Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Rocastle and Grenada Clinch Gold Cup Berth

Craig Rocastle joined Shavar Thomas as SKC players that could be participating in next summer's Gold Cup as Rocastle and Grenada drew today with Cuba 0-0, clinching a spot for the Spice Boys. Based off of the write up after the game, it doesn't sound like the game was really exciting at all as both teams seemed content to play for the draw as it would get both teams through just fine. In fact the write up on the game called it "he poorest display of the beautiful game in some years to remember." Rocastle started and played 61 minutes for Grenada, who will now play Jamaica who has clinched first play in Group I due to their head to head record with Antigua and Barbuda, in the semifinals

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thomas and Jamaica Top Auvray and Guadeloupe

Shavar Thomas and the Jamaican national team got the best of Stephane Auvray and the Gaudeloupe national team tonight in the second group game of the Digicel Caribbean Cup. With the win, Jamaica qualified for the semifinals and got their ticket to this summer's Gold Cup as well. Throughout the first half, Jamaica was the better side and could have been up at least one if not for some poor finishing by the Jamaican forwards. Guadeloupe came alive late in the half and had some half chances.

In the second half, Guadeloupe started as the more dominate side and had some good chances to grab the lead. The best two chances fell to their captain, and SKC midfielder, Stephane Auvray. The first after a ball was knocked away from Guadeloupe's forward, Auvray blasted a shot that was well saved by Jamaica's keeper. Shortly after a cross came into the box where Auvray laid out for a diving header at the six yard box. Auvray though couldn't direct the header on goal though and it went wide.

That miss proved costly as about 30 seconds later, Dane Richards played a cross in to the back post where Shaun Francis met it with his head and put it away to give Jamaica a 1-0 lead. Throughout the rest of the second half, both teams had chances, Jamaica missed some very good chances to double their lead but again poor finishing hurt their chances. Guadeloupe also had some chances but couldn't find a leveler. In second half stoppage time they had a free kick 30 yards out. The free kick was blasted into the wall and Jamaica was on the break. Guadeloupe looked to have the play covered a few times in their box, but poor defending led to the ball falling to Ryan Johnson who buried his shot past Guadeloupe's stranded goalkeeper and into the net for the 2-0 win.

Both Thomas and Auvray went 90 minutes for their team. Guadeloupe now needs to win their final game against Antigua and Barbuda and need Jamaica to beat Guyana to qualify for the semifinals and the Gold Cup. Tomorrow Craig Rocastle and Grenada need a draw against Cuba to qualify for the semifinals.

Bunbury and MLS Generation Adidas Team Head to Spain

Like they've done the past few years, a group of MLS Generation Adidas players are heading abroad for some training and matches against foreign opponents. This year, the team is heading to Spain. SKC forward, Teal Bunbury, has been named to the roster and left for Spain today. The MLS GA team will play games against the reserves of Real Madrid on December 2nd, Rayo Vallecano on December 7th, and finish up with a game on December 8th against Athletico Madrid. In between, the team will train at Real Madrid's training facilities. This continues a banner year for Bunbury going from a first round pick to being capped for the US national team and now this, a good year for the rookie.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Kempin, Rocastle Appear for National Teams

The busy Thanksgiving weekend for SKC Wizards players with their respective national teams and it continued today for Jon Kempin and Craig Rocastle. Kempin once again started in goal for the US under 20 team in the second game of the Torneo de las Americas against Mexico. I followed along a play by play thread on Bigsoccer and by he sounds of it, the US played a very good game, controlling much of the possession. Mexico grabbed the lead in the second half after a shot hit the post and the rebound was put away. The USA equalized later in the second half through Gale Agbossoumonde off a corner from Alex Zahavi. The match again went to penalty kicks as the neither team could find a winner. Mexico completed all their penalties while the US only converted 2 and loss 4-2 on penalties for the second game in a row.

Rocastle and Grenada continued their quest to qualify for the Gold Cup in the Digicel Caribbean Cup today as they took on Trinidad and Tobago in their second group play game. Grenada got the win on a goal by Kitson Bain and were able to hold on to go to 4 points. Rocastle went 75 minutes for the Spice Boys in the 1-0 win. They currently sit second in the group after Cuba won their game against Martinique and clinched a place in semifinals. Cuba did it with 9 men as well. Those two factors (clinching and 2 red cards) could lead to Cuba fielding a bit of a weakened side on Tuesday for their final group game. A point for Grenada in their final match will see them qualify. The two results also mean that Trinidad is eliminated from the tournament with one game to play.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

More International Work for SKC Wizards

Today there was more international work for SKC Wizards (this is likely going to be my compromise between Sporting KC and the KC Wizards) players today around the world. First, down in Martinique, Stephane Auvray and Shavar Thomas both captained their national teams as they kicked off their Digicel Caribbean Cup campaigns in Group I. Auvray and Guadeloupe opened the day against Guyana. Based on reports, Guadeloupe dominated the game, but in the end poor finishing doomed the French territory to a draw after they squandered chances. Loic Loval scored for Guadeloupe in the 70th minute, but they gave up the equalizer 4 minutes from time and Auvray and Guadeloupe now sit in second place in the group.

They currently sit behind Thomas and Jamaica, as the Reggae Boyz took out Antigua and Barbuda today 3-1. The Jamaicans jumped out to a 3-0 half time lead through Luton Shelton's brace and a goal from Dane Richards. An early goal in the second half by Antigua was not enough as the Jamaicans are looking defender their crown. Thomas and Jamaica will meet Auvray and Guadeloupe on Monday in the second group play game.

Finally, India continues to prepare for this January's Asian Cup as they played Hatta Club, another UAE club side. India finally broke out of a long slump and picked up a 3-1 win over the club side. Wizards forward, Sunil Chhetri, though did not feature again for the Indian team as they finally picked up a win after some embarrassing loses.

Comets Fall to the Wave

From the Comets:

The Comets fell to the Milwaukee Wave by a score of 24-11 Saturday night at U.S. Cellular Arena.

The Wave dominated the first quarter, leading 6-0 at the end of the first period. After a Wave 3-point goal to start the second quarter, Brian Harris got the Comets on the board with a nice assist from Jose Louiz Birche. Jamar Beasley followed with a goal of his own for the Comets, but 11 seconds after Beasley’s goal, the Wave scored to end the half up 11-4.

The 3rd quarter belonged to the Wave again, scoring six unanswered points, including one goal on a power play after the Comets had too many men on the field. End of 3rd quarter score: 19-6 Wave.

Leo Gibson started the Comets best run of the night by starting off the 4th quarter scoring with a 3 point goal from beyond midfield while the Comets were shorthanded during a Wave power play. Tiguinho followed Gibson with a goal of his own to bring the Comets to within 19-11, but just as the Comets were showing signs of life, the Wave finished the Comets off after they pulled keeper, Danny Waltman, and went with a 6th attacker. Final score: 24-11.

“We’ve got to play better defense, period,” said Comets head coach, Kim Roentved. “We have to do a better job of protecting Danny [Waltman].”

The loss leaves the Comets with a record of 1-3. The Comets next game is at 7:35 p.m. on Saturday, December 11th at the Baltimore Blast. The Comets next home game is on Sunday, December 19th against the expansion Chicago Riot at 3:10 p.m. at the Independence Events Center.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Rocastle Goes 90 in Draw

Craig Rocastle made his first international appearance tonight for the Grenada national team in their first game of the final round of the Digicel Caribbean Cup. Against the hosts, Martinique, tonight, Rocastle went the full 90 for the Spice Boys in their 1-1 draw. Kitson Bain for Grenada opened the scoring in the 29th. Unfortunately a clumsy challenge on Jose Goron in the 79th led to a penalty that Goron put away to level the scores. Grenada is tied with Martinique for second in the group behind Cuba who defeated Trinidad and Tobago in the group's other game today. Grenada play again Sunday when they'll take on Trinidad in their second game. Rocastle became the 8th Wizards player to record a cap this calender year joining Stephane Auvray, Teal Bunbury, Sunil Chhetri, Jimmy Conrad, Roger Espinoza, Kei Kamara, and Shavar Thomas as players that have been capped for their full national team this year.

Kempin and US U-20's Fall in PKs

In the first game of the Torneo de las Americas today in Atlanta, the US Under 20 team fell on penalty kicks to the Colombian team. Sporting KC goalkeeper, Jon Kempin started in goal for the US. Based off of first hand reports, Kempin had some good saves in the game to keep the US in the game and retain the lead. Alex Zahavi scored the USA's goal 2 minutes before half time as a cross from Tristan Bowen was headed down by Sebastain Lleget for Zahavi to poke home. The USA held on with Kempin making a few big saves and some good defense. In the 86th minute though, Colombia found the equalizer which Kempin could do little about. The game went to penalty kicks, where the US only converted once of 4 while Colombia converted 3 of their 4. Kempin got his hands on one of the kicks but could not keep it out. The team will play Mexico later this weekend.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

More on SKC Scouting in Trinidad

Coming up next week is the start of Sporting KC's trialist camp in Trinidad. Along with some of the Trinidadian players that have already been named previously, we have some more players that are going to be attending. As coach, Peter Vermes said in his interview with Thad, this is a combine for players from the Caribbean, South America, and Africa. It looks like there will be six Guyanese's at the event. The players are, Colin Nelson, the captain of the Guyana U-20 team, Clive Andries is another U-20 player, Richie Richards looks to be the goalkeeper for the U-20 team, Chris Camacho is a teammate of Richards for their club side Alpha United, who finished the regular season as champions. Denvor Dennis is the pool for the country's full national team, and finally Chris DeNobrega. The players were all chosen by the Guyana Football Federation Technical Committee to participate in the trial.

