Sunday, July 31, 2011

7th Home Game Attendance Look

photo courtesy of Jarred Donalson

Last night KC had their 7th home game of the season, so it's time to take a look again and compare how the attendance throughout the years looks. Last night the announced attendance was 17,418, about 1,000 below the capacity of LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. To see last week's, as well as get links to previous weeks, click here.

Here are the numbers for the 7th home game.

1996 - Arrowhead
Average - 13,347

1997 - Arrowhead
Average - 8,681

1998 - Arrowhead
Average - 7,966

1999 - Arrowhead
Average - 9,074

2000 - Arrowhead
Average - 10,098

2001 - Arrowhead
Average - 11,574

2002 - Arrowhead
Average - 11,265

2003 - Arrowhead
Average - 15,119

2004 - Arrowhead
Average - 15,287

2005 - Arrowhead
Average - 10,200

2006 - Arrowhead
Average - 10,629

2007 - Arrowhead
Average - 9,190

2008 - Community America Ballpark
Average - 9,483

2009 - Community America Ballpark
Average - 9,703

2010 - Community America Ballpark
Average - 9,964

2011 - LIVESTRONG Sporting Park
Average - 17,762

And here's how the years match up, the 2011 season still leads, but lost a little bit of ground. Remember the first parenthesis is the movement from last week, the second is how much the average attendance has gone up or down from last week.

1. 2011 - 17,418 (-) (-402)
2. 2004 - 15,287 (+1) (+787)
3. 2003 - 15,119 (-1) (+304)
4. 1996 - 13,347 (-) (-648)
5. 2001 - 11,574 (+2) (1,329)
6. 2002 - 11,265 (-1) (-497)
7. 2006 - 10,629 (-1) (-320)
8. 2005 - 10,200 (+1) (+543)
9. 2000 - 10,098 (+5) (+1,196)
10. 2010 - 9,964 (-2) (+70)
11. 2009 - 9,703 (-) (+113)
12. 2008 - 9,483 (-2) (-119)
13. 2007 - 9,190 (-1) (-219)
14. 1999 - 9,074 (-1) (+44)
15. 1997 - 8,681 (-) (-208)
16. 1998 - 7,966 (-) (+350)

The 2000 season shots up the rankings this week, breaking the 10,000 attendance barrier after it'd spent time at the bottom of the rankings.

Sunday After Stats

Not many stats from the game last night, but the one is a big one.

In the 82nd minute last night, Kei Kamara hit the 10,000 minute mark for his MLS career in all competitions.

Another Late Show

Once again Kansas City gave up a first half goal, and once again the Wizards waited until late to pull out an equalizer and salvage their unbeaten run and a point, tying the New England Revolution 1-1 last night. It makes the 4th time in the past 5 league games (and 5th in the last 7) that KC has allowed the first goal early and had to fight back to get a draw. In 3 of those 4 games the equalizer has come in the 89th minute or later. On the Sporting KC Show on 610 this week I had posed that question to Kerry Zavagnin, and he'd said it wasn't a concern of the coaching staff at this time. I disagree and think it is an issue and that issue is growing. Eventually KC isn't going to get those late equalizers.

Kansas City had a nice start early on with Kei Kamara and CJ Sapong having some good chances early on to grab the lead. The Revolution though started to get more of the run of play as the half went on. Early chances for Sharlie Joseph and Rajko Lekic were wide of Jimmy Nielsen's net as Sporting KC's offense sputtered a bit going forward. Lekic was the man who scored the opener in the 38th off a long clearance from Matt Reis. The clearance bounced once at midfield as Roger Espinoza and Daneil Cyrus both tried to head the ball but missed. Lekic raced onto the ball and at the top of the 18 fired a shot low to Nielsen's left to give the Revs the lead. There were calls for offside on the play, but it appears that the rest of the KC back line stepped up expecting Espinoza or Cyrus to get their head on the ball, leaving Lekic behind them, but still onside.

KC came out and pushed the game in the second half, and should have grabbed the equalizer in the first couple minutes. Kamara did extremely well with a good flick to get into space down the wing and played a great cross to the back post for Seth Sinovic. Reis had tried to claim the cross but couldn't, leaving Sinovic with an open net. But Sinovic fired the shot over the bar. The angle was tight, but Sinovic needs to at least put that chance on frame, if he does, with Reis out, that's a goal. As in previous games where KC has trailed, KC pushed as the Revolution sat back a little bit and let KC bring the game. Outside of Sinovic's chance, the best chance fell to Sapong after a nice touch through by Besler. Reis though came up with a good kick save to keep the ball out of the net.

The Wizards continued to push and they got some help from the Revolution and the referee in the 82nd. A headed clearance from KC got touched over AJ Soares by another defender. Sapong raced through collecting the ball and was going into a 1v1 situation with Reis. Soares though was just behind Sapong and made a sliding challenge for the ball, catching Sapong and maybe getting a little of the ball. Terry Vaughn made no hesitation on the play, immediately going to his back pocket and producing the red card sending the rookie off for denying a goal scoring opportunity. With the man advantage KC continued to send numbers forward, and finally in the 89th they were level. A great build up on the play with some good passing and movement, especially by Omar Bravo and Teal Bunbury. Bravo collected a pass and dribbled deep into the box but got himself into trouble and the chance looked missed. But a deflection on a pass had the ball come out to Bunbury who slotted a shot past Reis and into the corner. The goal seemed to lift a huge weight off of Bunbury's shoulders, just in his reaction to the goal, maybe that's the thing that pulls him out of the funk he's been in for the past few months.

WIZARDS Man of the Match - Roger Espinoza - Another good game from the Sporting KC midfielder, Espinoza shut down Benny Feilhaber and Sharlie Joseph. New England was forced to attack over the top or down the wings avoiding the middle.

Player Ratings - Nielsen 5, Myers 6, Besler 5, Cyrus 5, Sinovic 6, Espinoza 7, Cesar 6, Jeferson 5, Kamara 5, Sapong 6, Zusi 5. Subs Bravo 6, Bunbury 6, Diop NR.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Game After a Week Off

It's been a while since Kansas City has had a mid-week off from a game. While Omar Bravo and Matt Besler had the All Star game the rest of the team probably didn't know exactly what to do with themselves with the week off. Coming out of the week KC plays the New England Revolution tomorrow at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, continuing their long home stand. The Revolution will be playing their third road game in a row, they've gotten four points out of those two games, winning in DC and getting a draw against Colorado. The Revolution are currently tied for the fewest goals scored this season with Toronto, scoring 19.

For the Wizards, the coaching staff was definitely not happy with the amount of time that forward, Omar Bravo got in the All Star game. The Mexican played 80 minutes against Manchester United, when Peter Vermes was hoping he'd play no more than 45 minutes against the EPL champs. The other thing that KC is going to have to deal with, is the replacing central defender, Aurelien Collin who is out with his back injury. The favorite would seem to be Julio Cesar to drop back to central defense from his defensive midfield position to partner Besler. With Cesar dropping back the midfield spot opens up, and Vermes has a decision which way he wants to go. If he wants to go with a more offensive lineup he can send out Graham Zusi who subbed on for Cesar last week. Or if he wants a lineup similar to the one that started vs TFC he can put out Birahim Diop in a defensive position.

Myers - Cesar - Besler - Sinovic
Jeferson - Espinoza - Diop
Kamara - Sapong - Bravo

Number to Remember - 12 - The unbeaten run is at 12, tying a club record set in 2000 during the clubs MLS Cup run. Hopefully the run this year leads the team to more silverware.

Key Match Up - Roger Espinoza vs Sharlie Joseph - Joseph will likely be the advanced midfielder in New England's midfield tomorrow night, and shutting him down is going to be a hard task for KC and seems likely that it will fall to Roger Espinoza.

PREDICTION - This is a game that Kansas City should be able to win, New England isn't a great road team, 1-6-4 on the season, they only just last week against DC picked up their first away win of the season. KC has yet to lose at home themselves. KC should be able to take care of business, but this is MLS, where unbeaten runs can end in spectacular fashion. KC is going to have to stay focused on the game to get the result.

KC - 2 (Kamara, Sapong)
NE - 1 (Joseph)

Kempin and the US Take Third at Milk Cup

After sitting on the bench for the US U18 team's first two games of the Milk Cup, Sporting KC goalkeeper, Jon Kempin got the start today in the third place game today against Georgia today in Northern Ireland. The US pulled out a 2-1 win to finish the competition 2-0-1 in the 3 game competition. Goals by Jordan McCrary and Jerome Kiesewetter led the US attack getting the two goals.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Collin Out Six Weeks

Sporting KC took a big blow today with the news that starting defender, Aurelien Collin will miss the next 6 weeks due to a back injury. Collin picked up the injury in the Wizards 4-2 win over Toronto FC over the weekend, having to be subbed just after the hour mark. The Frenchman looks set to miss the rest of the long home stand for KC due to the injury. Certainly a big blow for KC as Collin and Matt Besler had formed a solid partnership in the middle of defense. Now Besler looks set to partner Julio Cesar for the next few games. There's the possibility that Daneil Cyrus could replace the Collin, but I firmly believe that Cyrus wouldn't have played against Toronto if not for Cesar already having been subbed out of the game. Hopefully the loss of Collin doesn't hurt KC too much.

Bravo, Besler, MLS All Stars Fall to United

For the second year in a row the MLS All Stars fell to Manchester United in the mid-season all star game. Again it wasn't much of a game as United won 4-0, bringing the aggregate score to 9-2 over the two years. But honestly in the end it was a team that had practiced with each other a grand total of two times before the game going up against a team that has been consistently playing together, many of them for years. The team with more cohesiveness will win that match up the majority of the time, especially when that team is as good as United is.

