREDICTION - Philadelphia is winless this season in weekend games after a midweek game, while KC has the long winless streak on the road. I'm not so sure that something gives tomorrow, I think Kansas City's starters will be more rested for tomorrow's game after Vermes put out a reserve lineup in the CCL. But then again even with a rest lineup Kansas City has had issues on the road. I wanna say that Kansas City will be able to get a draw tomorrow against the Union, but at the same time the team's play on the road for the last couple months hasn't given me any confidence that they can go out and get three points in a road game.

SKC - 1 (Dwyer)
PHI - 2 (Pontius, Sapong)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Call Ups Coming for Former Players - Former SKC Wizards Update

We're on the verge of another international break and national team games for former players. A few players have already been called up for their national team with a few others probably coming. Krisztian Nemeth and Pablo Punyed have both been named to their country's rosters for their upcoming games in this window. Also likely to get call ups are the likes of Mechack Jerome and Soony Saad.

Here's the rest of this week's update.

Active without a club or unknown
Vicente Arze
Jamar Beasley
Pablo Escobar
Brian Fekete
Neven Markovic
Victor Munoz
Akeem Priestley
Jordi Quintilla
Brendan Ruiz

Jalil Anibaba - Houston -Started and played 90 minutes in Houston's 2-1 win over San Jose.
Teal Bunbury - New England - Started and played 56 minutes in New England's 2-0 loss to Columbus.
Servando Carrasco - Orlando City - Started and played 71 minutes in Orlando's 0-0 draw with Colorado.
Aurelien Collin - New York - Started and played 90 minutes in New York's 2-2 draw with DC.
Marcel de Jong - Vancouver - Started and played 90 minutes in Vancouver's 2-0 loss to KC. Dressed but did not play in Vancouver's 3-0 win over KC.
Amadou Dia - Montreal - Dressed but did not play in Montreal's 2-0 loss to Chicago.
Herculez Gomez - Seattle - Dressed but did not play in Seattle's 3-1 win over Portland.
Michael Harrington - Chicago - Came off the bench and played 10 minutes in Chicago's 2-0 win over Montreal.
Jack Jewsbury - Portland - Started and played 81 minutes in Portland's 3-1 loss to Seattle.
Kei Kamara - New England - Started and played 90 minutes in New England's 2-0 loss to Columbus.
Chris Konopka - Portland - Dressed but did not play in Portland's 3-1 loss to Seattle.
Eric Kronberg - Montreal - Dressed but did not play in Montreal's 2-0 loss to Chicago.
Mikey Lopez - NYCFC - Did not dress in NYCFC's 1-0 win over LA.
Yura Movsisyan - Salt Lake - Started and played 89 minutes in RSL's 1-0 win over Dallas.
Amobi Okugo - Portland - Dressed but did not play in Portland's 3-1 loss to Seattle.
Tony Rocha - Orlando - Came off the bench and played 19 minutes in Orlando's 0-0 draw with Colorado.
CJ Sapong - Philadelphia - Started and played 90 minutes in Philadelphia's 3-1 loss to Toronto.
Tyson Wahl - Columbus - Came off the bench and played 1 minute in Columbus' 2-0 win over New England.
Sal Zizzo - New York - Dressed but did not play in New York's 2-2 draw with DC.

Bernardo Anor - Minnesota (loan) -Out injured.
Stefan Antonijevic - Tampa Bay - Started and played 90 minutes in Tampa's 2-0 loss to Minnesota. Came off the bench and played 72 minutes in Tampa's 1-0 loss to Edmonton.
Omar Bravo - Carolina - Started and played 89 minutes, scoring a goal in Carolina's 3-2 win over Indy.
Mechack Jerome - Jacksonville - Started and played 90 minutes in Jacksonville's 1-1 draw with Fort Lauderdale. Started and played 90 minutes in Jacksonville's 0-0 draw with Minnesota.
Michael Kafari - Puerto Rico - Started and played 58 minutes in Puerto Rico's 2-1 loss to New York.
James Marcelin - Carolina - Did not dress in Carolina's 3-2 win over Indy.
Rauwshan McKenzie - Oklahoma City - Dressed but did not play in OKC's 2-1 loss to Miami.

Amer Didic - Swope Park - On loan to Sporting.
Christian Duke - Swope Park - Started and played 90 minutes in Swope's 1-1 draw with St. Louis.
Cyprian Hedrick - Oklahoma City - Started and played 90 minutes in OKC's 2-0 win over Tulsa.
Ryan James - Rochester - Started and played 90 minutes, recording an assist in Rochester's 2-0 win over Pittsburgh.
Alex Martinez - Charlotte - Came off the bench and played 15 minutes in Charlotte's 4-0 win over Orlando.
Tyler Pacher - Swope Park - On loan to Sporting
Michael Thomas - Oklahoma City - Did not dressin OKC's 2-0 win over Tulsa.
Ualefi - Swope Park - On loan to Sporting
Yomby William - Richmond - Started and played 90 minutes in Richmond's 1-1 draw with Orlando.