Also it looks like a member of the Gambian U-20 team could be participating as well. Omar Colley plays for Wallidan FC in Gambia along with being on the country's U-20 team. Colley was apparently on trial with the club in August this year and impressed enough to be invited back. It certainly seems like Colley will be one of the African players invited to participate in the games.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Former SKC Players Update

The MLS season is now over and a lot of former players will now not be updated right now. The indoor season is picking up though and thanks to last Friday's game I now know there's another former player playing for the Omaha Vipers, as Chris Brunt is on that team. Also there is a new former player, Jonathan Leathers is now officially a former SKC player after having been selected by Vancouver in the expansion draft.

Still looking for:
Nick Cardenas
Pablo Escobar
AJ Godbolt
Willy Guadarrama
Pete Marino
Ryan McMahen
Nelson Pizarro
Akeem Priestley

Preston Burpo - New England - Season is over.
Adam Cristman - DC United - Season is over.
Nick Garcia - Toronto - Season is over.
Luis Gil - Real Salt Lake - Season over.
Taylor Graham - Seattle - Season over.
Kevin Hartman - Dallas - Started and played 120 minutes in Dallas' 2-1 loss to Colorado in the MLS Cup final.
Will Hesmer - Columbus - Season over.
Chris Klein - LA - Season over.
Claudio Lopez - Colorado - Dressed but did not play in Colorado's 2-1 win over Dallas in MLS Cup.
Rauwshan McKenzie - Real Salt Lake - Season is over.
Kurt Morsink - DC United - Season is over.
Scott Sealy - San Jose - Season over.
Khari Stephenson - San Jose - Season over.
Carey Talley - New York - Season is over.
Tyson Wahl - Seattle - Season is over.
Alex Zotinca - Chivas USA - Season is over.

Indoor soccer.
Jamar Beasley - Missouri Comets - Played in the Comets 14-10 loss to the Vipers on Friday. Played in the Comets 12-11 win over the Vipers Sunday.
Chris Brunt - Omaha Vipers - Played in the Vieprs 14-10 win over the Comets. Played in the Vipers 12-11 lost to Missouri on Sunday.
Pat Healey - Baltimore Blast - Recorded 2 assists in Baltimore's 10-6 win over Chicago.
Boris Pardo - Missouri Comets - Dressed but did not play in either of the Comets games.

National Teams
Sunil Chhetri - India - Did not have a game this week.

Vicente Arze - Aurora - Bolivia - Came off the bench and played 23 minutes in Aurora's 2-1 win over Blooming.
Eloy Colombano - Ferrocarril Sud - Argentina - Started and played 90 minutes in Ferro's 2-1 loss to Independiente (Tandil).
Herculez Gomez - Pachuca - Mexico - Came off the bench and played 31 minutes in Pachuca's 3-3 draw with Monterrey.
Santiago Hirsig - Quilmes - Argentina - Came off the bench and played 14 minutes in Quilmes 1-1 draw with Racing Club.
Jermaine Hue - Harbour View - Jamaica - Defeated St. George's SC 2-0.
Will John - NK Vinogradar - Croatia - Lost 2-1 to Croatia Sesvete.
Eddie Johnson - Fulham - England - Did not dress in Fulham's 4-1 loss to Manchester City.
Carlos Marinelli - Györi ETO - Hungary - Did not dress in Gyori's 3-0 loss to Kaposvári Rákóczi.
Yura Movsisyan - Randers FC - Denmark - Came off the bench and played 18 minutes in Randers' 3-3 draw with Lyngby.
Matt Taylor - Rot Weiss Ahlen - Germany - Started and played 90 minutes, scoring a goal in Weiss' 4-2 win over Aalen.
Ivan Trujillo - Deportes Quindío - Colombia - Did not dress in Quindio's 2-1 win over Atletico Nacional.
Diego Walsh - Wellington Phoenix - Australia - Did not dress in Wellington's 1-0 loss to Newcastle. Did not dress in Wellington's 2-0 win over Melbourne.

India Suffer Another Loss

Sunil Chhetri is still out for the Indian national team and they are certainly missing the striker. India suffered another embarrassing defeat today as they fell 1-0 to UAE second division side Fujairah Sports Club. This on top of some very embarrassing internationals and it isn't look very good for them heading into the Asian Cup coming up in January.

Leathers to Vancouver

Today was MLS' expansion draft for the Portland Timbers and the Vancouver Whitecaps. Unlike last year when KC were untouched by expansion side Philadelphia, Sporting lost one player this year. Jonathan Leathers was selected by the Whitecaps in the 9th round of 10. Vancouver and Portland then proceeded to trade many of their selections away for draft picks and allocation money. Leathers ended up being one of six players drafted by the Whitecaps that is currently still on the team. So all the predictions of Jimmy Conrad or Shavar Thomas being taken turned out to be false. Of all the players I had felt Leathers would have been a good choice due to his low salary and his experience in the league.

Leathers finished his KC career playing 34 league games for KC, 25 of them starts playing 2,320 minutes. In all competitions Leathers played another 10 games for KC, start 9 of them for 3,169 minutes played. In his career with KC, Leathers picked up 1 assist, in his final game for KC on a goal by Birahim Diop in their 4-1 win over San Jose. Leathers did record one goal in one of the team's reserve league games before the league was discontinued. Good luck to Jonathan next season, except against KC.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

MLS Average Attendance

Continuing with a little house cleaning that I hadn't done since the season ended, here's the average attendance this year for the team's in MLS. For the first time in a while, KC did not have the lowest attendance in the league, that honor fell to San Jose, who averaged under 10,000 this year playing all their games at Buck Shaw Stadium this year. KC didn't fare a whole lot better, averaging just over 10,000, but just under 100 short of averaging a sell out at CAB and finishing 15th in average attendance. Next year with the new stadium, KC should be expected to jump to at least the league average this season of 15,397 and more likely into the 16,000 range, which would put them 8th on this year's list. Here's this year's average attendance, to compare to last year's, check here.

1. Seattle - 36,173
2. LA - 21,437
3. Toronto - 20,477
4. Philadelphia - 19,253
5. New York - 18,443
6. Houston - 17,310
7. Real Salt Lake - 17,095
8. Chicago - 15,802
9. Columbus - 14,642
10. Chivas USA - 14,575
11. DC - 14,549
12. Colorado - 13,329
13. New England - 12,988
14. Dallas - 10,815
15. KC - 10,287
16. San Jose - 9,659

Post Season Grades

The season ended a little while ago for the Wizards (now Sporting KC), but I haven't gotten my post season grades out yet for them. The second half of the season had more bright spots than the first half, some players grades improved with the late season performance.

Korede Aiyegbusi - INC - Didn't get much more playing time than in the first half of the season, since he got an INC at midseason it seemed unfair to give him a grade when he played less in the second half of the season.

Davy Arnaud - B - Improved his grade a full letter in the second half of the season. Arnaud was a big part of the turn around, especially since he didn't get another red card the rest of the season and acted more like a captain.

Stephane Auvray - B+ - Held onto his grade from the first half of the season, Auvray was solid in the middle for KC, although late in the season you could tell his playing a stopper role in front of Jimmy Conrad and Shavar Thomas had worn him down this season.

Jamar Beasley - INC - Never made the bench, already out of MLS playing for the Comets.

Matt Besler - C - Didn't see a whole lot of time in the second half of the season after the trade for Shavar Thomas, but played well when replacing Jimmy Conrad for the last few games.

Teal Bunbury - B - Became a much more important player for the team in the second half of the season, and earned himself a call up to the US national team, a good second half of the season for the rookie.

Sunil Chhetri - INC - Got a token appearance against Manchester United to go with his 45 minute appearance in the US Open Cup and that's it for his time in KC at this point, he was loaned out to the Indian national team shortly after the United game.

Jimmy Conrad - B- - Had a better second half to the season, and while the defense caught a lot of flack this season it was one of the better defensive years ever for KC. His partnership with Shavar Thomas helped solidify the back line.

Birahim Diop - B - KC went 5-1-1 with him starting and he scored 5 goals, a very good performance for a guy who only had garbage minutes at the midway point.

Pablo Escobar - F - Better if his time here is just forgotten.

Roger Espinoza - B+ - One of the brightest spots for KC this season, the Wizards came into the season with him being the big question mark on the back line, but he turned into one of better left backs in the league. Earned himself a place at the World Cup because of it.

