Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sporting to Play Dynamo

Sporting KC will be heading to Houston on Sunday for the first leg off the Eastern Conference semifinals.  Tonight in Chicago, the Houston Dynamo completely out played the Chicago Fire as they won 2-1 thanks to a pair of goals from Will Bruin.  The Dynamo came out strong from the start and controlled the game.  In the 12th minute the Dynamo took the lead off a Brad Davis corner that Bruin headed past Sean Johnson and into the net.  A number of faults on that play, Jalil Anibaba slipped allowing Bruin an open header but blame also falls on Sean Johnson for not putting a man on the near post.  If someone had been on the near post, that ball gets cleared away easily and the game is still scoreless.  After the goal the Fire got into the game a little bit more as Alvaro Fernandez had a chance saved by Tally Hall.  The Dynamo though looked comfortable with the lead and looked just as likely to score a second, especially on set pieces where the Fire looked extremely vulnerable.

Immediately after the half time break the Dynamo doubled their lead.  The Dynamo won the ball shortly after kick off in the Fire's half of the field.  Calen Carr played the ball to Bruin who beat Johnson and doubled the lead for the Dynamo.  From that point the Dynamo sat back attempting to absorb pressure.  They were doing pretty well until the addition of Dominic Oduro by the Dynamo.  His speed caused fits for the Dynamo back line.  As the game went on, Patrick Nyarko had a fantastic curling shot that was met by an equally good save by Hall to keep the Fire off the board..  The Fire did make the final 8 minutes interesting though with a goal by Alex.  After a long ball ball over the top by Arne Friedrich found Nyarko.  He played a nice through ball to Alex who beat Hall to give the Fire life.  Unfortunately the Fire couldn't find another goal and crashed out of the playoffs.

Sporting will now play on the road against the Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium.  A place where the Dynamo have yet to lose, going 11-0-6 in league play this year.  In KC's only trip there this year, Sporting lost 2-1 on a brace from Calen Carr, with Kei Kamara getting KC's lone goal from the penalty spot. This year, Sporting is 0-1-2 against the Dynamo, drawing the two games played at Livestrong Sporting Park. Sporting has struggled against the Dynamo ever since they came into the league, winning only a handful of games against Houston. Dominic Kinnear has been a thorn in Peter Vermes' side for a very long time.  Kinnear just plain knows how to coach, especially in the playoffs.  His teams lock things down and take care of business once it gets down to the knock out rounds.  It's going to be tough for KC to get a result on the road against the Dynamo, it's going to be even tougher to overturn a deficit at home should they lose the first leg.  There's no room for error at this point. 

But I also think that Sporting will want a chance to overturn last year's disappointment in the Eastern Conference finals by getting another shot at Houston.  Well they've got that chance, now time to take care of business.

Former SKC Wizards Update

 Another week of former SKC Wizards update this week.  Will John is located again, he's joining the Missouri Comets after last playing in the Ukraine.  Also, while Stephane Auvray doesn't have a club team, he's still playing for his national team, appearing with the Guadeloupe national team in their failed attempt to qualify for the Gold Cup this coming summer.  Here's the rest of this week's update.

Active without a club or unknown
Stephane Auvray
Chris Brunt
Eloy Colombano
Doug DeMartin
Birahim Diop
Pablo Escobar
Mauro Fuzetti
AJ Godbolt
Tom Gray
Willy Guadarrama
Zoltan Hercegfalvi
Santiago Hirsig
Aaron Hohlbein
Neal Kitson
Jonathan Leathers
Ryan McMahen
Anthony Noriega
Sergei Raad
Ofori Sarkodie
Sam Scales
Ivan Trujillo
Diego Walsh
Lance Watson

Davy Arnaud - Montreal - Started and played 90 minutes in Montreal's 1-0 loss to New England.
Luis Gil - Salt Lake - Started and played 71 minutes in Salt Lake's 0-0 draw with Vancouver.
Kevin Hartman - Dallas - Started and played 90 minutes in Dallas' 2-2 draw with Chivas.
Will Hesmer - Columbus - Out recovering from surgery.
Jack Jewsbury - Portland - Did not dress in Portland's 1-1 draw with San JOse.
Eddie Johnson - Seattle - Started and played 45 minutes in Seattle's 1-0 loss to LA.
Chris Konopka - Philadelphia - Dressed but did not play in Philadelphia's 3-0 loss to New York.
Rauwshan McKenzie - Chivas - Did not dress in Chivas' 2-2 draw with Dallas.
Scott Sealy - Dallas - Dressed but did not play in Dallas' 2-2 draw with Chivas.
Ryan Smith - Chivas - Started and played 90 minutes, recording an assist in Chivas' 2-2 draw with Dallas.
Khari Stephenson - San Jose - Came off the bench and played 24 minutes in San Jose's 1-1 draw with Portland.
Shavar Thomas - Montreal - Did not dress in Montreal's 1-0 loss to New England.
Tyson Wahl - Colorado - Did not dress in Colorado's 2-0 win over Houston.
Josh Wolff - DC - Did not dress in DC's 1-1 draw with Chicago.

Jose Burciaga - Atlanta - Offseason
Kevin Friedland - Minnesota - Didn't dress in Minnesota's 3-1 loss to Tampa.
Scott Lorenz - Fort Lauderdale - Offseason
Amir Lowery - Carolina - Offseason
Luke Sassano - Carolina - Offseason
Abe Thompson - Fort Lauderdale - Offseason

Edson Elcock - Richmond - Offseason
Akeem Priestley - Dayton - Offseason
Yomby William - Richmond - Offseason
John Wilson - Charleston - Offseason

Michael Kraus - FC Tucson - Offseason

Nelson Pizarro - San Diego Flash - Offseason

Jamar Beasley - Wichita Wings - Offseason
Pat Healey - Baltimore Blast - Offseason
Will John - Comets - Offseason
Boris Pardo - Comets - Offseason
Craig Rocastle - Comets - Offseason
Paul Wright - Anaheim Bolts - Offseason

Vicente Arze - R. Charleroi S.C. - Belgium - Did not dress in Charleroi's 2-0 win over Anderlecht.  Did not dress in Charleroi's 4-1 loss to Zulte-Waregem.
Stephane Auvray - Guadeloupe - national team - Started and played 90 minutes in Guadeloupe's 2-0 loss to the Dominican Republic.  Started and played 79 minutes in Guadeloupe's 4-1 win over Puerto Rico.  Started and played 90 minutes in Guadeloupe's 3-3 draw with Martinique.
Omar Bravo - Cruz Azul - Mexico - Came off the bench and played 8 minutes in Cruz Azul's 3-0 win over Toluca.
Sunil Chhetri - Sporting Clube de Portugal B - Portugal - Came off the bench and played 2 minutes in Sporting's 3-2 win over Sporting Braga II.
Daneil Cyrus - W Connection - Trinidad - Started and played 90 minutes in W Connection's 2-1 win over St. Ann's Rangers.
Gary Glasgow - North East Stars - Trinidad - Started and played 62 minutes in the Stars' 1-1 draw with Police.
Herculez Gomez - Santos Laguna - Mexico - Came off the bench and played 17 minutes, scoring a goal in Santos' 3-2 loss to Monterrey.
Jermaine Hue - Harbour View - Jamaica - Defeated Sporting Central 2-1.
Jeferson - Bahia - Brazil - Came off the bench and played 45 minutes in Bahia's 1-1 draw with Gremio.
Mike Jones - FC Hjorring - Denmark - Did not play in Hjorring's 2-0 win over Lyngby.
Igor Kostrov - FC Tiraspol - Moldova - Started and played 72 minutes in Tiraspol's 3-1 win over Nistru.
Carlos Marinelli - Universidad San Martin - Peru - Started and played 45 minutes in San Martin's 2-1 win over Jose Galvez.  Did not dress in San Martin's 1-1 draw with Sporting Cristal.
Yura Movsisyan - FC Krasnodar - Russia - Started and played 90 minutes in Krasnodar's 1-1 draw with Volga.  Did not dress in Krasnodar's 1-0 loss to Kuban' Krasnodar in the cup.
Michal Mravec - FC Emmen - Netherlands - Did not dress in Emmen's 1-1 draw with Helmond Sport.  Dressed but did not play in Emmen's 0-0 (7-6) PK loss to Rijnsburgse Boys in the cup.
Pablo Punyed - Fjolnir - Iceland - Offseason
Milos Stojcev - FC Akzhayik - Kazakhstan - Came off the bench and played 7 minutes in Akzhayik's 2-1 win over Okzhetpes.
Matt Taylor - Preußen Münster - Germany - Started and played 72 minutes, scoring a goal in Munster's 2-1 loss to Karlsruher SC.  Started and played 90 minutes in Munster's 1-0 loss to Augsburg in the cup.

Comets Sign John, Media Details

With the Missouri Comets season set to kick off on Friday against the Wichita Wings, the Comets have been making a number of announcements with regards to the season.  Today the team announced that midfielder Will John will be joining the team for the season.  John spent time with the Comets two seasons ago on loan from his Croatian club.  Most recently, John has been with PFK Oleksandria in the Ukrainian second division.  Looking through some of their games on Soccerway I don't see him having played any games since August, but that can obviously be wrong.

The Comets also announced some media partnerships as well.  The big news out of that is that MetroSports will be broadcasting 10 Comets games this year on TV, six home games and four away games will be shown.  The first of which will be November 11th when the Comets travel to play Milwaukee.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sporting's Candidates for Year End Awards

MLS has sent out the information for year end voting for the season awards.  The media get 33.3% of the vote, the club gets 33.3%, from the CBO's, Technical Director/coach, and communications/community relations, and the final 33.3% from the players themselves.  The club and players are prohibited from voting for players on their own team.  On November 15th, the finalists will be announced with the winners being announced in the lead up to the MLS Cup final on December 1st.  Let's take a look at the awards and where KC players stand in each category.  I'll also throw in my votes.

