Sunday, February 26, 2017

Comets Clinch MASL Central

The Kansas City closed out the regular season clinching their third straight Central Division Title in the MASL as the Comets topped the Cedar Rapids Rampage 10-3 at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. The Comets jumped out to an early lead just under four minutes in as Ignacio Flores turned his defender at the top of the box before firing a ball into the corner of the net to put the comets up 1-0. The Comets doubled their lead near the midpoint of the period as Odaine Sinclair started the Comets counter, eventually getting the ball back near the corner. After his pass to Stefan Stokic was blocked the ball came right back to Sinclair who picked out Bryan Perez at the back post for the simple tap in to make it 2-0. Before the period ended the Comets extended their lead to 3-0 as Vahid Assadpour played a give and go pass with Perez, racing into the corner and firing it in to make it 3-0. The Rampage pulled one goal back early in the second period on the power play after the Comets got a blue card for having too many men on the field. The lead was down to just two goals for less than two minutes though as Assadpour received the ball in the corner, danced around the Rampage goalkeeper and scored to make it 4-1 to the Comets. The goal actually finished the scoring for the quarter as both teams had good chances to find the net, but neither side could as the teams went into the break with the Comets up by three goals.

The second half saw the Comets add onto their lead less than five minutes in as Assadpour finished off his hattrick on the break as the Comets struck on a three-v-two counter. Brian Harris picked out Assadpour who rolled the ball over to his left and placed the ball into the far corner. Thirty seconds later the Comets extended the lead to 6-1 as the Comets again countered, turning the ball over but high pressure by Stokic led to a turnover at the top of the box and Perez picked out Robert Palmer who had the simple tap in. Down five, the Rampage pushed the game trying to find their way back into the game, finding one goal with just over six minutes left in the period to cut the Comets lead back to four goals. The Comets though extended the lead back to five before the period was over on the power play after a blue card for striking. Assadpour picked out Lucas Rodriguez camping out at the back post on the power play as Rodriguez had the simple tap in.

Extra curriculars at the end of the third period led to four players receiving blue cards, with two handed out to each team. That mean that the two teams started the fourth quarter with three field players each. With fewer players on the field there was a lot of space for the players to work with. This allowed the Comets goalkeeper, Stephen Paterson to push forward with the ball and fired a shot from just inside the yellow line for his second goal of the season to extend the Comets lead. Before the four blue cards expired, the Comets extended their lead again as Guerrero Pino raced down the wing and fired a shot inside the far post to make it 9-2 to the Comets. Once again the Rampage were able to get one goal back, but couldn't cut the lead further. The Comets finished out the scoring late in the game on a shootout attempt after a foul on a break while the Comets were already on the power play. Assadpour danced around Rampage goalkeeper Brett Petricek for the third time on the night to score his fourth goal and end the regular season with a win.

Stats

Bryan Perez's two assists gave him 45 for his career in league play with the Comets, breaking his tie with Brian Harris for 6th on that list.

Alain Matingou made his 50th league appearance for the Comets, he's the 14th player to hit that mark.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Sporting KC Fall in Preseason Finale

Sporting Kansas City ended their preseason on a sour note, falling in their final game in Tucson, Arizona to New York City FC 1-0. Peter Vermes put out a lineup that would likely be considered extremely close to the 11 that will take the field next weekend in DC. The big absence from the team was forward Dom Dwyer who had a minor knock. Also missing was midfielder Ilie Sanchez who is battling with Soni Mustivar for the starting defensive midfield position.

KC had a good chance early as Mustivar played a nice through ball to Benny Feilhaber who beat Sean Johnson for the goal, but the assistant referee raised his flag for an offside call against Feilhaber ruling the goal out. Both teams had their chances as the half rolled on but the sides went into the break tied at 0-0.

