Monday, February 28, 2011

SKC to Head to Houston For Open Cup Qualifier

Sporting KC's road trip to start the season just got 1 game longer with the announcement today of the US Open Cup draw. The Wizards will take on the Houston Dynamo in the second stage of the qualifying process for MLS teams. The qualification process is based mainly on geography, although the worst three teams from last year (Philadelphia, DC, and Chivas) and expansion side Portland all have to compete in three rounds to qualify for the Open Cup proper while the other six teams only have to win twice.

To decide the host, a coin flip was done. Sporting lost the coin flip and will head to Houston some time in April for a game against the Dynamo. Already in April, the Wizards have 4 games on the road against Vancouver (2nd), Columbus (16th), New England (23rd), New York (30th). Should KC advance by Houston, then they'll move on to a game against one of three teams, either New England, or the winner of DC and Philadelphia. According to the layout, KC could potentially host that game should they win. That could see KC at least at home once before the home opener against Chicago.

Here are the full Open Cup qualification brackets.

Game A: (10) Portland Timbers vs. (8) Chivas USA
Game B: (9) D.C. United vs. (7) Philadelphia Union
Game C: (2) San Jose Earthquakes vs. Game A winner
Game D: Game B winner vs. (6) New England Revolution
Game E: (4) Chicago Fire vs. (1) Colorado Rapids
Game F: (5) Houston Dynamo vs. (3) Sporting Kansas City
Game G: Game C winner vs. Game E winner
Game H: Game F winner vs. Game D winner

In other scheduling news, the team announced on Twitter the team's final two preseason games. Both of those games will be against Real Salt Lake. The game on the 8th will be "first team", while the game on the 9th will be a game for the reserves.

Alvarez Named MISL Player of the Week

The Missouri Comets had a very good week, and it finished off with a personal award for Comets player, Byron Alvarez, who today was named the MISL player of the week. In the Comets two games this past week, he totaled 13 points. In the win over the Omaha Vipers Alvarez scored a hattrick, including the game winning goal in the 11-6 win. Alvarez continued his hot streak the next night against the Chicago Riot. Alvarez scored two more goals, one three and one two pointer and had two assists in the Comets blow out 23-7 win.

Speaking of the Vipers game, Thad over at The Back Post has some good photos from the game, including some very interesting shots from two rather controversial moments from the game, one involving Brian Harris and former Wizard, Chris Brunt. The other involving Alvarez and Vipers' Tijani Ayegbusi.

Good Weekend For Juniors

The SKC Wizards Juniors U16 and U18 team spent the weekend down in Dallas for some friendlies with some teams from Mexico. Saturday the 18's got a 3-3 draw with Mexican side, Monterrey, SKC got goals from Jordan Rideout, William Witherspoon, and Michael Oakley in the draw. In the second game of the day, the U16's defeated Tigres 3-1 with the 16's getting goals from Wes White, Luke Blackwell, and Tarlue Doe. On Sunday the 18's played fellow MLS side, the Houston Dynamo to a 1-1 draw with Oakley getting the goal again for the 18's. The 16's suffered the only loss for the Sporting KC teams, falling to Santos Laguna 2-0.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Comets Get Big Win

The Comets did a lot to help their playoff hopes last night in Chicago as they won their second game in as many nights 23-7 over the Chicago Riot. The win was the Comets biggest win of the season, by a total of 16 points. In the Comets previous 6 wins they'd won those games by a combined 16 points. Last night was my first chance to watch a game at Chicago's home arena, and you really realize how nice the IEC is after watching that game. Here's the press release from the Comets on the big win.

From the Comets:

Having two high-pressure games back to back in cities separated by an eight hour drive, the Comets needed to pull out all the stops on Saturday night against the Riot. Six Comets players (including goalkeeper Danny Waltman) were able to find the net in the most dominating effort so far in the season.

The Riot took advantage of the Comets mainly offensive lineup at the start and put up pressure of their own. Bato and Novi were able to get past the defense and sneak in a shot on the near past just 24 seconds into the game. The Comets settled down midway through the second quarter and controlled the ball in the middle of the field. At 8:39 of the second quarter rookie Lucas Rodriguez dribbled through three defenders and put a shot past Riot keeper Jeff Richey, evening up the score at 2-2. That score seemed like it would hold up through the end of the quarter, but Novi found his second assist of the night when he saw Gallo hiding in the corner. Gallo was then able to take the pass and bury it from just outside the 3-point arc at 14:34 mark. The Riot finished the 1st with the lead 5-2.

That would be the last time the Riot led as the Comets took control from there. Jamar Beasley started the 2nd quarter with a goal only 26 seconds into the quarter. The Comets continued to push play forward throughout the quarter, finally paying off at the 6:28 mark when Geison Moura converted a pass from Byron Alvarez and gave the Comets their first lead, 6-5. That would be where the teams ended the first half.

Missouri showed it was not feeling any ill-effects from the game last night as they began to control both ends of the floor. Lucas Rodriguez found his second goal on a power play at 6:02. This was the first multi-goal game for the rookie. Jamar Beasley took a pass from Leo Gibson in the defensive third and went coast to coast beating Richey at 9:48. Then Byron Alvarez continued his league leading scoring streak with a goal to close out the third. Overall Alvarez had seven points on the night.

Chicago didn’t let down though. Alex Megson converted a missed shot into a goal just 34 seconds into fourth making the score 12-7. That was all the Comets would allow though. Vahid Assadpour made the Riot pay on the power play when he buried a three point goal from the right side of the arc at the 9:33 mark. Shortly after that Coach Kraft of the Riot decided to play the 6th attacker as their playoff hopes were dwindling fast. Geison Moura (10:47) and Byron Alvarez (12:38) took advantage of the open nets with a three point goal for each. The night was capped by a rare goal from goalkeeper Danny Waltman when he threw the ball the length of the field into an open net.

“Good teams win when the pressure is on. This is the team we knew we had at the beginning of the season,” said team captain Byron Alvarez, “The training Coach Kim puts us through helped us to be able to play at a high level on back to back nights, we’ll feel this on Monday though.”

Danny Waltman applauded the entire team. “Every time you saw a good play tonight you saw a different name on the back of the jersey…It’s so nice to have that confidence going in to every game that we’re going to get to run our game.”

The Comets next game is back at the Independence Events Center on March 6 at 3:10pm when the Riot come for a visit. The Comets are currently tied with Omaha for the final position in the playoffs and another win against the Riot would help to solidify their chances for postseason play.

Tickets: Comet single game tickets can be purchased online at Groups and youth soccer teams can also “Play Like the Comets” on the field before every Comets home game. For Comets group tickets, call 816-478-BALL. For all the latest Comets news and information, visit

Link to box score:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sporting KC Win First Preseason Game

It took six preseason games, but Sporting Kansas City finally picked up their first win of the preseason in the second game of a double header today. In the first game of the double header KC took on the expansion Portland Timbers. The team KC put out was what would be closer to a first team squad, although as Robb Heineman said before the game, 4 starters were missing from the game. The team though did feature 10 players under contract starting, along with trialist Milos Stojcev. KC had the better run of play in the first half, but was unable to find the net. In the second half the Timbers got a little bit more of the game, but Jimmy Nielsen did not have much trouble at all keeping the shutout as the game ended 0-0.

Here's the lineup KC had: GK Jimmy Nielsen, D Roger Espinoza, D Matt Besler, D Shavar Thomas, D Luke Sassano (Michael Harrington, 63), M Craig Rocastle, M Milos Stojcev (Graham Zusi, 75), M Davy Arnaud (Jack Jewsbury, 63), F Omar Bravo, F Birahim Diop (CJ Sapong, 81), F Kei Kamara.

In the second game, a team that would be considered the reserves took on NASL side, Montreal Impact. KC opened the scoring with their 4th goal of the preseason in the 17th minute as a cross by Stephane Auvray was headed into the net by Impact captain Nevio Pizzolitto for an own goal.

Here's the lineup that started the game: GK-Eric Kronberg, D-Scott Lorenz, D-Omar Colley, D-Mike Jones, D-Michael Harrington, M-Stephane Auvray, M-Jack Jewsbury, M-Graham Zusi, F-Adda Djeziri, F-CJ Sapong, F-Chance Myers.

At half time, Korede Aiyegbusi came on for Djeziri, trialist Jesus Flores came on for Jewsbury, Kevin Ellis came on for Harrington, Michel Mravec for Auvray, and "Trialist 1" for Zusi.

In the second half the Wizards continued to push the game looking for a second. Trialist, Flores did not enough up staying on the field long as he was sent off in the 68th minute after a confrontation with
Antonio Ribeiro. Another trialist, Ronnie Ibara replaced Flores to keep the game 11v11. SKC doubled their lead from the penalty spot shortly later, in the 73rd. Sapong was fouled in the box. Sapong took the responsibility himself, stepped up and buried the penalty to make it 2-0 KC. After the goal, Djeziri came on for Sapong and Jon Kempin took over in net for Kronberg. KC kept Montreal out of the net giving them a second shutout on the day and their first win of the preseason.

As for the two known trialists, Flores and Ibara, word from the team is that they are two players from the LA area that are getting a look. Julio Cesar Santos Correa, Daneil Cyrus, and Travis Bowen were three trialists in camp that did not participate in the game.