MLS MVP - Really I don't think this is even a contest, if anyone but Chris Wondolowski wins this award I will be absolutely shocked.  Tying the league record for goals in a season, and scoring more than Chivas USA did as a whole team.  The surprise in this award will be who finishes in second for the award.  Sporting KC's co-MVP's, Jimmy Nielsen and Graham Zusi are both among KC's nominees, along with the team's Golden Boot winner, Kei Kamara.  My vote in the KC MVP voting went to Kamara, but here I actually changed up my vote.

DTB vote - 1st Wondolowski, 2nd Zusi

Defender of the Year - This is certainly a category that Sporting KC can and possibly will win.  Matt Besler has had a fantastic season for Sporting KC, and certainly could/should have been in the conversation for team MVP with Nielsen, Zusi, and Kamara.  Besler won the team's defender of the year award this year, but one worry that came to mind for me today was the possibility of a split vote for KC.  Sporting's other nominee for the award is Aurelien Collin, and the thought for me is that voters could struggle to separate the two and vote for somebody else ahead of one of Besler.

DTB vote - 1st Besler, 2 Victor Bernardez

Comeback Player of the Year - Sporting KC midfielder, Paulo Nagamura is up for the award this year, he's played in 27 games this year after being limited to only 11 games the previous season with Chivas USA.  Nagamura though did not get my vote for comeback player of the year.  There are just a few players who have done better this year.

DTB vote - 1st Chris Pontius, 2nd Omar Gonzalez

Goalkeeper of the Year - This is another category where Sporting KC has a player that has to be considered the favorite for the award.  Nielsen led the league in minutes played, 3,060, and shutouts, 15, and finished behind only Michael Gspurning in goals against average among keepers that played over 20 games, .79.  Gspurning seems to be what many would consider Nielsen's biggest competition, but cases can be made for the likes of Andy Gruenebaum and even Dan Kennedy, despite playing for Chivas.

DTB vote - 1st Nielsen, 2nd Gspurning

Newcomer of the Year - The award for players who are in their first season in the league, but have previously played professionally outside of MLS.  Sporting has two players up for the award, Oriol Rosell and Michael Thomas, but neither should really get many votes as neither really played a whole lot of minutes this year.  This category is one of my thoughts for another reason why Nielsen will win goalkeeper of the year, as Gspurning seems a lead candidate for this award.

DTB vote - 1st Gspurning, 2nd Bernardez

Rookie of the Year - A year after CJ Sapong won the award for rookie of the year, Sporting has no players up for the award this year.  Dom Dwyer made one league appearance for KC in league play, the team's other two rookies still with the team, Cyprian Hedrick and Kyle Miller haven't made a single competitive appearance for Sporting this season.

DTB vote - 1st Austin Berry, 2nd Nick DeLeon

Humanitarian of the Year - Kei Kamara has to be considered a lead candidate for the award, he's started doing even more work with his home country of Sierra Leone, through the Schools for Salone as well as establishing the HeartShapedHands Foundation. 

DTB vote - 1st Kamara, 2nd Michael Lahoud

Coach of the Year - Peter Vermes has to at least be considered a candidate for the coach of the year award, but I'm not sure he'll get it.  Frank Yallop's job he's done in San Jose is extremely good.  Yes he has Wondolowski, but he's helped turn the careers of Alan Gordon especially, but also Steven Lenhart.

DTB vote - 1st Yallop, 2nd Vermes

Best XI - Here's my candidates for my vote for this year's best XI.  Yes there is a bit of a KC bias to it

Wondolowski - Cooper
Donovan - Zusi - Pontius
Sinovic - Bernandez - Besler - Morrow

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sporting to Play Chicago or Houston in Playoffs

With a few games still left to go this weekend, Sporting KC already knows which two teams they will be potentially facing in the Eastern Conference semifinals.  With New York defeating Philadelphia and DC and Chicago drawing 1-1, Sporting KC will meet up against the Chicago Fire or Houston Dynamo.  The Eastern Conference rankings are finished, Chicago will finish 4th and host the Houston Dynamo who will finish in 5th no matter how their match up tonight against Colorado ends.

Those two teams will meet up this Wednesday in Chicago in a one off game with the winner hosting Sporting KC on the following weekend.  The date of the away leg has not been finalized yet but will be the 3rd or the 4th.

Of the 4 teams that KC could have played in the conference semifinals, there were the two that I really didn't want to face.  This year Kansas City is 1-2-3 against Chicago (1-1-1) and Houston (0-1-2).  KC has scored 5 goals in those 6 games (3 vs Chicago 2 vs Houston), while the opponents have scored 6 (3 for both).  In the last 2 years in the regular season against these two teams, KC is 2-3-5, with a single win against each of those teams.  These two teams have been two of the bogey teams for KC the past few years.  Chicago historically outside of cup finals has dominated the series against KC.  The same is true for Houston against KC, without the cup final success.  In fact Houston has twice knocked Kansas City out of the playoffs, including last year in the Eastern Conference finals at Livestrong Sporting Park.

This match up is the one that I didn't want because of KC's history, but KC likely would have had to face one of them eventually.  Time to exorcise some demons.

What We Want to Happen Today 10/27

Last weekend of the regular season, Sporting KC has locked up the first seed in the East and second seed overall.  Eyes for KC now turn to the playoffs and next Wednesday's play in game to see who KC will meet in the East semifinals.  That will be decided today so let's take a look.

New York at Philadelphia
What we want to happen - Philadelphia win/draw

I like the way that KC matches up against New York, especially with a healthy Roger Espinoza.  KC missed Espinoza in the match up the last time these two teams met up.  The only goal New York scored on KC this season was an own goal.  I would not hate a match up against the Red Bulls in the playoffs.

New England at Montreal
What we want to happen - doesn't matter

Neither team is in the playoffs.

DC at Chicago
What we want to happen - DC win

I'd rather DC have the advantage in the playoffs than the Chicago Fire.  I'd like to avoid the Fire if we can, they have been a team that has always seemed to have KC's number, unless it's a cup final.

San Jose at Portland
What we want to happen - doesn't matter

This game doesn't matter to KC but with this game on NBC Sports and Chris Wondolowski going for the league record I'll enjoy watching.

Houston at Colorado
What we want to happen - Houston win

I want to avoid Houston at all costs.  Dominic Kinnear always seems to come up with the perfect game plan to stop Peter Vermes and Kansas City.  A win and the other results above would see them avoid the play in game which would be fine with me as it'd mean we'd be further away from playing them.

Vancouver at Salt Lake
What we want to happen - doesn't matter
Both teams are locked into their spots in the West.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sporting Year End Awards

Before Wednesday nights game against the Philadelphia Union, Sporting KC announced the winners of their year end awards. 

The MVP award was actually a split vote between Sporting KC captain, Jimmy Nielsen and midfielder Graham Zusi.  Nielsen set a team record for games started, minutes played, fewest goals conceded, lowest goals against average, and came within a PK rebound goal of tying the league record for shutouts in a season.  Nielsen splits the award with Zusi, who scored 5 goals and assisted on 15 more.  The 15 assists led MLS this season.  Zusi was involved in almost half of Sporting's goals this year, 20 of 42.

Offensive player of the year went to Kei Kamara.  Kamara led Sporting in goals this year with 11 and also added 8 assists to that total, putting him just behind the production level of Zusi as Kamara was involved in 19 of 42.

Defensive player of the year went to the anchor of the team's back 4, Matt Besler.  While Aurelien Collin was the all star this year, Besler was arguably the better defender.  As Steve Brisendine said, Collin can be Collin because Besler is Besler.  Besler has arguably been the defender of the year for the entire league, not just the defensive player of the year for Sporting.

Kamara was back on the awards list for Humanitarian of the Year.  And honestly Kamara has to be one of the favorites for the league wide award as well with all the work that he does for his home country, Sierra Leone and other charities.

Finally the team gave out the Bob Gansler Award to the top youth player in Sporting's system.  Paul Dean won the award this year.  The captain of the Sporting U18 team played in every game for last year's U16 team.

Check out the video below from Sporting on the awards.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Former SKC Wizards Update

Active without a club or unknown
Stephane Auvray
Chris Brunt
Eloy Colombano
Doug DeMartin
Birahim Diop
Pablo Escobar
Mauro Fuzetti
AJ Godbolt
Tom Gray
Willy Guadarrama
Zoltan Hercegfalvi
Santiago Hirsig
Aaron Hohlbein
Will John
Neal Kitson
Jonathan Leathers
Ryan McMahen
Anthony Noriega
Sergei Raad
Ofori Sarkodie
Sam Scales
Ivan Trujillo
Diego Walsh
Lance Watson

Davy Arnaud - Montreal - Started and played 90 minutes in Montreal's 0-0 draw with Toronto.
Luis Gil - Salt Lake - Started and played 82 minutes in Salt Lake's 0-0 draw with Salt Lake.  Started and played 68 minutes in RSL's 0-0 draw with Herediano.
Kevin Hartman - Dallas - Started and played 90 minutes in Dallas' 3-1 loss to Seattle.
Will Hesmer - Columbus - Out recovering from surgery.
Jack Jewsbury - Portland - Started and played 90 minutes, scoring a goal in Portland's 1-0 win over Vancouver.
Eddie Johnson - Seattle - Did not dress in Seattle's 0-0 draw with Salt Lake. Started and played 90 minutes in Seattle's 3-1 win over Dallas.  Did not dress in Seattle's 3-1 win over Marathon.
Chris Konopka - Philadelphia - Dressed but did not play in either of Philadelphia's games.
Rauwshan McKenzie - Chivas - Did not dress in Chivas' 2-0 loss to Colorado.
Scott Sealy - Dallas - Came off the bench and 16 minutes in Dallas' 3-1 loss to Seattle.
Ryan Smith - Chivas - Came off the bench and played 36 minutes in Chivas' 2-0 loss to Colorado.
Khari Stephenson - San Jose - Came off the bench and played 7 minutes in san Jose's 2-2 draw with LA.
Shavar Thomas - Montreal - Dressed but did not play in Montreal's 0-0 draw with Toronto.
Tyson Wahl - Colorado - Started and played 90 minutes in Colorado's 2-0 win over Chivas.
Josh Wolff - DC - Did not dress in DC's 3-2 win over Columbus.