Michael Harrington - B+ - My defensive player of the year for KC, Harrington had a very good year at right back, I was hoping he'd earn a call up to South Africa for the friendly, but hopefully he'll get the chance in January.

Zoltan Hercegfalvi - INC - Didn't make it back from his ACL tear this season.

Aaron Hohlbein - INC - Went out on loan for most of the second half of the season, not enough minutes to warrant a grade.

Jack Jewsbury - C+ - Lost his starting spot for much of the second half after Stephane Auvray and Craig Rocastle settled themselves, but was still a very important player for KC in their late run.

Kei Kamara - B+ - Had a bit of a quieter second half of the season goal scoring wise, but added plenty of assists to help him earn this year's MVP award for the team.

Nikos Kounenakis - INC - Never appeared for the team, but unlike Jamar Beasley he at least made the bench a few times.

Eric Kronberg - INC - Finally made his first appearance in MLS and I thought held his own. I had said last season after it was apparent Kevin Hartman wasn't going to be back that I wouldn't be disappointed if Kronberg was handed the number 1 shirt and I still stand by that opinion.

Jonathan Leathers - C+ - Enough minutes to earn a grade, Leathers was solid if unspectacular playing all over the back line filling in. For much of the Wizards good run of form he was the only defender on the bench for KC.

Chance Myers - C- - Improved his grade a bit but the former first round pick hasn't shown a whole lot now in 3 years and has moved all over the field.

Jimmy Nielsen - B+ - Maybe I rated him too high at midseason and got my hopes up or maybe he just played above his level in the first half of the season. In the second half of the season Nielsen didn't seem to be as impressive, but that could also be because the defensive got better and he didn't have to be.

Craig Rocastle - B - Rocastle won me over throughout the season. I was ready to write him off, early on, but after learning how physical he could be in the midfield, he became a good destroyer d-mid for KC.

Ryan Smith - B - Smith faded a bit as the season wore on and missed the last few games for personal reasons, but he showed very well in the time he did play and on a bigger field next year should make for an interesting season for the guys that go up against him.

Shavar Thomas - B - Came in and solidified the back line, he wasn't spectacular, but he came in, did his job, and didn't make huge mistakes that caused the fans to turn on him. Which is a major upgrade over the guy whose roster spot he took (Escobar).

Josh Wolff - C - Wolff was going to have trouble coming close to replicating his season last year, but he did well accepting his role off the bench in the second half of the season and his goal against Houston will go down as one of those magical moments that fans will talk about for years.

Graham Zusi - B- - His playing time went down a bit in the second half, but I still think Zusi has a good role in this team. He has enough creativity to play in the midfield and create while also being able to push wide.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Expansion Draft Lists Out

MLS just got done announcing the protected lists for each team for this week's expansion draft. I missed 2 of the Wizards protected players with my final predictions last night. I had Jonathan Leathers and Sunil Chhetri on the list, they were replaced on the final list by Matt Besler and Jimmy Nielsen. The rest of the list was not exactly surprising. Here's Sporting's protected list: Davy Arnaud, Stephane Auvray, Matt Besler, Roger Espinoza, Michael Harrington, Jack Jewsbury, Kei Kamara, Jimmy Nielsen, Craig Rocastle, Ryan Smith, and Graham Zusi. Teal Bunbury and Jon Kempin are exempt from selection.

So who does that leave available for selection? Korede Aiyegbusi, Jamar Beasley, Sunil Chhetri, Jimmy Conrad, Birahim Diop, Zoltan Hercegfalvi, Aaron Hohlbein, Nikos Kounenakis, Eric Kronberg, Jonathan Leathers, Chance Myers, Shavar Thomas, and Josh Wolff. Overall, there isn't anyone on the list that jumps out as a must grab for Portland or Vancouver, unlike some other teams' available players. Of the list the most likely to be taken would seem to be either Myers or Leathers who could both slot in on the back line for either team. Other than that, there isn't a whole lot to choose from unless they want to take aging veterans like Conrad, Thomas, or Wolff, which I don't see. The rest of the exposed players didn't play much this season, Aiyegbusi got minimal minutes, Beasley and Kounenakis never saw the field, Chhetri got 45 minutes in the Open Cup qualifier, Hercegfalvi missed most of the season, Hohlbein had a disastrous game against New York and spent much of the rest of the time on loan to Miami, Kronberg got 1 league game. Then there's Diop who played 7 games and got 5 goals, but I don't think either team is going to take him based on that.

As for other potential picks for the two teams, Dax McCarty seems to be the biggest head scratcher on the list and unless he plans to go abroad and has something lined up would be my absolute first pick if I was one of the two teams. Anthony Wallace of Colorado is another name that would do well on either of those two teams. It should be interesting to see how things go in the draft, but it wouldn't surprise me to see no KC players taken.

Three SKC Players in this Weekend's Digicel Cup

Three Sporting Kansas City players will be playing this coming weekend for their respective national teams in the Digicel Caribbean Cup as they attempt to qualify for the 2011 Gold Cup. Two of the three are not surprising, as Stephane Auvray and Shavar Thomas were called up for Guadeloupe and Jamaica respectively. Guadeloupe and Jamaica are in the same group and open up on Saturday. Guadeloupe will play Guyana while Jamaica plays Antigua and Barbuda. The other call up is a bit of a surprise but was hinted at in interviews and in the podcast, and that's Craig Rocastle. Rocastle has accepted a call up to the Grenada national team who is also in the final group stage of the tournament. Rocastle had the ability to join a few different national teams, but chose to represent the Spice Boys. Grenada is in the opposite group and will open against hosts Martinique on Firday. They then play Trinidad on Sunday before finishing the group stage against Cuba a week from tomorrow.

The top two teams in each group will qualify for the 2011 Gold Cup. Guadeloupe and Jamaica are the favorites in their group to make the tournament. Grenada's group is a bit tougher, but they could certainly make it through to the Gold Cup.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Another Look at the Protection List

Tomorrow team expansion lists are due to MLS for this week's MLS expansion draft for Portland and Vancouver. Back in October when the rules were announced I took an initial look at the list of who KC was likely to protect. Since then there's been some information that's come out that can and has affected some people's protection lists. Of that news, I've been informed that Omar Bravo does not need to be protected, and will not be available for selection in the draft apparently since he is on loan to Chivas still. The other thing that affects selection is the fact that Chance Myers has graduated from the Generation Adidas program. Roger Espinoza was expected and did graduate as well, but Myers was a bit of a surprise. That said, here's my updated list of who to protect for this year's expansion draft.

Davy Arnaud
Stephane Auvray
Teal Bunbury (GA)
Sunil Chhetri
Roger Espinoza
Michael Harrington
Jack Jewsbury
Kei Kamara
Jon Kempin (HG)
Jonathan Leathers
Craig Rocastle
Ryan Smith
Graham Zusi

Remember KC has to protect 3 of their internationals, who are currently Korede Aiyegbusi, Sunil Chhetri, Zoltan Hercegfalvi, Nikos Kounenakis, Ryan Smith, Jimmy Nielsen, and Craig Rocastle. I could see Nielsen added to the list as an international in place of Chhetri, but currently my 3 protected internationals are Chhetri, Rocastle, and Smith. Kamara and Auvray have their green cards while Espinoza is a dual citizen. Bunbury and Kempin are exempt due to their status as Generation Adidas and home grown.

So that leaves the following players exposed:

Matt Besler
Jimmy Conrad
Birahim Diop
Zoltan Hercegfalvi
Aaron Hohlbein
Nikos Kounenakis
Eric Kronberg
Chance Myers
Jimmy Nielsen
Shavar Thomas
Josh Wolff

Again you can replace Nielsen for Chhetri, but with the way that Portland and Vancouver appear at goalkeeper, I think Nielsen is safe to expose at this point. The only change from my list last time is moving Jack Jewsbury to the protected list in place of Bravo, who as I said does not have to be protected apparently.

So who, if anyone do I see Portland or Vancouver selecting? There are a few that could be potential picks. Myers is one that I could see either team going for, although his injury history will scare a few people off. The others are Shavar Thomas or Matt Besler, a defender that could immediately come in and start could help the expansion side. We'll see how right I am some time tomorrow most likely.

Half Time MLS Cup Announcement

Tonight at half time of the MLS Cup final between FC Dallas and Colorado, Don Garber announced some things the league is looking into, expanding the playoffs, and the 2011 schedule. Most of the news leaked onto the net after the league held a press conference before the game tonight.

First, leaked before hand was the comment that MLS will begin looking at potentially switching their schedule to the "international calender". Which means moving to a fall to spring schedule with a winter break. They seem no where close to a decision, and part of it just seems like lip service to FIFA with the World Cup bid decision coming up in the next month. We'll see in the future if this is something that MLS will really look to doing or not. Personally I'm not a fan at all, I understand taking breaks for FIFA international dates, but switching to that calender just seems destined for failure.