KC made just a single change at the half, bringing on Saad Abdul-Salaam for Graham Zusi at right back. Just over five minutes after his introduction though Abdul-Salaam was involved in the only goal of the game. Abdul-Salaam had held up his run back on a ball over the top trying to get an offside call that never came. Maximiliano Moralez brought the ball down and crossed into the middle for David Villa who out jumped Seth Sinovic and headed the ball in to put NYCFC up 1-0. KC pushed for an equalizer and had a good chance to tie it up in the 64th minute when Feilhaber was brought down in the box for a penalty. Soony Saad stepped up to take the penalty putting it towards the corner, but not getting enough pace on it to get it past Johnson, who made the save. KC struggled to create clear chances as the game wore on and were put in a bigger hole with less than 10 minutes left. Saad's day got worse as he was given a straight red for a poor challenge from behind on James Sands of NYCFC.

Sporting will now head back to KC to prepare for their season opener in DC next Saturday.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Sporting Sign First Round Pick, Colton Storm

Sporting Kansas City added to their roster today, signing first round draft pick Colton Storm to a one year deal with three option years. Storm, the 14th overall pick in January's Superdraft becomes the 28th player on the roster for Sporting KC as they head into the final weekend of preseason. The 28 players gives Kansas City a full roster, although Diego Rubio is likely to start the season on IR recovering still from his ACL tear, and there have been reports that rosters will be expanded to 30 as long as spots 29 and 30 are occupied by homegrown players, which KC could do with Erik Palmer-Brown and Daniel Salloi.

So far this preseason, Storm has played in two preseason games for Sporting, both during the club's first phase of preseason in Tucson, he's played no games in the Desert Diamond Cup so far. Storm becomes the fourth player signed who's seen predominately as a right back. While Peter Vermes has said he can play both sides, most people seem to see his best location at right back. This will give Sporting KC four players on the roster potentially to play right back, with Graham Zusi looking to be the presumed starter followed by Saad Abdul-Salaam, Igor Juliao and now Storm. After Juliao's performance at times though in KC's 6-2 loss to New England, there certainly looks like there could be room to move up in this position.

It will be interesting to see what Vermes does with these four though, you have to assume Zusi and maybe Juliao could get a look further up the field at times. You also have to wonder if Storm could spend a good portion of the season on loan to the Swope Park Rangers to get him game time.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Great Goals and Defensive Mistakes Highlight Sporting Loss to New England

The penultimate preseason game for Sporting KC didn't go exactly as the club probably would have liked it in Tucson against the New England Revolution. A number of defensive errors helped to allow the Revolution to score six goals against Sporting KC. Five of those six goals were scored against what could be described as the club's second team, as Peter Vermes rested his "starters" until the final 14 minutes. Sporting could only respond with a pair of goals, both very well taken and scored from distance by Jimmy Medranda and Graham Zusi. Unfortunately you can't win the game on style points as KC fell 6-2 to the Revolution.

Things couldn't have started any worse for KC as before a full minute had been played the club was down 1-0 as Andrew Dykstra committed the first of many mistakes by Sporting's defense on the day, not holding a simple low cross and Daigo Kobayashi pounced first poking the ball home to put the Revs up 1-0. Sporting responded by controlling a good portion of the rest of the first half creating a number of chances. Medranda leveled the scoring in the 21st minute as he brought down a long ball from Benji Joya, cut inside and fired a curling shot around Brad Knighton and into the far corner to level the game at 1-1. KC continued the pressure and had the better of the chances in the rest of the first half, the best a back heel by Latif Blessing right on the doorstep, but right at Knighton after New England couldn't clear a corner.