UPDATE: The SKC Wizards now has their write up on the two games out.

Below are highlights from the Portland and Montreal game.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Comets Top Vipers

The Comets stayed in the playoff race tonight with an 11-6 win over the Omaha Vipers. I'll post the press release below, but I was at the game tonight as a spectator enjoying the evening with family. The Comets should have won this one going away without a problem. It should have been 8-0 in the first quarter alone but poor finish. Missouri was able to overcome the poor finishing though and keep themselves in the playoffs. They can pull themselves level with the Vipers for the final playoff spot with a win over Chicago tomorrow night. The Vipers though will hold the tie breaker though as they are ahead 72-68 in points after the teams tied the season series 3-3. Here's the press release from the Comets.

Home is finally sweet for the Comets as they defeated the visiting Omaha Vipers by a final score of 11-6 Friday night at the Independence Events Center. Led by Byron Alvarez’s 4th hat trick of the year and Danny Waltman’s stellar play in goal, the victory is the team’s second in a row at home and also becomes the Comets’ first winning streak of the season. The Comets led from start to finish, another first for the team this year.

“We got a heck of a game out of Byron and Danny tonight,” said Comets’ Head Coach, Kim Roentved. “It was nice to see Byron take over like he did. He had some amazing goals, and Danny – he’s been incredible lately. Now it’s off to Chicago tomorrow to see if we can keep this thing going.”

Byron Alvarez got the scoring going at the 6:50 mark with his 25th goal of the year with a rocket from the left side after a 3-on-1 break pass from Lucas Rodriguez to give the Comets the early 2-0 lead, which would turn out to be the only scoring of the 1st period.

At the 7:10 mark of the 2nd period, Leo Gibson continued the scoring for the Comets with a shot past Vipers keeper, Josh Miller, directly in front of the goal, assisted by Jamar Beasley. With one minute left in the half, Omaha’s Victor Quiroz put a shot past the Comets’ Danny Waltman from the top of the arc off a restart. The Comets took a 4-2 lead into halftime.

The 3rd period started quietly by both teams, but was highlighted by a desperation kick-save by Waltman who was laying down on the goal line after a flurry of Viper shots on goal. Then it was Alvarez again getting the Comets back on the board after going up in the air for a header with Josh Miller draped over his back. Alvarez got just enough of the ball to get over Miller and trickle into the corner of the goal to give the Comets a 6-2 lead, which is how the period would end.

The Comets extended their lead to 8-2 in the final period on an Alvarez power play goal after Omaha’s Johnny Torres was called for a kicking foul. Alvarez got a pass in front of the goal from Tiguinho, and again, he had the Vipers’ Miller right on him. This time, Alvarez flicked the ball around him and into the net, giving Alvarez his 4th hat trick of the season.

Omaha made things interesting as soon as they went with a 6th attacker with six minutes remaining in the game. At the 9:16 mark, it was Johnny Torres scoring to pull the Vipers to within 8-4. Three minutes later, it was Deco scoring off a nifty volley from the left side that got past Waltman to bring them within a goal of tying things up. The Comets’ defense held, and with 36 seconds left in the game, Jamar Beasley found a wide-open Vahid Assadpour at midfield, with only Omaha 6th attacker, Quiroz, between him and the goal. Assadpour lofted the ball perfectly over Quiroz’s head for a game-ending 3-pointer.

The win brings the Comets’ record to 6-11 and only a half game behind Omaha for the third and final playoff spot. The Comets will try to make it three-in-a-row tomorrow night (Saturday) in Chicago against the Riot starting at 8 p.m. A victory tomorrow would pull the team into a third place tie with Omaha. The Comets then return home to the Independence Events Center for the team’s final regular season game of the year on Sunday, March 6th at 3:10 p.m. to take on the Riot.

Tickets: Comet single game tickets can be purchased online at Groups and youth soccer teams can also “Play Like the Comets” on the field before every Comets home game. For Comets group tickets, call 816-478-BALL. For all the latest Comets news and information, visit

Link to box score:

A Look Back at the Chance Myers Draft Pick

Former first round pick, Chance Myers is set to enter his fourth professional season, and his first without the "protection" of a Generation Adidas spot. Myers has had a difficult first three seasons fighting injury and illness that have kept him from getting time. Before the 2010 season he looked poised for a breakout season as a starter. But an injury before the season started saw Kei Kamara take his spot and Kamara went on to be the team's leading scorer, and Myers saw little of the field. It's to the point where there's speculation that he may not even make the roster, and was initially left off the Sporting KC roster on the Star's website due to an oversight. Myers has become a bit of a forgotten player it seems. People have been asking for a few years now, and continue to ask why we drafted Chance Myers in the first place. Let's take a look real quick at the history leading up to the Myers selection.

On January 15th, the Tuesday before MLS' Superdraft, which was on Friday the 18th that year. KC made a trade with San Jose, sending veteran defender Nick Garcia to the expansion side San Jose Earthquakes for the number 1 pick in the draft. Unlike in recent years when there seemed to be a consensus 1-2 players that would go at number 1, there wasn't a whole lot of that. There was no Marvell Wynne, Maurice Edu, Steve Zakuani, or Danny Mwanga to go number 1 like the years before and after the Myers pick. Number 1 pick predictions ranged from Patrick Nyarko, to Eric Avila, to Julius James, to Xavier Balc, to Brek Shea, to Tony Beltran, to Chance Myers, the draft was full of a lot of decent talent that could make an impact. The prediction on who would go number 1 seemed to change daily depending on who you were reading.

Rumors the day of the draft started to float out that KC was going to take UCLA right back, Chance Myers would be the number one selection. The speculation turned out to be true that KC took the Generation Adidas player. People want to complain about the first round pick now and throw out suggestions of Shea, or Sean Franklin.

As I stated above, though, there was no consensus number one pick. Shea at the time was an incredibly raw 17 year old at the time of the draft. Franklin had a solid but not spectacular college career at Cal State Northridge. The rest of the players selected between Myers and 11th pick Roger Espinoza have had solid but not spectacular pro careers. Tony Beltran has been an off and on starter for RSL, Ciaran O'Brien made a grad total of 1 appearance for Colorado in 3 years. Andy Iro has been solid and become a starter for Columbus, but at the time of the draft there were rumors he was looking to return to England and play instead of signing for MLS, which hurt his stock. Patrick Nyarko was who I'd originally thought we'd take with the number one pick, I'd put him in the same group as Beltran, a solid but not spectacular pro career. Josh Lambo has yet to make an appearance for Dallas. Julius James had been solid for Toronto, Houston, and DC, but was recently waived by United. Pat Phelan is another that falls in with Beltran and Nyarko, solid but unspectacular pros that don't appear to be worth the number 1 pick.

As the above shows, there are a few players (Shea and Franklin) that with a revisionist view of history would have been a better number 1 selection than Myers but there's no guarantee Shea and Franklin would have developed like they did here. The rest of the picks have ranged from solid pros (Beltran, Iro, Nyarko, James, and Phelan) to total busts (O'Brien and Lambo). So overall the selection of Myers doesn't look as bad in comparison.

Now let's take a look at Nick Garcia's career since the trade. In 2008 and 2009 he started for the Earthquakes as they both seasons finished at the bottom of the Western Conference. In the middle of the 2009 season, Garcia was traded to Toronto. The rest of the 2009 season he started quite a bit for Toronto. In the 2010 season, Garcia went in and out of the lineup for Toronto. After the season he was put into the re-entry draft, but was not selected, and is currently without a club. His level of play has dropped since he's left KC, he's not the same defender he was, he doesn't have the speed he used to have and now relies a bit more on physicality. KC was at a point where they needed to replace at least one of their starting defenders, both Garcia and Jimmy Conrad were getting older and they needed a partner with a little more speed to cover with their experience.

So while the Myers pick may not have been a great selection for KC, there wasn't exactly a can't miss prospect in the class that has since gone on to become a star player. On the other side, Garcia hasn't exactly come back to prove that KC was wrong for getting rid of him. So while I don't consider myself a huge Chance Myers fan, there's not a lot to argue with about the selection when you really break it down.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

More Preseason News

Today in the team's weekly press release, we got a little more information on the team's final part of their trip in Arizona. Along with the games Saturday against Portland and Montreal and the games on Thursday and Friday against week against the Arizona Sahuaros and New York Red Bulls, there are now two games on March 9th and 10th. The opponents for those two games are TBA at this time but the games are scheduled to be in Phoenix at Reach 11. There's also still the friendly with Chivas Guadalajara in Mexico that hasn't been officially announced but is still widely rumored.

The team also posted gave out their latest preseason roster. There are a few players that were on the roster that are no longer with the team. Former Tottenham Hotspurs youth player, Calum Butcher is gone. With all the defenders and internationals in camp it doesn't look like the Englishmen made enough of an impression. Mitja Morec a defender from Slovenia is also gone from camp. Gor Kirakosyan from the same school as Yura Movsisyan is also gone. Peppe Carotenuto, the Columbia University graduate, is not listed on the roster either at this point.