Jose Burciaga - Atlanta - Offseason
Kevin Friedland - Minnesota - Did not play in Minnesota's 2-0 win over Tampa.
Scott Lorenz - Fort Lauderdale - Offseason
Amir Lowery - Carolina - Offseason
Luke Sassano - Carolina - Offseason

Edson Elcock - Richmond - Offseason
Akeem Priestley - Dayton - Offseason
Yomby William - Richmond - Offseason
John Wilson - Charleston - Offseason

Michael Kraus - FC Tucson - Offseason

Nelson Pizarro - San Diego Flash - Offseason

Jamar Beasley - Wichita Wings - Offseason
Pat Healey - Baltimore Blast - Offseason
Boris Pardo - Comets - Offseason
Craig Rocastle - Comets - Offseason
Paul Wright - Anaheim Bolts - Offseason

Vicente Arze - R. Charleroi S.C. - Did not dress in Charleroi's 1-0 win over Lierse.
Omar Bravo - Cruz Azul - Mexico - Started and played 69 minutes in Cruz Azul's 2-2 draw with Tijuana.
Sunil Chhetri - Sporting Clube de Portugal B - Portugal - Did not play in Sporting's 2-0 win over Santa Clara.
Daneil Cyrus - W Connection - Trinidad - Did not play in W Conneciton's 1-1 draw with Caledonia.
Gary Glasgow - North East Stars - Trinidad - Did not play in North East Stars 3-3 draw with Defence Force.
Herculez Gomez - Santos Laguna - Mexico - Came off the bench and played 45 minutes in Santos' 4-1 loss to Toluca. Started and played 90 minutes, scoring a goal in Santos' 1-0 win over Toronto.
Jermaine Hue - Harbour View - Jamaica - Defeated Waterhouse 1-0.
Jeferson - Bahia - Brazil - Did not play in Bahia's 1-1 draw with Corinthians.
Mike Jones - FC Hjorring - Denmark - Did not play in Hjorring's 1-1 draw with AB.  Lost 4-0 to Sonderjyske in the cup.
Igor Kostrov - FC Tiraspol - Moldova - Started and played 90 minutes in Tiraspol's 2-0 loss to Olimpia.
Carlos Marinelli - Universidad San Martin - Peru - Started and played 70 minutes in San Martin's 1-1 draw with Inti Gas.
Yura Movsisyan - FC Krasnodar - Russia - Started and played 90 minutes in Krasnodar's 2-0 win over Alaniya.
Michal Mravec - FC Emmen - Netherlands - Did not dress in Emmen's 6-1 loss to Agovv.
Pablo Punyed - Fjolnir - Iceland - Offseason
Milos Stojcev - FC Akzhayik - Kazakhstan - Came off the bench and played 45 minutes in Akzhayik's 6-0 loss to Tobol.
Matt Taylor - Preußen Münster - Germany - Started and played 90 minutes, scoring 2 goals in Munster's 2-2 draw with Kickers Offenbach.

Attendance Comparison After 17 Home Games

photo courtesy of Jarred Donalson

Sporting KC closed out the regular season last night, and their final home game.  As mentioned in the last one, Sporting set a new record for average attendance and overall attendance.  For the second time in KC's history the team has averaged over the capacity of their venue, the other time that was done was the was the 2008 season, the team's first year at CAB when they played one game at Arrowhead.

1996 - Arrowhead
Season finished
Average - 12,986

1997 - Arrowhead
Season finished
Average - 9,058

1998 - Arrowhead
Season finished
Average - 8,073

1999 - Arrowhead
Season finished
Average - 9,849

2000 - Arrowhead
Season finished
Average - 9,882

2001 - Arrowhead
Season finished
Average - 10,954

2002 - Arrowhead
Season finished
Average - 12,287

2003 - Arrowhead
Season finished
Average - 15,573

2004 - Arrowhead
Season finished
Average - 14,816

2005 - Arrowhead
Season finished
Average - 9,691

2006 - Arrowhead
Season finished
Average - 11,083

2007 - Arrowhead
Season finished
Average - 11,586

2008 - Community America Ballpark
Season finished
Average - 10,716

2009 - Community America Ballpark
Season finished
Average - 10,053

2010 - Community America Ballpark
Season finished
Average - 10,286

2011 - Livestrong Sporting Park
Saturday October 15, 2011 vs New York 2-0 win
Average - 17,810

2012 - Livestrong Sporting Park
Wednesday October 24, 2012 vs Philadelphia 2-1 win
Average - 19,404

And here is the list of the average attendances for each of the year's throughout Sporting's history.

1. 2012 - 19,403 (-)
2. 2011 - 17,810 (-)
3. 2003 - 15,573 (-)
4. 2004 - 14,816 (-)
5. 1996 - 12,986 (-)
6. 2002 - 12,287 (-)
7. 2007 - 11,586 (-)
8. 2006 - 11,083 (-)
9. 2001 - 10,954 (-)
10. 2008 - 10,716 (-)
11. 2010 - 10,286 (-)
12. 2009 - 10,053 (-)
13. 2000 - 9,882 (-)
14. 1999 - 9,850 (-)
15. 2005 - 9,691 (-)
16. 1997 - 9,058 (-)
17. 1998 - 8,073 (-)

S.A.S. Thursday After Stats

Sporting KC got their 18th league win of the season, good for the most in a non-shootout year.  It's also good for the second most in any year for KC, including the shoot out years.

The win was KC's 10th at home this season, the first time since 2000 that the team got 10 home wins and only the second time post shootout that it's happened.

The goal by Jacob Peterson was the 50th league goal for KC at Livestrong.

CJ Sapong's goal was his 14th league goal, tying him with Jack Jewsbury for 14th on that list.

The goal was Sapong's 20th in all competitions, tying him with Chris Brown and Igor Simutenkov for 11th on that list.

Sapong's goal was his 8th in league play at home, tying him with Claudio Loipez, Jose Burciaga, Teal Bunbury, and Graham Zusi for 15th on that list.

It was Sapong's 13th in all competitions at home, tying him with Brown and Mark Chung for 11th on that list.

The game winner was Sapong's 6th in league play in his career, tying him with Mo Johnston, Miklos Molnar, Eddie Johnson, Brown, and Burciaga for 8th on that list.

It was Sapong's 8th game winner in all competitions, tying him with Scott Sealy, Digital Takawira, and Simutenkov for 7th on that list.

Kei Kamara's two assists gave him 18 for his career in league play with KC, giving him sole possession of 12th place on that list.

It gave him 18 in all competitions as well, tying Kamara with Francisco Gomez and Burciaga for 13th on that list.

Kamara finished tied for 7th for the most league minutes in a single season, tying Mark Chung's 2,871 in the 1997 season.

Kamara made 33 league appearances this year, the 3rd most in a single season in team history.

In the 86th minute, Jimmy Nielsen moved past Bo Oshoniyi and into 19th place for minutes played in league play, he finished the game with 8,437 minutes.

Nielsen finished the season with a club record, 3,060 minutes played in league play.

Nielsen made 34 league appearances this year, tying Sapong's 34 in 2011 for the most in team history.

Nielsen made his 94th league start for KC, breaking his tie with Chung and Roger Espinoza for 19th on that list.

The win was Nielsen's 21st in all competitions, tying him with Mike Ammann for the most wins in all competitions in a single season.  Ammann's victories include shootout wins.

Seth Sinovic made his 50th league appearance for KC, he's the 47th player to hit that mark for KC.

Sinovic and Julio Cesar made their 50th league starts for KC, they're the 40th and 41st players to hit that mark.

Graham Zusi made 32 league appearances this year, tying him for the 4th most in a single season in team history.

A Look at Potential Playoff Opponents

With KC having clinched the top spot in the East, they now get to play the waiting game to see who they play.  This weekend the rest of the East playoff seedings will be decided.  The 4th and 5th place teams will face off on the 31st at the 4 seed in a one game playoff with the winner hosting the first leg against KC on the weekend.  While all 5 playoff spots have been decided, the 4 other teams from the East, Chicago, DC, Houston, and New York could all finish almost anywhere 2nd through 5th. 

So how does KC match up with the teams?  This year KC went 1-2 against the Chicago Fire, scoring 3 and conceding 3 in their 3 matches, each team got 1 shutout against their opponent.  Against DC United this year, KC is undefeated, going 2-0, scoring 3 goals while conceding 1.  Against New York, KC is 1-0-2, drawing at home 1-1 while winning 2-0 and drawing 0-0 at Red Bull Arena.  Against Houston, KC was 0-1-2 this year, losing in Houston 2-1 while drawing both games in KC 0-0 and 1-1.

So let's take a look at what it takes for each team to finish in the play-in game, setting up a potential match up with KC.  I'm going to avoid the crazy scenarios, like Chicago losing 6-5 to still finish ahead of the Dynamo on goals scored even if the Dynamo win 1-0.

Currently DC is in second place on 57 points, having scored 52 goals and a goal difference of +10.  Chicago is third on 56 points with 45 goals and a +5 goal difference.  New York is fourth on 54 points with 54 goals scored and a +8 goal difference.  Houston is fifth with 53 points, 48 goals and a +9 goal difference.  The tie breakers that I found could come into play without crazy scenarios are points, goals for, goal difference, fewest disciplinary points.

Here's the matches this weekend that will effect the seeding.

