Friday, June 24, 2016

Honduras in Talks with Sporting to Bring Espinoza to Olympics

Reports out of Honduras are that Roger Espinoza is on the short list of candidates to be one of Honduras' three overage players for this summer's Olympics in Brazil. Honduras, who qualified for the tournament by taking second place at the Olympic qualifying tournament last year are in talks to bring two MLS players, Espinoza, along with Maynor Figueroa from FC Dallas and Romell Quioto of Olimpis as their three allowed overage players for the tournament.

If agreed upon, Espinoza would be going to his second Olympic games, having previously played in the 2012 Olympics in the United Kingdom. Espinoza at the time had used that tournament as the big show for him and is probably a big reason for why he was able to land an contract in England with Wigan Athletic after his contract expired after the 2012 season.

This year's tournament for the men runs from August 4th through the 20th in sites all around Brazil. During the tournament, Kansas City has just three league games (August 7 at Portland, August 13 at Dallas, August 20 vs Vancouver), but has a game five days before tournament at home against Portland on the 31st. KC will likely have other games during that stretch as the CONCACAF Champions League kicks off in August, and they could have a US Open Cup semifinal on August 10th if they were to advance that far. So the four league games plus at least one more in the CCL, so KC would likely be missing Espinoza for at least five games in that stretch.

I can't write about Espinoza's potentially going to the Olympics without sharing his final moment from the 2012 Olympics after his fantastic performance against Brazil, getting sent off and then getting a standing ovation from the neutral fans at Newcastle, a magnificent moment.

Sporting Announce Alvarado Signing

Sporting Kansas City today announced the signing of Honduran international Ever Alvarado. After reports earlier this week out of Honduras that the left back had not joined Honduran club Olimpia for preseason training and instead was flying to the US, and the KC Star reporting the deal was done, the team made it official today.

The 24 year old will come in and attempt to bring some stability to Kansas City's left back position. A position that Kansas City has had three different players get consistent playing time in so far this season. Second year player, Amadou Dia started the season as the starter but hasn't been at the same level he was at last year and appears to have taken a step back into a sophomore slump. After Dia, veteran Seth Sinovic won his spot back in left back but still struggled at times and still doesn't look to be the same player that he was before his concussion against DC United last season. Recently it's been winger, Jimmy Medranda filling in on the left back position, and while he's been arguably KC's best player, his defense has left something to be desired (his tackle on the penalty kick in the US Open Cup and his challenge on Tesho Akindele last Sunday just to name two). Bringing in another left back, while not the primary priority for Kansas City this weekend was a position that KC could certainly stand to upgrade, and getting Alvarado when he is out of contract looks to be a good piece of business.

Alvarado has appeared six times for his country, three just this year, so he'll join a list of players that seem likely to head out during international breaks, which will be a blow, but being able to land an international is another plus. Hopefully he'll be able to integrate better into the side than most of Kansas City's summer signings who usually don't really start to contribute until after they've had a full offseason with the club. Now Kansas City's needs to do something about improving their offensive output in the second half of the season.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Sporting Waive Quintilla

Sporting KC announced a roster move today, the team waived midfielder Jordi Quintilla. A bit of a surprising move as the 22 year old was brought in less than a year ago and had some bright movements for the club since being brought in. No brighter than tell Jacob Peterson "Jake I go" at the US Open Cup final and scoring the winning penalty kick that saw Sporting KC lift the trophy. He also endeared himself to the fans by selecting the number 96 when he arrived at the club last year, 96 being the year that the club first began playing. So the move as a whole came as a surprise to many fans and brought sadness to others that understood the reasons why he was waived.

Quintilla made 15 appearances across all competitions for Kansas City, 14 of those coming in league play and recorded one assist. He'd made six appearances this season for Sporting, all six of them starts, but just one came after the first six games of the season and that was after injuries, suspensions, and call ups left KC with basically no one left in the midfield. He'd started the season in place of the injured Benny Feilhaber but lost his spot upon Feilhaber's return. Slowly it seemed Quintilla started to fall down the depth chart for Kansas City until late April when Quintilla was loaned to Sporting's USL affiliate the Swope Park Rangers. He started for the Rangers the very next day on April 27th in their 2-1 loss to Vancouver where he was subbed out in second half stoppage time. That was the only time he was in the 18 for the Rangers, not appearing in their next three games before being recalled by Sporting KC ahead of their May 27th game against DC United, his last appearance for the club.

People have made a big deal about his opening up an international roster spot for Kansas City heading into the summer transfer window, but as of right now, Kansas City is only using four of their international roster spots on Nuno Coelho, Jimmy Medranda, Soni Mustivar, and Diego Rubio, while Bernardo Anor and Daniel Salloi don't count against Kansas City's international count because the pair are out on season long loans, freeing up their international spots. Even with the impending arrival of Ever Alvarado, KC has spots open.

The real reason for waiving Quintilla at this time likely comes down to the fact that the contract guarantee date for MLS is coming up. According to the recent CBA that date is July 1 (although the date can be extended past that, but not beyond a week past the secondary transfer window closing), a week from tomorrow. So given the timing this appears to be a move to get Quintilla off the books before that date hits.

While it's disappointing because at times Quintilla showed plenty of promise, there were still gaps showing in his consistency to fulfill that promise. He was not physically able to handle a lot of the play in MLS. He may go on and be quite successful elsewhere but as his time in KC wore on it seemed it wouldn't be here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Thomas Leads OKC to Win in Return to KC - Former SKC Wizards Update

Michael Thomas returned to his home town of Kansas City this past week with his Oklahoma City Energy team to take on the Swope Park Rangers. In his return to Kansas City, the Overland Park native scored a goal to help the Energy to a 3-1 win over the Rangers, their seventh loss of the season. It was the second goal in as many games for Thomas who also scored in his club's US Open Cup loss to Dallas this past week.