That leaves this roster, bolded players are the ones that are still not under contract: Korede Aiyegbusi, Davy Arnaud, Stephane Auvray, Matt Besler, Travis Bowen, Omar Bravo, Julio Cesar, Omar Colley, Daneil Cyrus, Birahim Diop, Adda Djeziri, Kevin Ellis, Roger Espinoza, Michael Harrington, Jack Jewsbury, Mike Jones, Kei Kamara, Jon Kempin, Eric Kronberg, Scott Lorenz, Michal Mravec, Chance Myers, Jimmy Nielsen, Craig Rocastle, C.J. Sapong, Luke Sassano, Milos Stojcev, Shavar Thomas, Graham Zusi.

Not listed is Teal Bunbury and Ryan Smith who are both in KC, and Konrad Warzycha who is out for 6-8 months after surgery.

That would make 21 players under contract currently, leaving up to 9 open roster spots, four of which are international. It looks possible that all 4 American players still unsigned (Bowen, Jones, Lorenz, and Sapong) could make the roster bring the team to 25 players before the 4 internationals are decided on of the other remaining 6 trialists/draft picks. That's if the team wants to fill all 30 roster spots or wants to get some of the allocation money for not filling the 29th and 30th spots.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Former SKC Wizards Update

Another week of former SKC Wizards updates for you. First, Carlos Marinelli is no longer in Hungary, thanks to a Tweet from The Original Winger last night I found that Marinelli is back in South America, playing for Peruvian side Universidad San Martin, which is currently in the Copa Libertadores. The another bit of news this week, is that Diego Walsh is now looking to come back to the United States after a fairly uneventful few years playing for Wellington in the Australian A-League. He's looking to get back into MLS, but based off his lack of playing time in Australia it's going to be hard to get an MLS job. Some other quick news, draft pick, JT Murray has been waived by Colorado after they picked him up and Jose Burciaga Jr played for Orlando City in their friendly against Philadelphia. Here's the rest of the former SKC Wizards update.

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

Indoor soccer.
Jamar Beasley - Missouri Comets - Had an assist in Missouri's 9-7 win over Chicago.
Chris Brunt - Omaha Vipers - One assist in Omaha's 14-10 loss to Baltimore.
Pat Healey - Baltimore Blast - Played in Baltimore's 14-10 win over Omaha. Had an assist in Baltimore's 20-9 win over Milwaukee.
Boris Pardo - Missouri Comets - Did not play in Missouri's 9-7 win over Chicago.
Nelson Pizarro - San Diego Sockers - Beat San Diego 9-5.
Paul Wright - San Diego Sockers - Beat San Diego 9-5.

Sunil Chhetri - Chirag United - India - Did not play in Chirag's 4-1 loss to Salgaocar.
Eloy Colombano - Ferrocarril Sud - Argentina - Started and played 82 minutes in Ferro's 0-0 draw with Club Atlético Alvarado. Did not play in Ferro's 1-1 draw with Liniers.
Herculez Gomez - Pachuca - Mexico - Started and played 66 minutes in Pachuca's 4-1 loss to Chivas.
Santiago Hirsig - Quilmes - Argentina - Was released from Quilmes.
Jermaine Hue - Harbour View - Jamaica - Scored a goal in Harbour View's 2-1 loss to Reno. Played Village United on Tuesday.
Will John - NK Vinogradar - Croatia - On winter break.
Eddie Johnson - Fulham/Preston - England - Started and played 55 minutes in Preston's 1-1 draw with QPR. Started and played 58 minutes in Preston's 2-2 draw with Forest.
Carlos Marinelli - Universidad San Martin - Peru - Started and played 78 minutes in San Martin's 2-1 win over Universidad Cesar Vallejo. Came off the bench and played 18 minutes, getting a goal and an assit in San Martin's 2-0 win over San Luis in the Copa Libertadores.
Yura Movsisyan - FC Krasnodar - Russia - On winter break.
Matt Taylor - Rot Weiss Ahlen - Germany - Started and played 84 minutes in Weiss' 2-1 win over Kickers Offenbach.
Diego Walsh - Wellington Phoenix - Australia - Did not play in Wellington's 1-0 loss to Adelaide.

MLS Playoff Format Announced

Back during the end of the 2010 MLS season we heard that MLS would be expanding their format from 8 teams to 10 teams, adding two more teams to the playoffs. Now 10 of 18 teams make the playoffs. Plenty of people are disappointed in the announcement as MLS was just now down to the point of half the teams making the playoffs and now MLS is back up to 55% of the teams making the playoffs. Playoffs aren't going anywhere so if you're wanting to throw out the single table, best record wins the league thing, you can save the time, Don Garber has said on multiple occasions that playoffs aren't going anywhere.

The format now has the top 3 from each conference making the playoffs. This is one more guaranteed spot for each conference than last year when only 2 teams from each conference were guaranteed a playoff spot. After those six, the other four teams are decided by the four teams with the most points no matter what conference they come from.

If this format was in play last year, KC would have been in the MLS playoffs as the Eastern Conference third seed and would have taken on the Columbus Crew.

In the wild card round, the 7th seed will host the 10th seed and the 8th will host the 9th in a one game playoff. The winner of those two games will advance. The lowest seed remaining will take on the Supporters' Shield winner while the other team will play the highest seed from the other conference. The second and third seeds will face off against each other. The format of the conference semifinals and finals remains unchanged. The semifinal will still be two legs, with the lower seed hosting the the first game. The conference finals will be one game at the site of the higher seed. Currently the site of the final has not been determined.

I wasn't a huge fan of this idea originally, while I love seeing Kansas City in the playoffs every year, I thought 10 teams was a bit of overkill and wasn't really needed. It's better than when 8 of 10 teams were making the playoffs, but I thought as the league expanded the fact that there would remain to be 8 teams would be consistent. Still if they did add 2 more teams I do like the way they've done it. It's an attempt to give the Supporters' Shield a bit of an easier path to the finals, but I've never been a fan of giving the higher seed more time off. Many coaches seem to say they hate the bye week and would rather be playing instead. Still I like it, the format is set up kind of like the play-in games in the NCAA tournament.

New Byline to Back Post

A new episode of From the Byline to the Back Post is up for your listening pleasure on Posterous and iTunes. This week Thad and I discuss league news, Hall of Fame nominations, the Open Cup format and it's issues, Sporting KC player and preseason news, and the Missouri Comets.

Thanks again to The Vandon Arms for the music, like them on Facebook if you feel so inclined. The opening song and the breaks is My Football Team has Got Me Drinking. And we close with Football Night. Enjoy.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Gold Cup Talk Heating Up

The Gold Cup pairings should be coming out in early March and the speculation is starting to heat up again on where the US will play. I agree with Steven Goff's assessment, and have been saying since the site locations were announced that KC would have a very good chance of having the US in town. People that have been speaking with the front office in other regards have been telling me that they've been told it's very close to being a sure thing. This especially comes true when you look at the knockout round pairings. With Mexico in group A, playing in 3 NFL stadiums and the USA in group C, you set it up where both teams will not meet until the finals, which is what CONCACAF wants. CONCACAF wants a US-Mexico final at the Rose Bowl on June 25th and putting the US in group C and Mexico in Group A is probably the best way to do that. The only better way is if Mexico was in Group B, but based on the stadiums for the two groups, A is the more likely for El Tri.

Membership Benefits

Ever since the rebranding announcement, Sporting KC fans have been waiting to hear the benefits that would be given to the members. Tonight we got more insight from Robb Heineman in a letter to "Members." Heineman breaks down some of the benefits that members can look forward to this season. First, if you're a season ticket holder, you're already a member, if you're planning to sign up for any of the road trips you're going to be a member, and there will also be the ability to sign up to be a member separately closer to the time the stadium will open. Here's a look at the benefits.

  • The first tangible benefit membership will offer is the opportunity for complimentary tickets to road matches. Initially, we’ll buy 50 per match with the hopes of there being a much higher demand – it would be great if we had that many members interested in traveling to support our club. Due to close proximity, as well as the strong desire to provide as much support for the team as possible during the season-opening road trip, we are purchasing up to 300 tickets for the Chicago Fire match on March 26.
This one we've heard since the rebranding announcement and has been one of excitement of fans. I know I'm taking advantage of at least two of these for the Chivas USA game and the Chicago game, potentially more later in the season as well. The 50 tickets per match are likely to be more than necessary for most of the away games, but it's certainly possible for a few that the team will fill, especially the Chicago game, which will at least hit 50, and probably quite a few more. It's still one of the coolest things I've seen a team do and they're backing it up by putting the up the first two road trip forms up.

  • When Sporting Park opens, members will have the opportunity to check-in and receive complimentary access to the Members’ Section of the stadium for three (3) Sporting Kansas City matches per season. Season ticket holders in this section will receive additional complimentary vouchers to bring family or friends.
So if you're a season ticket holder and were concerned about seeing the member's club and what is in there, you'll get 3 opportunities to come check it out. And if you're already a member's stand season ticket holder you'll get vouchers to bring fans and family in. So if you're wanting to get into the section make friends with a members stand season ticket holder.

  • Members may access the Sporting Park mobile app which will provide information and services for Sporting Club events.
Looking forward to more information on this app and what will be involved in it.
  • The overall experience at Sporting Park will be greatly enhanced by the membership program. For example, we will be able to remember your concession preferences and provide ordering through the mobile app. Affinity points will be redeemable for discounts at the stadium, and members will have the ability to actively participate and share their own content with other fans at the stadium.
More technological pieces in the new stadium, so at the stadium after I've bought a few beers from the stadium the next time they'll have it ready for me. Ok, maybe not that far, but it still sounds like a cool idea that will be interesting to see how they pull it off.