The bigger news of the announcement was the fact that MLS is set to expand their playoff format. MLS will add two more playoff spots, making it 10 teams that make the playoffs now instead of 8. The final playoff spot will be decided by a play-in game. They haven't fully finalized everything, but did say it will be 10 teams for sure making the playoffs. Garber also said that they will continue to work to address the situation of multiple teams from the opposite conference making the conference final in the other conference. Certainly this is going to polarize a lot of people on seeing it as a bad thing or a good thing. MLS had just recently gotten to a point where 50% of the teams made the playoffs, down from 80% at one time. Still it does seem to devalue the regular season a bit. So it'll be interesting to see what happens when a 10th seed makes MLS Cup.

The final point of the conversation had to do with the 2011 schedule. The schedule had been expanded to 34 games from 30 and most immediately assumed it was to accommodate a balanced schedule again, but Garber in the State of the League said that they weren't sure. Tonight Garber confirmed there will once again be a balanced schedule, probably the last time as 2012 with 19 and potentially 20 in 2013 the league seems unlikely to expand to 36 and then 38 games.

Comets Get First Win

Here's the press release from today's 12-11 comeback win over the Omaha Vipers. The Comets scored 2 goals using the 6th attacker late in the game to comeback and win their first game of the season.

(Omaha, NE) - The Comets, who couldn’t take advantage of numerous opportunities handed to them by the expansion Omaha Vipers, came back with a late scoring flurry to earn their first win of the season. A missed penalty kick, a yellow card, a Vipers player ejection, and multiple scoreless power plays almost cost the team dearly. The team came back from an 11-8 deficit late in the 4th quarter at the Omaha Civic Auditorium to defeat the Vipers 12-11.

The Comets struck first with time running out in the 1st period on a goal by Byron Alvarez. The Vipers lead at the half after 3-point goal off an inbounds play by Comets killer, Chili Farias. Vipers lead 3-2 at the half.

Both team heated up in the 2nd half, including tempers, as Vipers player, Le Petit was ejected from the game mid-way through the 3rd period. The Comets struck quickly at the start of the half with a quick turn-around goal by Geison Moura at the 4 minute mark. The Vipers would score the next 2 goals, one on a power play, the other on a 2-on-1 break. Late in the quarter, Byron Alvarez scored his second goal of the game to close out the period. Omaha lead 7-6 at the end of the 3rd quarter.

The Vipers scored the first two goals of the final period, including a short-handed goal by Chili Farias, his second of the game, giving him four goals in two games against the Comets. Tony Avery scored the Comets first goal of the 4th quarter to bring the Comets closer at 11-8. After inserting Vahid Assadpour as a sixth man for goalkeeper, Danny Waltman, the Comets came roaring back on back-to-back goals by Leo Gibson and Byron Alvarez’s 3rd goal of the game.

“This feels great,” said Comets head coach, Kim Roentved. “To come back like we did, on the road, in a tough environment…this is incredible. I’m so proud of our guys for not giving up and fighting like we did.”

The victory takes the Comets record to 1-2. The Comets next game is at 7:35 p.m. on Saturday, November 26th at the Milwaukee Wave. The Comets next home game is on Sunday, December 19th against the expansion Chicago Riot at 3:10 p.m. at the Independence Events Center.

First Offseason Signing a French Defender?

We've heard for a few days now that the Wizards close to their first offseason signing, and in an interview with Thad, Robb Heineman mentioned that we were going after a French player. Today while doing some random Google searching, I cam across this article about Marseille defender Julien Rodriguez being linked with a move to Sporting Kansas City. Based on the article, it sounds like Rodriguez has been fighting some injury problems as of late and hasn't appeared much for the French club. Rodriguez is 32, and has spent most of his playing career with Monaco, but also recently played with Rangers before moving to Marseille. From the looks of it, this sounds interesting but also worrisome due to Rodriguez's recent injury issues.

A Look at the Heineman Chat

This Friday, Robb Heineman participated in a chat on the blog for Sporting KC, The Sporting Way. Much of it was spent talking about the rebranding and the new logo. There were a few other points brought up. There are a few topics from that Q&A that I wanted to look into a little bit more.

The first topic has to do with Heineman's talk about members and their benefits. On Wednesday, Heineman said that there would be perks for members, including free tickets for traveling away support, deals on partner products, and free access to the supporters' section. There are other things as well according to Heineman but these are not finalized quite yet. Heineman did say that there would be no cost to be a member as well. He also seemed to hint at some votes for members as well. An interesting idea, one that seems to combine some of the aspects of Seattle's current set up and other organizations as well. It will be interesting to see what actually comes from this and how they go about implementing and executing this members program.

Heineman was also asked about hosting an MLS Cup or All Star game in the near future. Heineman said he'd love to host the game next year but doesn't know if it's possible. He also mentioned hosting the all star game in 2012 or 2013. This goes against a rumor that came out of Toronto this weekend that Kansas City would be hosting next year's all star game. But when you look at the two side by side I'd lean more towards trusting Heineman instead of Steve Davis.

The next topic to address from the chat is the continued work towards getting a jersey sponsor. The Wizards are one of only a few teams that do not currently have a jersey sponsor. Earlier in the week during the State of the League address, Don Garber said that he hoped all teams would have jersey sponsors by next season and that he expected announcements in the next month or so. Heineman said during the chat that they aren't that close but that he hoped that they'd have something to announce in February.

Finally I wanted to touch on the topic of the other teams that the Sporting Club is bringing in under their banner. Currently they don't have any set plans for announcing any other teams but they have plenty of thoughts out there. One worry for fans is that other teams in less revenue friendly sports than soccer currently is would drag down the potential success of the soccer team. Heineman said that soccer is the groups biggest, most important aspect. "We won't do anything that has the potential to detract from our ability to win."

The part that stuck out to me was when he answered a question about what other teams would be named. Heineman said that "Sporting Kansas City will only represent the Major League Soccer team." This point makes me go back to the question of why rename the team in the first place. If the soccer team is going to be the only team called Sporting, then why rename the Wizards to Sporting? Why not just rename OnGoal to Sporting Club and bring in the other teams as well? Heineman says all the teams will also have their own logos with the SC being the only joining of the teams. If Heineman and OnGoal want a true Sporting Club, most would expect all the teams under the banner to have the same name. It almost brings out the old thoughts that the team was only renamed for the European connotation of the name.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Comets Can't Hold Lead, Fall Again

The Comets finally grabbed their first lead of their rebirth history and at the half last night against Omaha looked to be on their way to their first win as well. But the Comets were unable to hold the lead and a scoreless final half for the Comets saw them fall 14-10 to the Vipers.

Early on, the Vipers were the one dictating possession, and were able to make that pay off less than two minutes into the game as a shot from Chile Farias squirmed through the hands of Danny Waltman, through his legs and just over the line giving the Vipers the lead. The Comets were able to get a little more of the ball after the initial pressure from the Vipers, but were unable to get much possession overall. Around the midpoint of the first half MO got themselves on the board off of a free kick. The ball was played across the 3 point arc to Leo Gibson who fired in a blast that landed in the far corner giving the Comets their first lead at 3-2.

The Vipers continued to maintain their control of the game, holding possession and keeping MO from being able to clear their defensive lines, similar to what the Wave did last week. Ibrahim Kante did a fantastic job of keeping Jamar Beasley in check throughout the game. The bigger Kante was able to effectively neutralize Beasley's speed throughout the game. The one thing Kante really showed is exactly what the Comets are lacking, especially defensively. They lack a big defender with bite that can be an annoyance to the opponents attackers and be a bit of a bruiser.

The Vipers possession paid off almost half way through the second quarter as they retook the lead on a great run by Victor Quiroz who laid the ball off to Paulinho Le Petit who buried the ball into the upper corner making it 4-3 Vipers. Shortly after the goal, the Comets found themselves on the power play as Johnny Torres was given a blue card for tripping. The Comets took advantage as they set up their offense around the 3 point arc. Once again a ball across the arc led to the goal as Vahid Assadpour slid a ball to Geison Moura who blasted the ball into the lower corner giving the Comets the lead again 6-3. The Comets continued to press, and Assadpour got in with a goal as Byron Alvarez worked down the left and slotted a ball into the middle that Assadpour just poked into the net after the goalkeeper had committed to Alvarez. With just over a minute left, the Comets again found themselves on the power play as the Vipers were caught with too many men on the field on a free kick, a fairly poor card to take in that situation. Once again the Comets took advantage, this time through Alvarez, as Moura found the former MVP whose shot made it past the keeper and was knocked into the net more so by the Vipers defender.

In the third quarter, the Vipers continued to pressure, but Waltman came up big in the Comets net as he had since giving up the first goal of the game. The Vipers kept pressuring but Waltman made some big saves, unfortunately he kept getting let down by his defense as they were unable to clear their lines and the Vipers were able to hold them in their own end. Late in the 3rd, the Vipers pulled a goal back, as a pass by Farias deflected off of Assadpour and into the net.