Here is the rest of this week's update.

Active without a club or unknown
Vicente Arze
Jamar Beasley
Brian Fekete
Michael Kafari
Chris Konopka
Kyle Miller
Victor Munoz
Akeem Priestley
Yann Songo'o

MLS
Jalil Anibaba - Houston - Did not dress in Houston's 4-0 win over San Antonio. Started and played 90 minutes in Houston's 0-0 draw with DC.
Teal Bunbury - New England - Dressed but did not play in New England's 1-0 win over Carolina. Started and played 74 minutes, recording an assist in New England's 2-1 win over Vancouver.
Servando Carrasco - Orlando City - Started and played 90 minutes in Orlando's 1-0 win over Jacksonville. Started and played 90 minutes in Orlando's 2-2 draw with San Jose.
Aurelien Collin - New York - Started and played 90 minutes in New York's 1-0 win over Rochester. Came off the bench and played 29 minutes in New York's 2-0 win over Seattle.
Herculez Gomez - Seattle - Started and played 84 minutes in Seattle's 2-0 win over Kitsap. Dressed but did not play in Seattle's 2-0 loss to New York.
Michael Harrington - Chicago - Dressed but did not play in Chicago's 1-1(4-3) shootout win over Indy. Started and played 78 minutes in Chicago's 2-1 loss to Colorado.
Jack Jewsbury - Portland - Dressed but did not play in Portland's 2-2 draw with Salt Lake.
Kei Kamara - New England - Came off the bench and played 51 minutes in New England's 1-0 win over Carolina. Started and played 90 minutes in New England's 2-1 win over Vancouver.
Eric Kronberg - Montreal - Dressed but did not play in Montreal's 0-0 draw with Columbus.
Mikey Lopez - NYCFC - Started and played 90 minutes in NYCFC's 1-0 loss to the Cosmos. Came off the bench and played 15 minutes in NYCFC's 3-2 win over Philly.
Yura Movsisyan - Salt Lake - Started and played 89 minutes, scoring a goal in Salt Lake's 2-2 draw with Portland.
Amobi Okugo - Portland - Dressed but did not play in Portland's 2-2 draw with Salt Lake.
CJ Sapong - Philadelphia - Did not dress in either of Philadelphia's games.
Tyson Wahl - Columbus - Did not dress in Columbus' 4-0 win over Tampa. Started and played 90 minutes in Columbus' 0-0 draw with Montreal.
Sal Zizzo - New York - Started and played 90 minutes in New York's 1-0 win over Rochester. Started and played 90 minutes in New York's 2-0 win over Seattle.

NASL
Bernardo Anor - Minnesota (loan) -Out injured.
Stefan Antonijevic - Tampa Bay - Came off the bench and played 13 mintues in Tampa's 4-0 loss to Columbus.
Marcel de Jong - Ottawa - No game this week.
Mechack Jerome - Jacksonville - Started and played 90 minutes in Jacksonville's 1-0 loss to Orlando.
James Marcelin - Carolina - Started and played 120 minutes in Carolina's 1-0 loss to New England.
Rauwshan McKenzie - Oklahoma City - No game this week.

US
Christian Duke - Swope Park - Started and played 90 minutes in Swope's 3-1 loss to OKC.
Cyprian Hedrick - Oklahoma City - Started and played 120 minutes in OKC's 2-2 (6-5) shootout loss to Dallas. Started and played 90 minutes in OKC's 3-1 win over Swope Park.
Ryan James - Rochester - Did not dress in Rochester's 1-0 loss to New York. Started and played 80 minutes in Rochester's 1-0 loss to Louisville.
Alex Martinez - Charlotte - Did not dress in Charlotte's 1-0 win over Richmond.
Tony Rocha - Orlando - Started and played 90 minutes in Orlando's 2-2 draw with New York.
Michael Thomas - Oklahoma City - Started and played 120 minutes, scoring a goal in OKC's 2-2 (6-5) shootout loss to Dallas. Started and played 90 minutes, scoring a goal in OKC's 3-1 win over Swope Park.
Yomby William - Richmond - Started and played 90 minutes in Richmond's 1-0 loss to Charlotte.

PDL
Adnan Gabeljic - San Francisco - Lost 1-0 to BYU.
Faik Hajderovic - St. Louis U23 - Started and played 63 minutes, scoring a goal in St. Louis' 3-2 loss to Mississippi. Started and played 79 minutes, scoring a goal in St. Louis' 1-0 win over Mississippi.