The second half is when things changed though, unlike Sporting who stuck with pretty much the same lineup for the first 76 minutes, New England made full changes at half time, bringing on their starters for the second 45 minutes. It took less than 10 minutes to take advantage of having fresher legs, as KC slowly worked the ball out of the back a Joya pass to Jimmy Medranda was poor and picked off by the Revolution going the other way. With KC on the attack, Igor Juliao was up the field leaving just Joya to cover the right side of defense. Lee Nguyen played a through ball to Juan Agudelo who raced past Joya and put a shot past Dykstra and into the net to put the Revs on top 2-1. Things got worse six minutes later when a Kei Kamara cross to the back post was tapped home by Agudelo as Juliao didn't follow his runner to the back post, a simple tap in for the US international. In the 67th minute Sporting was down 4-1 as more defensive errors led to another Revolution goal. Dykstra came off his line towards the corner of the box to pressure Nguyen who had been played. Nguyen got around Dykstra and played a ball to the back post where Juliao had this time lost Diego Fagundez who easily scored to extend the lead. New England extended the lead to 5-1 on a penalty kick converted by Nguyen after Kamara was fouled in the box. Shortly after the penalty kick goal, Sporting made full changes to the team, bringing on the regular starters for the final 14 minutes. Unfortunately they couldn't stop the bleeding as the Revolution were able to grab a sixth goal. As Fagundez and Nguyen made crossing runs in front of Zusi and Ike Opara, Zusi stayed with Fagundez instead of passing him off to Opara. Opara meanwhile let Nguyen slide out wide leaving two players on Fagundez and no one on Nguyen who Fagundez picked out and Nguyen got around Adrian Zendejas and scored to give New England an even half dozen. KC pulled one more goal back late on another long distance shot, this time by Zusi who fired from close to 30 yards out and Cody Cropper to his near side as the shot hit off the underside of the cross bar and in.

Sporting have one final game in the Desert Diamond Cup, there's been no official announcement yet on the opponent, but some reports out of New York are that it's New York City FC.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Former SKC Wizards Update

Here is this week's former SKC player update. No real big news this week among former players, as MLS teams head towards the end of preseason. A number of players who were with MLS clubs last season though are currently still without teams. Last heard, Emmanuel Appiah was with the New England Revolution still, although he did not appear in their preseason game today against Sporting KC. Jon Kempin was last in training with the LA Galaxy but hadn't signed with anyone yet. Others, like Amadou Dia, Tomas Granitto, and Connor Hallisey haven't appeared to have been in any preseason camps or games so far for teams at any level that I've seen.


Active without a club or unknown
Emmanuel Appiah
Vicente Arze
Amadou Dia
Tomas Granitto
Connor Hallisey
Jeferson
Jon Kempin
Justin Mapp
Neven Markovic
Rauwshan McKenzie
Victor Munoz
Brendan Ruiz
Michael Thomas
Ualefi

MLS
Jalil Anibaba - Houston - Offseason.
Bernardo Anor - Minnesota - Offseason.
Teal Bunbury - New England - Offseason.
Servando Carrasco - Orlando City - Offseason.
Aurelien Collin - New York - Offseason.
Marcel de Jong - Vancouver - Offseason
Michael Harrington - Chicago - Offseason.
Kei Kamara - New England - Offseason.
Alec Kann - Atlanta - Offseason.
Eric Kronberg - Montreal - Offseason.
Mikey Lopez - NYCFC - Offseason.
Yura Movsisyan - Salt Lake - Offseason.
Chance Myers - Portland - Offseason.
Amobi Okugo - Portland - Offseason.
Lawrence Olum - Portland - Offseason.
Jacob Peterson - Atlanta - Offseason.
Tony Rocha - Orlando - Offseason.
CJ Sapong - Philadelphia - Offseason.
Sal Zizzo - New York - Offseason.

NASL
Mechack Jerome - Jacksonville - Offseason.
Michael Kafari - Puerto Rico - Offseason.
Chris Konopka - Edmonton - Offseason.
James Marcelin - North Carolina - Offseason.
Alex Molano - North Carolina - Offseason.
Jordi Quintilla - Puerto Rico - Offseason.

USL
Stefan Antonijevic - Tampa Bay - Offseason.
Omar Bravo - Phoenix - Offseason.
Amer Didic - Swope Park - Offseason.
Christian Duke - Swope Park - Offseason.
David Greczek - Swope Park - Offseason.
Cyprian Hedrick - San Antonio - Offseason.
Ryan James - Rochester - Offseason.
Alex Martinez - Charlotte - Offseason.
Nansel Selbol - Swope Park - Offseason.
Kris Tyrpak - San Antonio - Offseason.
Yomby William - Richmond - Offseason.