Sporting KC's two All Stars Matt Besler and Omar Bravo both made appearances. Bravo started the game and went 81 minutes for the all stars before making way for Juan Agudelo. He had a few chances, one in the second half that he likely should have put away after a rebound was given up, but he pushed the shot wide. The more annoying thing for me than the miss was the fact that Bravo played 81 minutes last night. With a game this weekend I was hoping that he'd play no more than 45 minutes in the all star game. Besler came on about 5 minutes before Bravo came out. He didn't have anything really of note, although the all stars didn't get scored on while he was on the field, so he has that going for him. Now time to get back to games that actually matter.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Former SKC Wizards Update

This week's former SKC Wizards update is here. Some other news this week, Ryan Smith has left his trial with Real Zaragoza as the parties couldn't come to an agreement for the winger. Scoot Lorenz has joined this list for the time being while on his loan with Minnesota. Speaking of loans, Ryan Pore has departed Portland on loan, heading back to the NASL to play for the Montreal Impact. Finally, it appears that Diego Walsh has moved clubs again, he's apparently signed with TOT SC in the Thai league. Here's the rest of this week's update.

Still looking for:
Nick Cardenas
AJ Godbolt
Willy Guadarrama
Santiago Hirsig
Michael Kraus
Ryan McMahen
Ivan Trujillo

Jimmy Conrad - Chivas USA - Did not dress in Chivas' 3-0 win over Houston.
Adam Cristman - LA - Did not have a game this week.
Luis Gil - Salt Lake - Came off the bench and played 8 minutes in RSL's 4-0 win over San Jose. Came off the bench and played 21 minutes, recording an assist on the US U18 team's 2-0 win over Israel. Started and played 90 minutes in the US U18 team's 1-1 draw with Mexico.
Taylor Graham - Seattle - Did not dress in SEattle's 1-0 loss to San Francisco FC from Panama.
Kevin Hartman - Dallas - Started and played 90 minutes in Dallas' 2-2 draw with New York.
Frankie Hejduk - LA - Did not have a game this week.
Will Hesmer - Columbus - Started and played 90 minutes, recording the shutout in Columbus' 1-0 win over Portland.
Jack Jewsbury - Portland - Started and played 90 minutes in Portland's 1-0 loss to Columbus.
Mike Jones - New York - Did not dress in New York's 2-2 draw with Dallas.
Jonathan Leathers - Vancouver - Did not have a game this week.
Rauwshan McKenzie - Salt Lake - Did not dress in RSL's 4-0 win over San Jose.
Kurt Morsink - DC - Did not have a game this week.
Ryan Pore - Portland - On loan to Montreal.
Scott Sealy - San Jose - Started and played 63 minutes in San Jose's 4-0 loss to RSL.
Khari Stephenson - San Jose - Started and played 90 minutes in San Jose's 4-0 loss to RSL.
Tyson Wahl - Seattle - Did not dress in Seattle's 1-0 loss to San Francisco FC from Panama.
Josh Wolff - DC - Did not have a game this week.

Kevin Friedland - Minnesota - Did not play in Minnesota's 1-0 win over Montreal.
Aaron Hohlbein - Fort Lauderdale - Did not have a game this week.
Amir Lowery - Montreal - Came off the bench and played 15 minutes in Montreal's 1-0 loss to Minnesota.
Scott Lorenz - Minnesota - Just went on loan.
Ryan Pore - Montreal - Just went on loan.
Abe Thompson - Fort Lauderdale - Did not have a game this week.

Stephen Armstrong - Charleston - Did not dress in Charleston's 3-2 win over Dayton.
Edson Elcock - Richmond - Started and played 82 minutes in Richmond's 2-1 loss to LA.
Tom Gray - Pittsburgh - Started and played 80 minutes in Pittsburgh's 3-0 loss to Rochester.
Neal Kitson - Rochester - Started and played 90 minutes, recording the shutout in Rochester's 3-0 win over Pittsburgh.
Akeem Priestley - LA - Started and played 76 minutes in LA's 2-1 win over Richmond. Came off the bench and played 45 minutes in LA's 1-1 draw with Harrisburg.
Yomby William - Richmond - Started and played 90 minutes in Richmond's 2-1 loss to LA.
John Wilson - Charleston - Started and played 90 minutes in Charleston's 3-2 win over Dayton.

Byron Carmichael - Ocean City - Started and played 65 minutes, scoring 2 goals in Ocean City's 4-0 win over Booklyn.
Sergei Raad - FC Jax Destroyers - Did not play in Jax's 3-2 loss to Central Florida. Did not play in Jax's 4-1 loss to Bradenton.

Sunil Chhetri - Chirag United - India - Started and played 84 minutes in India's 3-0 loss ot UAE in their World Cup qualifier.
Pablo Escobar - Deportivo Cali - Colombia - Did not play in Cali's 1-0 win over Deportes Tolima.
Herculez Gomez - Tecos - Mexico - Started and played 90 minutes in Tecos' 2-1 loss to Toluca.
Carlos Marinelli - Universidad San Martin - Peru - Off until late July.
Yura Movsisyan - FC Krasnodar - Russia - Started and played 79 minutes, scoring a goal in Krasnodar's 2-2 draw with Spartak Nal'chik.
Matt Taylor - SC Paderborn 07 - Germany - Came off the bench and played 45 minutes, scoring a goal in Paderborn's 1-1 draw with Fortuna Dusseldorf.
Diego Walsh - TOT SC - Thailand - Season restarts next week.

Chivas Friendly Looks to be on For October

Today on Twitter, Robb Heineman gave out another nice little bit of information for Sporting KC fans. Heineman tweeted that LIVESTRONG Sporting Park is looking good to host Sporting KC vs Chivas in October. This would presumably be part of the home-home series that was set up as part of the Omar Bravo signing. Rumors are the leg down in Mexico was canceled due to security concerns. KC currently does have the weekend of October 8th open with no league game currently. That game is between a trip to San Jose and a home game against New York.

Personally I don't like this idea. Even with the week off, at this point in the season the focus shouldn't be on friendlies, instead it should be on either qualifying for the playoffs or improving seeding for the playoffs. It shouldn't be focused on a friendly. Aurelien Collin, Omar Bravo, or any of KC's starters get hurt in that game and miss the playoffs and it becomes a disaster situation for KC.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Silly Season News (Bunbury and Lorenz)

The silly season is still going on and more news is coming out with regards to Sporting KC players. While Shavar Thomas was on trial with Portsmouth, and Stephane Auvray looks to be on his way out of KC, other news is coming out. First is news that Sporting KC's lone Generation Adidas player, Teal Bunbury, has been attracting interest abroad still. Apparently Brondby, of the Danish league has had two offers for Bunbury rejected. The first was for a four day trial for the US international. The second offer was a loan-plus-buy-option deal that Sporting KC also rejected. Brondby finished third in the Danish Superliga last season, and is currently home to another US international, Clarence Goodsen, but it doesn't look like they'll be adding another.

The other news is out going player related, but only on a loan. Scott Lorenz, posted on Twitter today that he was heading to play for NSC Minnesota Stars on loan. Word is that the deal is not finalized as yet, but it only seems a formality that Lorenz will be playing in the NASL for the rest of the Stars season. The Stars are currently fourth in the NASL and are looking to add some depth for the run in to the end of the season. Lorenz made 1 league appearance for KC, starting in the team's second game of the season against Chicago. Lorenz also appeared in both of KC's games in the US Open Cup this year. Good luck to Lorenz in Minnesota.

Monday, July 25, 2011

US Women's National Team in KC? No Pompey Move for Thomas. And Kempin News

Word out of New Zealand is that Kansas City will have another international match at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park this year. According to the NZ Herald, if it's finalized, the US Women's National Team will be at LSP on September 17th to take on New Zealand. The game would be part of a two game series between the sides with the other game being in Portland. It'd be the first time in a long time that the US women would be in KC. Probably not since Mia Hamm and friends farewell tour in 2004. The game, if it happens, is the same night as Kansas City's next road game, against Real Salt Lake.

In other news regarding KC, Shavar Thomas' location the past couple weeks is now known. Thomas was on trial with English Championship side Portsmouth. Thomas played in the club's 2-2 draw with the Charleston XI at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, SC. Thomas played 45 minutes, but apparently did not impress enough to be offered a contract with the club, according to Pompey's coach, Thomas "did well in the game the other night but I don't think he would be anything better than what we already have at the football club." Thomas returns to KC and KC is likely still going to look to move him.

Finally, Jon Kempin is in Northern Ireland with the US U18 team for the Milk Cup. Today they opened the competition as they took on Ireland. Kempin was on the bench behind Ispwich Town keeper, Cody Cropper. The US won their opener in the tournament 2-0 over Israel. Their next game is on Wednesday against Mexico.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

6th Home Game Attendance

photo courtesy of Jarred Donalson

KC's 6th home game of the season is in the books, time to take another look at how the 2011 season stacks up with the rest throughout the team history. For the 5th home game (and to get links to previous weeks), click here. While the result last night was great, I was a little disappointed that the game was not a sell out. The underwhelming attendance figures from other years though are allowing the 2011 season to separate.

Here is the 6th home game attendance figures.

1996 - Arrowhead
Average - 13,995

1997 - Arrowhead
Average - 8,889

1998 - Arrowhead
Average - 7,616

1999 - Arrowhead
Average - 9,030

2000 - Arrowhead
Average - 8,902

2001 - Arrowhead
Average - 10,245

2002 - Arrowhead
Average - 11,762

2003 - Arrowhead
Average - 14,815

2004 - Arrowhead
Average - 14,500

2005 - Arrowhead
Average - 9,657

2006 - Arrowhead
Average - 10,949

2007 - Arrowhead
Average - 9,409

2008 - Community America Ballpark
Average - 9,602

2009 - Community America Ballpark
Average - 9,590

2010 - Community America Ballpark
Average - 9,894

2011 - LIVESTRONG Sporting Park
Average - 17,820

Here are the rankings of the years and their movement since the 5th home game. Adding a new thing to this section, the second number in parenthesis is the amount the average has changed from the previous week.