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

International
Korede Aiyegbusi - Siah Jamegan - Iran - Offseason.
Scott Angevine - YPA - Finland - Defeated JS Hercules' 3-1.
Claudio Bieler - Belgrano - Argentina - Offseason.
Omar Bravo - Chivas - Mexico - Offseason.
Reinaldo Brenes - AD Belen Siglo XXI - Costa Rica - Offseason.
Sunil Chhetri - Bengaluru - India - Offseason.
Jorge Claros - Alajuelense - Costa Rica - Offseason.
Daneil Cyrus - W Connection - Offseason.
Toni Dovale - CD Leganes - Spain - Offseason.
Pablo Escobar - Jaguares de Córdoba - Colombia - No game until 7/2
Luis Gil - Queretaro - Mexico - Offseason.
Jeferson - Madureira EC - Brazil - Offseason.
Will John - RoPS - Finland - Started and played 90 minutes in RoPS' 1-0 win over Ilves.
Igor Juliao - Fluminense - Brazil - Dressed but did not play in either of Fluminense's games.
Igor Kostrov - Slavia-Mozyr - Belarus - Started and played 90 minutes in Slavia's 1-0 loss to Torpedo Zhodino. Started and played 90 minutes in Slavia's 4-2 loss to Gorodeya.
Luis Marin - CD Palestino - Chile - Offseason.
Neven Markovic - KS Lechia Gdansk - Poland - Offseason.
Michal Mravec - RoPS - Finland - Started and played 67 minutes in RoPS' 1-0 win over Ilves.
Krisztian Nemeth - Al-Gharafa - Qatar -  Dressed but did not play in Hungary's 1-1 draw with Iceland.
Erik Palmer-Brown - Porto (loan) - Portugal - Offseason.
Pablo Punyed - IBV - Iceland - Started and played 90 minutes in IBV's 2-0 loss to Breidablik.
Oriol Rosell - Sporting Club de Portugal - Portugal - Offseason.
Brendan Ruiz - DJK Don Bosco Bamberg - Germany - Offseason.
Soony Saad - Pattaya United (BEC Tero Sasana) - Defeated Thai Honda 2-1 in the FA Cup. Started and played 89 minutes, scoring a goal in Pattaya's 2-1 win over Bangkok Glass.
Daniel Salloi - Vasas FC (loan) - Hungary - No game until 7/15.
Peter Schmetz - Wuppertaler SV - Germany - Offseason.
Kevin Souter - Deveronvale FC - Scotland - Offseason.
Martin Steuble - Ceres-La Salle - Philippines - Offseason.
Milos Stojcev - Atromitos - Greece - Offseason.
Matt Taylor - Saarbrücken - Germany - Offseason.

Sporting Legends 2016 Voting Open

Sporting Kansas City today opened fan voting for this year's Sporting Legend inductee, the team gave fans a list of four players to vote for beginning today and running through Monday the 27th. This year's inductee will be unveiled on August 20th at Sporting KC's game against the Vancouver Whitecaps. This year's nominees are Mo Johnston, Ron Newman, Josh Wolff and Kerry Zavagnin. Certainly a group of players that every Sporting KC fan should know, but for me there were really only two choices when it came time for me to vote. First let's look at what each player has brought to the club.

Mo Johnston

The former Scottish international came to Kansas City early in the 1996 season and proceeded to play six seasons with Kansas City before retiring after the 2001 season. When he retired he was the club's second all-time leading scorer in goals (32) and assists (31) for the club behind Preki. Now he is seventh for league goals and sixth for assists for Kansas City during his career. During his time in KC, Johnston played in 170 games (149 league games) and played over 14,000 minutes for the club. He also is well remembered for the blood he spilt helping lead Kansas City to their first MLS Cup final back in 2000. After winning game three of their series against the LA Galaxy, tying their series on four points apiece, KC and the Galaxy went into a mini-game. Just five minutes into the golden goal mini-game, Johnston challenged for a ball in the air, taking a boot to the face but knocking the ball to Miklos Molnar who scored to win and send KC through to MLS Cup.

Ron Newman

Sporting Kansas City's first coach, the indoor coaching legend had plenty of experience when he was named head coach of the KC Wiz and was already a National Soccer Hall of Famer. Newman with offensive options like Preki, Digital Takawira, and Mark Chung scored the third most goals in the league in 1996 and the second most in 1997. He twice led the Wiz(ards) to the playoffs in 1996 and 1997 advancing to the Western Conference finals in 1996 and eliminated in the semifinals in 1997. KC's offensive power dried up in his final full season with the club in 1998 as the Wizards finished bottom of the Western Conference, winning just two of their final 10 games as they missed the playoffs for the first time. Newman only lasted four games into the 1999 season before he was fired with the Wizards 0-4 on the season. Newman finished his career with a 50-50 record for KC (ties were not introduced in MLS until the 2000 season), which is now good for the third most wins in club history of KC's four full time coaches behind Bob Gansler and Peter Vermes.

Josh Wolff

Currently Sporting KC's second leading scorer in league play, tied with 43 with Davy Arnaud, Wolff spent two spells with Kansas City from 2003 to 2006 and 2008 to 2010. Wolff's time in KC among fans really seems to be judged on his final season with Kansas City in 2010 when Wolff scored just two goals in 26 appearances and played over 1500 minutes for the club. Wolff though was a successful striker for the club during what was a very lean time in terms of goal scoring; three times he led the clubs in goals scored, in 2004, 2005, and 2009. Up until recently he was also the player to win the most caps (38) for his country while a member of Kansas City. He's still the leading goal scorer in that category at this time with six goals scored for the US.

Kerry Zavagnin

Leads sporting Kansas City in most longevity categories, he's appeared in the most games in all competitions (281), started the most games in all competitions (291), started the most league games (228), second in league games played (237), first in minutes played in both league (20,515) and in all competitions (25,278). The defensive midfielder was never flashy on the field, he wasn't a destroyer type in the defensive midfield position, and he just stood players up and won the ball. It wasn't glamorous, but he did get some recognition with 21 caps for the US while a member of Kansas City. Zavagnin has stayed in KC since his retirement, immediately stepping into an assistant coaching role under Curt Onalfo and Peter Vermes.