  • Members will have the opportunity to purchase Sporting Passes for kids under the age of 18. A Sporting Pass is $59.99 and provides entry to three matches in the South Stand (which may be chosen online in-advance), as well as access to any other matches on a complimentary basis in which there is availability in that section. Additionally, the Sporting Pass provides special offers on merchandise, discounted tickets purchased for family members and a commemorative credential to access Sporting Park.
This is a cool idea for members with kids that want to bring them to games. Three games in the south stand, plus access to other matches if it's available. I do wonder how they're going to do this. Are they going to announce that this could be a complementary game a day or two before? Or is this something that will be a day of thing depending on ticket sales? Certainly some questions on this and I'm sure it's been left a little vague at this time as the team does have some time to finalize this. But if they want to start selling these passes they really need to nail down the details of it before people start spending money on it.

  • Members will have access to exclusive Sporting Kansas City content, as well as invitations to members-only ticket presales for concerts and special events at Sporting Park.
Depending on the events and concerts this will be cool, but most of the concerts I'd go to see aren't really going to play in a 25,000 seat venue, but the fact that this will be available to me is cool. The ability to get tickets to other special events will likely mean other sporting events, festivals or other things at the stadium.

  • The Membership Activation Lounge or “MAL” will allow you to purchase goods and services from our partners at discounts up to 80% off retail. By taking advantage of these offers, you will then have the opportunity to unlock new benefits and affinity rewards.
This is very cool, and would be something I'd really be looking into using in the coming years. I always try to support sponsors and partners of the team, and to be reimbursed in a way for this is a great way to support your fans.

  • Members may also purchase single-game tickets at a discount.
Another one that we've heard already, but still great to see it in writing from the team.

There is still plenty left to build on this and there are still some questions in the process that need to be answered. But it's another step in the right direction for the team, I know there were a lot of people that were starting to throw out questions on where this information was as we were told it'd come out around the time the schedule did. I look forward to seeing more of the specifics on each of these and how they develop and change over the years.

Three Missing From Camp

Three players are missing from Arizona right now for the final part of the team's preseason training, Teal Bunbury, Ryan Smith, and Konrad Warzycha were all left behind as the team departed. Bunbury was expected, Smith is disappointing, and Warzycha is surprising.

Bunbury's absence was expected after his dislocated elbow. Much easier for his rehab if he didn't have to travel with the team to Arizona. Now he can focus on his rehab and hopefully come back on the lower side of those 4 to 6 weeks.

Smith's staying in KC is disappointing considering earlier this preseason we were told that Smith would head to Arizona on the second trip. His continued work in KC makes you wonder how serious the the offseason surgery really was and what's taking so long in the recovery. If he's still recovering from the surgery and working in KC it's possibly that he's not going to be match fit by the start of the season and that means another forward unlikely to play on opening day against Chivas USA. That could certainly feed the flames of Peter Vermes switching to a 4-4-2 at least to start the season.

Warzycha's absence is surprising in that this is the first announcement of the injury. The femoral condyle defect that Warzycha will have surgery for will keep him out of action for 6 to 8 months. It does some interesting implications for roster spots if Warzycha was going to be signed. Now KC has a roster spot to play with and could still hold on to Warzycha's rights if they think he can contribute in the future.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Return To Arizona

We're officially less than a month until Sporting Kansas City kick off their season, and less than 24 hours before the first MLS teams kicks a ball in a real game when Real Salt Lake and Columbus play the first leg of their CONCACAF Champion's League Quarterfinal match-up. And today after 5 days away, KC returned to Arizona for the rest of their preseason training. The team will play a few more preseason games, including ones against Portland, Montreal, and New York.

In those games and in the remaining weeks of training, KC still has some decisions to make. The team currently has 21 players under contract and 14 known trialists still in camp to fill out their 30 man roster. Of those 9 remaining spots, KC currently has 4 remaining international spots available in those 9, as Andy points out. Of the known trialists (including the remaining 4 draft picks), eight would count as internationals. Here's a quick break down by position of the players on the roster and in camp. Remember this is only up to this point, there are likely to be more trialists joining the team in Arizona for the final phase of preseason. Those that count as internationals are marked with a (*).

On Roster: Jon Kempin, Eric Kronberg, Jimmy Nielsen*.

The team hasn't brought in any trialists in goal this preseason as the team seems set there. Kronberg and Kempin only signed last season, while Nielsen had his option picked up this offseason. Nielsen is the starter and is likely well ahead of Kronberg and Kempin at this point.

On Roster: Korede Aiyegbusi*, Matt Besler, Kevin Ellis, Roger Espinoza, Michael Harrington, Luke Sassano, Shavar Thomas
Trialists: Calum Butcher*, Omar Colley*, Julio Cesar Santos Correa*, Daneil Cyrus*, Mike Jones, Gor Kirakosyan, Scott Lorenz, Mitja Morec*.

Lots of internationals in defense, mainly in the middle of the defense. Butcher, Colley, Correa, Cyrus, and Morec are all hoping to make the roster mainly in the center of defense so I'd think two could make the roster. With the waiving of JT Murray, Lorenz looks like he could earn himself a contract to back up Roger Espinoza. Jones could make the roster as an end of the bench player getting a roster spot, but it depends on how other American players do. Kirakosyan I don't believe would count as an international, I'm pretty sure he'd fall into the same category as Yura Movsisyan.

On Roster: Davy Arnaud, Stephane Auvray, Jack Jewsbury, Craig Rocastle*, Graham Zusi.
Trialists: Michal Mravec*, Milos Stojcev*, Konrad Warzycha.

Not as many trialists here, but we continue to hear the rumors of the attacking central midfielder that we are still looking for, but still unable to sign. Stojcev is said to be a bit of an attacking minded player. Mravec and Warzycha though are both more defensive minded and will be battling with Auvray, Jewsbury, and Rocastle, along with Birahim Diop to get time there. The number of foreign signings in defense will have a big effect on which, if any, of the international midfielders sign.

On Roster: Omar Bravo*, Teal Bunbury, Birahim Diop, Kei Kamara, Chance Myers, Ryan Smith*.
Trialists: CJ Sapong, Travis Bowen, Adda Djeziri*.

Sapong is very likely to be signed, I expect him to be on the team. Smith's international status could change very soon which could open up another international spot for another player, like Djeziri, who has impressed at times this preseason with his skills, but will be remembered just as much for throwing up in the middle of training the day of the beep test.

The other thing to remember and something I'm starting to kind of believe KC will do, is not fill all 30 roster spots. I'm sure the team will fill all 4 remaining international spots, to put KC up to 25 players. Then they'll be able to sign 3 more American (or green card holder) players and get $35,000 in allocation for the 29th and 30th spot. Plenty is going to be answered in the next few weeks.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Comets Come Back to Win

Home hadn’t been kind to the Comets during their return season at the Independence Events Center this year. Too many times, the Comets took leads into the fourth quarter, only to see the lead disappear, ending in heartache for the team and their fans. This time around it was the Comets’ turn, trailing the Chicago Riot 7-2 with 9 ½ minutes to play, making the improbable comeback to win 9-7 Sunday afternoon at the IEC.

The first half consisted of two goals, one by each team – all in the first period. Chicago’s Eric Lukin got the scoring started with a goal at the 3:28 mark. The Comets tied the game 2-2 a minute and a half later with a goal by Leo Gibson, his 12th of the season with an assist by Jamar Beasley.

The third period scoring belonged to the Riot on a 3 point power play goal by Nivi Marojevic after a 2 minute tripping penalty on the Comets’ Vahid Assadpour. End of 3rd quarter score: Riot 5, Comets 2.

The 4th quarter began with another power play goal by the Riot, after a 2 minute penalty by the Comets for too many men on the field. Comets’ defender Casey Barton let an errant ball pass right in front of the goal to the Riot’s Miki Djerisilo, who quickly deposited into the back of the net to give the Riot a 7-2 lead. At the 5:31 mark, the Comets were awarded a penalty kick after a tripping-in-the-box foul was called. Byron Alvarez sent a rocket shot past Riot keeper, Jeff Richey, and pulled the Comets to within three points.

The Riot would then get served with two 2 minute penalties: the first for having too many men on the field and the second when Riot head coach, Jeff Kraft, came onto the field to argue the call with the referees. With only two seconds left in the 2-man advantage, Vahid Assadpour hit a much-needed 3 point goal from the right side to tie the game at 7-7. With three minutes left in the game, it was Alvarez again, this time pulling the ball back then lifting it with his toe into the upper corner of the goal, giving the Comets the lead for good at 9-7. The goal, Alvarez’s 24th of the season and 58th points, puts him alone atop the MISL scoring leader board. The final two minutes of the game included an ejection by the Riot’s Fred Degand for dissent. The Riot as a team tallied four yellow cards for the game to go along with Degand’s red card.

It was another exceptional game by Comets’ goalkeeper, Danny Waltman. Waltman saved the day for the Comets on numerous occasions throughout the game and ended with 21 saves on the day.

The win brings the Comets’ record to 5-11 and into 4th place in the MISL, 1 ½ games behind Omaha for the third and final playoff spot. The Comets’ next game is a pivotal one, this Friday, February 25th against the Omaha Riot at the Independence Events Center, complete with a special Mascot Game at halftime. A Comets win would pull the team to within a half game of the final playoff spot.