1. 2011 - 17,820 (-) (-287)
2. 2003 - 14,815 (+1) (-792)
3. 2004 - 14,500 (-1) (-1,297)
4. 1996 - 13,995 (-) (-889)
5. 2002 - 11,762 (-) (-408)
6. 2006 - 10,949 (-) (-387)
7. 2001 - 10,245 (+1) (57)
8. 2010 - 9,894 (+1) (54)
9. 2005 - 9,657 (-2) (-574)
10. 2008 - 9,602 (-) (157)
11. 2009 - 9,590 (-) (159)
12. 2007 - 9409 (-) (15)
13. 1999 - 9,030 (+1) (431)
14. 2000 - 8,902 (+2) (916)
15. 1997 - 8,889 (-2) (-147)
16. 1998 - 7,616 (-1) (-518)

The low attendance for home game 6 was 5,027 in the 1998 season which sees that season fall to the bottom of the rankings for attendance. These updates will start to come thick and heavy in this 9 game home stand coming up. In fact by the time the home stand is done, some seasons will have finished their home schedule.

Sunday After Stats

Omar Bravo's and Kei Kamara's 2 goals tie them with Eddie Johnson and Davy Arnaud for the most goals against TFC. Funny note, only Johnson has scored in multiple games against them, the other 3 got their 2 goals in single games.

Kamara's goal was also his 30th in MLS play of his career.

Kamara's two goals moves him past Jack Jewsbury and Chris Brown into 11th place for the most league goals for KC. Kamara now has 16.

The two goals by Kamara also moves him into a tie for 12th for all competition goals, with Miklos Molnar, Eddie Johnson, and Jimmy Conrad. He moved past Francisco Gomez, Jose Burciaga, Sasha Victorine, Claudio Lopez, and Jewsbury.

Graham Zusi made his 50th league appearance for KC last night, he's the 40th player to hit that mark.

Jimmy Nielsen got his 15th win in all competitions for KC, giving him sole possession of 5th place on that list, passing Garth Lagerwey.

Good Way to Start Home Stand

Sporting Kansas City got their 9 game home stand started the right way last night against Toronto FC, scoring 3 first half goals and added a fourth in the second to defeat the reds 4-2 at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. The way the game started though, it looked like the result could have gone the other direction. Only a few minutes into the game Toronto had a great chance to get the opener as TFC's new DP, Danny Koevermans had a ball squared into the middle. From 6 yards out though the Dutchman was stunned when Jimmy Nielsen got down quickly and got enough of a hand on the ball to knock it into the crowd and then over the cross bar for a TFC corner. A few minutes later, Koevermans again had a decent chance after being played in behind the KC defense by Torsten Frings. But Koevermans fired the shot wide of Nielsen's post.

The early part of the game had a lot of back and forth action between the teams, KC had their chances as well with Julio Cesar and Kei Kamara forcing a double save out of Stefan Frei in the 14th minute. Slowly though KC started to control the game and keep TFC in their own end. In the 28th minute, KC grabbed the lead. A corner from Jeferson hit off a TFC player and bounced into the air. Kamara laid out, going parallel to the ground and firing a scissor kick past Frei and into the net to give KC the 1-0 lead. From there the flood gates seemed to open at least for about a 10 minute time frame. In the 34th, KC made it 2-0. Roger Espinoza received a ball on the left hand side, cut back on his defender and lofted a chip to the back post where Kamara beat his defender to the ball and headed it past Frei. In the 37th, KC made it 3, this time Omar Bravo got in on the scoring. Cesar stripped the ball off of Maicon Santos at midfield and the ball found it's way to Jeferson. The Brazilian started dribbling into TFC's end before playing a great through ball to Bravo. Bravo was held on by Andy Iro and raced onto the ball. Bravo rounded Frei and then from the corner of the 6 yard box slotted the ball into the net to make it 3-0 KC.

Toronto came out in the second half much the way they did in the first half, taking the game to KC. Not even 30 seconds into the half, Nielsen had to make a save on Ryan Johnson after KC gave the ball away poorly in their own end. Unlike in the first half though, TFC found the net in the second. Johnson played a nice ball to the back post, where Koevermans had lost Matt Besler and headed the ball past Nielsen to cut the lead to 3-1. The introduction of Graham Zusi a little later though seemed to reignite KC's offense. Zusi helped to set up a few half chances, including a nice strike by Seth Sinovic that Frei could only knock down and then dive on to cover before Teal Bunbury could get to the rebound. Shortly after Sinovic's chance, KC reestablished their 3 goal lead. Zusi was the creator, sending Chance Myers free down the right wing. Myers fired a one time cross into the middle for Bravo who had beaten his man and he fired past Frei at the near post for his 6th goal of the season. Myers and Bravo almost connected again just a minute later, but Bravo's header was right at Frei who held on.

KC started to concede a little more and TFC was able to attack a bit more, which left TFC open to counters. After one counter that ended in a goal kick, TFC found a second. Frei's kick was over the defense, Daneil Cyrus tried to play the ball back to Nielsen to clear, but did not get enough on the pass as Johnson raced past him and chipped the ball over Nielsen to make it a 2 goal game again. While it was a poor play by Cryus, who immediately realized it, major props to Nielsen for immediately grabbing the TnT international to get him to refocus on the game and move past the mistake. Good leadership by the Dane. TFC really struggled to threaten KC's goal too much and KC continued to try to counter. Late on it looked like KC would get a 5th. Kamara raced past midfield with two players on him. He squared to an open Bunbury, but the ball got stuck underneath the out of form American and by the time he controlled the ball the chance was long gone. In stoppage time TFC had one last good chance to make it a 1 goal game. A corner by TFC was not totally cleared and came to Johnson who with his back to goal went for a bike. Nielsen did well to get across his goal and tip it out for a corner, although it did look like it was going towards the post. Still a nice save by Nielsen.

WIZARDS Man of the Match - Roger Espinoza - Not often will a guy that scores 2 goals in a game not be named the man of the match, but Espinoza had a fantastic game last night. Beside setting up Kamara's second, Espinoza did well to frustrate Toronto's central midfield. After the early chances, Frings was not much of a factor at all in the game. Well done by the Honduran.

Honorable Mention - Kei Kamara, Omar Bravo

Player Ratings - Nielsen 6, Myers 6, Collin 5, Besler 5, Sinovic 5, Cesar 5, Espinoza 8, Jeferson 7, Bravo 8, Sapong 6, Kamara 8. Subs Bunbury 4, Zusi 6, Cyrus 5.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Home Stand Starts

photo courtesy of Jarred Donalson

Sporting Kansas City's two month long home stand starts tomorrow when the Wizards take on Toronto FC at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. It's also the end of a five week stretch of Kansas City playing two games a week. Next week the team only has one game against New England on Saturday. Toronto coming into town for the game tomorrow playing only their second game after some major roster shuffling. In the past few weeks, Toronto has brought in two designated players and traded for four or five new players along with sending other players the other way. All the player movement makes it extremely hard to predict what TFC is going to put out. TFC has already used 33 players in league play so far this season.

KC still has their league unbeaten run, now up to 11, but lately, KC has had trouble with giving up the first goal, early in the game. In each of KC's last 3 league games they've given up an early goal first to the opposition and had to fight their way back into the game. In the last two games it's taken a goal in stoppage time to continue the unbeaten run. Unlike Toronto, who played a league game on Wednesday night against Dallas, KC had their Newcastle friendly and were able to get some of their first team players a bit of a rest. Add that to the heat and one would think KC would have the advantage.

Myers - Collin - Besler - Sinovic
Jeferson - Espinoza - Zusi
Kamara - Sapong - Bravo

Number to Remember - 1 - KC has averaged only one game in their 8 games at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. 5 league games, 2 Open Cup games, and the Newcastle friendly, KC has found it difficult to score goals at home lately. Also only 1 league goal by KC has been scored at the Cauldron end, the first SKC goal at LSP, by CJ Sapong

Key Match Up - Jeferson vs Torsten Frings - A battle of two DPs in this game. Jeferson showed some good skill in the friendly against Newcastle, but it will be interesting to see how he matches up against a team that will likely play tighter to the Brazilian. Frings could very well be the one tasked with shadowing Jeferson which could make for an interesting match up.

PREDICTION - Toronto had a league game Wednesday and has a CONCACAF Champions' League qualifier on Wednesday against Real Esteli FC out of Nicaragua. Combine that with heat in KC currently and KC should likely be the favorites in this game. Hopefully KC can finally break their scoring slump a little bit. TFC's defense, even with the addition of Andy Iro is still suspect and as a whole the team is likely still gelling a little bit on the field with all the new additions.

SKC - 2 (Sapong, Bravo)
TFC - 1 (Johnson)

New Podcast

It's been a few weeks since there's been a new episode of From the Byline to the Back Post. This week, Thad and I bring you two episodes on iTunes and Posterous. In part 1 this week Thad and I discuss all the games that we've missed since we last recorded and also talk about the women's World Cup. In part 2 we discuss the player news and movement, including all our new signings. Thanks again to The Vandon Arms for the music.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Former SKC Wizards Update

Here is this week's former SKC Wizards update. The only big news this week is that Sunil Chhetri and India are set to begin qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, and they had their last friendly before hand, beating Qatar 2-1.