Adnan Gabeljic - San Francisco - Offseason.
Faik Hajderovic - St. Louis U23 - Offseason.

Pat Healey - Baltimore - Offseason.
Mike Jones - Dallas - Offseason.
Boris Pardo - Missouri - Offseason.

Korede Aiyegbusi - FC Mashhad - Iran - Did not dress in Mashhad's 1-1 draw with Foolad.
Scott Angevine - YPA - Finland - Drew 2-2 with Kajaani.
Claudio Bieler - Belgrano - Argentina - No game this week.
Reinaldo Brenes - Belen Siglo XXI - Did not dress in Belen's 2-2 draw with Saprissa.
Sunil Chhetri - Bengaluru - India - No game until 9/14.
Jorge Claros - Alajuelense - Costa Rica - Started and played 45 minutes in Alajuelense's 1-0 loss to Carmelita.
Daneil Cyrus - W Connection - No game this week.
Toni Dovale - CD Leganes - Spain - Did not dress in Leganes' 1-0 win over Celta de Vigo.
Luis Gil - Queretaro - Mexico - Did not dress in Queretaro's 2-1 loss to Leon. Came off the bench and played 1 minute in Queretaro's 1-1 draw with Puebla.
Will John - RoPS - Finland - Started and played 60 minutes in RoPS' 3-1 loss to PS Kemi.
Igor Juliao - Fluminense - Brazil - Came off the bench and played 53 minutes in Fluminense's 1-0 win over Santa Cruz.
Igor Kostrov - Slavia-Mozyr - Belarus - Came off the bench and played 23 minutes in Slavia's 1-0 win over Krumkachy.
Luis Marin - CD Temuco - Chile - Started and played 90 minutes in Temuco's 1-0 loss to O'Higgins.
Michal Mravec - RoPS - Finland - Did not dress in RoPS' 3-1 loss to PS Kemi.
Krisztian Nemeth - Al-Gharafa - Qatar -  No game until 9/15.
Erik Palmer-Brown - Porto (loan) - Portugal - Out injured
Pablo Punyed - IBV - Iceland - Started and played 90 minutes in IBV's 2-1 los to Fylkir. Started and played 90 minutes in IBV's 2-1 loss to Vikingur Reykjavik.
Oriol Rosell - Belenenses (Sporting Club de Portugal)(loan) - Portugal - Started and played 90 minutes in Belenenses' 0-0 draw with Boavista.
Soony Saad - Pattaya United (BEC Tero Sasana) - Started and played 90 minutes in Pattaya's 4-1 loss to Muang Thong United.
Daniel Salloi - Gyirmot FC Gyor (loan) - Hungary - Did not dress in either of Gyirmot's games.
Peter Schmetz - Wuppertaler SV - Germany - Started and played 90 minutes in Wuppertaler's 4-0 win over Rot Weiss Ahlen.
Yann Songo'o - Plymouth Argyle - Started and played 90 minutes in Plymouth's 2-0 win over Mansfield Town.
Kevin Souter - Deveronvale FC - Scotland - Lost 2-0 to Cove Rangers.
Martin Steuble - Ceres-La Salle - Philippines - Tied Stallion 2-2. Started and played 90 minutes in Ceres' 2-1 loss to Tampines Rovers.
Milos Stojcev - Atromitos - Greece - Start of Greek season delayed.
Matt Taylor - Kickers Offenbach - Came off the bench and played 14 minutes in Kickers' 1-1 draw with Saarbrucken. Came off the bench and played 35 minutes in Kickers' 3-2 extra time loss to Hannover 96.

S.A.S. Wednesday After Stats

Ever Alvarado and Cameron Porter made their first starts for Sporting KC.

Ualefi made his debut for Sporting KC.

Paulo Nagamura has now played 570 minutes in international competitions for KC, putting him into 15th place on that list.

Kevin Ellis has now played 540 minutes in international competitions, tying him with Aurelien Collin and Oriol Rosell for 16th on that list.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Sporting KC's Champions League Run on Life Support After Abysmal Loss to Vancouver

Sporting Kansas City's chances of advancing out of their group in the 2016-2017 Champions League took a major hit in Vancouver tonight as Sporting came out completely flat and could never recover as they fell 3-0 on the road to the Whitecaps. The loss drops Kansas City to third in the three team group with one point and a -3 goal difference through their first two games. Sporting's chances of advancing are now out of their hands as they'll need Central FC to go to Vancouver and get a win or a draw while KC wins their two home games for them to have a chance.

Things started out extremely ugly for Kansas City with the back line being exposed by the Whitecaps on multiple occasions. Just eight minutes in Vancouver grabbed the lead as Erik Hurtado got some space on Ever Alvarado on KC's left after a poor giveaway by Kevin Ellis off a restart. Hurtado played a lofted cross towards the back post where Cristian Techera was unmarked. Jon Kempin was slow to react to the lofted ball and couldn't get a  hand to it as it fell to Techera who headed into the net in front of Amer Didic who tried to get back on the line. Four minutes later Vancouver doubled their lead as Russell Teibert played a long ball over the top to Hurtado who beat Kempin to the ball, chipping the ball over the KC goalkeeper and into the net to double the lead at 2-0. With the 2-0 lead Vancouver was able to sit back and absorb the pressure from KC, Sporting was able to get plenty of possession, but most of it was well away from the goal for Sporting. With all the possession KC wasn't able to create much in the way of chances, unable to test Paolo Tornaghi in the first half. In fact while Vancouver sat back quite a bit it was Vancouver who created the better chances, with Jordan Smith testing Kempin twice in a couple seconds attempting to add a third goal.