New York at Philadelphia
DC at Chicago
Houston at Colorado

Here's how each team could finish.
To finish second - Win against DC.
To finish third - Draw with DC and New York does not beat Philadelphia OR lose to DC, New York does not beat Philadelphia and Houston does not beat Colorado.
To finish fourth - Draw or lose to DC, New York beats Philadelphia OR lose to DC, New York fails to beat Philadelphia, and Houston beats Colorado.
To finish fifth - Lose to DC, New York beats Philadelphia and Houston beats Colorado

To finish second - Win or draw against Chicago
To finish third - Lose to Chicago and New York does not beat Philadelphia OR lose to Chicago by 1 goal but scoring 2 PLUS however many New York score in a win 1 goal win against Philadelphia (for example, lose 4-3 (boardline crazy scoreline yes) while New York wins 1-0) in this tie breaker, DC and NY would be tied on points (57), goals scored (55) and goal difference (+9) it would then go to disciplinary points where DC has 509 to New York's 540.
To finish fourth - lose to Chicago and New York defeats Philadelphia and the above scenario doesn't play out.

New York
To finish second - Cannot
To finish third - Beat Philadelphia and there's a winner in the Chicago vs DC game.
To finish fourth - Draw or lose to Philadelphia and Houston do not beat Colorado.
To finish fifth - Draw or lose to Philadelphia and Houston beat Colorado.

To finish second - Cannot
To finish third - Beat Colorado and Chicago lose AND New York don't win.
To finish fourth - Beat Colorado and Chicgo lose OR New York don't win.
To finish fifth - Beat Colorado, New York win, Chicago win OR if Houston fails to beat Colorado.

So that's how each of the Eastern Conference teams can finish now in the playoff race.  As for my prediction, I think it'll be Houston and New York.  I think Chicago takes care of business at home, gets the two seed, giving DC the three seed.  I don't think New York will get 3 points in Philadelphia.  I'm not sure what'll happen in the Houston/Colorado game but I think KC will be playing the winner of the Red Bulls and Dynamo.

Of the four teams who would you rather see?

East Clinched

Last night at Livestrong Sporting Park, Sporting KC took care of business against the Philadelphia Union, winning 2-1 to clinch the top seed in the Eastern Conference heading into the playoffs.  With their current point total, the only way that Sporting KC will travel for MLS Cup, should they make it, would be if San Jose makes the cup from the West.  The match though was not a ringing endorsement for the team, although to be fair, needing only a draw I'm not sure KC wanted to take too many chances and the Union were looking to play spoiler. 

The first half was lacking a lot when it came to chances, neither team really impressed a whole lot.  It wasn't until the 35th minute when one of the teams created a really threatening chance, and that came through the Union.  A chipped ball over the top of KC's defense found Jack McInerney, who'd gotten in behind, with his first touch, McInerney attempted to chip Jimmy Nielsen who'd come off his line, but the ball bounced wide of the goal keeping the game scoreless.  KC though was the aggressor during the half and in the 38th it took a good save from Zach MacMath to keep it scoreless.  Julio Cesar collected a long corner from Graham Zusi and cut inside by the end line.  His cross into the middle found CJ Sapong who one timed his shot, but MacMath made a good kick save.  In the 40th though KC found the goal.  Kei Kamara and Sapong combined on a give and go down the line, Kamara then crossed it into the middle for Jacob Peterson, who'd gotten a step on his man and Peterson one timed his shot past MacMath to give KC the lead.  In stoppage time KC almost made it 2-0 through Zusi twice.  Sapong collected a long throw and turned Carlos Valdes along the endline, getting past the center back.  Sapong laid it back to Zusi.  MacMath saved Zusi's first effort but the rebound fell right back to him, but MacMath made a kick save on the second attempt to keep it 1-0.

In the second half though the Union came out pushing the game and earned themselves a penalty through Danny Cruz.  Cruz took on Seth Sinovic and Julio Cesar causing both to miss on challenges, the third challenge came from Matt Besler in the box and Besler got Cruz and referee Ismail Elfath pointed right to the spot.  Michael Farfan stepped up for the Union and fired the ball low to Nielsen's left, but Nielsen did a good job getting down to save the penalty.  Unfortunately, the first to react was Union forward, Antoine Hoppenot who scored to make it 1-1.  After the goal it was actually the Union that looked more likely to find a second, in the 57th they were saved by the wood work as a long cross from Cruz found McInerney who headed the ball towards goal.  Nielsen threw his hands up seeming to think the ball was going wide, but instead the ball bounced off the post and back into play.  Shortly after that, Keon Daniel hit the post after cutting around two KC defenders and KC was well back on their heals.  KC started to get back into the game, but really weren't able to create real dangerous chances.  In the 82nd though, KC Kamara took the game on his shoulders and created the winner for KC.  Winning a loose ball at midfield, Kamara dribbled past a few Union defenders and then headed towards goal.  As he got close to the box, Kamara slid the ball through for Sapong who raced into the box.  Sapong fired the ball past MacMath and into the net giving KC the 2-1 lead.  A brilliant ball and a great run by Kamara to create the winner.  KC held on and took care of business at home, even though they didn't look as impressive doing it, but they'll take the top spot.

Wizards Man of the Match - Kei Kamara - Set up both goals last night and had a very solid game all around.  He's now contributed on 19 goals this year (11 goals, 8 assists) one behind Zusi's 20 (5 goals 15 assists).

Player Ratings - Nielsen 6, Sinovic 5, Collin 5, Besler 5, Myers 6, Cesar 6, Nagamura 5, Joseph 6, Kamara 8, Sapong 7, Zusi 6. Subs Peterson 6, Rosell 6, Olum NR.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Time to Take Care of Business

With the way that results went last weekend, Sporting KC needs a result tomorrow against the Philadelphia Union to clinch first place in the Eastern Conference.  A win or a tie guarantees KC their second straight Eastern Conference regular season championship.  A loss and Sporting KC has to put their faith in the hands of the Chicago Fire beating or tying DC United on Saturday to give KC the Eastern Conference regular season championship. 

The Union come into the game having been already eliminated from the playoff race for a few weeks already.  They've still been a competitive side, including wins over playoff bound Houston and Chicago.  They did lose their most recent game though also against Houston.  After coming back from a goal down early to tie it 1-1 the Union gave up 2 goals in the second half to fall 3-1.  Forward Jack McInerney has been on fire for the Union, scoring in 4 straight games as he leads the team in goals with 8.  Philadelphia to begin with has a fairly young team, so there's not really much incentive to play the "kids" as often happens with teams eliminated from the playoffs late in the season as the Union have played a lot of "kids" all season. 

Sporting won't be sitting back obviously, since they're still trying to clinch the East.  If they'd have clinched it on the weekend you could have see KC rest a starter or two to give them a bit of a rest.  Although with KC having the longest break of any playoff team before they start the playoffs in a week and a half there's also very little reason to think they'd rest anyway.  Roger Espinoza is still returning from his sprained ankle, but last night on the Quest for the Cup show, Peter Vermes said that he planned to have Espinoza play a role of some kind.  I'd expect a lineup similar or the same as the one that Vermes put out on the weekend against New York.

Myers - Collin - Besler - Sinovic
Cesar - Nagamura
Kamara - Sapong - Peterson

Number to Remember - 1 - That's the number of points that Sporting need to clinch the top of the East.  Three will obviously do it as well, but KC needs at least one to go into this weekend more relaxed instead of scoreboard watching.

Key Match Up - Matt Besler vs Jack McInerney - McInerney is the main offensive weapon going forward for Philadelphia without a big bruising forward, the work of marking him will likely fall more on Besler to take care of business.  Besler's turning in a Best XI season at center back and really has been the rock of the back line this season especially.

PREDICTION - KC absolutely needs this game.  There's no question about that.  If they can't get up to take care of business tomorrow then I dread how the playoffs are going to go.  Home hasn't been a place where KC has really scored a lot of goals this season though.  Of the 40 goals they've scored this season, only 20 of them have been at Livestrong Sporting Park.  They've scored as many goals on the road as at home this year, the offense hasn't been getting the job done.  There is a little bit of a revenge factor for KC though.  Earlier this year Philadelphia defeated KC 4-0 at PPL Park, and while KC got a matter of revenge beating the Union 2-0 at PPL Park to advance to the US Open Cup final, I think they'll still want to rub it in a little bit on Philadelphia at home.

KC - 2 (Kamara, Sapong)
PHI - 0

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sunday After Stats

Not only did Jimmy Nielsen have a superb game last night he also hit a few milestones and set a few team records too.  Here are some stats from last night's game.

Jimmy Nielsen set a team record for league starts in a season with 33.

Nielsen also set a team record for minutes in a season, he's currently at 2970, ahead of Nick Garcia and Peter Vermes' record in 2000 of 2916.

Nielsen made his 100th appearance for Kansas City in all competitions, he's the 30th player to hit that mark.

It was Nielsen's 100th start in all competitions as well, he's the 23rd player to hit that mark for KC.

It was Nielsen's 93rd start in league play, tying him with Mark Chung and Roger Espinoza for 19th place on that list.

Matt Besler made his 97th league start for KC, breaking his tie with Sasha Victorine for 17th on that list.

For only the 3rd time in team history KC finished with a positive goal difference on the road, +5, in 2000 the team was +5 and in 2005 the team was +3.

For only the 2nd time post shoot out, KC finished with a winning record on the road, going 8-4-5, while in 2000 the team went 5-3-8.

Not Pretty but We'll Take the Point

It certainly wasn't the prettiest nor the best game that Sporting KC has played all season, but Kansas City got out of New York with a point, and with other results around the league clinched a top 2 spot in the Eastern Conference.  The Red Bulls also clinched a playoff spot, but that result was certainly less assured before the game started.