Still looking for:
Nick Cardenas
AJ Godbolt
Willy Guadarrama
Santiago Hirsig
Michael Kraus
Ryan McMahen
Ivan Trujillo

Jimmy Conrad - Chivas USA - Did not play in Chivas 0-0 draw with New York.
Adam Cristman - LA - Did not dress in LA's 1-0 win over Columbus.
Luis Gil - Salt Lake - Did not have a game this week.
Taylor Graham - Seattle - Did not dress in Seattle's 4-3 win over Colorado.
Kevin Hartman - Dallas - Started and played 90 minutes, recording the shutout in Dallas' 0-0 draw with DC. Started and played 90 minutes, recording the shutout in Dallas' 1-0 win over Toronto.
Frankie Hejduk - LA - Did not dress in LA's 1-0 win over Columbus.
Will Hesmer - Columbus - Started and played 90 minutes, recording the shutout in Columbus' 0-0 draw with San Jose. Started and played 90 minutes in Columbus' 1-0 loss to LA.
Jack Jewsbury - Portland - Started and played 90 minutes, scoring a goal in Portland's 1-0 win over Chicago.
Mike Jones - New York - Did not play in New York's 0-0 draw with Chivas. Did not dress in New York's 4-1 loss to Colorado.
Jonathan Leathers - Vancouver - Started and played 90 minutes in Vancouver's 2-2 draw with San Jose.
Rauwshan McKenzie - Salt Lake - Did not have a game this week.
Kurt Morsink - DC - Did not play in DC's 0-0 draw with Dallas. Dressed but did not play in DC's 1-0 loss to New England.
Ryan Pore - Portland - Did not play in Portland's 1-0 win over Chicago.
Scott Sealy - San Jose - Came off the bench and played 17 minutes in San Jose's 0-0 draw with Columbus. Came off the bench and played 7 minutes in San Jose's 2-2 draw with Vancouver.
Khari Stephenson - San Jose - Started and played 90 minutes in San Jose's 0-0 draw with Columbus. Started and played 83 minutes in San Jose's 2-2 draw with Vancouver
Tyson Wahl - Seattle - Started and played 90 minutes in Seattle's 4-3 win over Colorado.
Josh Wolff - DC - Did not play in DC's 0-0 draw with Dallas. Started and played 63 minutes in DC's 1-0 loss to New England.

Kevin Friedland - Minnesota - Did not play in Minnesota's 1-0 loss to Puerto Rico.
Aaron Hohlbein - Fort Lauderdale - Did not dress in Fort Lauderdale's 3-1 loss to Puerto Rico.
Amir Lowery - Montreal - Started and played 90 minutes in Montreal's 2-2 draw with Atlanta.
Abe Thompson - Fort Lauderdale - Started and played 90 minutes in Fort Lauderdale's 3-1 loss to Puerto Rico.

Stephen Armstrong - Charleston - Came off the bench and played 29 minutes in Charleston's 2-1 win over Wilmington.
Edson Elcock - Richmond - Started and played 90 minutes, recording an assist in Richmond's 1-0 win over Antigua.
Tom Gray - Pittsburgh - Started and played 90 minutes in Pittsburgh's 1-1 draw with New York. Started and played 85 minutes, recording an assist in Pittsburgh's 3-1 win over Dayton.
Neal Kitson - Rochester - Started and played 90 minutes in Rochester's 2-1 loss to Orlando.
Akeem Priestley - LA - Dressed but did not play in LA's 1-1 with Dayton. Started and played 90 minutes in LA's 4-1 win over Dayton.
Diego Walsh - Charleston - Did not dress in Charleston's 2-1 win over Wilmington.
Yomby William - Richmond - Started and played 90 minutes in Richmond's 1-0 win over Antigua.
John Wilson - Charleston - Started and played 90 minutes in Charleston's 2-1 win over Wilmington.

Byron Carmichael - Ocean City - Did not play in Ocean City's 1-1 draw with Westchester.
Sergei Raad - FC Jax Destroyers - Did not play in Jax's 3-2 loss to Central Florida. Beat Fort Lauderdale 3-0.

Sunil Chhetri - Chirag United - India - Started and played 90 minutes, scoring a goal in India's 2-1 win over Qatar.
Pablo Escobar - Deportivo Cali - Colombia - No game until 8/23
Carlos Marinelli - Universidad San Martin - Peru - Off until late July.
Yura Movsisyan - FC Krasnodar - Russia - Did not play in Krasnodar's 2-1 loss to Fakel.
Matt Taylor - SC Paderborn 07 - Germany - Came off the bench and played 21 minutes in Paderborn's 2-1 win over Hansa Rostock.

Goose Egg Friendly

Well last night's game wasn't the exciting, 2-1 win last year over Manchester United, but the Wizards stayed undefeated against teams from the EPL, with a 0-0 draw against Newcastle United in what proved to be a bit of a boring game overall. There was no shot on goal until after Soony Saad's effort close to halfway through the second half. The heat and schedules for both teams certainly played a role in the way that the game turned out.

Early on KC had a shout for a penalty after Graham Zusi went down in the box after a shoulder challenge from behind, but the referee continued play. The first half as a whole saw plenty of chances that were well high and wide of the goal. The brightest part of the first half was the play of KC's new designated player, Jeferson. His touch and passing last night were fantastic, I'll wait until he's played against MLS competition in a game that actually counts, but my initial skepticism is starting to turn away. Of course I said the same thing after seeing some of the stuff Carlos Marinelli did in his first few games.

The second half saw Newcastle control more of the game as Sporting put on more reserves than they had in the first half. Still KC had their chances, some of the brightest offensive attacks in the second half came through Saad. He showed plenty of energy on the field and a willingness to take players on. His turn and shot for the first shot on goal of the game was very well taken by the teenager. Newcastle probably should have grabbed the lead with their lone shot on goal. A cross to the back side was met by an unmarked Danny Simpson, but he side footed his shot right at the feet of Eric Kronberg who easily collected the attempt. The final good attempt for either side came on a nice turn and strike by CJ Sapong, but Tim Krul in the Magpies net made the diving save, keeping the score 0-0. Nothing overly exciting, but you could tell both teams were playing with an eye towards their upcoming schedule.

WIZARDS Man of the Match - Jeferson - KC's new DP was a big bright spot for KC last night. Showed good touch, vision, and passing ability. Once he's had time to get onto the same page with Omar Bravo and the other forwards it should be fun to watch.

Honorable Mention - Soony Saad

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Friendly Time

Kansas City gets into the in-season friendly business again this year as they take on Newcastle United tomorrow at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. Newcastle isn't the glamor opponent that Manchester United was last year, but Newcastle is still a big club (and not just in their fans minds). St. James' Park is the third largest stadium in the EPL, and even though Newcastle is entering their second season back in the Premier League, they still continue to draw well. One of the Magpies' biggest names, Joey Barton though, along with 2 other players were not given visas and did not travel to the US. They'll still have Special 1TV's favorite Newcastle player, Shola Ameobi.

With the lineup that KC put out for the reserve game, it appears that Peter Vermes is hoping to dress as many players as possible, and get as many on the field as possible. Hopefully this means that the first 11 won't get more than 45 minutes tomorrow so that they're fresher for the game on Saturday against Toronto. It'll also be nice to get a look at newer players like Soony Saad and Daneil Cyrus (who both played today), as well as maybe Jeferson. I'm just hoping for no one to get hurt tomorrow.

PREDICTION - I'm not gonna predict a lineup for tomorrow because hopefully we'll see 22 players on the field for KC throughout the game to give some guys some rest heading into the long home stand. With the game tomorrow though I think that KC may actually have the advantage. Once again tomorrow the heat wave is set to continue, with temperatures again over 100. And while both teams have to deal with the weather, KC has dealt with it a lot more than Newcastle has.

Rangers Fall to Fire

The Swope Park Rangers fell in a reserve league game today out at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park to the Chicago Fire. With Sporting KC set to take on Newcastle tomorrow, and a game against Toronto this weekend, KC's lineup saw them field only six players that are actually on KC's roster. The other 5 starters, and all 5 substitutions were either trialists or Juniors players. One of the trialists looks like it could be Haitian international Joseph Peterson. Doing an image search of him he looks like a guy that was out at training last week when I was there. Chicago grabbed the lead through Orr Barouch in the 13th minute. Trialist, Dwayne James got the equalizer in the 20th minute off an assist from new signing, Daneil Cyrus. Chicago grabbed the winner in the 77th through academy player, Manny Guzman.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Besler, Bravo on All Star Game Day Roster

Matt Besler and Omar Bravo will at least be on the bench next Wednesday when the MLS All Stars take on Manchester United. Today, MLS All Stars coach, Hans Backe announced the 22 man game day roster. Both Besler and Bravo are on the roster. Four players selected to the "First XI" are not on the roster due to injury or upcoming CONCACAF Champions' League games. The two selections are the most since 2007 for KC, and only Houston, LA, and New York had more players named to the roster.

Comets Announce First Two Signings

The Missouri Comets second season is coming up sooner than later, and today the team announced their first two signings for this coming season. One is a returning player, another is a player familiar to Comets fans. Brian Harris, who was on the MISL All-Rookie team last year has signed a two year contract with the Comets to begin his second season with the team. The other signing is Ibrahim Kante. Last season Kante played with the Omaha Vipers, and spent time with the last version of the Comets when they played at Kemper Arena. Kante has also spent time on trial with the Wizards a few years ago. Kante offers a physical presence in defense that the Comets lacked many times throughout the season for KC. The lack of a physical defender I think hurt Missouri last season.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday After Stats

Not many stats for this week, but here are the stats.

Roger Espinoza made his 75th league appearance for KC, he's the 28th player to hit that mark.

Mixed Feelings

Sporting KC picked up a point on the road last night down in Houston, in a 1-1 draw with the Dynamo. Read that statement on it's own and you'd think that was a good result for the Wizards in a location that they haven't played well in over their history. But when you explain that KC played up a man for about 20 minutes, and played up 2 men for 20 minutes, 40 minutes with a numerical advantage, then the draw loses a lot of it's luster. Still I don't know many people that were expecting a draw out of this game in the first place. Yes not getting all 3 points is a disappointment, but the one point is a point that many people didn't expect.