The Comets players played in special pink jerseys to raise awareness for breast cancer. Afterwards, the jerseys were auctioned off, with proceeds benefiting Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Tickets: Comet single game tickets can be purchased online at Groups and youth soccer teams can also “Play Like the Comets” on the field before every Comets home game. For Comets group tickets, call 816-478-BALL. For all the latest Comets news and information, visit

Friday, February 18, 2011

Bunbury Injury Update, Schedule Changes, and More

Along with the announcement of Kevin Ellis signing with the Wizards today, there was plenty of other news in the Sporting Kansas City world today.

The first is a bit of bad news, originally the speculation was that Teal Bunbury might not miss any of the regular season. Now that doesn't look likely at all. Word from the team today is that Bunbury will now miss four to six weeks for KC. This comes after Bunbury met with team doctors in Kansas City after returning from Arizona. This means that Bunbury is now more likely to miss the Chivas USA game and Chicago Fire game to start the season. There's also a potential that he could miss the team's first trip to Canada to take on Vancouver. This is a blow for KC and for Bunbury as it's certainly a blow in his hopes to fight for a Gold Cup spot with the US.

Sporting KC has also announced two schedule changes and three television changes as the league and FSC announced their new deal and FSC's 31 game schedule. KC will appear 3 times on FSC, all of which at Sporting Park. Two of those 3 games see KC moving the day of the game. KC's game against San Jose on Saturday, June 18th to Friday June 17th at 7:30. The team's second game on FSC is August 13th against the LA Galaxy. The team's final game on September 23rd was moved up a day from Saturday the 24th when KC will take on the Philadelphia Union. Those three combined with the home opener against Chicago give KC 4 national televised games.

In trialist news, Sheldon Bateau was released to head back to Trinidad. Bateau was one of three players along with Daneil Cyrus and Omar Colley from the team's Trinidad camp earlier this offseason. Bateau had captained the TnT U-20 team recently but has not done enough to impress. Bateau played mainly in the midfield it seemed during his time with KC and unfortunately doesn't look like he did enough to impress. In more trialist news, according to Gooch at The Full 90, Scott Lorenz is not going to joining the team for the second phase in Arizona, but according to Gooch Lorenz has not been released by the team. Lorenz had been playing left back for much of the preseason and had impressed enough that KC released second round draft pick, JT Murray early on in preseason. It's odd that the team has chosen to not officially waive him but yet he'll not be back for the second part of preseason.

Finally, check out the photos and video from James at Sporting Times from the stadium today. The stadium opening is getting closer and closer.

Ellis Signed

KC officially announced the signing of their second home grown player today, and as speculated by pretty much everyone that's been paying some attention to Sporting Kansas City this preseason, it was Kevin Ellis. Ellis, a graduate of Oak Park High School had recently been playing at Barton County Community College. He's impressed in preseason at the right back position after being a second and first team all American in his two years at Barton. It's certainly a big step up in his game, but it looks like he's solidifying himself as a good back up for Michael Harrington. And his story is pretty good as well, especially after last year not making the last year. He's only the third addition to the roster this year, joining Omar Bravo and Luke Sassano. The team still has roster spots to fill and plenty of draft picks and trailists still in camp. Welcome to the team and good luck to him.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The US Open Cup

Today US Soccer announced their formatting for the 2011 US Open Cup, and even with the NASL not getting any spots in the tournament, MLS still going to have the format as they've had the previous few seasons where only 8 teams from the country's top division qualify for the US Open Cup tournament. Those qualifying games that KC has been playing the past few years are not US Open Cup tournament games, they're qualifiers that are set up by MLS as a way to determine their league's qualifiers for the Open Cup.

KC is likely to have to play 2 games to get themselves into the Open Cup based on their finish last year. With six teams already in the tournament (Columbus Crew, FC Dallas, Los Angeles Galaxy, New York Red Bulls, Real Salt Lake, Seattle Sounders), that leaves 10 teams (Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, Colorado Rapids, D.C. United, Houston Dynamo, New England Revolution, Philadelphia Union, Portland Timbers, San Jose Earthquakes, Sporting Kansas City) fighting for those 2 spots. With their finishes in 2010, it would appear that Portland would play Philadelphia while DC would play Chivas in the first round. In the second round the two winners are likely to play San Jose and Colorado while Chicago will play Houston and KC seems destined to play New England. The winners of those four games would then meet with the two winners qualifying for the Open Cup.

I love this cup, I like the idea, the single elimination, the underdog success feel of seeing the smaller clubs make a run, but my love for the cup wains with how poorly run it is. From the above format that keeps all the teams from the top division out of the tournament proper, to the way they decide hosts for rounds, to the fairly puny cash prize in the larger scheme of things.

My first issue is with the format and the fact that all 16 MLS US based teams do not automatically qualify for the tournament. Instead only half of the teams get into the actual tournament. In a few years, depending on where team 20 goes, less than half the US based teams will qualify for the Open Cup. So how would I change that? This year and next year it would appear fairly simple. Add all 16 US teams into the second round with the 16 winners from the previous round, that's one round earlier than when they're set to enter the tournament this year. This current qualifying process was, in part, designed to help relieve fixture congestion for MLS teams. But in the above format, it actually reduces fixtures compared to the current qualifying format where teams will play 2-3 games to qualify for the tournament.

Second is the way they decide hosts. It's one of those situations where the person with the most toys wins. Or the team that offers the most money in the end will basically be the hosts. The biggest example of this is the past few years' where there has been published reports of the bidding by Seattle, DC and others to host the finals. It's a cash grab by the USSF to see who will give them the most money to host the game. It shouldn't be that way, I'd prefer that it be a blind draw for the hosting. And if a team doesn't want to host for one reason or another they should have the ability to not be selected as hosts, to opt out BEFORE the draw takes place. That last little bit is to avoid situations where a team is selected as host until they find out their opponent isn't an MLS team or other high profile game.

Finally is the $100,000 prize for winning. The USSF paid national team head coach Bob Bradley $600,000 between March of 09 through April of 10, the women's coach Pia Sundhage $219,635. I understand that there are differences in the funds that are allocated, the US national team brings in more money than the US Open Cup, that's understandable. But they've found ways to pay over a million dollars to not just coaches, but also the executives. The USSF couldn't work out a deal or find a way to get one of their big sponsors to step up and be the title sponsor of the tournament? Trying to get a sponsor to step up and be the Open Cup sponsor (possibly tying it in with some other type of sponsorship currently more visible than the Open Cup itself) would be a step towards showing that the USSF actually cares about the tournament.

Along with the sponsorship and raise in prize money would hopefully bring more coverage and better advertising of the tournament by the USSF. I think the biggest way to show their lack of coverage now is to compare the USSF's US Open Cup page, buried a bit on the USSF's website to the "unofficial" US Open Cup page, There's no comparison, what lacks in design, it makes up for in content. When I want information on the Open Cup I don't go to the USSF's website, I go to because I know they'll have the information. I don't know that about the USSF's page.

I want the US Open Cup to be considered a prestigious cup, I want it to grow and be a big event. I know it'll never be on the level of what the FA Cup is now (even if it is a bit watered down compared to what it was) probably. But it'd be nice to see it get more respect and seen as a serious competition, not just by the teams and fans, but by the USSF itself.

Sporting Set to Announce Second Home Grown Player

Tomorrow KC will announce their second home grown tomorrow at 1:30 in a press conference. The player will join Jon Kempin in the list of home grown players from Sporting KC. Most fans expect this to be the announcement of the signing of Kevin Ellis. Ellis has been training with KC for the entire preseason and has been impressive at times as a right back for KC. With Jonathan Leathers gone to Vancouver in the expansion draft, there is space in that position to back up Michael Harrington.

Ellis has been playing at Barton County Community College the past two years. Last season Ellis played in 21 of Barton's 23 games, starting all 21 of those games. Ellis had nine goals and four assists in those 21 games for Barton as they went 19-3-1. He was also an NJCAA first team all American in the 2010 season after being a second team all American in 2009. Add that on to the 23 goals and eight assists in the 2009 season and Ellis has had a fairly successful college career. His college coach, Oliver Twelvetrees called him one of the top athletes ever to play at Barton. It would now appear that Ellis is ready to step up to the pro game.

Could it possibly be someone else? Certainly it could possibly be Konner Knoll or Jordan Rideout, but Knoll was the only one of those two to train with the team at all this preseason. With those two having recently signed with UMKC for their college career that seems a bit unlikely, especially when you consider the time Ellis has spent training with the team.

Four Former Wizards Up for Hall of Fame

Today US Soccer announced the nominees up for the US Soccer Hall of Fame. On the list are four former Wizards players. Included in the list is one current member of the Wizards staff, technical director and head coach Peter Vermes. Vermes played in eastern Europe and MLS during his playing career at both forward and defender. He started his career as a forward before moving to defense and winning defender of the year in 2000 with the Wizards. He appeared 67 times for the national team scoring 11 goals.

Also nominated are Mike Burns, Chris Henderson, and Roy Lassiter. All three players spent two seasons in KC, Burns and Lassiter for the 2001 and 2002 season while Henderson was on the team in the 1999 and 2000 season. Henderson played the most, appearing in 61 games for the Wizards and appearing 73 times for the national team. Burns appeared in 43 games for KC and 75 times for the national team. Lassiter appeared 25 times for KC and 30 for the US.