For me the voting on this came down to two players, Johnston and Zavagnin. With Newman, while he did great things for soccer over his career his performance as head coach for Kansas City would best be described as mediocre with a .500 record, I don't think a .500 record for a coach is enough to get into a "hall of fame" no matter what he did in his career outside of Kansas City unfortunately. As for Wolff I think he could eventually make it, he has the goal scoring numbers to at least be considered for a spot, but his time in Kansas City was really hampered at times by injuries that will stick out in fans' minds.

Johnston and Zavagnin are both deserving players, Johnston for his heart on the field and his goal scoring in the early years of the club while Zavagnin's longevity combines with his strong ability in the middle of the field to be one of the better defensive midfielders in the league. Both players should definitely be Sporting Legends at some point, but my vote this time is going to go to Kansas City's current assistant coach, Kerry Zavagnin. Zavagnin's longevity with the club as a player showed his importance to the club in an important position. From being the stand-up midfielder next to the destroyer Matt McKeon in his early years with KC to taking a leadership role with the club and being a shutdown defensive midfielder for Kansas City, Zavagnin was a key part of the club for a long period of time and only now with Matt Besler does it look like some of Zavagnin's records with the club could be in jeopardy of falling. He's a very deserving Sporting Legend without taking into account his work as an assistant and being part of every Sporting KC team that has won any championship.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Sporting KC Set to Sign Honduran Alvarado?

Numerous reports out of Honduras over the last few days are stating that Sporting Kansas City is getting ready to make an addition to the squad once the transfer window opens up in July. The reports are that Kansas City is set to sign Honduran international, Ever Alvarado who currently plays for Olimpia in the Honduran league. The 24 year old joined Olimpia in 2014 after a four year spell with Real Espana, but has apparently not reported to Olimpia's preseason ahead of their 2016-2017 season because he is on his way to Kansas City to finalize a contract. Alvarado is currently out of contract, which would be in line with the way KC usually likes to do business, finding players that are out of contract.

The rumors are quite numerous with multiple different reports on the rumor. It is a little odd though as Alvarado is apparently a left sided wingback, a position that Kansas City seems quite set at with current starter Jimmy Medranda backed up by the likes of Seth Sinovic and Amadou Dia. It's possible that one of those players is on the move, but I kind of doubt that. Another option is that he's coming to play with Kansas City's USL team, the Swope Park Rangers, but at 24 I'm not sure about that either at this point. Another idea is that Peter Vermes is going to try to convert Alvarado into a winger, a position that KC is also deep in, but could use something more dynamic there. I'm just not sold on the rumor quite yet and at the moment does not seem to address a specific need that Kansas City has at this time.

S.A.S. Monday After Stats

Peter Vermes coached his 271st game in all competitions, becoming the club's all time leader for games managed.

Benny Feilhaber's goal was his 25th league goal in his MLS career.

Feilhaber's assist was his 28th in league play for KC, tying him with Mo Johnston for 5th all time on that list.

It was his 40th assist in all competitions for KC, tying him with Davy Arnaud for 4th all time on that list.

Feilhaber's goal was his 20th league goal for KC, moving him into a tie with CJ Sapong and Mark Chung for 11th on that list.

It was Feilhaber's 24th in all competitions for KC, tying him with Teal Bunbury for 12th all time on that list.

Feilhaber's goal was his 13th at home in all competitions for KC, tying him with Chris Brown, Chung, and Claudio Bieler for 14th on that list.

It was his 11th league goal at home, tying him with Brown, Igor Simutenkov, and Sapong for 13th on that list.

At 31 years, 345 days, Lawrence Olum became the 15th oldest player to score a goal for KC in both league play and in all competitions, moving past Diego Gutierrez (31 years, 320 days).

Jacob Peterson made his 50th start in league play for KC, he's the 46th player to hit that mark.

In the 4th minute, Roger Espinoza moved past Chance Myers and into 17th place for minutes played in all competitions, Espinoza finished the game wtih 12,817 minutes played.

In the 62nd minute, Espinoza passed Seth Sinovic and moved into 16th place for league minutes played for KC, Espinoza finished the game with 11,076 minutes played.

Espinoza made his 166th appearance in all competitions for KC, breaking his tie with Josh Wolff for 14th all time on that list.

He made his 142nd start in all competitions for KC, tying him with Jimmy Nielsen for 16th all time on that list.

Espinoza made his 125th start in league play for KC, tying him with Sinovic and Tony Meola for 15th place on that list.

Espinoza and Chance Myers both made their 145th league appearance for KC, breaking the tie they were in with Wolff and Matt McKeon for 12th all time on that list.

Sporting Take Advantage of Missed Call, Top Dallas

There have been plenty of surprising calls go both for and against Sporting Kansas City so far this season but none probably top the events of yesterday's game between Sporting and FC Dallas. The first half especially saw a number of contentious moments, and fortunately for KC they all went in their favor as they defeated Dallas 2-0 for just their second win in 12 league games. The win also allowed KC to jump back into the playoff picture going from seventh to fourth.