Indoor
Jamar Beasley - Cedar Rapids - Did not play in either of Cedar Rapids' games.
Pat Healey - Baltimore - Had an assist in Baltimore's 8-4 win over Syracuse. Played in Baltimore's 7-2 los to Syracuse.
Mike Jones - Dallas - Did not play in Dallas' 21-2 loss to Sonora.
Boris Pardo - San Diego - Played in San Diego's 10-3 win over El Paso.

International
Korede Aiyegbusi - AFC Eskilstuna City- Sweden - No game until 4/1.
Ever Alvarado - Olimpia - Honduras - Started and played 90 minutes in Honduras' 1-0 loss to Jamaica.
Scott Angevine - YPA - Finland - Offseason.
Federico Bessone - AE Prat - Spain - Started and played 90 minutes in Prat's 3-1 loss to Espanyol II.
Claudio Bieler - Belgrano - Argentina - No game until 2/25.
Reinaldo Brenes - Belen Siglo XXI - Started and played 64 minutes in Belen's7-0 loss to Limon.
Sunil Chhetri - Bengaluru - India - Started and played 90 minutes, scoring  goal in Bengaluru's 1-1 draw with Aizawl. Started and played 90 minutes in Bengaluru's 0-0 draw with Mumbai.
Jorge Claros - Real Espana - Honduras - Started and played 69 minutes in Honduras' 1-0 loss to Jamaica. Came off the bench and played 45 minutes in Real Espana's 1-0 win over Honduras Progreso.
Nuno Coelho - GD Chaves - Portugal - Dressed but did not play in Chaves' 2-0 win over Arouca.
Daneil Cyrus - W Connection - Trinidad - Offseason.
Toni Dovale - Rayo Vallecano - Spain - Dressed but did not play in Rayo's 2-1 loss to Mirandes.
Pablo Escobar - Real Cartagena - Colombia - Started and played 90 minutes in Real's 1-0 loss to Deportes Quindio.
Luis Gil - Queretaro - Mexico - Dressed but did not play in Queretaro's 4-1 win over Necaxa.
Faik Hajderovic - Vinograder - Croatia - No game until 2/25.
Will John - RoPS - Finland - Did not play in RoPS' 4-2 loss to KPV.
Peterson Joseph - Sudeva Moonlight - India - No game this week.
Igor Kostrov - Slavia-Mozyr - Belarus - Offseason.
Luis Marin - CD Temuco - Chile - Started and played 90 minutes in Temuco's 5-2 loss to Union Espanola.
Michal Mravec - Senica - Slovakia - Did not dress in Senica's 2-0 win over Zilina.
Krisztian Nemeth - Al-Gharafa - Qatar - Started and played 76 minutes, scoring a goal in Al Gharafa's 1-0 win over Al Khor.
Akeem Priestley - Harbour View - Jamaica - Started and played 90 minutes in Harbour View's 2-1 win over Tivoli Gardens.
Pablo Punyed - IBV - Iceland - Defeated Fjolnir 3-2.
Oriol Rosell - Belenenses (Sporting Club de Portugal)(loan) - Portugal - Did not play in Beleenses' 1-1 draw with Vitoria Guimaraes.
Peter Schmetz - Wuppertaler SV - Germany - Started and played 90 minutes, scoring a goal in Wuppertalers' 4-1 win over SV Rodinghausen.
Yann Songo'o - Plymouth Argyle - England - Started and played 71 minutes in Plymouth's 1-1 draw with Hartlepool United.
Kevin Souter - Deveronvale FC - Scotland - Game this week postponed.
Martin Steuble - Ceres-La Salle - Philippines - Started and played 90 minutes in Ceres' 1-1 draw with Ha Noi.
Milos Stojcev - Veria - Greece - Started and played 77 minutes in Veria's 4-0 loss to PAOK.
Matt Taylor - Kickers Offenbach - Dressed but did not play in Kickers' 3-1 win over Nottingen.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Comets Streak Snapped in Milwaukee

One night after winning their ninth straight game, the Comets saw their winning streak snapped on the road in Milwaukee 7-5 against the Milwaukee Wave. The win for the Wave saw them secure a playoff berth, meaning for the seventh straight year the Comets and Wave will meant in the playoffs with the Comets going 4-2 in the prior six playoff match ups.