Good luck to the four on their potential election.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Former SKC Wizards Update

Another week of former SKC Wizards update here. First of all some news on two of the newest former SKC Wizards. Second round draft pick, JT Murray was waived shortly after the team's first preseason game. He's landed on his feet as he's been picked up by the Rapids for their preseason. The other former player is Sunil Chhetri who has signed with Chirag United in India. But on top of that, Chhetri is apparently being linked with a move to Spain and Racing Santander. He's also been linked to other places throughout Europe as well. In other former player news, Santiago Hirsig is without a club right before Quilmes started their Clausura season in Argentina. He's been released by the club. Here's the rest of this week's former SKC Wizards update.

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

Indoor soccer.
Jamar Beasley - Missouri Comets - Did not have a game this week.
Chris Brunt - Omaha Vipers - Had an assist in Omaha's 16-15 win over Chicago. Scored a goal in Omaha's 12-6 loss to Chicago. Played in Omaha's 10-8 loss to Milwaukee.
Pat Healey - Baltimore Blast - Did not have a game this week.
Boris Pardo - Missouri Comets - Did not have a game this week.
Nelson Pizarro - San Diego Sockers - Beat Tijuana 15-10.
Paul Wright - San Diego Sockers - Beat Tijuana 15-10.

Sunil Chhetri - Chirag United - India - Is set to play this weekend.
Eloy Colombano - Ferrocarril Sud - Argentina - Started and played 90 minutes in Ferro's 2-1 loss to Independiente.
Herculez Gomez - Pachuca - Mexico - Started and played 90 minutes in Pachuca's 1-0 win over Puebla.
Santiago Hirsig - Quilmes - Argentina - Was released from Quilmes.
Jermaine Hue - Harbour View - Jamaica - Beat Waterhouse 1-0.
Will John - NK Vinogradar - Croatia - On winter break.
Eddie Johnson - Fulham/Preston - England - Started and played 90 minutes in Preston's 1-0 loss to Hull City. Started and played 65 minutes in Preston's 2-2 draw with Watford.
Carlos Marinelli - Györi ETO - Hungary - On winter break.
Yura Movsisyan - FC Krasnodar - Russia - On winter break.
Matt Taylor - Rot Weiss Ahlen - Germany - Did not play in Weiss' 1-0 loss to Wacker Burghausen.
Diego Walsh - Wellington Phoenix - Australia - Did not play in Wellington's 3-1 win over North Queensland.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Well Today was Just Wonderful Wasn't It?

So today turned out to be a fantastic day for the SKC Wizards didn't it? It was a virtual turd sundae for Sporting KC. Two loses in preseason games today to Houston and the US Under 18 team. In the Dynamo game, KC lost 3-1, falling behind 3-1 before a late consolation from Chance Myers. The first goal was an own goal by Daneil Cyrus. This was followed by Shavar Thomas giving up a penalty kick that the Dynamo converted to make it 2-0. Then Roger Espinoza picked up a red card. As it was preseason KC just replaced him with Scott Lorenz. KC fell behind 3-0 before Myers brought it back to 3-1.

In the second game with some but not all the expected "first teamers," the Wizards lost to the US under 18 team 1-0 in the second game of the day in another disappointing result. Yeah it's preseason, but losing still hurts, especially if one of those losses is to a team of kids that have only been driving for about a year. Certainly some work that the team will have to do after they return to Arizona. The team is headed back to KC for 5 days before returning to Arizona next Monday.

The cherry on top of today's turd sundae was the injury to Wizards forward, Teal Bunbury. During the game against the Dynamo, Bunbury picked up the injury as he fell to the ground after trying to hold off Dynamo defender, Andrew Hainault and hit the ground awkwardly. Word from those in attendance was that Bunbury immediately screamed after the incident. Bunbury was on the ground for 20 minutes or so before taken to the hospital for testing. The good news, if there is good news in this injury, is that Bunbury's injury will only take 2-4 weeks to recover instead of the 4-5 months it could have taken if he had broken something of if he had done nerve damage. This does rule Bunbury out for the rest of the preseason and likely rules him out for at least the season opener against Chivas USA, and potentially another couple game. Certainly news that Peter Vermes won't want to hear when he returns from Hungary where he's tending to family matters.

This does pose and interesting question for KC now at the striker position. Other people have taken a deeper look at how KC could line up with Bunbury out including lineups of Ryan Smith, Kei Kamara, and Omar Bravo, to a lineup including current trialist, Adda Djeziri depending on how Smith is recovering from his injury. Certainly there are no shortages of options right now and the CJ Sapong draft pick could be bigger for KC than most of us realized when the pick was made.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Kempin Set to Train with US U-18 Team

The US Under 18 team has set their roster for their upcoming training camp that will take place in Arizona. While Wizards goalkeeper, Jon Kempin is not listed on the roster, according to the player's Twitter posts, Kempin will be training with the US team. Kempin's likely inclusion is to give the team a fourth keeper. The US U-18 team is set to play the SKC Wizards on Tuesday this week as part of their continued preseason training. It will be interesting to see if Kempin plays with the US or the Wizards for that game.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

KC Draws with Colorado

The SKC Wizards drew their second preseason game in preparation for the 2011 season 0-0 with the Colorado Rapids. The game was divided into two 45 minute halves with another 30 minute period after that. So for 120 minutes, the two teams played to a scoreless draw. Each of the 3 teams that KC put out there had a good mix of returning players and rookies/trialists on the field. The first team had probably the most experience with Jimmy Nielsen, Michael Harrington, Roger Espinoza, Davy Arnaud, Teal Bunbury, and Kei Kamara. By reports in the chat MLS hosted, KC was the better side but was unable to find the net during the game. Here are the lineups for the three teams.

First 60 minutes: Jimmy Nielsen (Eric Kronberg 46), Michael Harrington, Daneil Cyrus, Julio Cesar Santos Correa, Roger Espinoza, Michal Mravec, Milos Stojcev, Davy Arnaud, Kei Kamara, Teal Bunbury, Omar Bravo

Next 30 minutes: Eric Kronberg, Luke Sassano, Shavar Thomas, Matt Besler, Scott Lorenz, Gor Kirakosyan (Konrad Warzycha 80), Craig Rocastle, Stephane Auvray, Birahim Diop, Chance Myers, Adda Djeziri

Final 30 minutes: Jon Kempin, Kevin Ellis, Mike Jones, Calum Butcher, Omar Colley, Korede Aiyegbusi, Sheldon Bateau, Jack Jewsbury, Graham Zusi, C.J. Sapong, Travis Bowen

Trialist Known

Whether it's the Trialist 1 from the midweek intrasquad scrimmage or a new trialist, there's a new player on the field for KC in their preseason game against Colorado this morning. He's Montenegrin left sided midfielder, Milos Stojcev. Stojcev is from Red Star Belgrade's youth system but never appeared once for the club. He was loaned out multiple times to teams in Montenegro and Serbia. His most recent club was FK Borac Cacak in Serbia. You can follow today's game in chat here.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Schedule is Out

It took a little longer than I think most people expected, but today the MLS schedule came out. But not before MLS fans in the Twitter world had some fun at the expense of MLS with the hash tag, #MLSScheduleIsLateBecause, started by Ives over at Soccer By Ives. That at least brought plenty of humor to the day before the schedule was released.

Then the schedule came out and since then it's been more of a serious look at the season. As expected, KC starts the game with an extended road trip, 10 games to be exact, before opening the new "Sporting Park" (which has to be a place holder name until the sponsorship is announced) on June 9th at 9pm central time. Then from July 23rd through September 10th, the Wizards play 9 games, all at home. All of KC's games are currently set to be on KSMO, except for the home opener against Chicago. KC though will feel a bit of the Omar Bravo effect this year, as they have 5 games on Telefutura or Galavision, 4 at home (Chivas, DC, Houston, and New York) and the away match against Chicago. It certainly will be an interesting season with a cramped schedule at times.

The other thing to remember is that all this is not set in stone yet, especially with the fact that later in the day today word came out that FSC and MLS had signed a new one year contract to broadcast games, and their schedule would be out soon. So at least the TV schedule could change for KC, and it's possible the Wizards could see a game moved as well so that FSC can show games. This should give KC another game or two on national television though. Here's a deeper look at the schedule.

As James mentions earlier today, you can basically divided the season into 4 different parts. You have the road trip, then you have the second quarter of the season before the home stand, then there's the home stand, followed by the run to the finish.


The road trip actually doesn't start horrible for KC, as four of their first five games are against teams that could be considered rebuilding in Chivas, Chicago, Columbus, and New England. And the fifth game is against expansion side Vancouver. After that though, the schedule gets rough with trips to New York, LA, Seattle, and MLS Cup champion Colorado. KC finishes the extended road trip playing against Toronto. The other bit of good news for KC on this schedule is that they play three games, get a weekend off, play three, get a week off, then play four. They have no midweek games during the road trip either which should help save legs a bit.

Overall this is still going to be a rough stretch and the schedule makers did KC no favors in the second half of it, but KC should still be able to take a few points on this trip. Getting 10-12 points out of these 10 games and KC is likely in a pretty decent position heading into the rest of the season.