Once again KC allowed the first goal of the game, an 8th minute strike from Brad Davis off of a free kick. Davis fired the free kick over the four man wall and past Jimmy Nielsen and into the net. You could fault Nielsen a little bit on the play as the ball went just under Nielsen's hands, but Nielsen did a good job of making it across the goal to even have a chance at it. He had to be at least a little mindful of the cross to the back post. Graham Zusi forced a decent save out of Tally Hall shortly after Davis' goal after Zusi got in behind the defense. But while Zusi forced the save and earned the corner, he likely would have been better off firing the ball across the middle towards CJ Sapong and Omar Bravo and hope for a deflection or one of them to finish it. Houston continued to push for a second as KC struggled to go forward throughout the rest of the first half, but the KC defense was able to hold onto the lead.

In the 51st minute the game changed. Houston midfielder, Collin Clark lost the ball to Roger Espinoza, the ball made it's way to Aurelien Collin, immediately Clark came flying in for a challenge two footed, with his studs up, missed the ball and scissored Collin's leg. After some of the other challenges this season, it wasn't totally surprising that Kevin Stott immediately pulled out the red card and sent Clark off. It was a stupid challenge by the Dynamo midfielder. After the red card, KC started to take more control of the match, Sapong had an effort turned away by Hall at the near post shortly after the red card, and KC continued to attack. While KC continued to push the game, that left them susceptible to the counter and Houston tried to capitalize on that. In the 69th minute, the ball was deep in KC's end, Brian Ching tried to cut inside on Collin, but his touch was too heavy and Collin got to the ball first as Collin was sheparding the ball away from Ching and then played the ball away, Ching took kicked out at Collin, not getting the ball and taking the Frenchman down. Once again, Stott immediately went to his pocket and pulled out another red card, this one for the Dynamo captain. With the two man advantage though, KC still couldn't find an equalizer, either due to poor finishing or good goalkeeping by Hall in the Dynamo net. Even Collin stopped an effort, as he was on the ground after he had a shot saved when Sapong's rebound shot deflected off of him before being skied over by Matt Besler. In the 90th minute, KC finally broke through, with Collin silencing the boo birds in Houston who had been booing him as he'd been the player fouled on both of the Dynamo's red cards. After Roger Espinoza received a throw in from Bravo, Espinoza laid the ball off to Collin about 25 yards from Collin. His shot took a deflection on the way through, wrong footing Hall (the only time all night) and it rolled into the net for the equalizer. Unfortunately KC wasn't able to capitalize on the man advantage again to find a winner.

Definitely a mixed result for KC, the draw is nice, but the circumstances surrounding the how KC got the result are the frustrating part. Playing up at least a man for about 40 minutes and only getting one goal is incredibly frustrating, the offense continues to struggle and has averaged only a goal a game for about the last 14 games. Why Peter Vermes 1) only used one substitute was puzzling, yes other than Teal Bunbury the offensive subs were the fairly ineffective Milos Stojcev and the young Soony Saad, but getting fresh legs to run at a the tired Houston defense could have made the difference and 2) why he waited for 10 minutes after Ching's red card to make a sub. With Houston down two men, the game screamed for an immediate sub to put more offense on the field to push the game more at Houston, but Vermes didn't make the change until the 80th. I'd have had Bunbury, Stojcev or Saad up at the midfield line as soon as possible after seeing Stott produce a red for Ching.

WIZARDS Man of the Match - Aurelien Collin - If it was a key moment in the game last night, Collin was involved. He caused the foul that led to Davis' goal, he drew the two red cards on Houston and scored the equalizer. A busy game for the Frenchman who is quickly developing a cult following among KC supporters.

Player Ratings - Nielsen 5, Myers 6, Collin 7, Besler 5, Harrington 5, Diop 4, Espinoza 6, Zusi 6, Bravo 5, Sapong 5, Kamara 5. Subs Bunbury 5.

Sportng KC Sign Jeferson as DP

The rumors last week out of Brazil have turned out to be true, as Sporting KC's "major player announcement" was the announcement of the signing of midfielder, Jeferson as a designated player. Jeferson has been signed on loan from his current club, Vasco da Gama. Jeferson will be called upon to pull the strings in the midfield for Sporting KC, to help the team get back into more of their early season goal scoring form. Jeferson has most recently suffered from some thigh issues, but hopefully he can come through that and become a solid contributor for KC. I'm still a little skeptical about this signing with the injury issues, but after the last two games against Richmond and Houston where KC showed an inability to break down defenses.

Jeferson becomes the teams third designated player all time, and the second this season, joining Omar Bravo.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Bravo Named All Star

Today during half of today's Colorado vs Seattle, commissioner, Don Garber announced the two commissioner's picks for this year's all star game against Manchester United. The two players selected by Garber were New York Red Bulls' Juan Agudelo and Sporting KC's designated player, Omar Bravo. Bravo joins teammate Matt Besler on the All Star team that will play Manchester United on July 27th at Red Bull Arena. This is the first time since 2007 that Kansas City will have 2 or more representatives on the all star team, Jimmy Conrad, Eddie Johnson, and Kevin Hartman were the Wizards' three representatives that year.

KC Confirm Cyrus Loan (Another Announcement Tomorrow)

Earlier today, Sporting KC confirmed the signing of Trinidad and Tobago international Daneil Cyrus on loan from 1st Santa Rosa FC in Trindad. Cyrus had trialed with the team all through pre-season after impressing at a combine down in the islands over the winter. The teams though had not been able to reach a deal for the player and Sporting had moved in another direction. Now Cyrus comes into a team that needs depth at center back. With Julio Cesar playing more d-mid KC only had 3 central defenders. Cyrus will fight for time with Jamaican international, Shavar Thomas.

The announcement of Cyrus means that he is not the player announcement being referred to by Robb Heineman. The speculation now switches to Jeferson, and tomorrow's "major player announcement" the team is going to be doing tomorrow. Jeferson, the Vasco da Gama attacking midfielder is the lead candidate for being that "major player" referenced in today's announcement. I'm still not sure about this potential signing as Jeferson seems to have had some thigh injury issues that have plagued him, but hopefully he has overcome them.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Daneil Cyrus to KC?

Word out of Trinidad today is that Sporting KC has a new central defender. Long time target Daneil Cyrus is on his way to KC on a loan deal from his Trinidad club, Santa Rosa FC apparently. Cyrus had impressed during the preseason and the team had tried to work out a deal, but back in March word from Cyrus' club was that the offer was too low. Cyrus will be a boost to KC's back line which is thin at this point. With Julio Cesar moving to more of a d-mid position, KC only had 3 center backs on their roster, starters Aurelien Collin and Matt Besler, and Jamaican captain Shavar Thomas. Adding another CB had to be a priority this transfer window for this team. You do have to wonder if this is the announcement that Robb Heineman mentioned today on Twitter for tomorrow.

On the Road Again

Kansas City goes on the road tomorrow for one of their last 4 road games of the season down in Houston against the Dynamo. The Dynamo are on a 3 game unbeaten run, two ties and then a win last week over Toronto. They are led by Brad Davis, who is currently leading the league in assists. His crosses and free kicks have helped Brian Ching and Will Bruin to add to each of their goal totals.

The Wizards lost their 12 game unbeaten run in all competitions on Tuesday night, but still have their 10 game unbeaten run in league play heading into the game in Houston. But Houston hasn't exactly been a great place to play over the years for Sporting. Since winning at Robertson in their first trip ever, KC has not won since that trip. The big question will be how KC comes back from Tuesday night and the poor performance against the Kickers. Julio Cesar is out for this weekend, meaning Luke Sassano or Birahim Diop will likely move into the midfield.

Myers - Collin - Besler - Harrington
Espinoza - Sassano - Zusi
Kamara - Sapong - Bravo

Number to Remember - 4 - Four games left on the road including this game, and KC only needs 4 points in those 4 games to average a point per game on the road this season, which has been a good mark for teams wanting to make the playoffs.

Key Match Up - Chance Myers vs Brad Davis - As mentioned earlier, Davis has been a very good player for Houston, Myers shutting him down on the right hand side will be a big part of KC's game tomorrow.

PREDICTION - This game has worried me for a while, even before the Richmond game, Houston has always been a team that KC has struggled against. Hopefully they can pull themselves out of the serious scoring funk they are in, averaging a goal a game in the last 13 games and put them on the right track. I just don't feel confident in the game though.

SKC - 0
HOU - 2 (Bruin, Davis)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Practice and Press Conference Thoughts

With one of my precious days off today from my job that pays the bills, I made my way to Swope for Sporting KC's practice today and the press conference with Peter Vermes and Soony Saad. The one thing that was most surprising about practice today was that it was more laid back than I thought it was. With yesterday being more of a recovery day for the guys and tomorrow likely being a light day before departing for Houston I figured today would be more of an intense day. It was still a hard work out for the guys overall, but not as intense as I thought it would be.

Stephane Auvray is still no where to be found, and actually seeing Vermes reaction to questions about him just reinforces what I'd believed for a while and what people had told me, that Auvray is gone. While Vermes comments in the press conference were non-committal on the Guadeloupe captain, his mannerisms when asked about it just drove the point home for me.

On the Richmond game, Vermes didn't want to touch on that much more, stating again that the team did not play well and that there was a lack of effort and a lack of recognition of things that were not taken advantage of. He also talked about how players didn't do themselves favors in terms of getting more playing time after they failed to impress in the opportunity that was given to them. He also said that some players either didn't respect the Kickers, or their teammates during the game on Tuesday. Vermes said that the players now have to change that perception. It'll be interesting to see which of those players get bumped back down a little bit because of the poor performance against Richmond. Some of these comments when I think about the game would seem to be directed towards Teal Bunbury and his poor performance.

On Ryan Smith, Vermes emphasized that Smith is not a free agent, he's free to sign for teams over there, but there would have to be some sort of compensation in some form from any team that signed him to MLS and Sporting. He's not a "free agent" as reports out of England have suggested.

He talked about Matt Besler's all star selection, really talking up the local product, talking about how he's improved from year to year, saying this year he's become a "man at the position". Vermes did tip Besler for eventually being called up to the US national team, saying that if he continues the way he has he will get a call up to the US team. A lot of good things to say about Besler.