In Milwaukee on Saturday, the Comets jumped out in front in the first quarter about midway through the period as some great work by the Comets saw Lucas Rodriguez play the ball to Ramone Palmer who played it across the field to Nacho Flores who squared it to the back post for Rodriguez who continued his run for the easy tap in to finish the play and put the Comets up 1-0. The rest of the quarter went against the Comets though as the Wave scored a pair of goals in the final five minutes to end the quarter on top 2-1.

The Comets didn't take long in the second quarter to even things up as Stephen Paterson collected a Wave cross into the box and immediately threw the ball out to a racing Guerrero Pino who held off his defender and scored to tie the game at two. Just over six minutes into the quarter the Comets had their second lead of the game as KC got a nice goal from Flores as he received the ball near the yellow line, turned with space and fired a shot in off the far post to put the Comets up 3-2. Late in the quarter again though the Comets defense let them down as the Wave scored three times in the final four minutes, one with just four seconds left to take a 5-3 lead into half time.

The third quarter saw the Comets cut into the lead again early as a Brian Harris shot was deflected into the net by a Wave defender to cut the lead to 5-4. The Comets continued to push for the equalizer but couldn't find it and in the final minute of the period the Wave restored their two goal lead. The Comets continued the pressure in the fourth quarter, trying to create another fourth quarter comeback as they've done a few times during this winning streak, but the Comets couldn't create much in the way of good opportunities. In the final minute though the Comets cut the lead back to a single goal as Harris scored his second goal of the season blasting a shot so hard it went through the net into the stands leading to a moment of confusion before the goal was confirmed. Unfortunately the Comets couldn't find the tying goal, instead giving up one more goal via the sixth attacker as they pushed for an equalizer ending the game losing 7-5.

It won't be the final time these teams meet though as they'll meet again in the playoffs. The Comets can still win the division with a win over the Cedar Rapids Rampage next week or a loss by the Wave at home against Chicago. If the two teams end with equal records the Wave would win the division by virtue of the better head to head record between the two teams.

Comets Stats

Brian Harris' two goals and Lucas Rodriguez's one gives them both 78 goals in all competitions for the Comets, tying them for fourth all time on that list.

Harris made his 138th league appearance and 160th in all competitions for the Comets, giving him sole possession of second place all time on both those lists.

Robert Palmer made his 100th appearance in all competitions for the Comets, he's the 10th player to hit that mark.

Sporting Top New York

Sporting KC got their first win of their preseason yesterday against the New York Red Bulls 3-0. With the Red Bulls facing off against the Vancouver Whitecaps in the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday all of New York's starters have returned to New York to prepare for that game. That left the Red Bulls lineup with end of the roster players, trialists, and unsigned draft picks to take on Sporting KC.

Sporting started the game with what looks to be the club's starting 11 heading into the season with Graham Zusi at right back and Latif Blessing starting on the wing. KC controlled the game as expected with their starting 11 and created a number of chances but couldn't beat the Red Bulls defense. It took a foul by goalkeeper Rafael Diaz in the box on Dom Dwyer as he broke behind the Red Bulls defense to open the scoring. Dwyer stepped up to take the penalty and put it in off the post to put KC up in the 31st minute.