Sporting started the second half off brightly with Connor Hallisey combining well with Diego Rubio to get KC's first shot on target, but he shot right at Tornaghi who made the easy save. Hallisey also had a penalty shout after being played in and tackled from behind by Matias Laba, but no call came for the second year man. KC continued to create half chances but didn't really test Tornaghi much. Then in the 64th minute the game was put on ice as Vancouver struck with a deadly counter after a corner kick. Laba played a great through ball right into the path of Techera who only had to beat Kempin one on one to make it 3-0 to the Whitecaps. The Whitecaps continued to look dangerous on the counter as the rest of the game went by while Sporting struggled to create chances with Vancouver able to choke out most of their chances before they even got to Tornaghi. The only positive for Kansas City in the end was that only one player that could see significant minutes Saturday played while Vermes rested the rest of the first team players he brought with him to Vancouver for the game.

Wizards Man of the Match - Connor Hallisey - I don't like going with no one, but I was close here. Hallisey gets it only because that 10-15 minute stretch to start the second half Hallisey looked confident and strong going forward. Unfortunately his finishing still lacked and KC couldn't find a goal.

Player Ratings - Kempin 3, Alvarado 3, Ellis 3, Didic 2, Abdul-Salaam 3, Mustivar 3, Nagamura 4, Appiah 3, Hallisey 4, Rubio 3, Porter 3. Subs Ualefi 3.

Monday, August 22, 2016

CCL Match Day 2: Finishing the Road

Sporting Kansas City close out the road portion of their CCL group play tomorrow night in Vancouver where they'll play their second game in four days against the Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place. After a 2-2 draw in Trinidad last week, Sporting KC sit in second place in the group behind Vancouver who have three points after they won 1-0 in Trinidad. The draw though does put a lot of pressure on Kansas City heading into this game, as a loss basically takes advancement out of their hands and will require help.

Vancouver threw out their best 11 for the game in Kansas City on Saturday, needing to get their league season back on track, but a 2-0 loss keeps them outside the playoffs and looking over their shoulders at the on-rushing Seattle Sounders. The Whitecaps certainly won't punt tomorrow's game, as advancement from the group may be the only thing that they can take out of this season if they miss the playoffs. But they'll have the same tough balancing act as KC, as they travel to LA after Tuesday's game.

For Kansas City, their injury issues continue to mount at a really bad time for them. Three of the club's five center backs are questionable for tomorrow's game, and the two that aren't already played 90 minutes on Saturday, and one of those two is coming off an MCL sprain. It certainly creates a juggling act for Peter Vermes, does he start Kevin Ellis, who has played 325 of the last 360 available minutes or Matt Besler coming off the MCL sprain. One thing seems certain, Amer Didic will make his second start for KC at the other center back position. Vermes obviously has to be careful because with the minutes piling up he runs the risk of a player being slow to react and that can cause major issues for the team. Elsewhere on the field, Vermes has to continue to balance his team as the club still has to fly across country to Philadelphia for a regular season game on Saturday night. There's also been some talk that another Swope Park Ranger could be called in for tomorrow's game, specifically Ualefi, who played just 45 minutes (his shortest outing of the season) for the Rangers on Sunday.

Hallisey - Rubio - Porter
Nagamura - Ualefi
Alvarado - Didic - Besler - Abdul-Salaam

Number to Remember - 7 - While Kansas City's road winless streak in all competitions is up to 11 games now, they have won a road game more recently than the club's 2-0 win over New York back in April. KC won their first US Open Cup game on the road against Minnesota United 2-1 in extra time. They'll be looking to break their shorter streak tomorrow.

Key Match Up - Diego Rubio vs Vancouver defense - Kansas City's back up striker hasn't exactly had a great first season with the club, having scored just twice in all competitions while playing just 471 minutes across all competitions. If there was a time to come out and show why KC signed him in the first place it'd be tomorrow.

PREDICTION - As I mentioned earlier, KC need some type of result tomorrow against Vancouver. A loss and KC is relying on Central FC to take points off Vancouver later in the competition in Vancouver. A draw puts Kansas City in a better position, needing to win their two home games in the competition to advance. If KC can some how get a win they'll firmly be in the driver's seat in the group, but still won't be able to afford a loss in either of their home games. As I mentioned before Saturday's game, Vancouver is in a very rough spot form wise and is also desperate for a result to try to right their season. It's an opponent that KC can take advantage up, but they'll need to finish their chances better.

SKC - 1 (Rubio)
VAN - 1 (Davies)