Vermes did tip his hat towards Saturday a little bit towards Saturday. After talking Soony Saad up for a little bit, including talking about how Saad has a different mentality than many guys as he is really pushing to scrape together goals. But Vermes did say that Saad is on the travel roster for this weekend in Houston. Saad was the player involved in today's press conference, and the kid looks extremely excited to be playing here. He lite up when asked about LIVESTRONG Sporting Park and talked up the crowd atmosphere in the stadium and how we was looking forward to contributing and becoming a fan favorite. He came across as a kid with a lot of drive to become a star and a kid who literally is living his dream of being a professional player.

Craig Rocastle continues his recovery from injury, running and some agility work, and is still on schedule. Vermes said some time in mid to late August Rocastle would hopefully be back.

With regards to Jeferson Vermes says that he's not going to comment on things at this time. Vermes said he loves that Robb will tip his hand, but he's not going to show his. But the team is looking to be active in the transfer window that opens tomorrow, within and outside the league.

For next week with the busy schedule of game Saturday, reserve game (that Vermes says that he is battling with the league over moving), Newcastle, and Toronto the following Saturday, Vermes said it's going to be a difficult thing to do. He expected trialists and Juniors to play a major role in the reserve game against the Fire.

Kempin Named to US U18 Team

Yesterday, US Soccer named the US U18 roster that will be going to Northern Ireland to compete in this year's Milk Cup. Kempin was one of two keepers called up, along with Cody Cropper from Ipswich Town. The team will play Israel on the 25th, Mexico on the 27th, and then a "placement" game on the 29th depending on how the first two games go. The sad thing in one regard for Kempin is that he will now miss the Newcastle friendly on the 20th most likely. Good luck to Kempin at the tournament.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Former SKC Wizards Update

Here is this week's former Wizards updates. Sunil Chhetri is back on the list, scoring a goal in a friendly against Maldives as they prepare for their World Cup qualifier against UAE.

Still looking for:
Nick Cardenas
AJ Godbolt
Willy Guadarrama
Santiago Hirsig
Michael Kraus
Ryan McMahen
Ivan Trujillo

Jimmy Conrad - Chivas USA - Did not dress in Chivas' 1-1 draw with KC.
Adam Cristman - LA - Came off the bench and played 13 minutes in LA's 2-1 win over Chicago. Started and played 90 minutes, scoring a goal in LA's 3-1 loss to Seattle in the US Open Cup.
Luis Gil - Salt Lake - Started and played 90 minutes in RSL's 2-0 win over Dallas. Started and played 90 minutes in RSL's 2-0 loss to Dallas in the US Open Cup.
Taylor Graham - Seattle - Did not dress in Seattle's 3-2 win over Portland. Did not play in Seattle's 3-1 win over LA in the US Open Cup.
Kevin Hartman - Dallas - Started and played 90 minutes in Dallas' 2-0 loss to RSL. Started and played 90 minutes, recording the shutout in Dallas' 2-0 win over RSL in the US Open Cup.
Frankie Hejduk - LA - Did not dress in LA's 2-1 win over Chicago. Did not play in LA's 3-1 loss to Seattle in the US Open Cup.
Will Hesmer - Columbus - Did not have a game this week.
Jack Jewsbury - Portland - Started and played 90 minutes in Portland's 3-2 loss to Seattle.
Mike Jones - New York - Dressed but did not play in New York's 1-0 loss to DC. Started and played 90 minutes in New York's 4-0 loss to Chicago in the US Open Cup.
Jonathan Leathers - Vancouver - Started and played 90 minutes in Vancouver's 2-1 loss to Colorado.
Rauwshan McKenzie - Salt Lake - Dressed but did not play in RSL's 2-0 win over Dallas. Did not dress in RSL's 2-0 loss to Dallas in the US Open Cup.
Kurt Morsink - DC - Did not dress in DC's 1-0 win over New York.
Ryan Pore - Portland - Did not dress in Portland's 3-2 loss to Seattle.
Scott Sealy - San Jose - Dressed but did not play in San Jose's 0-0 draw with Philadelphia.
Khari Stephenson - San Jose - Started and played 90 minutes in San Jose's 0-0 draw with Philadelphia.
Tyson Wahl - Seattle - Started and played 90 minutes in Seattle's 3-2 win over Portland. Did not play in Seattle's 3-1 win over LA in the US Open Cup.
Josh Wolff - DC - Started and played 74 minutes, recording an assist in DC's 1-0 win over New York.

Kevin Friedland - Minnesota - Did not play in Minnesota's 1-0 win over Carolina.
Aaron Hohlbein - Fort Lauderdale - Started and played 90 minutes in Fort Lauderdale's 3-2 loss to Atlanta. Dressed but did not play in Fort Lauderdale's 1-1 draw with Montreal.
Amir Lowery - Montreal - Dressed but did not play in Montreal's 1-1 draw with Fort Lauderdale.
Abe Thompson - Fort Lauderdale - Started and played 90 minutes, scoring a goal in Fort Lauderdale's 3-2 loss to Atlanta. Started and played 89 minutes in Fort Lauderdale's 1-1 draw with Montreal.

Stephen Armstrong - Charleston - Came off the bench and played 31 minutes in Charleston's 1-0 win over Orlando.
Edson Elcock - Richmond - Started and played 79 minutes in Richmond's 2-1 loss to Charlotte. Came off the bench and played 25 minutes, scoring a goal in Richmond's 2-1 win over Charlotte. Started and played 90 minutes in Richmond's 2-0 win over KC in the US Open Cup.
Tom Gray - Pittsburgh - Started and played 76 minutes in Pittsburgh's 2-1 win over New York.
Neal Kitson - Rochester - Started and played 90 minutes in Rochester's 3-1 win over New York.
Akeem Priestley - LA - Did not have a game this week.
Diego Walsh - Charleston - Did not dress in Charleston's 1-0 win over Orlando.
Yomby William - Richmond - Started and played 90 minutes, scoring a goal in Richmond's 2-1 loss to Charlotte. Started and played 90 minutes in Richmond's 2-1 win over Charlotte. Started and played 90 minutes in Richmond's 2-0 win over KC in the US Open Cup.
John Wilson - Charleston - Started and played 90 minutes in Charleston's 1-0 win over Orlando.

Byron Carmichael - Ocean City - Did not dress in Ocean City's 4-1 loss to Reading. Tied New Jersey 2-2 tonight.
Sergei Raad - FC Jax Destroyers - Did not dress in Jax's 5-1 loss to Bradenton. Did not dress in Jax's 2-1 win over Fort Lauderdale.

Sunil Chhetri - Chirag United - India - Started and played 90 minutes in India's 1-1 draw with Maldives.
Pablo Escobar - Deportivo Cali - Colombia - No game until 8/23
Carlos Marinelli - Universidad San Martin - Peru - Off until late July.
Yura Movsisyan - FC Krasnodar - Russia - Off until 7/16

Sporting KC After Brazilian Midfielder Jeferson?

Sounds like one of the two players coming in on trial, mentioned by Robb Heineman has been made known. Word out of Brazil is that Vasco da Gama midfielder, Jeferson is on his way to Kansas City. The article out of Brazil loosely says that Jeferson would be on loan to Kansas City with the team and league having the option to buy the midfielder if he impresses. Looking at his history with his clubs throughout his career and the first thing that comes to my head is Carlos Marinelli. Seems like Jeferson has a long history of nagging injuries that have kept him out of many games. And while KC could use an attacking midfielder, I can't say that the thought of bringing in another injury prone midfielder to a physical league like MLS fills me with excitement over this potential signing. Things will start to heat up rumor wise though as the transfer window reopens for MLS teams on Friday.

S.A.S. Thursday After Stats

Here are your Thursday After Stats for last night's Open Cup game.

Michael Harrington made his 148th appearance for KC in all competitions, breaking his tie with Diego Gutierrez for 13th place on that list.

Harrington also made his 11th appearance in all Open Cup competitions, moving him into a tie with Preki for 4th on that list.

Eric Kronberg made his 8th Open Cup appearance in all USOC competitions, tying him with Matt McKeon for 10th on that list.

Harrington and Kronberg also made their 8th start in USOC competitions, tying with with Davy Arnaud, Chris Klein and McKeon for 4th on that list.

Chance Myers made his 6th USOC appearance, tying him with 7 players for 13th on that list.

Myers also made his 5th start in USOC competitions, tying him with 6 players for 15th place on that list.

Dissapointing and a little Embarassing

Last night Peter Vermes selected a squad well capable of defeating the Richmond Kickers and advancing in the US Open Cup. The team's starting back line for the past few games was starting, the midfield had 3 players that have all gotten plenty of first team minutes in league play, and the forward line had 2 players that have represented their national team. A lineup like that should be able to top a 3rd division side. Unfortunately the guys on the field didn't seem like they were really there to play, and after an 80 minute lightning delay while Richmond came out ready to play KC looked like they were still in the locker room as Richmond scored twice to win 2-0.

While KC didn't play up to their ability, credit has to be given to Richmond, they came in with a smart game plan for this game and played it to perfection. They sat behind the ball, let KC have all the possession they wanted 40 yards out from goal but then swarmed the ball defensively when the Wizards got into the offensive third. After the lightning delay, the rain slicked field played right into their attempts to counter as well.

KC controlled the game entirely, possession was probably something like 80 to 20 for long stretches of the game, but the shooting, a problem that has haunted KC for a while now, still lacked. KC had 25 shots, only 6 on goal, and never really tested Ronnie Pascale in the Kickers net until late. In the first half each of the forwards for KC had some chances that were close but only one was actually on goal. Scott Lorenz, who looked pretty good for much of the night in the forward position, put a back heal off the post after some good work on the wing by Kei Kamara. Teal Bunbury forced Pascale to make a save on a blast from 30 yards out that Pascale didn't hold, but no one followed the shot. Then in stoppage time, Kamara tried a bike from the top of the penalty area, and didn't miss by much. After the first half KC had to fell confident that the ball would come, on the opposite side of the field, Eric Kronberg hadn't even had to make a save.