The second quarter of the season starts five days after that Toronto trip when KC hosts Chicago. After that Thursday game KC travels down to Dallas for a Sunday game against the MLS Cup runner up. The Wizards next six games are divided up into two sets of three games in 8 days. A trip to Philadelphia on Wednesday is sandwiched between home games against San Jose and Vancouver. Then in an early 4th of July match up KC goes to Portland before a Wednesday home game against Colorado and then hosting Jimmy Conrad and Chivas on the 9th. KC finishes the third quarter down in Houston against the Dynamo.

This stretch could actually be a tougher stretch than parts of the long road trip. Eight of the nine games are involved in some sort of quick turn around, add in the Gold Cup and this part of the season could actually be the deal breaker for the season. The Gold Cup starts the day after the game in Toronto and goes through the 25th of June. So five games during that stretch, but with the Toronto game only the day before it starts you can factor any Gold Cup players out for that game too. So KC could be without five potential starters for at least three, and up to six games during the second quarter. Stephane Auvray, Teal Bunbury, Roger Espinoza, Craig Rocastle, and Shavar Thomas could all be called up to their national teams for the competition, definitely testing KC's depth, if all the quick turnarounds weren't going to do that anyways.

Third Quarter

After the trip to Houston on the 16th KC starts the third quarter of their season, a stretch of 9 games, all at home. The Wizards don't leave KC from the time they return to KC on the 17th of July until they leave to go to Salt Lake City for their road game on the 17th of September. KC basically spends two whole months at home playing 9 games over that time frame. Toronto is the first to visit KC on the long road trip. Then KC hosts New England, RSL, and Seattle in the span of 8 days. KC then hosts LA, Portland, and DC in a nine day period. KC finishes the home stand with two home games against the two Texas teams, Dallas and Houston.

If KC hasn't fallen too far off the pace, this is the part of the season where KC has to make up ground if they want to make a run in the 2011 season. The team being competitive heading into this stretch of games is important for another reason, and that's in the stands. If the Wizards are stuck at the bottom of the table heading into this stretch that will certainly not be good for bringing people in. A poor run of form in this home stand also won't do anything to help bring in fans in the late run of the home stand. It's been shown that long home stands do tend to hurt the overall attendance because fans have plenty of options to attend games during that stretch. More so than the road trip, this home stand is what will decide this season.


The run into the end of the season finishes with three at home and three on the road. A trip to Salt Lake is followed by a Saturday-Wednesday home swing against Philadelphia and Columbus. KC is then on the road against San Jose three days later. On the 15th they play New York in the home finale before finishing the season at DC.

The final six games are up and down in terms of how they could go, RSL is still one of the class teams in the league and New York is looking good heading into the season. Columbus and DC are rebuilding while San Jose and Philadelphia are also on their way up right now. I have a feeling though KC's season is likely going to be more or less decided by this point. Sure KC may still be in the hunt at this point, but I think if KC is going to make the playoffs or not will have been decided already.

It's still a bit frustrating seeing the long road trip and then having a bunch of games cramped in later in the season, but it's incredibly hard not to be really excited for the season this year, especially the openinng of the stadium.

New Byline to Back Post Podcast

Yesterday Thad and I recorded our latest version of From the Byline to the Back Post. We discussed Sporting KC preseason, player and trialist news, and the Missouri Comets. There's also an interview with Teal Bunbury during the podcast.

Also as you'll notice, the podcast now has music in it. This is courtesy of The Vandon Arms out of Iowa. They recently released a soccer themed album, The Sent Off EP. Check out some of their music and follow them on Facebook.



Wednesday, February 09, 2011

More on Franklin Salas and Rui Miguel

A quick update from today's press conference with Peter Vermes on two players that could have possibly been Sportinng KC players, but it looks like both will not be now.

First, Franklin Salas. He appeared in Saturday's preseason game against Columbus, but did not appear in today's inter-squad scrimmage. And with that the rumors started to flying about what was going on with Salas. Vermes confirmed that Salas was gone during his press conference today. By the sound of what Vermes was saying, Salas did not fit with Vermes scheme and was just not understanding exactly how Vermes wanted him to play it seems. It's a bit disappointing in one regard cause Salas is/was an exciting player, but had recently been suffering some injury issues. But with all the competition at forward, Salas would have had to have been impressive to come in.

The other player, Rui Miguel, was mentioned earlier today as having been a target, but instead seems set to be on his way to Russia instead. During the press conference, when asked about Miguel, Vermes said that KC had gotten a deal in place with the player, but that it was the team added in an extra fee at the end that the Wizards were not willing to accept. This seems to continue the trend that the Wizards have suffered from in their pursuit of an attacking midfielder, as each time it seems they're close they're hit with a hidden fee that in the end they'll not want to pay. As I said originally and on the podcast that Thad and I recorded today, it's disappointing, mainly because I've been impressed with the highlights that I've seen of him online.

Former SKC Wizards Update

Time for another former SKC Wizards update. MLS is continuing their "What ever happened to" series. This week they catch up with MLS original and original KC Wiz player, Mark Chung. Here's the rest of your update this week.

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

Indoor soccer.
Jamar Beasley - Missouri Comets - Three assists in Missouri's 16-12 loss to Chicago.
Chris Brunt - Omaha Vipers - Did not have a league game this week.
Pat Healey - Baltimore Blast - Played in Baltimore's 15-6 win over Milwaukee.
Boris Pardo - Missouri Comets - Did not play in Missouri's 16-12 loss to Chicago.
Nelson Pizarro - San Diego Sockers - Defeated Tacoma 5-0.
Paul Wright - San Diego Sockers - Defeated Tacoma 5-0.

Eloy Colombano - Ferrocarril Sud - Argentina - Started and played 90 minutes in Ferro's 1-0 loss to Bella Vista.
Herculez Gomez - Pachuca - Mexico - Started and played 90 minutes in Pachuca's 2-0 loss to Monterrey.
Santiago Hirsig - Quilmes - Argentina - Clausura does not start until February.
Jermaine Hue - Harbour View - Jamaica - Did not have a game this week.
Will John - NK Vinogradar - Croatia - On winter break.
Eddie Johnson - Fulham/Preston - England - Started and played 90 minutes in Preston's 4-0 loss to Bristol City.
Carlos Marinelli - Györi ETO - Hungary - On winter break.
Yura Movsisyan - FC Krasnodar - Russia - On winter break.
Matt Taylor - Rot Weiss Ahlen - Germany - Started and played 38 minutes in Weiss' 1-0 loss to Babelsberg. Did not play in Weiss' 2-0 loss to Hansa Rostock.
Diego Walsh - Wellington Phoenix - Australia - Did not play in Wellington's 1-0 win over Adelaide. Did not play in Wellington's 2-0 loss to Sydney.

Congrats to Juniors Players

February 2nd was national signing day for high school athletes to commit to their colleges. Nine players from the SKC Wizards Juniors team have committed (or will commit) their college future. Seven of the Juniors are heading to Division 1 programs while the other two went to a top NAIA program.

Marques Mayoras is heading to Ohio State University.

Konner Knoll and Jordan Rideout are both staying in the area, signing with UMKC.

Paul Oliver and Tom Adams have signed with UMKC's Summit League rival, Oral Roberts.

Will Witherspoon is going to the ACC to play for Virginia Tech.

Asher Herbet is headed further east, is signing this Thursday to attend Long Island University at their Brooklyn campus.

Shane Bowlen and Michael Oakley have signed for local NAIA school, William Jewell.

Good luck to all of them in their college careers.

Trialists Revealed, and One Player Not Coming

Today before the team's intersquad scrimmage (where Korede Aiyegbusi (blue) and Kei Kamara (orange) scored the two goals as the Blue team went 1-0-1, Orange went 1-1, and Yellow went 0-1-1), the team put out the names of some of the trialists in camp who had previously been hidden under the name Trialist 1-6. There were 4 that KC fans didn't know, there is still one that is labeled as Trialist 1. As for the game itself, only 3 players did not participate, Shavar Thomas for the second straight game and Craig Rocastle are the two under contract, but also Franklin Salas, the Ecuadorian who had played against the Crew was not in the lineup either today.

First, Scott Lorenz, played last season for the NSC Minnesota Stars and went to the University of Wisconsin. Lorenz is a left back per his wikipedia entry and could possibly be the reason that second round pick, JT Murray, was released if he is in fact playing that position with SKC.

Second is the Slovenian mentioned only by nationality in a Tweet by Kei Kamara, Mitja Morec. Morec is a defender who last played for Panetolikos FC in Greece. He's also played in his home country, Austria, Israel, and both CSKA and Slavia Sofia in Bulgaria.

Third, there's Travis Bowen, the brother of Chivas USA forward, Tristan Bowen. I'd mentioned Bowen over the weekend after the game against the Crew because of a picture of him tweeted by Kamara. There's a video of him on Youtube with some highlights.

Finally there is Gor Kirakosyan, who went to Pasadena City College, the same college that former Wizards player, Yura Movsisyan played at before he was drafted by KC.

Also, as mentioned in Gooch's kickoff this morning, it looks like KC has missed out on another attacking midfielder, this one out of Portugal, Rui Miguel. Miguel will instead be on his way to Russia it appears according to the article. Miguel, 27, currently plays for Vitoria SC in the Portuguese first division. Here are some highlights of his play, he certainly seems to have a good touch and ability to find players. Based on the highlights it could be a rough miss for KC.