With New York still outside the playoffs when the game started, they were the ones that dictated play not only early on, but throughout the game.  Much of the early part of the game was played in KC's half of the field.  The roles were basically reversed from the way that KC normally plays.  KC was the team that was under the high pressure this time.  New York though didn't get a really good look at goal until the 20th minute.  KC had looked weak on earlier corners but more so here. Kei Kamara won the first header but only cleared it as far as Heath Pearce who played the ball back into the middle of the box where Tim Cahill was lurking in front of Jimmy Nielsen.  The ball bounced off Nielsen's foot and off of Aurelien Collin and into the arms of Nielsen as he went to crowd.  Nielsen covered up as Cahill tried to get in, smothering the chance.  Nielsen was called into action again in the 23rd minute as Dax McCarty struck a shot from distance, Nielsen got down well and parried the ball away but right into the path of Kenny Cooper.  Cooper though from an acute angle with Matt Besler and Nielsen closing down put his shot well over the bar to keep the scores level. KC didn't have much going forward, but CJ Sapong forced a good save from Luis Robles later in the half.  Sapong chased down a loose ball in the box, getting there before Robles.  Sapong cut outside and tried to chip the ball over Robles and into the middle, but Robles got a hand up and palmed the cross out for a corner.  New York continued their pressure and again Nielsen came to KC's rescue in the 41st minute.  A long ball by the New York defense was headed down by Cahill into the path of Cooper.  Cooper one timed his shot on frame, but Nielsen got a hand up and knocked the ball out for a corner.

Things didn't change in the second half as New York continued to throw numbers forward and KC continued to struggle to complete passes.  Nielsen was again called to make a big save in the 52nd minute.  After a give away near midfield, Cahill found himself racing down the wing.  He played the ball in to Thierry Henry who was in the box.  Henry's first touch let him down a little though allowing Nielsen and Besler to recover.  Henry's shot was saved by Nielsen and deflected off of Henry to give KC a goal kick.  KC's defense continued to struggle with New York's high pressure, giving the ball away much too easily.  Again in the 65th it almost cost them McCarty won a ball in KC's half of the field, getting the ball to Cooper.  Cooper played the ball to Henry at the top of the box.  Henry turned and faked both Collin and Julio Cesar.  Both got turned and Henry went towards goal firing a shot from about 13 yards out.  Nielsen though got a hand up and saved the shot again.  Henry followed the play though, collecting the rebound and tried to square the ball to Cahill who had an open net.  Besler slid in though knocking the ball up into Nielsen's face.  The ball fell right in front of the Dane, who collected the ball, ending the chance.  New York started to tire late on and that's when KC finally started to create some offense of their own.  In the 86th minute after some sustained possession, Graham Zusi played a lofted ball to the back post for Kamara.  A cross similar to the one that Eddie Johnson scored for the US off a Zusi assist.  Kamara put the header on frame, but Robles made the play unlike the Antigua keeper, keeping the score 0-0.  New York had one last really good chance in the 88th minute as Cahill tried to head a ball into the path of McCarty.  Besler got in the way though but couldn't get enough on it to clear the ball away.  The ball fell to McCarty who hit the shot first time low, but Nielsen again got down covering the shot to keep it scoreless.

Wizards Man of the Match - Jimmy Nielsen - Could it be anyone else?  Besides much of the rest of the team struggling to get going, Nielsen came up huge time and again last night, he made a number of world class saves to keep the game scoreless, an extremely good night from him that should cement his goalkeeper of the year credentials as he picked up his 15th shutout of the year. 

Honorable Mention - Matt Besler

Player Ratings - Nielsen 9, Myers 5, Collin 6, Besler 7, Sinovic 5, Cesar 5, Nagamura 5, Zusi 4, Peterson 4, Sapong 4, Kamara 5.  Subs Olum 4, Convey NR.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Where Things Stand For Sporting After Tonight

Going to try to clear things up so they're all straight forward for everyone heading into Wednesday's game against Philadelphia.  First off, Kansas City has NOT clinched the Eastern Conference yet.  Here's how the top 3 in the East shakes down right now.

Team GP W L D Points GF GA GD
Sporting 33 17 7 9 60 40 26 14
DC 33 17 10 6 57 52 42 10
Chicago 33 17 11 5 56 45 40 5

With Chicago's loss tonight to New England tonight, the Fire can no longer catch Sporting, meaning that KC is guaranteed a top 2 finish in the East and will have the second home game (a midweek game) in the conference semifinals. 

DC's late win against Columbus though means that Kansas City has not clinched the East yet.  The first tie breaker this year is goals scored, not goal difference or head-to-head record.  What that means is that if KC loses at home to Philadelphia and DC defeat Chicago on the road next weekend, United will likely win the East.  With goals scored being the first tiebreaker, if KC were to lose, they would have to make up the 12 goal difference that DC currently has on KC in goals scored if they were to lose.  For example, if KC were to lose 16-15 on Wednesday and DC wins 1-0, KC would technically win the East because they'd have scored 55 goals to DC's 53 in that scenario. 

The easy way to resolve all of this is to take care of business on Wednesday, a point in the home finale against Philadelphia and Sporting KC will clinch the East.  It's that simple, get a result and none of this matters.  A point puts KC on 61 points, out of reach of DC's max of 60.

What We Need to Happen Today 10/20

The penultimate weekend of the MLS regular season starts today with 6 games, including Sporting vs New York.  There's still plenty to be decided around the league so here's a look at what we want to happen in the rest of the games today.

Montreal at Toronto
What we want to happen - doesn't matter

Both teams are eliminated from the playoffs, Toronto a while ago, Montreal more recently.

Columbus at DC
What we want to happen - Columbus win

This is two fold.  First, a loss by DC (or even a draw) would mean KC is guaranteed to finish about United, clinching them at least a top 3 spot depending on how KC's game in New York goes today.  The second reason we should be wanting a Columbus win is because it puts more pressure on the Houston Dynamo, a team that KC has struggled against and I'd like to avoid facing in the playoffs.

Chicago at New England
What we want to happen - New England win

If New England can win and KC gets something positive (win or draw) out of their result with the Red Bulls, and Chicago cannot catch KC.  Combine that with the result above and KC would clinch the East with one game to play.

Philadelphia at Houston
What we want to happen - Philadelphia win

This is strictly because I don't want KC to have to play Houston in the playoffs.  Houston has been a bogey team for KC not just under Peter Vermes, but throughout KC's history.  Them not making the playoffs would mean not having to deal with Dominic Kinnear, which I wouldn't mind at all.

Colorado at Chivas
What we want to happen - doesn't matter

Both teams are out of the playoff hunt.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Back to Close Out League Play

After having last weekend off due to the international break, Sporting KC is returning to action tomorrow when they'll take on the New York Red Bulls.  With only two games left, there's very little room for error as KC looks to hang on to first in the Eastern Conference and home field advantage through at least the conference finals. 

New York comes into the game still having not clinched a playoff spot, but currently sitting in 4th place in the East.  A win tomorrow and the Red Bulls can clinch not only a playoff spot, but a top 4 finish at the same time.  Not only that, but it would put New York within 3 points of Kansas City with 1 game left and New York holding a much superior goals scored number.  After the poor performance the last time these two teams met, they'll want to have an improved performance as New York was extremely lackluster in Sporting's 2-0 win in New York back in September.  Since that loss, the Red Bulls are 1-1-1, including losing a second game at Red Bull Arena, 2-0 to the Chicago Fire.  Tim Cahill has returned from the other side of the world and appears set to start the game for the Red Bulls.  Meanwhile, Thierry Henry has labeled KC as the best team in the league ahead of this match up.

Kansas City can clinch a top two spot with a draw in this game, and can come within a point (or a dropped point by Chicago) of clinching the East with a win.  Kansas City has continued their 10 game unbeaten run, picking up 22 points during that run which has kept them on top of the East.  There are two big questions regarding the game tomorrow for KC though.  The first is who will replace Roger Espinoza.  Espinoza hurt his ankle near the end of the game against the Crew and will miss at least this game and possibly the season finale against Philadelphia recovering so that he's ready for the playoffs.  The obvious replacement would seem to be dropping Graham Zusi into the midfield and inserting Jacob Peterson or possibly Bobby Convey.  Another possibility is to leave Zusi up top and insert the likes of Oriol Rosell into the midfield.  The other question is whether Peter Vermes sticks with Lawrence Olum at center back or brings back Aurelien Collin to the starting lineup.  KC's defense has remained strong with Olum in their, but most fans seem to feel more comfortable with Collin in the back.

Myers - Olum - Besler - Sinovic
Cesar - Nagamura
Kamara - Sapong - Peterson

Numbers to Remember - 1 - While a win would be fantastic, a point guarantees a top 2 finish and means that KC could clinch the Eastern Conference at home with a win over Philadelphia.

Key Match Up - Paulo Nagamura vs Tim Cahill - With Espinoza out, the responsibility of handling the Australian international will probably fall on the shoulders of Nagamura.  Cahill has backed off his "KC is nothing special" comments, but he's still going to be a massive handful for Nagamura and Sporting to deal with.

PREDICTION - A win would be great and would keep the pressure on San Jose for the Supporters' Shield, but in reality that's out of reach at this point.  The key now is to win the East and finish with the second best record in the league, finish ahead of as many teams as possible so that in case San Jose stumble KC can host MLS Cup at LSP.  But in New York, against a Red Bulls team that has under achieved is going to be tough.  Even with a lame duck coach in Hans Backe who looks very likely to be out of New York after the season.

SKC - 1 (Kamara)
NY - 2 (Henry, Cahill)

Top Rookie Seasons

Yesterday I read a good article about FC Dallas rookie Matt Hedges and where his season ranks in regards to other Dallas rookie seasons.  I decided to take a look at this myself for Sporting KC.  Obviously this seasons isn't looking like a stellar year for KC's rookies, in fact currently the 2012 rookie class for KC is set to finish the season with the fewest minutes played of any rookie class in KC's history.  Dom Dwyer is the only rookie to appear in a competitive game for Sporting this year totaling 49 minutes in one league and one US Open Cup appearance.  Unless he appears over the last two games, this rookie class will finish below the 2003 class that featured Taylor Graham and Jack Jewsbury making a combined 4 league appearances for a total of 71 minutes their rookie year.