In the fourth, the Comets fell asleep right from the start as Stefan Stokic was easily dispossessed by Frederico Moojen. Moojen moved around the Comets defense and found Shaun David who beat Waltman to make it 10-8 after only 13 seconds played in the 4th. It took less than 6 minutes in the fourth for the Vipers to find the equalizer as Ricardinho found Chico Parisotto to tie the game at 10. With six minutes left, the Vipers found the winner and it was one of the best goals I've personally ever seen. A long throw from goalkeeper Jose Bontti into the Comets end found an unmarked Farias who amazingly biked the ball past Waltman and into the net. The best way I can describe it is to have you look at this goal, but make the field longer, have the keeper throw it, and have the keeper be a little more active. An amazing goal that even brought Comets fans to applaud the goal. Things got worse for MO as they pushed to find an equalizer again, as Alvarez picked up his 3rd blue card in two games for the Comets with just over 2 minutes left in the game. The Vipers at that point appeared set to kill the penalty themselves as they spent much of the time passing the ball around themselves, but with about 20 seconds left on the power play, Ricardinho fired a shot into the net to make it 14-10 and totally kill the game off.

A major collapse by the Comets in the second half, but it wasn't totally unexpected. The Vipers controlled most of the game and if not for some good goalkeeping or blocks, the Vipers likely could have run away with this game. The Comets main struggle is in the defensive third. As I mentioned earlier, they lack a big bruiser, someone that can muscle up and annoy the attackers for the opposing team. The other problem is a lack of foot skills from the defenders, too many poor give aways and inability to get the ball out of their own end when they collect the ball. As a former defender those parts have to bother coach Kim Roentved.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Kempin Called Up to U-20 Team

Jon Kempin is making a return to the national team level. A pool keeper for the US U-18 team, Kempin has been called up as an injury replace for the US Under-20 national team for the team's upcoming two games against Colombia and Mexico in the Toreno de las Americas. Kempin was called in to replace Cody Copper due to Copper's commitments to his club, Ipswich Town. Kempin keeps the number of professional players on the roster at 12. The other goalkeeper is a member of Real Salt Lake's Arizona academy. The US starts the tournament on the 26th against Colombia and will play Mexico on the 28th. Good luck to Jon.

Vermes has Scouting Trip to Trinidad

Peter Vermes and Octavio Zambrano will be in Trinidad and Tobago in early December as guests of 1st FC Santa Rosa. While there, Vermes and Zambrano will be scouting for the upcoming season. The host club is putting together a series of trial matches for the two to watch to potentially find a Trinidadian player for the Wizards. Multiple players from Trinidad's youth teams that have played in the FIFA Youth World Cups are expected to participate, including Akeem Adams, who trialed with the Sounders, Jamal Clarence, and Matthew Bartholomew to name a few. It sounds like there will be some decent talent from Trinidad there, hopefully Sporting can find a player or two that can contribute next year.

Comets vs Vipers PBP

Here's tonight's play by play for the game.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day 1 as Sporting KC

So for those of you in KC that are soccer fans, how many went into work today and had people come up to you and ask you about the name change of the team, asked you why it happened or asked you to explain exactly what the hell Sporting was and what is that SC on the logo that looks like two snakes having sex? I kept track and I had 15 people come up to me at work today asking me about the name change. Tonight when out picking up some stuff I had another 1 see me in my Wizards coat and ask me the same question.

I'm sure other people have had similar experiences in KC. It's certainly not the easiest thing to explain, the reason why they're called Sporting and you can only direct people to look at the reasoning on the team's website so many times. Many that I did explain it to actually liked the idea of a sporting club, thinking it was a pretty cool idea overall, which I actually agree with. The idea is cool, the question is how the team pulls it off, I'm sure it will start with lower revenue generating sports like rugby and lacrosse, but will they move into more high profile sports like basketball and hockey in the future?

Hopefully the need for an explanation lessens over time, and it certainly should, but today along with the good responses I got a lot of that's stupid, why'd they dump the history of the name, and why'd they go with a European name, this is the US. And while Robb Heineman has said this wasn't about copying a European name, the fact that when soccer fans think of the name Sporting in regards to soccer, most think of Sporting Lisbon.

The name has gotten a good beating in the local media as well, on the radio and on TV. Last night on NBC Action News, Jack Harry said that of the comments on his Twitter page about the change 99% of them were negative. Other news organizations seemed to have similar results, or they spent some time making a joke or two about the new name. Certainly not the way you want to start off your new era under a new name. Sporting Club has their work cut out for them in fighting against this early negative connotations about the name.

Around the MLS world the reaction hasn't been much better, a lot of what I've read today centers around MLS again dumping it's "American" identity with another step towards a more "European" one. Fans of all teams seem to be bashing on the new name, the logo and the jerseys. The name is obviously getting the brunt of it because of the European connotation, but the logo is getting it's fair share. The questions about why the SC, why not a KC, why have Kansas City above Sporting when the name is Sporting KC. All questions that I've seen asked all over the place with relation to the logo. The jerseys have not been left along either. While I think the new uniforms are sharp I do see the arguments people have against them. The Wizards had been the only team really wearing a more "true" blue for their uniform any more. Now with the rebranding they run into more uniform conflicts. The two jerseys at first glance look similar to Vancouver's colors and jerseys although the home jersey is a light blue unlike the Whitecaps white. With the light blue though, they're very similar to Colorado's secondary jersey, although the word is that they are going to white next year. As for the indigo, it'll certainly remind a lot of fans of LA and New York's away jerseys with the similar colors.

Overall it could have gone worse. The world didn't end, the sun came up this morning, etc. Still there is a lot of work that will need to be done by the front office of Sporting KC to continue to get the word out on the new brand, push it out to the fans and none fans and push for a better understanding of what the name and the brand means now. They did a decent job last night, but the news isn't going to show the full announcement. It's up to them now to make people understand the reason for the change, help them embrace it, and help people begin to develop a love for Sporting. The one question I do have is how much of this did they expect? How much of this negative reaction did they expect and how much are they actually currently taken back by? Either way it's not going to be an easy process.

Espinoza and Myers Graduate GA

Sporting has a little extra to think about in the next coming weeks as they prepare for this year's expansion draft for Vancouver and Portland. They now have a little more to think about as today MLS announced who graduated from the Generation Adidas program this year. Two KC players graduated from the program this year, Roger Espinoza and Chance Myers.

Espinoza was expected by most fans I think as he started all the games that he was available for this year and appeared for Honduras this summer in the World Cup. The surprise though, was that Chance Myers also graduated from the program. Myers, the former number 1 draft pick, made the most appearances of his career (15), but he still played less than 1,000 for KC. He'd come into the season pegged as the starter on the right wing. But an injury the week before the first game against DC allowed Kei Kamara to start and he never gave Myers the chance to win the spot back. This was also the healthiest Myers has been in his career, his first two years were littered with injuries including only 165 minutes last year. It was surprising to see his name on the list because of this. I figured due to his injury history over his first two years he'd be left on for the 4th year of eligibility, but that did not happen.

That could possibly change who the Wizards protect in the expansion draft because now both must be protected or left exposed. Espinoza is an easy choice to put on the list and I think due to his lack of development Myers is likely seen as an easy choice to leave exposed in the expansion draft. We'll see how this turns out.

Sporting to Start Season on the Road

Robb Heineman made me happy about one thing in the past few days. During an interview with MLSsoccer.com, Heineman said that KC will play all their home games at the team's new stadium out at the Legends. That means no games in neutral venues or games at Arrowhead next season. Earlier this year there had been hints from Heineman and rumors that Sporting would play at least one game in a neutral venue for the 2011 season.

This was a horrible idea in my mind, in a season where you're opening your new stadium, to play one of your home games in a neutral site. The idea of playing a game at Arrowhead, while not ideal was certainly an idea that I was more open to than neutral site venues. I figured that Sporting could use Arrowhead similar to the way that the Union used Lincoln Financial this past season. It would have given them a chance to at least have a game at home to give fans something before the stadium opened. But I understand why they wouldn't do that, even a really well attended game would look bad in a stadium that seats close to 80,000.

Instead the first time KC will see a competitive game live featuring Sporting KC will be June 9th when the stadium opens with a national television audience on ESPN. Heineman made that announcement as part of his introduction of the Sporting KC brand last night. Certainly a great way to open the team's new stadium. I think a lot of fans will have some pent up energy for some live soccer by that point so the crowd should be really into the game.

Former Wizards (Sporting KC) Update

Due to big news yesterday I didn't get this out yesterday, but here is this week's former Wizards (Sporting KC) update. First congrats to Chris Klein on a great career, as he is retiring after LA's 3-0 loss to Dallas in the Western Conference finals. Enjoy the rest of the former Wizards (Sporting KC) update.