The first half had started well as both teams were creating half chances and getting up and down the field, but in the 15th minute came the biggest point of contention of the entire game as Maximiliano Urruti tried to pick out Tesho Akindele with a through ball that Lawrence Olum easily dealt with and played back towards goal and Tim Melia. Unfortunately Melia had come off his line and was no where near where Olum played the ball. Melia raced back as the ball rolled towards the net and slid knocking the ball away from goal. The assistant on that side of the field didn't raise his flag as it seemed everyone in the stadium expected him to and give Dallas the goal. Instead play continued as Kansas City played the ball back up field as replays clearly showed the ball well over the line. Seconds later Dallas was attacking again and had another opportunity as Fabian Castillo was played in behind the KC defense. As Melia came off his line Castillo squared he ball to Michael Barrios who took a shot that was saved by Melia and went right to Castillo. Castillo went around Melia and put the ball in the net but was ruled offside on the play as there was a defender back on the goal line, but Castillo had gotten past Melia leaving only one player instead of two between him and the goal. The refereeing decisions continued to go against Dallas as in the 24th minute it looked like Jimmy Medranda brought down Akindele in the box on a ball from Urruti, but play was again waved on. Replays showed Akindele making the most of the contact but there have been penalties given for it before. Kansas City came back and almost put themselves in front as some good work down the wing allowed Saad Abdul-Salaam to pick out Benny Feilhaber at the top of the box but he slid his shot just wide of the near post. The better of the chances though continued to fall to Dallas though as Matt Hedges hit the cross bar after a free kick and seconds later Castillo came racing down the field and beat Melia with a shot but saw his effort hit off the post and bounce right into the grateful hands of Melia to keep the game scoreless. By this point it could have easily been four or five goals for Dallas and it was only 30 minutes into the game. By the 41st minute though it looked like KC might be able to grab the lead as KC worked well down the left leading to Connor Hallisey getting some space to run. Hallisey played a good early ball to Jacob Peterson about 35 yards from goal with no one on him, Peterson raced in one on one with Chris Seitz but could not beat Seitz in that situation and had his effort well saved by the Dallas goalkeeper. That play seemed to wake Kansas City up and in the 43rd minute KC grabbed the lead off a Feilhaber free kick. Feilhaber played a dangerous ball towards the near post that Olum got a little flick on that helped push it past Seitz and into the net giving KC the 1-0 lead, however undeserving it may have felt. Minutes later KC had the chance to go up 2-0 from the penalty spot as Feilhaber looked to get clipped after receiving the ball in the box. Further replays made me question how much contact Feilhaber actually took on the play. Feilhaber stepped up to take the penalty himself and sent Seitz the wrong way to put Kansas City up 2-0 heading into the half time break.

The second half of the game lacked the excitement of the first half as KC sat back a little deeper absorbing pressure, but keeping Dallas from getting clear chances on goal. Neither side created much in the way of dangerous chances in the second half, Sporting's defense kept Dallas limited to half chances until very late. The best chance in the second half didn't come until the 89th minute when Walker Zimmerman, coming up from his defensive position had a diving header go just wide of the post after a ball came floating in over the top. Kansas City was able to hang out thanks to their defense and the help of the referee to earn all three points and hopefully turn their season around.

Wizards Man of the Match - Benny Feilhaber
- A goal and an assist for the Sporting KC midfielder, I was worried when I saw the lineup that Feilhaber would be sitting a lot deeper on the field similar to how he was in the first half against Minnesota. He was able to get forward at good times though and was able to get KC the goals they needed, although it wasn't his greatest performance for KC, hopefully the success can be built upon.

Player Ratings - Melia 5, Abdul-Salaam 6, Opara 7, Olum 6, Medranda 6, Mustivar 5, Espinoza 7, Feilhaber 7, Hallisey 5, Dwyer 4, Peterson 4. Subs Ellis 7, Rubio 5, Myers NR.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Match Day 17: Time to Right the Ship

MLS kicks back into action this weekend after their break for the Copa America Centenario and Sporting KC will kick off on Sunday in the heat against co-leaders of the Western Conference, FC Dallas. I wouldn't expect a game that has a lot of pretty soccer to it unfortunately because of the situations both teams find themselves in. Beside the fact that the temperature will be in the mid 90s at kickoff, both teams come into the game having played 120 minutes on Wednesday night. Both teams were taken to extra time in their US Open Cup fourth round game, Kansas City against Minnesota and Dallas against Oklahoma City. The two teams both advanced, but both teams used a number of starters that went 120 minutes which could lead to a lot of heavy legs, especially in the heat.

Dallas was able to rest one of their most dynamic players on Wednesday as Fabian Castillo was an unused substitute against OKC, with his speed he could cause a number of issues for Kansas City, especially with some tired legs for KC on defense, he'll be a handful for Kansas City's back line. On top of that Dallas is the second highest scoring team in MLS so far this season, behind the LA Galaxy (who KC shut out on the road in their last MLS game). The Dallas offense is quite dynamic with Castillo and Mauro Diaz leading the line, and while their forwards don't stand out too much, both Maximiliano Urruti and Tesho Akindele can finishing their chances when they come. Some good news for KC though is that Dallas will be without Michael Barrios who has caused a number of issues for Kansas City since signing with Dallas.

Kansas City has their own issues with tired legs, playing more starters for their win over Minnesota United than Dallas did. Kansas City will likely need more rotation, most likely up top. Brad Davis, who only played 30 minutes on Wednesday seems like a smart bet to start on the wing for Kansas City. The other wing could be interesting as Peter Vermes could go with Jacob Peterson or Connor Hallisey on short rest or maybe look to give Justin Mapp his first start for Kansas City. One big question is if Nuno Coelho will be back and ready to go tomorrow. He'd had a set back on his injury and missed Wednesday's game, and while KC's defense has played well in Coelho's absence, his availability would be a boost for Kansas City tomorrow. Another big question could be at center forward where Dom Dwyer played 105 minutes on Wednesday before making way for Diego Rubio. In his short 15 minutes, Rubio scored what proved to be the game winner bringing up questions about whether Rubio should get more time or even get a start ahead of Dwyer.