In the second half KC continued to control the game, but Richmond did a little better offensively, forcing Kronberg into one save. KC took control from there, with multiple crosses and attacks into the box, but came away with nothing, a lack of creativity from Sporting left them with little but hopefully crosses. The best chance came to Teal Bunbury who had got played in 1v1 with the keeper, but skied his effort over the bar. Then in the 65th minute the storms that hit KC last night were close enough to postpone the game for 81 minutes.

After the restart, KC looked like they were still in the locker room as I'm not sure KC got more than 5 touches on the ball before Richmond grabbed the lead. A long ball over the top was misjudged by Matt Besler and the ball went over his head. Substitute David Bulow raced onto the ball and squared it into the middle to an open Shaka Bangura. Kronberg seemed like he'd collect the ball right off of Bangura's foot, but on the slick surface Bangura's shot deflected over Kronberg and looped into the net for the 1-0 lead for Richmond. KC threw more caution to the wind sending more numbers forward looking for an equalizer, but with the lead Richmond sat a little deeper and again KC was forced to hope for a header on a long ball or off a set piece and they weren't coming. Then in the 82nd minute KC's high line cost them, as Jamel Wallace got played in behind the KC back line. Aurelien Collin was able to run him down but fouled Wallace in the box giving the Kickers a PK. It's surprising Collin wasn't sent off for the challenge since he was already on a yellow. Bulow stepped up and fired the shot just out of the reach of Kronberg.

The game was basically over at that point but KC tried to find a consolation. Omar Bravo probably came the closest with a diving header that forced Pascale into a low diving save to catch it. The Open Cup run for KC is over, for the 6th time in the team's history it comes at the hands of a lower division side.

Wizards Man of the Match - Chance Myers - This is being awarded to basically who I thought sucked the least last night. Myers had another decent game at the back in a game where the majority of the guys didn't have decent games.

Player Ratings - Kronberg 5, Harrington 4, Besler 4, Collin 4, Myers 5, Sassano 5, Diop 3, Stojcev 4, Lorenz 5, Bunbury 3, Kamara 3. Subs Espinoza 5, Bravo 5, Sapong 4.

Smith to Real Zaragoza?

Ryan Smith is saying he's a free agent, Sporting KC is saying otherwise, but that hasn't stopped Smith from trying to find a team closer to his family in England. Word out of Spain is that Smith is headed to Real Zaragoza for a trial. The Spanish club finished only 2 points clear of the relegation zone in Spain last year, but in 13th place. The question is whether Smith is really a free agent. Everything I've heard from the team is no he's not, but I doubt they'd stand in the way of him moving to a club in Europe. Still I wouldn't be surprised if there's some sort of minor compensation if and when Smith moves.

Monday, July 11, 2011

We Want the Cup

Tomorrow KC continues their busy schedule with their Open Cup quarterfinal against the Richmond Kickers at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. Once again KC is playing their 3rd game in the span of a week when the USL-Pro team (US third division) comes into town. The Kickers will also be playing their 3rd game in a week, as they played a home and home series with the Charlotte Eagles on Friday and Saturday night this past week, and now travel to KC. The Kickers have two of the top goalscorers in this year's competition in David Bulow and Matthew Delicate have 5 and 3 goals respectively. The Kickers also feature two former Wizards on their team, Edson Elcock a 2007 second round pick, and Yomby William a 2008 second round pick. To get to this point, the Kickers defeated two other USL-Pro teams, Dayton and Pittsburgh, before beating the Crew in the third round a few weeks ago.

KC's busy schedule will begin to catch up with them eventually and the team's current unbeaten run will end sooner than later, but it shouldn't end tomorrow night. Even with more of a reserve lineup starting the game, this game should be KC's. I say should be, because KC hasn't always had a stellar history in the Open Cup. While they have more wins than losses in the tournament, they don't always perform well, especially against lower division sides. This is only the second time KC has played a team from the USA's third division, last time they lost to the San Francisco Bay Seals in 1997. Still I expect a reserve lineup, Shavar Thomas, Teal Bunbury, Luke Sassano I all expect to be starting.

Harrington - Thomas - Collin - Lorenz
Sassano - Diop - Stojcev
Kamara - Bunbury - Aiyegbusi

Number to Remember - 3 - Three wins away from winning silverware and it starts tomorrow. Just keep winning and KC has the chance at silverware.

Key Match Up - Teal Bunbury vs Richmond back line - Bunbury looked better his last time out, but still has struggled to break out of his slump. Hopefully another game against a lower division side will give Bunbury a chance to do this.

PREDICTION - The higher division side should be able to win match ups against teams two divisions below them. But that's not always the case as previous trips into the Open Cup have shown for KC. Both teams will likely have a few tired legs due to their schedules, but KC not having to travel will be a big point, and KC should just have the talent to be able to get this result.

SKC - 2 (Bunbury, Kamara)
RICH - 1 (Delicate)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Besler an AllStar

Today MLS announced the Starting XI for this year's All Star game against Manchester United on July 27th in New York. The Starting XI was dominated by New York and LA players. But there will be at least one Sporting KC player in New York for the game. Sporting KC defender, Matt Besler has been selected to the All Star team as the winner of of the AT&T Text Voting Winner. It is Besler's first appearance in the all star game, and the first Sporting KC player since Davy Arnaud made the team in 2009.

5th Home Game Attendance Comparison

Another home game to look at and compare to KC's historic attendance. The 2011 season extended it's "lead" with another sell out last night out a LiveSTRONG Sporting Park. That is also the largest attendance for the 5th game, topping the 17,808 that showed up for the game in 96. Here is the one from the 4th home game. Here's a look at the 5th game attendance for all the years and the average attendance for each year through 5 games.

1996 - Arrowhead
Average - 14,884

1997 - Arrowhead
Average - 9,036

1998 - Arrowhead
Average - 8,134

1999 - Arrowhead
Average - 8,599

2000 - Arrowhead
Average - 7,986

2001 - Arrowhead
Average - 10,188

2002 - Arrowhead
Average - 12,170

2003 - Arrowhead
Average - 15,607

2004 - Arrowhead
Average - 15,797

2005 - Arrowhead
Average - 10,231

2006 - Arrowhead
Average - 11,336

2007 - Arrowhead
Average - 9,394

2008 - Community America Ballpark
Average - 9,445

2009 - Community America Ballpark
Average - 9,431

2010 - Community America Ballpark
Average - 9,840

2011 - LiveSTRONG Sporting Park
Average - 18,107

And here are how the years match up in order, with their movement from last time.

1. 2011 - 18,107 (-)
2. 2004 - 15,797 (-)
3. 2003 - 15,607 (-)
4. 1996 - 14,884 (-)
5. 2002 - 12,170 (-)
6. 2006 - 11,336 (-)
7. 2005 - 10,231 (-)
8. 2001 - 10,188 (-)
9. 2010 - 9,840 (+1)
10. 2008 - 9,445 (+1)
11. 2009 - 9,431 (+1)
12. 2007 - 9,394 (-3)
13. 1997 - 9,036 (+1)
14. 1999 - 8,599 (-1)
15. 1998 - 8,134 (-)
16. 2000 - 7,986 (-)

Sunday After Stats

Here's stats for last night's game.

Omar Bravo's goal was his 3rd against Chivas USA, that ties him for the most goals in league play against Chivas with Davy Arnaud and Jose Burciaga.

Michael Harrington made his 147th appearance in all competitions for KC, tying him with Diego Gutierrez for 14th place on that list.

Chance Myers made his 50th appearance in all competitions for KC, he's the 48th player to hit that mark.

Kei Kamara made his 50th appearance for KC in league play, he's the 39th player to hit that mark.

The Streak Stays Alive

It took a late equalizer, but KC moved their unbeaten run in all competitions to 12 games, tying a team record last night with their 1-1 draw with Chivas USA. At times KC didn't look like they were going to get the result, either due to the offense not really clicking early on, or late saves by Chivas keeper, Dan Kennedy, it looked like the streak would end. But Omar Bravo's header in stoppage time gave KC a share of the points last night.

Chivas seemed to control the early parts of the game, pressuring early and earning a half chance that Matt Besler blocked in front of goal. Then in the 12th minute, Nick LaBrocca struck a chipped effort off the cross bar after he'd done a good job to turn with the ball. Jimmy Nielsen though did extremely well to smother the rebound so as to now give the Goats another chance. After absorbing the early pressure, KC started to come alive and in the 26th minute, over half the stadium thought KC had taken the lead through CJ Sapong. Sapong's curling effort from outside the box though went just over the bar and landed on the roof of the net. Some of KC's issues offensively early on though seemed to come in the form of Milos Stojcev who had a horrible game and was subbed out after only 38th minute. Before that happened though, Chivas re-established their control of the game and in the 30th, LaBrocca found the opener (and 10,000th goal in MLS history). Chivas USA cut up the center of KC's team through Blair Gaven and Justin Braun, before Braun slid a ball through to LaBrocca, who had totally lost his marker, Julio Cesar. LaBrocca easily slid his shot past the onrushing Jimmy Nielsen to give Chivas the lead. Chivas pushed right after the goal and Nielsen had to come up with two decent saves on Braun to keep the score at 1-0.

In the second half, KC came out with more attack offensively and within the first 15 minutes it seemed that Omar Bravo could have had two PKs called in his favor for fouls in the box, but like the home opener against Chicago, the referee was not interested in calling the fouls. KC though continued to push the game while Chivas tried to absorb the pressure. Kennedy made a good save on a volley from Chance Myers in the 64th minute, the first in a string of good saves for the Chivas keeper. Chivas tried to hit on the counter, but really didn't test Nielsen much in the second half. As the game wore on KC continued to try to find an equalizer, but their best chances came as the game was winding down. Kei Kamara, who subbed in for the ineffective Stojcev forced a diving save from Kennedy in the 85th, and only minutes later, Bravo forced a diving save as well. Finally they found their goal in stoppage time. Besler played a long ball over the top that Birahim Diop did well to head on towards Kamara. His marker beat the Sierra Leone man to the ball, but the clearance attempt went right into the middle of the box, where Bravo had made his run. Bravo powered his header past Kennedy, giving him no chance.