Still looking for:
Nick Cardenas
Pablo Escobar
AJ Godbolt
Willy Guadarrama
Pete Marino
Ryan McMahen
Nelson Pizarro
Akeem Priestley

Preston Burpo - New England - Season is over.
Adam Cristman - DC United - Season is over.
Nick Garcia - Toronto - Season is over.
Luis Gil - Real Salt Lake - Season over.
Taylor Graham - Seattle - Season over.
Kevin Hartman - Dallas - Started and played 90 minutes, recording the shutout in Dallas' 3-0 win over LA.
Will Hesmer - Columbus - Season over.
Chris Klein - LA - Did not dress in LA's 3-0 loss to Dallas to end his playing career.
Claudio Lopez - Colorado - Dressed but did not play in Colorado's 1-0 win over San Jose.
Rauwshan McKenzie - Real Salt Lake - Season is over.
Kurt Morsink - DC United - Season is over.
Scott Sealy - San Jose - Started and played 90 minutes in San Jose's 1-0 loss to Colorado.
Khari Stephenson - San Jose - Came off the bench and played 18 minutes in San Jose's 1-0 loss to Colorado.
Carey Talley - New York - Season is over.
Tyson Wahl - Seattle - Season is over.
Alex Zotinca - Chivas USA - Season is over.

Jamar Beasley - Comets - Scored 2 goals in the Comets loss to Milwaukee.
Boris Pardo - Comets - Did not play in the Comets loss to Milwaukee.

National Teams
Sunil Chhetri - India - Did not play in any of India's 2 friendlies this past week both of which India lost.

Vicente Arze - Aurora - Bolivia - Came off the bench and played 15 minutes in Aurora's 4-1 win over San Jose. Dressed but did not play in Aurora's 2-0 loss to Universitario.
Eloy Colombano - Ferrocarril Sud - Argentina - Started and played 90 minutes in Ferro's 2-0 loss to Bella Vista.
Herculez Gomez - Pachuca - Mexico - Dressed but did not play in Pachuca's 2-1 win over Necaxa.
Santiago Hirsig - Quilmes - Argentina - Did not dress in Quilmes' 2-1 win over Godoy Cruz.
Jermaine Hue - Harbour View - Jamaica - Drew 1-1 with Humble Lions.
Will John - NK Vinogradar - Croatia - Came off the bench and played 26 minutes in Vinogradar's 4-0 loss to Dugopolje.
Eddie Johnson - Fulham - England - Came off the bench and played 1 minute in Fulham's 0-0 draw with Newcastle.
Chris Konopka - Waterford United - Ireland - Season is over.
Carlos Marinelli - Györi ETO - Hungary - Did not dress in Gyori's 1-1 draw with Fehervar.
Yura Movsisyan - Randers FC - Denmark - Did not dress in Randers' 3-0 win over Lyngby in the Danish Cup. Did not dress in Randers' 4-0 win over Silkeborg.
Matt Taylor - Rot Weiss Ahlen - Germany - Started and played 89 minutes, scoring a goal in Weiss' 2-1 win over Jahn Regensburg.
Ivan Trujillo - Deportes Quindío - Colombia - Did not dress in Quindio's 0-0 draw with Deportivo Pereira.
Diego Walsh - Wellington Phoenix - Australia - Did not dress in Wellington's 3-0 loss to Centnral Coast.

India Humiliated Again

Sunil Chhetri didn't play, but India once again suffered a big loss in an international friendly. Against the United Arab Emirates India fell 5-0 to the Middle East team. Chhetri again missed with injury as India has now lost their last 3 friendlies by a combined 16-1. Not exactly the type of form you want to have just 2 months before the beginning of the Asian Cup. This was India's last international friendly until the start of the Asian Cup, they'll play a few more UAE clubs before the tournament, but right now hopes don't look high for India.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New 3-D Stadium View

After tonight's announcement, I got the chance to talk with Dave Ficklin about the rebranding and everything that was going on. While speaking with him a few people from Populous came up and began talking with us about the event and other things while talking Ficklin mentioned the new 3-D Virtual Venue that the team has. The Virtual Venue is now up on the Sporting KC website and is absolutely amazing. I've been playing with it for much of the night and it's amazing, it's great to get so many views of what the view is going to look like from all the different positions. It also gives a great feel for what you're going to see from each different spot on the field. It's going to be a great way for fans (sorry members) to try and decide where they are going to get their season tickets in the new stadium. Check it out it's amazing.

Officially Sporting

It became official today, the Wizards officially were rebranded as Sporting KC. The new logo, new name, new jersey, new identity. I'd go into details on all the changes and the reasons for the changes, but I wouldn't do any of it justice. I did record most of the announcement on my iphone and the videos are below, you can hear Robb Heineman explain the reason for the name change and in the second part explains the logo and the different parts of it. There wasn't much if any booing of the logo or the name change, although I did catch one or two, you may be able to pick up in the video, no where near the level that I originally thought there would be.

Although on the internet afterward it seems like everyone is bashing the logo and name. Much of the dislike of the logo has to do with the SC and it seeming out of place as the main component of the logo. It being the center point of the logo. You can try to get a better understanding of the logo and other things on their site here where they explain things. The name also continues to get it's fair share of hatred around the net, both from fans of the team and just random people as well. Most seem to point to it being a Europoser name, but Heineman said during his speech:
“This, to us, is not European whatsoever. This is all about our connection to the community and us trying to be innovative in what we’re trying to do."

I understand his point, but it's hard to really argue for his point, the name is European, but the idea as a whole is definitely unique to the United States. How far the team takes the whole "sporting club" idea is yet to really be seen. The talk tonight was about specifically rugby and lacrosse as being other potential sports in the club. There was also talk of members getting free tickets to away games and other things. All this while great is definitely something I think some fans are waiting to really see if it's true or not.

Tonight the new uniforms were also shown for the first time with Omar Bravo wearing the team's new "Sporting Blue" home jersey, while Jimmy Conrad was wearing the team's away dark indigo. Both are very classy and probably my favorite part of the entire rebranding. The home jersey is sharp and I really like the collar on the jersey. The away indigo is probably my favorite of the two though, I just like the design of it. The best thing about this jersey compared to last year is that the Wizards have been able to get rid of the "captain's arm bands" that were on last year's jersey. The one knock on he uniforms is that a lot of people see them as the same color scheme as the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps. And that the current home is comparable to the current away uniform of the Colorado Rapids.

Overall a good night for understanding why the team is doing this. And while I don't agree with or like all of what they are doing, I respect the fact that they were willing to come out and explain everything. And while some of the explanations from Heineman certainly seemed like bull shit, the way he delivers it makes you really believe in what he's saying.

Thomas Goes 90 in Draw

Continuing the international day for Wizards (oops Sporting, that's going to take getting used to), Shavar Thomas went the full 90 for Jamaica in their friendly today in Fort Lauderdale, FL against Costa Rica. Thomas slotted into the defense for Jamaica as they held the Ticos to a 0-0 draw today. The game was the final tune up for Jamaica in their preparations for the Digicel Caribbean Cup that starts next week. Thomas and Jamaica will be taking on teammate, Stephane Auvray and Guadeloupe in the tournament.

Espinoza and Honduras Lose

Roger Espinoza started tonight for Honduras in their match tonight against Panama, unfortunately the game did not go their way. Honduras lost 2-0 to their Central American rivals. Espinoza played in the back for Los Catrachos in the game.

Bunbury Gets First Cap

Teal Bunbury received his first senior cap for the US national team today down in South Africa as the USA took on South Africa in the Nelson Mandela Cup. Bunbury started the game on the bench, but came on at half time for an ineffective Robbie Findley. Bunbury was impressive in his 45 minute stint and had one real good opportunity when he turned and fired a good shot. The US scored the winner in the 85th minute through teenager Juan Agudelo off a nice assist from Mikkel Diskerud. Considering it was virtually South Africa's A team while it was a mix of mostly fringe US players, this is a fantastic result for the US and certainly will make this coming January's camp interesting.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tomorrow's Almost Here

Tomorrow is the day, the "Big News for KC" announcement down at the Power and Light District. At this point most signs and most people expect to see the team announce that the Wizards name is going away and the team will now be known as Sporting KC. It also appears the Wizards will be changing their colors and we'll be getting a new logo that you've already seen on this blog.

So tomorrow should be incredibly interesting to see how all that goes and how fans respond, there's been a lot of negativity voiced on the comments, here, on the event page on Facebook, and Bigsoccer, so it'll be interesting to see how much of that transitions over to the announcement itself tomorrow.

Today the team confirmed the rumor that had been running around, saying that Omar Bravo WILL be introduced tomorrow to KC fans for the first time. And I'd put money on him wearing the new jersey. I also wouldn't be surprised if the jersey he comes out in happens to have a jersey sponsor on it after Don Garber's comments in the State of the League today.

As I tweeted early today. For those that have read the Fox4 article (since edited), or listened to 96.5 The Buzz this morning, and read/heard that the team was discouraging fans from wearing Wizards gear, this is not true, in fact the team is actively encouraging fans to wear their Wizards gear for the announcement tomorrow.

Tomorrow, feel free to boo the announcement of the change, I know I will be. But as I said yesterday, give Robb Heineman a chance to explain why, then feel free to boo some more, but at least listen to why the team is doing it. I'm made my opinion well known on this but I am extremely interested in hearing why OnGoal is doing this and will certainly be giving Heineman my attention as he explains that portion.

New Byline to Back Post

This week's From the Byline to the Back Post is now up for you to listen to. Thad and I discussed the re-entry draft, call ups for Wizards players, the Comets, other Wizards news, and of course the upcoming announcement on the team's rebranding. Get the podcast from iTunes or Posterous and listen tomorrow before the announcement.