Davis - Dwyer - Peterson
Espinoza - Feilhaber
Mustivar
Medranda - Coelho - Opara - Myers
Melia


Number to Remember - 220 - That's the number of minutes that Kansas City has gone since they scored a league goal. The last goal came in the 50th minute of KC's 3-1 loss to Real Salt Lake.

Key Match Up - Chance Myers (KC right back) vs Fabian Castillo - Castillo is one of the league's most dynamic players and is always a handful to deal with. Tomorrow night won't be any different for Kansas City in dealing with him. Having to shut him down isn't going to be easy for Sporting with the way he plays, a lot of that responsibility will fall on KC's outside back.

PREDICTION -
Another match up between one of the lowest scoring teams in the league against one of the highest scoring teams and it's a question of whether the KC defense can actually shut down another high power offense. Sporting's defense has been playing much better over the last few games and will need to be organized tomorrow to continue that. Kansas City has been able to play well defensive but need to continue to clean things up on the offensive third of the field. I'm just not sure that's coming tomorrow.

SKC - 1 (Dwyer)
FCD - 2 (Urruti, Castillo)

Thursday, June 16, 2016

S.A.S. Thursday After Stats

Peter Vermes coached his 270th game in all competitions, tying him with Bob Gansler for the most games coached for Kansas City.

In the 119th minute, Benny Feilhaber hit 10,000 minutes in all competitions for his Sporting KC career.

Feilhaber's goal was his 11th for KC away from home in all competitions, tying him with Kei Kamara and Graham Zusi for 8th all time on that list.

Chance Myers made his 171st appearance in all competitions, breaking his tie with Michael Harrington for 11th on that list.

Roger Espinoza made his 165th appearance in all competitions for KC, tying him with Josh Wolff for 14th all time on that list.

Diego Rubio's goal was the 1000th goal scored in a KC game in all competitions away from KC.

Sporting to Travel to Houston for Next US Open Cup Game

Sporting Kansas City learned their opponent for the fifth round of the US Open Cup today. Sporting was grouped into the Plains regional that US Soccer begins at this stage of the tournament with FC Dallas, the Colorado Rapids, and the Houston Dynamo, the same three teams as they were in 2015. The four teams were then paired together with Kansas City being paired with the Houston Dynamo and Dallas taking on Colorado. The two Texas teams will play host, meaning that for the second straight Open Cup game Kansas City will have to go on the road in hopes of advancing.

The two teams met last year in the quarterfinals with Kansas City winning 3-1 thanks to second half goals by Benny Feilhaber, Dom Dwyer, and Krisztian Nemeth canceling out an earlier goal by Will Bruin. They'll now meet at BBVA Compass Stadium with a shot at the quarterfinals on the line. The winner of the Kansas City vs Houston game will be the ones that get to host the quarterfinal match up against either Dallas or Colorado.

The bracket has been laid out all the way to the finals now with the Plains group being grouped with the West group that includes the Los Angeles Galaxy, Real Salt Lake, Portland Timbers, and Seattle Sounders for the semifinal.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Survive and Advance

Knock out competitions aren't about looking good or necessarily being the better team, knock out competitions are all about surviving and advancing to the next round. Tonight in Minnesota, Sporting KC did just that, surviving a very physical game with Minnesota United, at game that saw 42 fouls, a shoving match, two penalty kicks awarded, and 11 yellow cards (surprisingly no reds), to advance 2-1 after extra time thanks to a goal by Diego Rubio.

After a slow start for Sporting Kansas City, where Minnesota had much of the early play, Kansas City stepped up and started to take over the game in the first half. They couldn't create much in the way of chances, but held the ball for over 60% of the first half. There was really only one really dangerous chance for either side in the first half and that fell to Dom Dwyer in the 20th minute. Jimmy Medranda played an excellent curled ball into the box that sailed over the defenders to Dwyer. Dwyer had an excellent first touch to bring the ball down and set up his shot, but couldn't beat United goalkeeper Sammy Ndjock who had come quickly off his line. United's best chance came later in the half as a cross from KC's right went past the goal to the back post for Danny Cruz who was surprised that the ball made it past both Ike Opara and Medranda and landed at his feet, and the winger couldn't get much of a touch on it to bring the ball down.

The second half once again saw Minnesota come out with some early aggression and had a good opportunity on a free kick outside the box but defender Damion Lowe was offside on a ball played over the top, Sporting goalkeeper Alec Kann still made the save though as Lowe tried to score. KC started to build possession again, and unlike the first half started to get Benny Feilhaber more involved in the attacking half of the field, a switch from the first half when he mainly played right in front of the center backs. Feilhaber was able to create some more space with his passing, but it was another player's dribbling that finally set up the first goal of the game. In the 62nd minute Medranda received the ball about 40 yards from goal and to the left, he proceeded to beat four Minnesota defenders getting just wide of the box before playing a cross into Dwyer. Dwyer brought the ball down, turned and fired a shot that hit a Minnesota defender's hand leading to a penalty kick for Kansas City. Feilhaber stepped up and while Ndjock guessed right, Feilhaber slotted the ball into the corner to put KC in front and score the team's first goal in over 280 minutes of game play. After the goal though Minnesota really started to take the game over, pinning KC back in their own end, not allowing them to get forward. The pressure caused the KC defense to make some mistakes but Minnesota was unable to capitalize. Finally in the 79th minute they were able to as Cruz received the ball out wide and dribbled at Medranda taking him on. The Colombian went for a tackle, missing the ball and taking Cruz out leading to another penalty. Upon replay it looked like the contact of the foul started outside the box, but the penalty was awarded and Christian Ramirez was able to slot the ball into the corner as Kann guessed right to tie the game at 1-1. Minnesota continued to pressure late but could not find a winner sending the game to extra time.