Back to the top rookie seasons in KC's history.  The first thing I did was disqualify any player who had played professionally previously (the MLS drafts used to allow you to draft players from the lower divisions as well as college players), so that means no Kerry Zavagnin, Brandon Prideaux, or Ryan Tinsley on this list as all played professionally in the US lower divisions before being drafted by KC.  I wanted this to be about straight rookies, just out of college.  I looked mainly at their contributions ONLY in their rookie season trying to avoid looking at how the rest of their careers has shaped how they're viewed.

So who just missed out on the list?  Two players that just missed that are currently on KC's roster, Matt Besler (2009), Chris Brown (1999), and Diego Gutierrez (1996).  All 3 had solid rookie seasons, Besler appearing in 28 of the 30 league games, Brown scoring 4 goals and assisting on 3 more while appearing in 28 games, and Gutierrez appearing in 28 games recording 5 assists in the leagues first season, but I think they both just miss out on making this list, but it's not by much.  So here's the top 5.

Number 5 - Teal Bunbury 2010

The Generation Adidas, University of Akron product became the first son of a MLS player to be drafted into the league, following in the footsteps of his dad, Alex Bunbury, who also played for Kansas City.  Under Peter Vermes, Bunbury was brought along fairly slowly his rookie year, now earning his first league start until about 8 games into the season.  He scored in the US Open Cup qualifier against Colorado early in the season, but it was July before his first league goal.  Bunbury finished the season appearing in 26games, starting 13, scoring 5 goals, 2 of which were game winners, and 2 assists.

Since that time, Bunbury has been a bit of a polarizing figure for KC.  Some fans of grown tired of his perceived lack of hustle, especially compared to KC's rookie the next year CJ Sapong.  But Bunbury has still played quite well, scoring 19 league goals, 24 in all competitions, he tied for the team lead in goals in league play last season with 9, and led in all competitions with 12.  He was having another solid year this year before he tore his ACL vs New York.

Number 4 - Michael Harrington 2007

Over the course of his rookie year, Harrington, a UNC product supplanted the team's reigning MVP and MLS Best XI defender Jose Burciaga Jr at the left back position.  Granted some of that was Burciaga's own undoing, but Harrington played a role in it and definitely made Burciaga expendable after the season.  Harrington played in 29 of KC's 30 games that year starting 27 of them.  He contributed 3 goals and 4 assists, including what at the time was the fastest debut goal, although it was topped by CJ Sapong 4 years later.

Since his rookie year, Harrington has been a solid contributor to KC, appearing in over 150 league games for the club.  Most of that time has been at the left back position, but he's seen himself around the wingback and win positions especially under Curt Onalfo.  The last season and a half though his playing time has decreased as Seth Sinovic and Chance Myers have emerged successfully at the wingback positions.

Number 3 - Scott Sealy 2005

Sealy is the rookie record holder for most goals in a rookie season.  The Wake Forest product scored 9 goals and assisted on 2 more in his rookie season.  That was good enough for second on the team, 1 behind Josh Wolff.  He appeared in 28 of the 32 games that year for KC, starting 20 of them.

Sealy continued to be a fairly solid contributor for KC over the next few years, leading the team in scoring in 2006 with 10 and added another 7 in 2007.  In 2008 though he found his time with the team slipping away and was traded to San Jose around midseason.  After a few seasons in San Jose he moved abroad to Israel before coming back to San Jose.  He's now with Dallas, mainly playing as a reserve.

Number 2 - CJ Sapong 2011

Last year's MLS rookie of the year and James Madison product comes in second on my list of the top rookies.  Sapong was forced into the starting lineup at the very beginning of the 2011 season due to the elbow injury to Teal Bunbury.  Sapong made the most of that opportunity scoring in only the second minute of the game.  Sapong went on to finish the season with 5 goals, good for 4th on the team and 5 assists, good for 2nd, all in league play.  In all competitions he added another 4 goals to his total.  He also made the most appearances for the club in the season, playing in 40 of the teams 41 games in all competitions, including all 34 league games.

This season Sapong has continued to play well, with little sign of a sophomore slump.  He's scored 8 more league goals this year, second on the team behind Kei Kamara and has hit double digits in all competitions with 10.

Number 1 - Nick Garcia 2000

It's hard to have a season that tops one that won rookie of the year, but that's my feelings on Nick Garcia's 2000 season.  Garcia was part of a 3 man back line that set records left and right for defensive ability in the 2000 season.  The Indian University, Project-40 graduate (precursor to Generation Adidas) was the second overall pick in the 200 draft, played every single minute of every single game that KC played in the 2000 seasons.  Him and Peter Vermes started all 40 games in all competitions, amassing over 3,600 minutes.  He missed out on rookie of the year, finishing second to future US national team captain, Carlos Bocanegra.

Garcia became a staple in the KC back line for the next 7 seasons, and left as the team leader in appearances and in minutes played (he's since been passed in both by Kerry Zavagnin and by Davy Arnaud in appearances).  Garcia was traded to expansion San Jose for the first overall pick that KC used on Chance Myers.  Garcia played a couple season with the Earthquakes before being traded to Toronto.  He played two more seasons there before note being selected in the Re-Entry draft. 

So do you agree? Disagree with my list of the top 5?  Does Sapong's rookie of the year trump Garcia?  Should Besler, Gutierrez, Brown, or another rookie have made the top 5 instead?  Let me know.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Lance Armstrong, Livestrong, and Sporting KC

This will hopefully be the last few things I say on the Lance Armstrong/Livestrong/Sporting KC situation unless the team decides to address the situation again.

Sponsors continue to flee from Lance Armstrong like rats from a sinking ship as the ramifications of the USADA report on his doping really begin to sink in.  Nike, 24 Hour Fitness, and Anheuser Busch are all among the list of sponsors of Armstrong who have pulled their sponsorship of the cyclist.  Armstrong has also stepped down as the chair of Livestrong the cancer awareness organization he helped found.  Armstrong does still remain on the board of the organization.

The big question now for Livestrong is whether it can weather the storm surrounding Armstrong because of the connection that existed and continues to exist between the two.  So far at least two of their sponsors that also sponsored Armstrong have said they'll stick with the charity.  Both Nike and Radio Shack have said that they still support the work being done by Livestrong.  At the moment, this seems to be the smart move to take, you don't want to be branded as turning your back on an organization that helps people while they are fighting for their life.  Sporting KC is currently in this category as an organization that has partnered with Livestrong, right now isn't the right time to abandon the charity.  Plenty of people are calling for the stadium to be renamed because of Livestrong's association with Armstrong, but at the same time there are those that would see it as abandoning an organization that has done good in their hour of need.

Now yes Sporting could go and just give the name to another charity, one that does real research in actually fighting cancer and trying to find a cure, but none of those organizations have the same global recognition as Livestrong currently does.  And that was one of the key points I think originally of the deal, it was to bring more name recognition to the team by the association with the organization.

At this time I still don't think there's a reason to split from the deal between the team and Livestrong.  I do though think that Sporting KC needs to be keeping a very close eye on the situation, just like I'm sure they have from day one.  There was always the chance that further allegations and eventually further evidence coming out implicating Armstrong.  Not believing that was possible is stupid and short sighted, both of which are the exact opposite of 90% of what the club does.  But if things go further and organizations like Nike and Radio Shack pull their support then it's time to get out as well.  I'm not saying that they haven't already, I'm sure that the people that need to have read over the information from the USADA and I'm sure it's been a topic of discussion.  I just think that withdrawing support now could be seen as just as bad a PR move for the team to be the first to pull their support.

One thing that does need to happen, if not already is that the yellow seat needs to stop being referred to as being reserved for Lance Armstrong.  The name just brings out poor connotations to people after this and continuing to refer to it as such doesn't seem right to me.  You can keep it yellow, but just refer to it as the Livestrong Seat, or that it's reserved for a cancer survivor.  Just stop referring to it as being reserved for him.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Former SKC Wizards Update

Another week of former SKC Wizards updates.  Few league games this week due to the international break, but plenty of former players were representing their national team, including a surprising inclusion to me, as Jermaine Hue played in both of Jamaica's qualifiers in this set of matches.  Here's the rest of this week's updates.

Active without a club or unknown
Stephane Auvray
Chris Brunt
Eloy Colombano
Doug DeMartin
Birahim Diop
Pablo Escobar
Mauro Fuzetti
AJ Godbolt
Tom Gray
Willy Guadarrama
Zoltan Hercegfalvi
Santiago Hirsig
Aaron Hohlbein
Will John
Neal Kitson
Jonathan Leathers
Ryan McMahen
Anthony Noriega
Sergei Raad
Ofori Sarkodie
Sam Scales
Ivan Trujillo
Diego Walsh
Lance Watson

Davy Arnaud - Montreal - No game this week.
Luis Gil - Salt Lake - Play Seattle tonight.
Kevin Hartman - Dallas - No game this week.
Will Hesmer - Columbus - Out recovering from surgery.
Jack Jewsbury - Portland - No game this week.
Eddie Johnson - Seattle - Started and played 90 minutes, scoring 2 goals in the USA's 2-1 win over Antigua. Started and played 89 minutes, recording an assist in the USA's 3-1 win over Guatemala.  Play Salt Lake tonight.
Chris Konopka - Philadelphia - No game this week.
Rauwshan McKenzie - Chivas - No game this week.
Scott Sealy - Dallas - No game this week.
Ryan Smith - Chivas - No game this week.
Khari Stephenson - San Jose - No game this week.
Shavar Thomas - Montreal - Started and played 90 minutes in Jamaica's 2-1 loss to Guatemala.  Dressed but did not play in Jamaica's 4-1 win over Antigua.
Tyson Wahl - Colorado - No game this week.
Josh Wolff - DC - No game this week.