State of the League

Today Don Garber spoke on the State of the League in a conference call that was streamed on MLSsoccer.com. There was plenty of interesting information coming out of the conference, and at least one thing that makes you just shake your head thanks to Paul Gardner. Some of the key points for me at least are below:

- Garber announced in the next 30-40 days there would be more jersey sponsorship announcements, with KC's announcement tomorrow, one would think that when Omar Bravo walks out in the new jersey there will be a sponsor on the front of the jersey.

- He officially announced the removal of the home grown player rule.

- Salary cap will be $2.67 million.

- The official announcement of the increased roster size was also announced. The 6 new roster spots have to be for players 24 or under and will not count against the cap.

- Also the reserve league is officially back, the season will be 10 games long, and teams will be divided into 3 6-team divisions. Teams will play each team in their division twice. The top 8 teams will make a reserve league play off. There are new eligibility rules, making games only available to the first team roster, trialists, and youth team players. A good move that will avoid front office people suiting up for the teams' reserves.

- Next season will have a 34 game schedule, they haven't finalized the format for next season and whether the schedule will be balanced or unbalanced. They are looking to possibly change and possibly expand the playoff format. MLS Cup will be November 20th, and they are looking at possibly having MLS Cup at the site of the highest seeded playoff team. Most of this is going to be decided at the Board of Governors meeting coming up soon. Garber did say the first game should be announced soon and that the full schedule should be out in January or early February. He also said that the league will never do away with the playoffs.

- The league is looking to potentially increase the salary cap for teams that make the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champion's League.

- Garber basically gave away who the MVP was this year it seemed like saying that the Golden Boot winner was in MLS Cup, but then backing up and saying there was an announcement coming later this week on an award. This seems to point to David Ferreira being the MVP, which is a great call in my opinion, he was my selection.

- New York 2 is still the leading candidate for the 20th expansion slot. Garber thinks we'll see the league expand over 20 in our lifetimes and included Atlanta, Florida (Tampa and Orlando), and San Diego, among others that were looking to get into the league.

- Finally the head shaking came when Paul Gardner from Soccer America was given the chance to ask a question and then proceeded to rant about the playing style in MLS until he was cut off by Garber asking him what his question was. Gardner continued to rant his opinion only shaping it as a very lopsided question that I thought Garber did well to answer. Gardner embarrassed himself more than anything in that exchange and has been laughed at and mocked quite a bit since the press conference.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Why I Don't Like the Name Sporting KC

First, props to the Uni Watch blog for getting the above, cleaner version of the logo that I posted last night.

Now for more on the upcoming rebranding of the Wizards. This team will be Sporting KC next year, and I'm still not excited, or even happy about. It's not because I hate the name, cause I really don't. It's because I'm indifferent about the name, I nothing it. I have no feelings at all about the name. It's a name that stirs no emotion at all one way or another. The name strikes me as marketing done the best to offend no one. The logo is the same, there's nothing that makes it stand out and it looks too much like the Eastern Conference logo in my opinion. I understand why it was done by OnGoal as I expect they will have team's other than soccer under the Sporting KC flag in the coming years, lacrosse and rugby for example playing out at the new stadium. I just think that the name itself really does nothing to elicit any sort of sense of pride or tie in to the city of KC.

I plan to give Robb Heineman at least the opportunity to explain on Wednesday why the team will be this name, and I hope that others with the same mindset as me will do so as well. But currently I don't feel good about his whole "second chance to make a first impression" right now.

Home Grown Player Restrictions Lifted

Some good news tonight for the expanded roster and MLS teams' youth development. It looks like MLS is set to remove the home grown player restrictions. Currently teams are allowed to sign 2 players each year. The new rule will remove all those restrictions. This now becomes a huge way to build your roster. Now if a team has multiple players in their youth system ready to move up to the first team they don't have to choose which two they want to prompt in one year. Now team's need to start really turning out the young players. The Wizards will need to step up their development as well. For example, Dallas has already prompted 4 players from their youth system. The biggest success so far has been Andy Najar with DC, the winner of the rookie of the year award this year. The Wizards already have prompted one player, Jon Kempin and could conceivably promote more next year. So the likes of Jordan Rideout and Konner Knoll could be called up to the first team next year if they the team chooses. It certainly gives the team more opportunity to have control of their own destiny in player development.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sporting KC's New Logo?

I had the above logo emailed to me by an anonymous source today stating it was the Wizards/Sporting KC's new logo. From what I've been told this certainly does look to be the team's new logo next year. It contains the darker and the lighter blue that people have been hearing, and includes gray which I'd heard was included a bit.

It's a fairly generic logo, seemingly designed to upset no one. If you look closely it actually looks a lot like the MLS Eastern Conference logo currently. We'll find out for sure Wednesday.

India Humiliated, Chhetri Still Out

India was humiliated in it's international friendly today in the Middle East as they lost 9-1 to Kuwait. Wizards forward, Sunil Chhetri was still unavailable after picking up a knock in practice earlier in the week. India was down 3-0 at the half, before giving up 6 in the second. They were down 7-0 before they got their own consolation goal.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hard Evidence of Name Change?

I was emailed a link to the MLS Rumors website a little bit ago, and an article about the Wizards rebranding to Sporting KC. The article claimed to have "hard evidence" of the rebranding. Curious to see what they came up with I took a look at the article, though I don't regularly visit that site for one reason or another. Anyway, I know there are a lot of people that boycott that site, so I figured I'd share their findings. From what they found out, on November 8th, MLS registered the domain "SportingKCgear.com" with Network Solutions. The actual sites SportingKC.com and SportingKansasCity.com have both been registered on GoDaddy as well, the site of choice for MLS.

The information basically confirms everything that I've been hearing in private conversations with people, and personally it sucks. I hate the idea of rebranding and I hate the idea of being Sporting KC. The main reason for that being that I feel nothing about the name, it's bland and generic, nothing in that gives me any thought of building a better identity in the city and the region as Robb Heineman has stated on previous occassions.

I will be booing the announcement on Wednesday when the Wizards are rebranded Sporting KC. Another rumor that has started making the rounds on Bigsoccer is that Omar Bravo will also be introduced that evening, a sly way to hopefully avoid the boos that I'm sure a few people will be throwing out when the announcement is made.

Below is the information on the registration of the site.

Domain: sportingkcgear.com
Cache Date: 2010-11-09
Server: whois.networksolutions.com
Created: 2010-11-08
Updated: 2010-11-08
Expires: 2012-11-08

Registrant:Major League Soccer LLC.
care of Network Solutions
PO Box 459Drums, PA. US 18222


Administrative Contact, Technical Contact:
Major League Soccer LLC. hk73c7av397@networksolutionsprivateregistration.com
care of Network Solutions
PO Box 459Drums, PA 18222

Record expires on 08-Nov-2012.
Record created on 08-Nov-2010.

Domain servers in listed order:


Friday, November 12, 2010

Comets Fall in Opener

At times tonight, the Missouri Comets looked like a well oiled machine, stringing together plenty of passes and creating chances on goal. Other times they looked every bit of the expansion team they were going up against a team in their 27th season in the Milwaukee Wave as they fell 20-9 to last year's MISL runner's up. The Wave came out early attacking and were rewarded with two goals in the first 6 minutes of the game through Tenzin Rampa and Josh Rife. Shortly after though, the Comets came alive and scored their first goal with Mirsad Dzilic getting the goal off an assist from Stefan Stokic who got the loudest cheer during the pre-game introductions thanks to plenty of kids from the youth team he likely coaches. Late in the first quarter, the Wave added to their lead as Hewerton touched home a shot from Marcio Leite to give the Wave a 6-2 advantage at the end of the quarter.

In the second quarter, the Comets tightened up defensively and were able to keep the Wave off the board, a lot of this was thanks to the stellar play of Danny Waltman who came up with plenty of good saves throughout the game to keep the Comets in it. Unfortunately in the 3rd quarter it didn't take the Wave long to get back on the board, only 14 seconds into the quarter Leite dispossessed Stokic after a hospital ball from Waltman. Leite beat Waltman to the near post and the Wave were up 8-2. The comes though struck back quickly, with Leo Gibson leading the charge shortly after the Wave's goal, Gibson took a clearance from Wave goalkeeper Nick Vorberg off his chest and with Vorberg already out of his net, Gibson buried his shot for a 3 point goal to put the Comets within 3 points. A little over a minute later Gibson was again involved as he set up the returning Comet and former Wizard, Jamar Beasley with a tap in at the back post. Only signed yesterday, Beasley only played the second half, but during that time he certainly proved to be one of the Comets best players.