Monday, February 07, 2011


Recently I got a chance to read Tobias J. Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim's book, Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports are Played and Games are Won. For those that regularly read this blog you know I enjoy statistics and looking at the break down of them when it comes to the game. Moskowitz and Wertheim take an incredibly deep look into statistics and break down many of the stereotypes of sports that most fans think of. They use statistics to challenge many of the the cliches and thought processes of sports.

The two look at all sports, but also look at soccer specifically at different times of the book. The main part being when they discuss home field advantage. In their study, the two found that soccer leagues around the world have some of the best home field advantages. But their studying finds that it's not some of the things fans think. They break down myths that the home support, travel, scheduling, and teams designed to take advantage of unique home characteristics. Each time backing them up with statistical analysis that is hard to argue with. The one point that I do struggle with in this part, is the way they went about establishing a base, when it came to the home support they used only situations that were the same from game to game, things like free throws in basketball or kicking in football. I think that's a very minimal sample to use when discussing home field advantage. The best thing that I can think of to counter would be offside, false start, timeouts called in football games because of crowd noise. I just think that they don't do enough in regards to dispelling the home crowd.

They do say the home crowd does play a part, but more so because they influence the referee. Moskowitz and Wertheim combine their statistics with psychology studies. From soccer referees giving more stoppage time when the home team is losing to baseball umpires giving home teams more balls when they are trailing. It's really a great look into how referees can be affected in games.

Speaking of the referee, they also looking to the "whistle swallowing" that referees do in big moments of the game. Mainly they find that this is because they don't to be the ones that decide the game, and the idea of the omission bias.

The book also works to try to break coaches of their cautionary attitude. They use the example of a football coach who ran the numbers and found that in high school he was better off never punting the football, going for it all the time on fourth down, never return punts, and always do an onside kick. It's crazy how they back all this up with facts to show why the coach that does this feels he is right. They give the main reason why coaches don't take many risks like this, and it's due to a lack of job security. For local KC people it kind of justifies Chiefs coach Todd Haley going for it on 4th down as many times as he does during the season.

They also discuss the theory of "icing" players or feeding the hot hand. They find that icing doesn't really work against players getting ready to kick crucial field goals or free throws. In regards to feeding the hot hand, they explain that no player is more likely to make their next shot than any other player.

Overall Scorecasting is a great read for anyone that enjoys statistics and sports in regards to breaking down the sports you love. Still you find yourself wanting to argue with them throughout the book as they go through breaking down different beliefs that you have in sports. But when you have the facts to back them up it's hard to argue their point.

SKC Waive Two, Release Two from Preseason

Sporting KC made some mroe roster moves today, as they officially waived two more players from last year's team, and let go of two of the team's six draft picks this year. Officially gone now are Sunil Chhetri and Nikos Kounenakis. Both weren't expected to be back and rumors had been floating around for a while. Kounenakis' future here was less likely than Chhetri's. Kounenakis was mentioned as being waived earlier this month in articles by Andrew Wiebe and interviews by Thad at The Back Post. Chhetri's future wasn't quite in as much doubt, although most didn't expect him back after he was loaned back to his national team after the Manchester United friendly. While there was talk of re-signing him if the price was right and loaning him out, I don't think many people were really expecting Chhetri to be in a KC uniform this year. And I don't think the loan possibility was that much of a possibility either.

Of the two, Chhetri is the only one to make a competitive appearance for the Wizards, starting and playing 45 minutes in the US Open Cup qualifier against Colorado. Kounenakis did make a few bench appearances for KC shortly after his signing, but never did for KC. With both of their departures official, the team does have two international slots now open that could be used on any number of trialists that are currently in camp.

The other two let go from the team's preseason camp were draft picks JT Murray and Sam Scales. Murray was the more surprising of the two, as Murray was a second round pick for KC in the Superdraft. Murray was expected to come in and have the chance to be Roger Espinoza's back up if and when he was called up for the Honduran team. Murray though apparently didn't impress enough and is now gone. Scales was the team's first round pick in the Supplemental draft this year. Scales had impressed in preseason at times, including winning one of the two beep test groups. It wasn't enough though for Scales to earn a place on the roster. The team still has a ways to go to complete their roster, but this movement is a start in that process.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Comets Fall to Riot

From the Comets.

As has been the case all year long for the Comets, the team could not hold onto a 4th quarter lead, and lost on the road to the Riot Sunday night at the Odeum in Chicago, 16-12.

Chicago started the scoring at the 6:20 mark in the 1st period on a goal by Bato Radoncic. Two minutes later, the Comets got on the board with a power play goal by Leo Gibson, his 11th goal of the season, assisted by Byron Alvarez, who failed to score moments earlier on a shootout attempt. Comets’ newcomer, Carlos Olivas, who signed with the team late in the week, scored 19 seconds later to give the Comets a 4-2 lead at the end of the period.

The Comets kept the scoring going into the 2nd period, with Byron Alvarez getting his league-leading 21st goal of the season at the 2:46 mark to give the Comets a 6-2 lead. The Riot answered right back with a goal by Djerisilo, then a minute later, it was Fred Degand tying the game 6-6 at half.

The Riot took the lead 8-6 on a Radoncic power play goal to start the 2nd half. The Comets would tie things back up with an unassisted goal by Vahid Assadpour after a defensive lapse by Chicago. The Comets would retake the lead on a Byron Alvarez penalty kick goal after a tripping call in the box by the Riot. After dual two-minute penalties on Brian Harris of the Comets and Bato of the Riot, Geison Moura extended the Comets’ lead to 12-8 with a goal at the 8:26 mark, which is how the 3rd period would end. It would also mark the end of the Comets’ scoring as well.

The 4th quarter scoring belonged entirely to Chicago, starting with Radoncic’s hat trick goal at the 1:19 mark, then it was Will Kletzien with a goal on a restart at 6:15. The Comets would then got caught with four players up on the offensive side of the field, resulting in a 3-on-1 for the Riot, which Semir Mesanovic converted into an easy give-and-go goal with Djerisilo. Bato Radoncic would finish the Comets off with his 4th goal of the evening with 13 seconds left in the game after the Comets pulled goalkeeper, Danny Waltman, for a 6th attacker. Final score: Riot 16, Comets 12.

The loss drops the Comets’ record to 4-11. The Comets’ next game is in two weeks, on Sunday, February 20th against the Chicago Riot at the Independence Events Center.

Tickets: Comet single game tickets can be purchased online at Groups and youth soccer teams can also “Play Like the Comets” on the field before every Comets home game. For Comets group tickets, call 816-478-BALL. For all the latest Comets news and information, visit

Link to Box Score:

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Sporting Draws Their First Preseason Game

Out in Arizona, Sporting KC got their preseason started as they took on the Columbus Crew at the Reach 11 park in Phoenix Arizona. The game was divided into 3 30 minute periods. KC played 3 different teams in the 3 periods, each team had a mix of returning players and trialists and rookies on the team. KC opened the scoring in the first period as Jack Jewsbury raced onto a nice through ball and slotted the ball home. The team didn't state who it was that provided the through ball to Jewsbury, even though it was a nicely played ball. Watching the highlights, it looks like it's either Sheldon Bateau or trialist 3.

The team had 6 unknown trialists play in the game that were labeled Trialist 1 through 6. If it was trialist 3 that played Jewsbury the ball, it could potentially be Travis Bowen, the brother of Chivas USA forward, Tristan Bowen. Wizards forward, Kei Kamara tweeted a pick of Bowen in a set with a bunch of the younger players. Columbus equalized later in the first period off an Eddie Gaven corner was headed in by trialist Alex Fraga.

In the second period, the Wizards primary forward line was on the field as Omar Bravo, Teal Bunbury and Kamara were on the field. Early in the second period, KC grabbed the lead again as Bunbury fed Kamara and he fired the ball home to give KC a 2-1 lead. In the third period, Columbus equalized from the penalty spot through Robbie Rogers, giving Columbus the draw in the game.

There were a few absences from the team of those known players and trialists that were in camp. Of players under contract, Shavar Thomas, Luke Sassano, and Ryan Smith were the only ones not to get playing time. Smith is still in KC rehabbing his injury, Sassano also is likely not fully recovered yet to play in the game either, so the only real question is Thomas. One draft pick, Michel Mravec did not play in the game either. There's been no announcement that he's been released yet, but who knows as the team has not released a full preseason roster. Of the trialists, there was no mention Calum Butcher, Julio Cesar Santos, or Omar Colley. Colley is the only one that's not a big surprise as the latest word was that he was still having visa issues. With Butcher and Santos being mentioned by Robb Heineman and on the team's website it's unlikely that the team would with hold their names in the write ups as they name Adda Djeziri and other trialists.

It appears that Thomas was doing fitness work, while Mravec and Butcher had injuries and Colley wasn't quite ready to play. And Thad is saying that Trialist 1 was in fact Santos.

One final trialist that we got 100% confirmation on now, is Franklin Salas, the Ecuadorian striker. Word out of Ecuador was that he was signed while Peter Vermes said he was coming in on trial. Either way, he is in camp now and will be interesting to see if he makes the team.

There's not a lot you can take from the first preseason game, but it's great to see the team back in action. Here are the highlights.

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