Tuesday, February 28, 2017

An Announcement About Down the Byline

Ten years ago I started Down the Byline as a catch all source for everything Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting Kansas City) related. At the time the coverage of my favorite sports team was minimal, there was the game preview articles, post-game articles, and the occasional feature in the Kansas City Star, plus the occasional feature on local television stations. There was a gap in coverage for knowledgeable fans who already knew 98% of the information mentioned in those articles, hence the birth of Down the Byline. I tried to help fill the gap in coverage, tried to raise the level of coverage of the Wizards to a similar level that other teams were getting from bloggers and newspapers. To an extent I feel like I've been successful in that regard not just in bringing more coverage myself, but by getting better coverage from other outlets around Kansas City, including the team. In the last few years or so I've found myself having to write less on the blog and more on Twitter because the team, the Star, and other outlets have really upped their game, leaving me not needing to write full articles because those outlets have been providing much better coverage of the team and it's quicker to add my two cents on in a 140 character tweet than restate everything that was just said with my opinion at the end. The increased coverage by those outlets and others like The Blue Testament combined with my own life getting busier as my oldest child is in like seventy different activities, and my youngest ready to start soccer himself in the fall I find my time in a crunch. I'd thought about scaling back what I do here on DTB, but for me personally that's not in my nature to want to do this half way, for me I knew I wouldn't be able to scale back what I did here because of my personality and everything that I've put into this blog, it would either have to be an all or nothing thing because of how I've wanted this blog to be "devoted to covering all aspects of Sporting KC."

So with that out there, you can probably guess where this is going, at this time I am "retiring" Down the Byline. Don't worry though (or you can worry if you want to) because you're not getting rid of me that easily, while I'm retiring from DTB I'm joining The Blue Testament as a writer there. For 10 years I've been writing all the news myself on the blog, because I felt a need and desire to get everything out there and posted. Now I won't have to do that, at least not by myself. With this move I'll be able to write still, but won't have to write everything. I'm planning on moving my regular posts I do, like my after game stat posts, former player updates, and academy players in college updates over to TBT with my move.

It's not a decision I have reached easily, I mean when you've done something for about a third of your life you certainly develop an attachment to it and a sense of pride in the work that you've done. At times though I've been tired, worn out, and just not wanting to do posts on occasion but have felt like it was my duty to get things posted, at that point it becomes more of a job than I ever planned, or wanted it to be. Other times though I couldn't wait to write something up and get it posted. This move will hopefully allow me to have more of those moments and fewer where I feel like I'm dragging myself to my keyboard to write.

Over the years the blog became not just about posting news on the team, but also about sharing the history of the team. With the rebranding to Sporting KC and the move to Children's Mercy Park, the team saw an influx of new fans to the team. I tried to use the blog as a point to teach new fans about the club's history by sharing some points about the club's past or just sharing stats about the players that have come before. I've been one of the people that occasionally got annoyed with some new fans lack of history, so I tried to provide some history to help teach those that were willing to learn more about the team's history. I also did it because back when I started the team didn't have all the stats either, I can't count how many countless hours I've spent researching the Wizards run in the 2001 Copa Mercanorte, or trying to find player appearances for the national teams, or looking through MLS history to try to find more information on a new player's run in the US Open Cup five years ago. With all that time spent, I won't be deleting the blog; I'm planning on keeping it up so that others in the future that may want to get information on the club have a place that they can come to get information. Also in the future it would give me something to return to if I were to choose to do so.

In these 10 years there are a number of people that I want to thank for their assistance, people that have provided me valuable information or knowledge about the club, in no particular order and people I'm sure I've forgotten about: Kurt Austin, Kyle Rogers and others in the Sporting KC press department who have answered my questions, corrected my inaccuracies, and helped push my posts to many followers who follow the team but maybe not me. Sam Pierron and Chad Reynolds, two people that probably know as much, if not more about the team history than I do. James Starritt, Thad Bell, Charles Gooch, and Andy Edwards, for blogger summits that go two hours too long to do a podcast as well as people I could bounce ideas off of as well as people who I could vent frustrations to. Robb Heineman, for being approachable and always willing to talk to me while at the same time never missing a moment to take a dig at something I said in relation to the team. Sam McDowell, Todd Palmer, and everyone who has covered the team at the Star for upping their coverage of the team, for making it easier to get a lot of the information that seemed extremely hard to get in years past. Players like Jimmy Conrad, Matt Besler, and Kerry Zavagnin who realize what the fans meant to KC before the influx of fans in 2011, I can walk up to any of those three and they remember who I am and ask me how I'm doing like old friends. To all my sources over the years, from the big ones, like the leaked name and logo (still the highest traffic days in the blog's history) to little things like player rumors, they're appreciated. Finally, to everyone who has ever read the blog, I'd done this as a way to help there be more fans like me, fans that "bled" for this club. I'm not sure I had a huge effect on that compared to the team itself, but I hope I at least helped people learn something about the team or the fun nuances in the rules that are MLS. Thank you to everyone for the great 10 years that have been Down the Byline, it has been my pleasure.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Sporting Waive Joya and Volesky

Sporting Kansas City announced two roster moves today ahead of the March 1st roster compliance deadline, announcing that the club has waived midfielder Benji Joya and forward Christian Volesky. While both moves are a little surprising, neither move is that surprising.

Joya had been a roster freeze deadline signing back in the 2016 season, he didn't appear in a single league game for Sporting, but did appear in the club's 3-1 win over Central FC in the CONCACAF Champions League. The former US youth international had spent time in Mexico as well, but while showing flashes in the game against Central and in preseason he also had some moments of struggles, like the second goal in KC's 6-2 loss to New England where a poor pass by Joy led to the Revolution's counter where Joya got burned by Juan Agudelo.

Volesky becomes the second player in two years to sign for Sporting KC in the offseason, only to be waived in the same offseason. He joins James Marcelin, who was signed last offseason but waived before the 2016 season started. Of KC's two forward signings from the USL this offseason, Volesky actually seemed like the less likely of the two to be waived, Volesky appeared in four of KC's six preseason games, starting one. Meanwhile, Cameron Iwasa appeared in just one preseason game for KC.

The two roster moves leave Sporting KC with 26 players under contract currently for the 2017 season, with one of those 26, Diego Rubio, likely to start the season on Injured Reserve, leaving KC with 25 healthy players.

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.


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
Jon Kempin
Justin Mapp
Neven Markovic
Rauwshan McKenzie
Victor Munoz
Brendan Ruiz
Michael Thomas

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.