After that, things started to come undone for the Comets, the Wave made it 10-7 with 6:40 gone in the 3rd quarter as Rife scored his second goal on a well designed set piece, and then less than a minute later after a holding call on the Comets in the box led to a penalty kick they found themselves down 12-7 via Giuliano Oliviero from the penalty spot. Things continued to get worse for the Comets as they gave up 3 goals in just over 5 minutes of play in the 4th quarter as Rampa got his second, Hewerton got his second on a nice scissor kick, and JP Rodrigues scored as well to make it 18-7. Beasley pulled one back for the Comets, making it 18-9 after he finished off a break away when the Wave got caught up on a free kick. Matt Stewart though finished off the scoring for the Wave making it 20-9 with just under 5 minutes to play. Very late on things got a little intense with Byron Alvarez, who picked up a second blue card for kicking at Wave keeper Vorberg. Alvarez also appeared to horse collar him (to use a football term) a bit around the neck. Alvarez's first blue card wasn't any better as he slid in "studs" up on a tackle in the first quarter.

Overall not a great performance for the Comets, but certainly some positives, Waltman is a solid pick up in goal and it appears that he'll be needed quite a bit throughout the season. Beasley looks like he'll be one of the team's leaders offensively once he's had time to gel with the team. And Gibson looks to be a handful for opposing defense. But tonight the Wave were just more organized and too strong for the Comets to consistently break down.

Missouri Comets Home Opener

Tonight's play by play for the Comets home opener.

Major KC Soccer Announcement Wednesday

There is a major event going down next Wednesday from 5:30 to 8:00 down at the Power and Light District in KC. The Wizards are the creators of the event and currently have a website set up, bignewsforkc.com, which currently redirects you to the Facebook event for the event. There will be a major announcement for KC soccer and then a pub crawl. The safe money would seem to be this being some sort of announcement on the seemingly inevitable rebranding of the Wizards. It will be interesting to see what the announcement really is, and how the crowd reaction will be. I've noticed lots more negative responses to the idea of being called Sporting KC, the negative reaction has started to appear from time to time on the team's Facebook page as well now.

Really the rebranding makes the most sense, although it could be something else. But the only thing that makes sense to me to call "a major Kansas City soccer announcement" other than rebranding would be the announcement of the Gold Cup coming to KC. Because if it wasn't one of those, why would they avoid mentioning the team's name in the announcement?

For those of you that are against the name change (or are for rebranding but against being called Sporting KC) here are some potential chants for you other than just booing the new name, if this is in fact the announcement. I personally like the "It's so shitty it's unbelievable" one.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hot Winter Nights Return Tomorrow

Almost 11 years ago I went to my last professional indoor soccer game, it was Dino Delevski bobble head night and the Comets defeated the Milwaukee Wave that night (I don't remember the score, so please don't ask). Tomorrow I'll be going to another professional indoor game, as the Comets return and will again take on the Milwaukee Wave. This time the game will be at the Independence Event Center instead of Kemper Arena, and it's the Missouri Comets, not the Kansas City Comets.

The new Comets are looking to bring back the entertainment atmosphere of the original Comets that brought in over 10,000 people regularly to rock Kemper during their heyday in the 80's. The Midnight Express theme is coming back along with more. The question is how competitive this team will be. With the signings they've made, including today's of Jamar Beasley, it would appear that they're certainly going to try to. Tomorrow, though, they're going up against one of the few remaining elder statesmen of indoor soccer. The Wave has been in existence since 1984, the oldest continuously run soccer team indoor or outdoor in this country. The Wave lost in last season's championship. As an expansion side one would expect the Comets to struggle in their first game against a more established team. But either way it should be an interesting start to the season.

For those of you that need a little more information on the rules, here are some of the basic rules for you. So get out and enjoy the games some time this season.

• The game is played in four 15-minute quarters.
• Corner kicks - taken if the ball leaves the playing area between the two flags on the goal line
• Kick-ins- taken when the ball leaves the field of play
• Yellow Line violations- A ball pass crosses both yellow lines in the air without being touched by another player.

• All goals scored are worth two points, except goals scored on shot attempts from on or beyond the 45-foot arc surrounding the goal, which will be worth three points.

• Fouls are penalized with a free kick to the offended team. A goal can be scored directly from all free kicks.
• Penalties are two (2) minutes in length. Misconducts (the referee will show a yellow card) are five (5) minutes in length.
• Man Advantages (power play) - a team will play one (or two) men short.

More on Bunbury Call Up

Today with the announcement of the US roster for the South Africa friendly, it seems like the biggest talking point has been the inclusion of Teal Bunbury on the US roster. This has been especially true north of the border where Bunbury's jumping at the chance to represent the US national team has annoyed, frustrated, and pissed off Canadian fans. The main point of frustration is because earlier this year Bunbury said "I was born in Canada, I have a lot of family members there, and it would feel wrong for me to play for the U.S. I feel a connection with Canada."

Then last week Bunbury went on It's Called Football and seemed to waiver from that stance, saying that he wanted to do what was best for his career. A week later, he's accepting a call up to the US national team. Today in an interview with MLSsoccer.com, Bunbury says that he is 100% committed the USA and says that he doesn't think about if this or that happens. Bunbury also said that his reason for switching was because he wanted to play in a World Cup and he felt he had a better chance of doing that with the US. With the disorganization with the Canadian Soccer Association, it's hard to fault him in that regard, but you also have to wonder how Bunbury's going to develop, and if he'd even be in the picture for selection for the 2014 World Cup. Bunbury has a lot of raw talent and if he continues to develop it's certainly possible he could be on a plane to Brazil for the World Cup with the US. But that's certainly not a foregone conclusion, while the US striker depth is fairly thin, there is still a lot he'll need to do to make the team.

The other thing that certainly doesn't endear him to the Canadian fans is the fact that on his last appearance on It's Called Football last year he was asked if he'd been in contact with anyone from US Soccer (not necessarily called up), and Bunbury said no. But yet in the MLSsoccer.com interview Bunbury admits to having spoken with US coach Bob Bradley a couple months ago when he was told he was on the USA's radar.

All this is going to make for some very interesting games next year when Bunbury and the Wizards go to Toronto and Vancouver for games as you know the Bunbury/Canada angle is going to be played up (at least in the fans' minds) a lot. All that aside, this is a great opportunity of Bunbury to audition for Bradley right in front of him in training and in a game and prove that he needs to be in the discussion for future call ups.

Here is his interview with Dave Borchardt on the Wizards Youtube channel.

Beasley Signs with Comets

The running joke when the Missouri Comets were announced was that they were going to be signing Wizards midfielder, Jamar Beasley once the season ended. Who knew that this would actually end up being true. The Wizards have not made a formal announcement releasing or waiving Beasley, but the Comets made the announcement today that they'd signed the player. Beasley spent time with Chicago and New England before moving to the indoor game. The Wizards signing Beasley was his first outdoor team since 2003. Beasley returns to the Comets after playing with previous incarnation of the Comets from 2003-2005, playing 61 games scoring 53 goals. Beasley is expected to be in uniform tomorrow night when the Comets open their season against the Milwaukee Wave at the Independence Event Center. The move is the first of what could be an interesting offseason for the Wizards with the new Re-Entry draft and the expanded roster.

Beasley was signed in May replacing Igor Kostrov on the Wizards roster. Beasley didn't make a first team appearance and didn't make the bench for the Wizards at all this season. He only got time playing with the Swope Park Rangers. Good luck to Beasley and I look forward to seeing him tomorrow night.

India Falls as Chhetri Sits

Wizards forward, Sunil Chhetri did not play for India today in their 2-0 loss to AFC Champions, Iraq. Chhetri picked up an injury earlier this week in practice and was forced to miss the game today. Chhetri and India's other primary striker, Bhaichung Bhutia, both missed the game in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. The other big news for Chhetri and India is that national team coach, Bob Houghton has quit his post only 2 months before the Asian Cup in Qatar. Chhetri though is currently expected to return to action on Sunday when India take on Kuwait.

Thomas Called Up for Jamaica

To go along with Teal Bunbury's call up for the US, Roger Espinoza's call up for Honduras, and Sunil Chhetri's continued play with India, Wizards defender, Shavar Thomas has once again been called up for the Jamaican national team for their game against Costa Rica on November 17th. Thomas will be looking to earn his 4th cap since returning to the Wizards earlier this season as Jamaica prepares for the upcoming Digicel Caribbean Cup where they'll play Stephane Auvray and Guadeloupe.

Bunbury Called Up for USA Game

US Soccer just announced the 18 man roster for next week's game against South Africa in Cape Town as part of the Nelson Mandela Challenge. The roster has plenty of younger surprises on the roster, one of those being Wizards forward, Teal Bunbury. Bunbury is one of 5 new to the full national team players including Tim Ream, Juan Agudelo, Gale Agbossoumonde, and Mix Diskerud. Looks like Bunbury has already sat down with his dad and agent as he said that he needed to do last week on It's Called Football. In actuality one would think that Bunbury had already made his decision by the time he went on the show last week. Bunbury, a dual USA-Canadian citizen had appeared a few times for the Canadian U-17 and U-20 teams, but earlier this year turned down a call up to the Canadian national team to focus on his club play. It now appears that Bunbury has made his decision on who he wants to play for.

This game will not cap tie Bunbury to the USA, but is certainly a statement from him about his intentions for the future. And it appears that he's turning down the opportunity to represent the country his father did for the United States.