Extra time saw both teams control the game for periods of time but fail to find the final ball. The first period's best chance fell to Minnesota after some very good one touch passing down the wing and into the middle JC Banks chested the ball into the path of Ramirez and only a great sliding tackle by Ike Opara kept the United forward from scoring. KC was able to test Ndjock a little, but not with real clear chances. Heading into the second period of extra time, Peter Vermes inserted his young designated player, Diego Rubio, who has struggled for playing time while on loan. Rubio's insertion paid almost immediate dividends as a Medranda shot was spilled by Ndjock right in front of goal where Rubio pounced, but was offside and had the goal called back. Minutes later though Rubio would find the net as Feilhaber led a quick break for KC getting space and slotted a ball through to Rubio into the box. The Chilean had time to look up and fire a shot past Ndjock and into the net. Over the final 10 minutes Minnesota threw everything at Kansas City but couldn't find a way through. Their best chance came in the 120th minute on a long ball over the top that Kann came for weakly looking to get a foul. He missed the ball and the header was flicked on towards goal but rolled just wide of the post keeping KC in front. Shortly after the final whistle blew and KC advanced to the next round where they'll find their opponent for June 29th out tomorrow.

Wizards Man of the Match - Ike Opara & Lawrence Olum - Did an excellent job of containing Christian Ramirez all night. United's leading scorer was kept in check by Kansas City's center back pairing for a good portion of the game.

Player Ratings - Kann 5, Medranda 6, Opara 8, Olum 8, Abdul-Salaam 7, Mustivar 6, Espinoza 6, Feilhaber 6, Hallisey 4, Dwyer 5, Peterson 4. Subs Davis 5, Myers 5, Rubio 6.

Anor Fractures Ankle - Former SKC Wizards Update

Loaned Sporting Kansas City winger Bernardo Anor will not be playing much during the rest of his loan to Minnesota United of the NASL, this past week Anor fractured his ankle and will now miss most of the rest of the season. There's a chance that Anor could be ready to go late in the NASL's fall season, but regaining fitness and being able to play that late in the season seems a bit of a stretch. It's disappointing for him as he was just starting to really get involved in the play for United during the spring season. There are certainly going to be questions about Anor's future, would Minnesota look to make the move permanent ahead of their expansion draft, or would KC have to try to find another way to get rid of the Venezuelan.

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

Active without a club or unknown
Vicente Arze
Jamar Beasley
Brian Fekete
Michael Kafari
Chris Konopka
Kyle Miller
Victor Munoz
Akeem Priestley
Yann Songo'o

MLS
Jalil Anibaba - Houston - No game this week.
Teal Bunbury - New England - No game this week.
Servando Carrasco - Orlando City - No game this week.
Aurelien Collin - New York - No game this week.
Herculez Gomez - Seattle - No game this week.
Michael Harrington - Chicago - No game this week.
Jack Jewsbury - Portland - Started and played 90 minutes in Portland's 2-0 win over San Jose.
Kei Kamara - New England - No game this week.
Eric Kronberg - Montreal - Started and played 90 minutes in Montreal's 0-0 draw with Toronto.
Mikey Lopez - NYCFC - No game this week.
Yura Movsisyan - Salt Lake - Came off the bench and played 64 minutes in RSL's 2-2(3-1) shootout win over Wilmington.
Amobi Okugo - Portland - Started and played 90 minutes in Portland's 2-0 win over San Jose.
CJ Sapong - Philadelphia - No game this week.
Tyson Wahl - Columbus - No game this week.
Sal Zizzo - New York - No game this week.

NASL
Bernardo Anor - Minnesota (loan) - Did not dress in Minnesota's 3-1 win over Miami.
Stefan Antonijevic - Tampa Bay - Did not dress in Tampa's 1-1 draw with Jacksonville.
Marcel de Jong - Ottawa - Started and played 45 minutes in Ottawa's 3-0 loss to Vancouver. Did not dress in Ottawa's 1-1 draw with OKC.
Mechack Jerome - Jacksonville - Started and played 90 minutes in Haiti's 7-1 loss to Brazil. Started and played 90 minutes in Haiti's 4-0 loss to Ecuador.
James Marcelin - Carolina - Started and played 90 minutes, scoring a goal in Haiti's 7-1 loss to Brazil. Started and played 79 minutes in Haiti's 4-0 loss to Ecuador.
Rauwshan McKenzie - Oklahoma City - Dressed but did not play in OKC's 1-1 draw with Ottawa

US
Christian Duke - Swope Park - Started and played 80 minutes in Swope's 4-0 win over Rio Grande Valley. Started and played 90 minutes in Swope's 3-2 loss to Vancouver.
Cyprian Hedrick - Oklahoma City - Started and played 90 minutes in OKC's 3-0 loss to Rio Grande Valley.
Ryan James - Rochester - Started and played 90 minutes in Rochester's 2-1 loss to Toronto.
Alex Martinez - Charlotte - Did not dress in Charlotte's 1-0 loss to Bethlehem.
Tony Rocha - Orlando - Started and played 90 minutes in Orlando's 2-1 win over Charleston.
Michael Thomas - Oklahoma City - Started and played 90 minutes in OKC's 3-0 loss to Rio Grande Valley.
Yomby William - Richmond - Started and played 90 minutes in Richmond's 3-1 win over Pittsburgh.