Jose Burciaga - Atlanta - Season is over.
Kevin Friedland - Minnesota - Did not play in Minnesota's 2-1 win over San Antonio.
Scott Lorenz - Fort Lauderdale - Season is over.
Amir Lowery - Carolina - Started and played 84 minutes in Carolina's 3-3 draw with Tampa.
Luke Sassano - Carolina - Did not dress in Carolina's 3-3 draw with Tampa.
Abe Thompson - Fort Lauderdale - Season is over.

Edson Elcock - Richmond - Season is over.
Akeem Priestley - Dayton - Season is over.
Yomby William - Richmond - Season is over.
John Wilson - Charleston - Season is over.

Michael Kraus - FC Tucson - Season is over.

Nelson Pizarro - San Diego Flash - Season is over.

Jamar Beasley - Wichita Wings - Season is over.
Pat Healey - Baltimore Blast - Season is over.
Boris Pardo - Comets - Season is over.
Craig Rocastle - Comets - Season is over.
Paul Wright - Anaheim Bolts - Season is over.

Vicente Arze - R. Charleroi S.C. - No game this week.
Omar Bravo - Cruz Azul - Mexico - Started and played 90 minutes, scoring 2 goals in Cruz Azul's 3-2 win over Queretaro.
Sunil Chhetri - Sporting Clube de Portugal B - Portugal - Started and played 62 minutes in India's 2-0 loss to Singapore.
Daneil Cyrus - W Connection - Trinidad - Started and played 90 minutes in Trinidad's 4-1 win over French Guyana.  Started and played 90 minutes in Trinidad's 1-0 win over St. Kitts.  Started and played 90 minutes in Trinidad's 10-0 win over Anguilla.
Gary Glasgow - North East Stars - Trinidad - No game this week.
Herculez Gomez - Santos Laguna - Mexico - Started and played 73 minutes in the USA's 2-1 win over Antigua.  Started and played 65 minutes in the USA's 3-1 win over Guatemala.
Jermaine Hue - Harbour View - Jamaica - Started and played 82 minutes in Jamaica's 2-1 loss to Guatemala.  Started and played 90 minutes in Jamaica's 4-1 win over Antigua.
Jeferson - Bahia - Brazil - Did not play in either of Bahia's games.
Mike Jones - FC Hjorring - Denmark - Did not play in Hjorring's 2-1 win over Bronshoj.
Igor Kostrov - FC Tiraspol - Moldova - No game this week.
Carlos Marinelli - Universidad San Martin - Peru - No game this week.
Yura Movsisyan - FC Krasnodar - Russia - Started and played 90 minutes in Armenia's 3-1 loss to Italy.
Michal Mravec - FC Emmen - Netherlands - No game this week.
Pablo Punyed - Fjolnir - Iceland - Season is over.
Milos Stojcev - FC Akzhayik - Kazakhstan - No game this week.
Matt Taylor - Preußen Münster - Germany - No game this week.

TV News and What We Want to Happen Today 10/17

A bit of news that might have been missed due to the US game yesterday.  Sporting announced that NBC Sports has picked up the team's final game of the season, October 24th at home against Philadelphia.  The game will still be shown on KSMO in Kansas City, and the NBC Sports broadcast will be blacked out locally.  I'm not sure many people in KC that can't make the game will care, cause that means they'll still get Callum and Jake instead of the NBC Sports broadcasters.  This will be the 5th time that NBC Sports has broadcasted from LSP this season, a shocking number considering only 2 years ago KC struggled to get ANY games broadcasted nationally.

What we want to happen today.

Only one day after the US national team game, MLS gets back to action tonight as Seattle and Salt Lake play on NBC Sports.

Salt Lake at Seattle
What we want to happen - tie

A tie would mean that KC would require just one more point from their last two games to guarantee that these two teams can't pass them in the standings.  That result coupled with a point by KC would mean 4 of the 5 Western Conference playoff teams can't pass KC in points.  What that would mean is that the only way MLS Cup would be played away from KC should Sporting make it would be if San Jose makes it as well. 

Sporting KC to Light Plaza Lights

The Plaza lighting ceremony is a pretty big deal in Kansas City, it's been an ongoing tradition entering it's 83rd year.  And this Thanksgiving night, it'll have a soccer feel to it.  Sporting KC players Matt Besler, Kei Kamara, and Jimmy Nielsen will be throwing the switch this year.  Pretty sure this will be the first time soccer players will be the ones throwing the switch.

USA Advance to Hex

Last night at Livestrong Sporting Park the United States took care of their business and advanced to the next round of World Cup qualifying with a 3-1 win over Guatemala.  After going down 1-0 early, the US scored 3 unanswered to get the victory.

The first goal was a disaster for the US back line, as Geoff Cameron stepped up while Carlos Bocanegra did not and a long ball over the top put Carlos Ruiz in behind the US defense.  While Ruiz raced down on goal, Tim Howard stayed back not committing until late.  Ruiz rounded Howard and slotted the ball into the net giving Guatemala a shocking 1-0 lead.  The lead didn't last long though as the US immediately pushed the game.  In the 10th minute thanks to some great hustle from Herculez Gomez the US won a corner.  Graham Zusi's driven corner was headed towards goal by Clint Dempsey.  Bocanegra raced in and redirected the header past Ricardo Jerez and tied the game.  The US grabbed the lead in the 18th minute with some good play down the right wing.  Steve Cherundolo played a ball down the line to Eddie Johnson.  Johnson got down the line and played a low cross into the middle where Dempsey scuffed the shot but it got into the net giving the United States the lead.  Howard was called in to make a big save shortly after that as again the US back line struggled to deal with Guatemala's attack, but Howard parried the shot away.  The US continued to push the game looking for another goal.  In the 29th minute Zusi played a great ball to the back post for Johnson.  Johnson headed the ball into the middle but Jerez got to it before Herculez Gomez ending the chance.  In the 36th minute the US finally found their 3rd, Zusi had the ball on the wing and dribbled at the Guatemalan defense before laying the ball off to Michael Bradley.  Bradley's first touch let him down but the ball went to Gomez.  Bradley though continued his run and Gomez laid the ball back off to him.  In on goal, Jerez came off his line.  Bradley chipped the ball over Jerez and was headed towards goal.  Dempsey raced in and made sure that the ball got into the net making it 3-1.

At the half down two goals, Guatemala was on the outside looking in on the Hex as Jamaica was up 2 on Antigua in the other game, making up the goal difference gap.  In the second half though it was the US that seemed to be the one pushing more.  Jerez made a nice save on long range shot from Danny Williams.  the rebound fell to Johnson but Jerez was up again and made another good save to keep Guatemala in the game.  Immediately after that the US had another good chance as Gomez got played in behind the Guatemalan defense.  Gomez got caught though and had to move out wide.  The chance wasn't gone though as Gomez played a great cross to the back post where Dempsey just missed connecting on the header that would have made it 4.  Guatemala started to push more needing a goal to get themselves back into the Hex picture.  In the 66th minute Howard almost gifted them a goal as a low cross by Jose Contreras was not held by Howard.  Still with some good reactions, Howard kicked away the muffed collection to keep the 2 goal lead.  The US continued to push and should have had a penalty in the 70th minute as Bradley cut past a defender in the box.  Bradley was brought down but the referee made no call.  In the other game Jamaica scored twice more while Antigua got one themselves to make it 4-1 to Jamaica.  But being down on goal difference, Guatemala never really looked into pushing the game and getting themselves back into the Hex.  They didn't push the game as much as I thought they would considering they were outside qualifying.  Still the final whistle blew and Guatemala just never seemed interested in pushing it and the US guaranteed their passage and sent Guatemala home.

A month ago Columbus raised the bar for US support in the US-Jamaica game and last night, Kansas City matched it in my opinion.  The crowd was amazing throughout the game, and while it was below capacity because they couldn't sell standing room only tickets and a portion of the Budweiser corner was taken out for the ESPN broadcast, contributing to the lower number, KC put themselves easily into the discussion for a Hex game some time next year.  Robb Heineman tweeted that he thought the performance earned KC the US-Mexico game next year.  I'm not sure I'd go that far, I'd be hesitant to go against what's worked in Columbus for US-Mexico, but I'd be shocked if KC didn't get another important game, possibly Costa Rica or Honduras.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Wigan Close to Signing Espinoza?

Sporting KC midfielder Roger Espinoza has been a transfer target of multiple teams after his stellar performance in the Olympics this summer.  There was no move made during the summer window although the rumors were rampant.  With Espinoza out of contract after this season though he becomes a free agent.  And if you want to believe news out of England, Espinoza is ready to jump abroad after the season finishes.  The Daily Mail is reporting that Espinoza has agreed to sign for Wigan Athletic after the season ends. 

There is one problem with the article, but in my opinion it's semantics.  The article says that the MLS season ends next month, which isn't technically true as the season ends on December 1st.  And yes I know it's the Daily Mail, but it's certainly not been the only site to report Wigan's interest in the KC midfielder.  Most fans I think had resigned themselves to the fact that Espinoza was likely gone.  I'd fully expected his performance in the Olympics.  Only I expected it to be a Mexican league team that came calling for him, not an EPL team.  I know Robb Heineman has said that they'd do everything that they could to keep Espinoza, and I do believe they will do everything in their power to keep him here, but that's not always enough.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Some Thoughts About Tomorrow

Tomorrow at Livestrong Sporting Park is a very big World Cup qualifier between the United States and Guatemala.  A spot in next year's Hex is on the line with the chance to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.  A draw will see both the US and Guatemala through ahead of Jamaica who play Antigua.  Here are some random thoughts about the game.

Get there early

Parking is going to be an absolute mess.  With the lots on the Speedway side of State Ave. shut down for the NASCAR race this weekend, 20,000 people will be squeezing into the Community America Ballpark and other lots around the Legends area.  It's going to be an absolute cluster fuck so I suggest getting there as early as possible.