Sporting's starters stayed in the game through the half time break, playing a full hour, but were unable to extend their lead. After the full changes, Sporting's reserves continued to dominate the game, Daniel Salloi hit the cross bar in the 79th minute after some good work down the middle of the field. KC got their insurance in the 82nd minute when Salloi played a ball across the box towards Jimmy Medranda. The Colombian dummied the ball, letting it run through his legs to Cameron Porter who took a touch and fired a shot from a tight angle that beat goalkeeper Evan Louro high to make it 2-0. Four minutes later KC added a third as a corner by Medranda was flicked towards goal by a Red Bulls defender. Louro and Soony Saad both challenged for it, Louro got a touch on it but Salloi was following the play and headed the ball into the net to make it 3-0. Saad had a late chance to make it 4-0 in the 90th minute, his curlin free kick beat Louro, but couldn't beat the far post, where it hit the elbow of the goal.

The 3-0 win though was convincing, Sporting will finish up pool play of the Desert Diamond Cup on Wednesday against the New England Revolution.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Comets Clinch Playoff Berth

The Missouri Comets clinched their seventh straight playoff berth in a 12-4 win over the Harrisburg Heat on Friday night. The Comets came out and pushed the Heat from the opening whistle, pressuring the Heat in their own end which lead to a number of chances for the Comets. It took until the final five minutes of the quarter before either team found a goal. The Comets pressure allowed the Comets to find the opener as Bryan Perez intercepted a clearance with his head, the ball got rotated around to John Sosa who fired a shot to the back post where Perez had camped out to put the ball into the net. Less than a minute later the Comets doubled their lead, again with their high pressure, this time it was Robert Palmer who intercepted a pass, knocking it into the path of Ramone Palmer who knocked the ball into the net with the outside of his foot. The second quarter the Heat came out and were able to cut into the Comets lead, scoring just over a minute and a half in. Over the next six minutes though the Comets basically put the game away as they scored five goals to extend their lead to 7-1. Alain Matingou got the run started just under a minute after the Heat got on the board as more high pressure lead to a turn over and Robert Palmer picked out a streaking Matingou who fired the ball into the upper 90 to make it 3-1. Just over four minutes in more high pressure saw Ramone Palmer win the ball in the Heat's third of the field before the ball ended up at the feet of Lucas Rodriguez who scored to make it 4-1. Less than a minute later the Comets made it five as a long ball from goalkeeper Stephen Paterson bounced off the wall into the path of Guerrero Pino who scored. A minute later the Comets scored their fourth straight, this one coming off a restart as Sosa laid the ball off to Perez who scored to the near post. Before eight minutes had been played the Comets made it 7-1 as Nacho Flores pounced on the ball when a Heat player slipped. Flores raced in and fired a shot off the post that went right to Ramone Palmer whose attempt to square the ball to Vahid Assadpour, but Palmer's cross hit off Heat goalkeeper Hugo Silva and rolled into the net. The Heat ended the run in the final five minutes of the quarter off a restart to go into the half time break down 7-2.

The third quarter started with the Heat pushing to get back in the game, scoring just 27 seconds in to cut the Comets lead to 7-3. The Heat continued to pressure and create chances and cut further into the lead with just over nine minutes played as Paterson initially saved a shot but his save went right onto the heat of STephen Basso and went into the net to cut the Comets lead to just three goals. The goal would be the last that the Heat scored on the night though. In the final three minutes of the third quarter the Comets grabbed three goals. Vahid Assadpour got the scroing started off a restart as Sosa picked out Assadpour in the corner who fired a shot that basically went through Silva and in. With two and a half minutes left Sosa and Assadpour teamed up again, this time in the run on the power play as Assadpour received a pass from Sosa, fired a shot that went right back to Assadpour, given a second chance, Assadpour made no mistake scoring to make it 9-4. In the final minute, Matingou scored his second of the game volleying a shot past Silva and in to put the Comets up 10-4 through three quarters.

The Comets were able to extend their lead further in the fourth quarter. Just under seven minutes in the Comets capitalized on the Heat's sixth attacker as Robert Palmer got played in behind the Heat defense and just dribbled teh ball into the goal to make it 11-4. A minute and a half later the Comets finished the scoring as Odaine Sinclair started a counter playing a give and go with Pino before calmly placing the ball into the net to make it 12-4. The Comets killed the rest of the clock turning their heads towards tomorrow's game in Milwaukee where the Comets can clinch the Central Division with a win.