PDL
Adnan Gabeljic - San Francisco - Did not play in San Francisco's 4-0 loss to Burlingame. Started and played 51 minutes in San Francisco's 1-1 draw with San Diego.
Faik Hajderovic - St. Louis U23 - Started and played 67 minutes in St. Louis' 2-2 draw with the St. Louis Lions.

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

International
Korede Aiyegbusi - Siah Jamegan - Iran - Offseason.
Scott Angevine - YPA - Finland - Started and played 90 minutes in YPA's 4-1 win over Virkia.
Claudio Bieler - Belgrano - Argentina - Offseason.
Omar Bravo - Chivas - Mexico - Offseason.
Reinaldo Brenes - AD Belen Siglo XXI - Costa Rica - Offseason.
Sunil Chhetri - Bengaluru - India - Offseason.
Jorge Claros - Alajuelense - Costa Rica - Offseason.
Daneil Cyrus - W Connection - Offseason.
Toni Dovale - CD Leganes - Spain - Offseason.
Pablo Escobar - Jaguares de Córdoba - Colombia - No game this week.
Luis Gil - Queretaro - Mexico - Offseason.
Jeferson - Madureira EC - Brazil - Offseason.
Will John - RoPS - Finland - Dressed but did not play in RoPS' 0-0 draw with Mariehamn. Came off the bench and played 85 minutes, scoring a goal in RoPS' 1-1 draw with HJK.
Igor Juliao - Ferroviária - Brazil - Offseason.
Igor Kostrov - Slavia-Mozyr - Belarus - Started and played 69 minutes in Slavia's 2-1 win over BATE.
Luis Marin - CD Palestino - Chile - Offseason.
Neven Markovic - KS Lechia Gdansk - Poland - Offseason.
Michal Mravec - RoPS - Finland - Started and played 80 minutes in RoPS' 0-0 draw wtih Mariehamn. Started and played 69 minutes in RoPS' 1-1 draw with HJK.
Krisztian Nemeth - Al-Gharafa - Qatar - Started and played 89 minutes in Hungary's 2-0 win over Austria.
Erik Palmer-Brown - Porto (loan) - Portugal - Offseason.
Pablo Punyed - IBV - Iceland - Started and played 90 minutes, scoring a goal in IBV's 2-0 win over Stjarnan.
Oriol Rosell - Vitoria (Sporting Club de Portugal)  Portugal - Offseason.
Brendan Ruiz - DJK Don Bosco Bamberg - Germany - Offseason.
Soony Saad - Pattaya United (BEC Tero Sasana) - Scored a goal in Pattaya's 4-1 cup win over Nong Bua Pitchaya. Came off the bench and played 33 minutes in Pattaya's 1-0 loss to Nakhon Ratchasima.
Daniel Salloi - Vasas FC (loan) - Hungary - Just moved to Vasas
Peter Schmetz - Wuppertaler SV - Germany - Offseason.
Kevin Souter - Deveronvale FC - Scotland - Offseason.
Martin Steuble - Ceres-La Salle - Philippines - Offseason.
Milos Stojcev - Atromitos - Greece - Offseason.
Matt Taylor - Saarbrücken - Germany - Offseason.

Sporting Loan Salloi to Vasas in Hungary

Sporting Kansas City announced today that they had loaned homegrown forward, Daniel Salloi back to his native Hungary to play for Vasas FC in the Hungarian first division for the remainder of the 2016 season. Salloi, who dressed for the first team in the first couple games of the 2016 season, has spent most of the season on loan to Sporting's USL affiliate, the Swope Park Rangers. With the Rangers Salloi has appeared in 10 games, scoring four goals and adding three assists. Recently though his playing time has decreased in the center forward position with the emergence of Mark Anthony Gonzalez, who is tied with Salloi for the team lead in goals with four. Add that in with the return of Dane Kelly from injury and Salloi seemed like he may find most of his time on the wing for the Rangers.

Signed in January as a homegrown player after spending the second half of 2015 playing with Ujpest FC on an amateur contract he'd scored seven goals and four assists over 16 games for the Hungarian club. He'll now return to the league for the 2016-2017 season in Hungary which starts in July. Vasas is a six time Hungarian league champion, but finished 10th last season in their first season back in the top level since the 2011-2012 season.

Salloi becomes the second homegrown player to currently be out on loan in Europe, joining Erik Palmer-Brown who is also on loan through the end of 2016 with Porto in Portugal.

There are certainly some questions that can be asked about this move for Kansas City. Was it made because Gonzalez and Kelly are seen as the primary options in the middle for Marc Dos Santos? Was Salloi just homesick and wanting to be closer to home at this point? Is he just not developing in the way that Peter Vermes would like him to? It seems awfully early to be the last of those questions considering he's been with the team for less than six months.

It also brings up questions about Sporting KC as a whole now, they now have an "off budget" roster spot opened up to sign a player, but at the same time have just two forwards on the roster, Dom Dwyer and Diego Rubio (no I'm not counting Jacob Peterson). With Rubio's lack of time combined with this move you have to assume and hope that Rubio is gone and that KC is close to, or has finalized something for another forward to come in and back up/challenge Dwyer. If not it would seem that Vermes hasn't learned anything from his experiences last year with a lack of impact substitutes on the bench.