Don't wear club gear

Almost everyone knows I'm a club over country guy, I'll choose a Sporting game over a US game most of the time, but there's no reason for that to come into play tomorrow.  Sporting is off so my Sporting stuff will stay at home.  I strongly suggest that you do the same.  Don't brin petty club arguments into the tailgate or into the stadium with you.  Sure the jersey may still say Donovan on the back, but on the front it's not a US jersey.  It's not a hard concept to understand.  That leads to my next point.

Wear red

Or a US jersey.  For as long as I remember watching or attending US games, the supporters section of the United States has always worn red as a way to support the team.  It's the color of choice unless you're wearing a US jersey.  So if you don't have a US jersey, find something red that you can wear and wear that for the game.

The chants are quite similar

The chants and songs that are done by the American Outlaws and US supporters aren't much different from the ones that are done for Sporting.  You can basically replace KC or Sporting with US and you have the majoirty of the chants.  So don't feel bad if you don't know them right away.  The I believe chant is one that really took off after last year's Gold Cup game at LSP.

Expect Guatemala to "park the bus"

With Guatemala only needing a draw to advance, don't expect them to come out flying in the attack.  They'll sit back, play 10-11 behind the ball and try to make this game a dull 0-0 affair.  With Jamaica-Antigua kicking off at the same time, they'll have an eye on the other game if they do give up a goal.  Because if Jamaica and Antigua is close, Guatemala could even get through with a low scoring loss. Should things get closer the game could get quite exciting if the US do score early.  That's going to be the best way for the game to open up tomorrow, an early goal will certainly help that.  For a further look at potential results see my post from Saturday.

Enjoy the game

Last time KC hosted a World Cup qualifier, it was 11 years ago.  I don't expect it to be that long before KC hosts another World Cup qualifier, but they don't come around every day.  Enjoy the atmosphere for the US game.  This is going to be my 4th cap, and third World Cup qualifier I've attended.  And it'll be just as fun.  Eleven years ago Kansas City showed for at least one night that they were a soccer city, and now they're proving it on a regular basis, but it's time to show it again at the national level.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Kamara and Sierra Leone Eliminated From African Cup of Nations

Needing a win or a high scoring draw in their African Cup of Nations qualifier today, Kei Kamara and the Sierra Leone national team ended up tying Tunisia 0-0 in Tunisia, sending the North African country to the African Cup of Nations in January by virtue of their 2 goals in the first leg in Freetown Sierra Leone.

Things didn't get off to a good start as they picked up a red card in the 25th minute, forcing them to spend the majority of the game playing a man down.  Still while a man down, the Leone Stars still created chances.  Kei Kamara put a ball in the back of the net, but was rightly ruled offside on the play.  Being down a man, Tunisia had the bulk of the possession, but Sierra Leone looked quite dangerous on the counter attack.  Late on Sierra Leone had another goal ruled out after a foul on the goal keeper off a corner kick.  The keeper came to claim it and collided with a Leone Stars player.  Another player put it into the net, but the foul had been called.  Overall Kamara had a very good game, considering he was left isolated as a loan forward after the red card.  It's a disappointing end to their run in hopes of qualifying for the African Cup of Nations in South Africa.

Sierra Leone's sights will be set back towards the 2014 World Cup, their next qualifier is in March of next year when they will take on the same Tunisia side.

Early Look at Tuesday

Now that we've all had a chance to settle down from what was a fairly drab performance from the US men's national team last night in Antigua, it's now time to look towards Tuesday and the game at Livestrong Sporting Park against Guatemala.  Along with the USA's 2-1 win, Guatemala defeated Jamaica at home 2-1.  Here is how the groups look right now.

Team GP W L D Points GF GA GD
USA 5 3 1 1 10 8 5 3
Guatemala 5 3 1 1 10 8 5 3
Jamaica 5 2 2 1 7 5 5 0
Antigua & Barbuda 5 0 4 1 1 3 9 -6

So after last night, Guatemala and the US are tied at the top of the group on 10 points.  The US is currently ahead of Guatemala on the 7th tie breaker, goals scored away from home between the two teams (US has one, Guatemala zero because the return leg hasn't been played).

For the US, things are fairly simple as a whole, if you don't lose at home you're through to the Hex.  That's a simple enough task for the US, as they haven't lost a World Cup qualifier on home soil since 2001 when they lost 2-1 to Honduras at RFK Stadium.  Only one player on the current roster, Steve Cherundolo, was on that team that lost that day (Landon Donovan was on the team as well, but he's no longer in camp due to injury).

A loss would be devastating for Guatemala though as Jamaica is hosting Antigua & Barbuda the same night, and with Antigua having failed to win a game yet, Jamaica would seem primed to finish play on 10 points.  The US and Guatemala though could play to a draw and both teams would advance with 11 points as that would put them out of reach of Jamaica.  With that said, I'd expect Guatemala to come in and immediately sit back, playing for the draw as they'd know that would see them through.  Could make for a frustrating night for the United States unless they score early.  An early goal would force Guatemala to come out and attack looking to get back level.

The worst thing that could happen for the US is a loss, but it wouldn't eliminate them from qualifying, but things become more difficult.  One way that the US could still advance is if Jamaica fails to beat their Caribbean rival in Kingston, that would leave Jamaica on 7 or 8 points, below the US.  If the US loses and Jamaica wins, the goal difference in the 2 matches can be 2 (US lose 1-0, Jamaica win 1-0) and the US would still advance on goal difference, +2 to +1.  If the goal difference in the 2 games is 3, Jamaica cannot outscore the US by 4 goals, or else they'll pass the US in the goals scored category, putting the US out. 

So there's a quick look for you at what can happen on Tuesday at Livestrong Sporting Park.  To make it easy, how about we just win?

Friday, October 12, 2012

MLS Players Lead US Past Antigua

It wasn't a pretty game at all,in fact it was down right ugly for much of the game, but the USA took care of business in stoppage time to beat Antigua and Barbuda 2-1 tonight in a World Cup Qualifier.  Two goals by Eddie Johnson, both assisted by other MLS players led the US.

In the 19th minute the US grabbed the lead.  After a corner from Sporting KC midfielder Graham Zusi was cleared back to him, Zusi played the ball to Michael Bradley and then overlapped receiving the ball back, Zusi one timed the ball into the back post where Johnson headed it into the net to make it 1-0 to the USA.  In the 25th minute though Antigua leveled, as Peter Byers was able to get around Geoff Cameron and square a ball into the middle of the box, where Clarence Goodson had slipped.  Dexter Blackstock took advantage of the slip and slotted the ball past Tim Howard.  The US had some chances to retake the lead, another good cross by Zusi was missed by Johnson.

In the second half the US just failed to impress.  They had plenty of possession but for the most part, it was Antigua who looked more likely to score on the counter and would have with better finishing.  Late on the US almost grabbed a winner off a corner as Bradley forced a very good save with a header.  Finally just before stoppage time the US grabbed a winner.  Off a quick throw the ball found it's way to Alan Gordon who played a nice lofted ball to the back post where Johnson had totally lost his man.  Johnson headed the ball back across goal and into the net making it 2-1.  The USA held on for the win and heads to Kansas City for a game against Guatemala.  A draw with Guatemala on Tuesday would be enough to see the US through no matter the result between Jamaica and Antigua.

Zusi had a good first half for the US, but faded as the second half went on before being substituted for Sacha Kljestan in Zusi's 5th cap of his US career.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Still No Plans to Rename Livestrong Sporting Park

Yesterday, the USADA released with some information on why they'd moved forward with banning Lance Armstrong and stripping him of his Tour de France titles.  There's plenty of evidence that would seem to be fairly damning towards Armstrong's case with plenty of witness testimony, financial records, and lab results in it.  It brings back up the debate of the stadium name.  Back when the USADA originally announced the banning of Armstrong, Robb Heineman came out and stated the continued backing of the Livestrong organization and the work that they do with helping cancer survivors.

Today at the Leaders in Football conference at Stamford Bridge, Heineman was again asked to comment on the new news with the information from the USADA.  Heineman again stated the good work that the organization does despite what is going on with Armstrong.  He said that the organization doesn't have their "head in the sand... but it doesn't change how we feel about the Foundation." 

So by the sounds of it, the stadium will still be Livestrong Sporting Park at least in the near future.

Down the Byline US World Cup Qualifier Ticket Giveaway

Sporting KC news is a little slow this week with the international break hitting us right now, but I'm not planning on going anywhere, especially with the United States coming to KC on Tuesday.

In less than a week many of us will be at Livestrong Sporting Park for what could be a win or go home World Cup qualifier against Guatemala.  While Friday the US play an important road game in Antigua, on Tuesday in Kansas City, the USA will take on a game Guatemala side that will likely also be looking to qualify for next year's Hexagonal.

The game is already sold out, and the atmosphere looks set to be absolutely electric for the game.  If you missed out on getting tickets, I'm going to help some of you get in on seeing this qualifier live and in person.  I have 3 pairs of tickets courtesy of Allstate Insurance, sponsor of the U.S. National Team and MLS to give away.

How do you get a chance at one of these pair of tickets?  It's quite simple the contest runs from the time of this posting until 4pm Central Time on Sunday October 14th, all you need to do is Tweet a link to this post and include the hash tag #DTBUStickets.  One entry per person.  I will randomly select 3 people from the list of people that do this.  All the winners will be contacted via Twitter with directions on how to get their tickets.

Good luck, and thanks again to Allstate for making this contest possible.  Allstate is also setting up their Allstate Fan Zone right outside Livestrong on Tuesday night. At the Fan Zone there will be interactive activities and chances to win tickets upgrades and a handful of other prizes that you can register to win.  Also at the Fan Zone you can get the chance to meet former Wizard great and National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee Tony Meola.  The 2000 MLS MVP that helped lead the Wizards to the MLS Cup title will be signing autographs between 4 and 6pm.  With the parking set up the way it is, make sure to get there early, stop by and meet the Wizard and US great and enjoy the rest of what the Fan Zone is offering.