WIZARDS Man of the Match - Omar Bravo - Bravo had a strong game, probably could have had a couple PKs called in his favor on other days. Some good goalkeeping by Kennedy kept Bravo from more than just his equalizer.

Player Ratings - Nielsen 6, Myers 6, Collin 6, Besler 5, Harrington 5, Cesar 4, Espinoza 5, Zusi 5, Stojcev 3, Sapong 5, Bravo 6. Subs Kamara 5, Sassano 5, Diop 5.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Midseason Grades

Wednesday against Colorado was Kansas City's 17th game of the season, the midway point of the season. KC played 13 of the 17 games on the road in the first half of the season, leaving them with 13 at home in the second half. Here are the midseason grades for Sporting KC players.

Korede Aiyegbusi - INC - Aiyegbusi has only played 93 minutes in league play for KC. He's competed a bit more in the US Open Cup competitions, but not enough to warrant a grade so far this season.

Davy Arnaud - C+ - Has moved back a bit in the midfield playing a bit more defensively for KC this season. He'd had to step back to help cover for the defensive issues. In the role he hasn't been as visible on the field. Since he went out with injury KC hasn't suffered but his experience in MLS could be a big factor down the stretch.

Stephane Auvray - D - The Gaudeloupe international missed time while at the Gold Cup, but even before then didn't appear to be getting a lot of playing time. Since returning from the Gold Cup he's fell further down the depth chart even with the injury to Craig Rocastle. Auvray is now behind at least Julio Cesar, Roger Espinoza, and Luke Sassano and looks to be on his way out of KC in the coming transfer window. A bit disappointing as he'd been solid for KC last year.

Matt Besler - A- - Besler has proven himself to be a starter in this league and has formed a strong partnership with Aurelien Collin. The defenses early season struggles are what has kept Besler from a straight A for the first half of the season as the past 11 games him and Collin have been extremely solid in the back.

Omar Bravo - B- - Maybe it's the fact that I've expected more out of Bravo, but so far I haven't been extremely impressed with the Mexican. He looked great in the opener, but since then has only scored one goal (from the penalty spot). Hopefully as he gets further away from his sports hernia surgery he'll continue to improve and start to put the ball into the back of the net.

Teal Bunbury - D+ - His play early in the season after coming back from his elbow injury is what has kept him from a failing grade. Bunbury's form has hit rock bottom it seems, he has struggled with everything from his touch to his shot. Hopefully he comes out of it quick as the schedule congestion continues for KC.

Julio Cesar - C- - I was ready to write Cesar off a month or so ago, he'd looked incredibly poor for KC in the center of defense no matter if his partner was Besler or Aurelien Collin. But he has started to bring his grab up since he has moved into the defensive midfield position with Craig Rocastle and Arnaud out.

Aurelien Collin - A - One of the favorites for team MVP at the mid-point of the season, and should be a favorite for MLS Newcomer of the Year. Once he got his feet under him in the league he's formed a solid partnership with Besler and has helped to stop the leaking of goals.

Birahim Diop - C+ - Diop has racked up 541 minutes so far this season for KC, and has moved back more into the midfield position than as a forward. As a replacement for Rocastle he struggled before making way for other players to play there. It's funny that fans have suggested that he needs to be moved back to forward, when we were saying the same thing about him moving to forward last season.

Kevin Ellis - INC - Has only played 27 minutes in all competitions for KC, a substitute appearance in the US Open Cup. He has apparently impressed in practice though according to reports.

Roger Espinoza - C+ - Espinoza struggled early in the season along with the rest of the back line, his form from last year just wasn't there. Since his return though he's found himself in the midfield where he has improved his grade greatly since moving there.

Michael Harrington - C - Harrington like Espinoza struggled early on in the season, then lost his starting spot to a combination of Chance Myers and Seth Sinovic. Lately he's returned back to the lineup, but hasn't regained the form from last year when he looked like he could potentially work his way onto the national team.

Kei Kamara - C- - Kamara's form hasn't been as bad as Bunbury's has been for KC, but the Wizards leading scorer last season is struggling almost as much as Bunbury. Kamara hasn't scored since his brace against New England and has fallen out of the starting XI for KC as well.

Jon Kempin - INC - Sporting's original home grown player has still yet to make his first team debut for Kempin. But that's not really surprising with Jimmy Nielsen and Eric Kronberg in front of him.

Eric Kronberg - B - Kronberg has appeared in 4 games for KC in league play, 3 starts, and outside the LA game has held up well. He's also recorded 3 shutouts in KC's run in the Open Cup so far.

Scott Lorenz - INC - Lorenz has only made one league appearance for KC, a start in Chicago. He's also made an appearance in the Open Cup, but not enough for a grade.

Chance Myers - B+ - Myers started the season looking again like a poor first round pick ealry in the season, but has since come on and replaced Harrington as the first choice right back for KC. His crosses have been some of the best on the team and he's helping to create chances from his wing.

Jimmy Nielsen - B+ - Really there's been maybe one game all season where Nielsen has really been at fault for giving up goals, other than that he's been as solid as he always seems to be for KC this season. And with a solid defense in front of him now he's showing that.

Craig Rocastle - B- - Rocastle had started to help with the turnaround for KC before going to the Gold Cup and getting injured. Now the question will become whether he'll be able to earn his spot back once he returns to the team.

Soony Saad - INC - The newest Wizards player, there's only been one game since he joined the team.

CJ Sapong - A - I wasn't ecstatic about the pick of Sapong in the first round, but he has proven me wrong, especially as Bunbury and Kamara have struggled. Sapong plays the center forward position the way that Vermes needs it played in this season. He's currently the leading scorer in all competitions with 6 and is tied for the team lead in league play with 3. A solid rookie performance so far, hopefully he doesn't hit a burn out period.

Luke Sassano - B - Sassano struggled with match fitness early in the season, but has become a solid contributor for KC. Mainly as a reserve midfielder, but has been a calming influence when on the field.

Seth Sinovic - B - The early season pick up off waivers from New England, Sinovic had staked a claim at the starting left back spot when Espinoza left for the Gold Cup and Harrington struggling for form. Sinovic has had a good run in the starting XI before injury forced him out. When he's ready to return will be interesting if he can beat out Harrington for the left back spot.

Ryan Smith - INC - Smith's departure from the team has been disappointing, but so far hasn't come back to bite KC. He struggled with recovery from offseason surgery during his time here this year and was able to only play 294 minutes.

Milos Stojcev - C+ - Stojcev has had his moments of brilliance on the field, but he has also looked poor, showing a lack of a right foot, and making stupid challenges, like the one against Dallas that saw him pick up a second yellow.

Shavar Thomas - INC - The Jamaican international has only played 35 minutes for KC this season, although some of those were in stoppage time against Vancouver when KC gave up two goals.

Konrad Warzycha - INC - Has spent the entire season on IR so far.

Graham Zusi - A - Zusi is having a break out season for KC, scoring 3 goals and assisting on 3 more. He's been providing great service on free kicks. He's come into his own this year.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Busy Schedule Continues

Sporting KC continues their busy schedule tomorrow at 6:30 (notice the time) against Chivas USA. Chivas USA comes into the game on the backs of a 2-0 win on Wednesday night at the Home Depot Center against San Jose. The Goats got goals from Ben Zemanski and Nick LaBrocca to help them to the win. They have a win and a draw in their last two games. Former Wizard, Jimmy Conrad, who has missed much of the season with concussion related issues did travel to Kansas City and did help Chivas with training for the game. Conrad is still listed as doubtful on the injury report for the Goats but I know the guy is itching to get back on the field, not just in general but against KC. I know plenty of fans are excited to see Conrad return and disappointed that the former captain did not get an opportunity to be a Wizard when the stadium opened.

KC extended their unbeaten run to 11 games, the second longest in team history after their 1-1 draw with Colorado on Wednesday and will now look to tie the longest run in team history with a result against Chivas. KC will try to sweep the season series against Chivas having won the season opener 3-2 at the HDC. KC has another game this coming week in the US Open Cup so the question becomes whether there will be more squad rotation for KC. I'd expect CJ Sapong to return to the starting lineup and possibly also see Milos Stojcev return to the lineup.

Myers - Collin - Besler - Sinovic
Cesar - Zusi - Espinoza
Stojcev - Sapong - Bravo

Number to Remember - 10,000 - In all competitions in the entire history of MLS there have been 9,999 goals. Tomorrow KC and Chivas kickoff at the same time as DC vs New York. Whoever scores the first goal in those games will go down as the man that scored goal 10,000. KC does have a bit of history in this, as Teal Bunbury's father, Alex scored goal number 2,000 in league history. See the goal below.

Key Match Up - Roger Espinoza vs Nick LaBrocca - LaBrocca plays as a box to box midfielder mainly for Chivas and is currently their leading scorer. Espinoza has been playing well since coming back from Honduras and going up against LaBrocca will be a good match up for Espinoza.

PREDICTION - On paper this is a game that KC should be able to win, but it's also a game that could really sneak up on KC. With all the schedule congestion, I hope that KC can keep focused on this game and not look past it. And while I think Tuesday is the more important game at this point, it's still important to keep the good run of form. KC has the talent that they should be able to get the result tomorrow. Could this finally be the league game where KC actually wins a game by more than a goal? I'm not sure but if KC wants to really get into the playoffs they're going to have to score more goals at home (currently 4 goals in 4 league games).

SKC - 2 (Sapong, Bravo)
CUSA - 1 (Braun)