Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Moments of the Year

With 2013 coming to a close, here are some moments of the year.

Game of the Year

11/23 vs Houston Dynamo

It'd be an easy thing for me to pick MLS Cup against Salt Lake. And while that game was exciting and brought KC a trophy this year, I'm going with the win that got KC there. Falling behind 1-0 after just three minutes to the team that had knocked KC out of the playoffs the last two years there was plenty of "here we go again" comments from fans. On the field though KC took control of the game against the Dynamo. And without Ricardo Clark in the middle of the field for the Dynamo, Benny Feilhaber had room to run at the Houston back line. Those runs led to both of KC's goals as KC finally overcame the Dynamo and advanced to MLS Cup.

Goal of the Year

Benny Feilhaber 8/31 vs Colorado

There were a number of good goals this year, from the one touch passing on Claudio Bieler's goal against Toronto, to Graham Zusi's shross against the Chicago Fire, and Dom Dwyer's winner in the Eastern Conference finals. But the goal of the year was Feilhaber's outside of the foot blast against the Colorado Rapids. Dwyer won a ball with a sliding challenge from Hendry Thomas and the ball fell to Feilhaber who took one touch with his right and then let fly with the outside of his right foot. The ball curled around Clint Irwin and into the net giving KC a 1-0 lead in a game they'd end up winning 2-1.

Assist of the year

Benny Feilhaber to Dom Dwyer vs Houston 11/23

A fantastic little chip over a couple Houston defenders right into the path of Dwyer whose finish matched the fantastic set up by Feilhaber. That type of play is why Feilhaber was brought in, to give KC a bit more of that creative spark. And in the playoffs, Feilhaber definitely brought it.

Honorable mention - Soony Saad, Kei Kamara, and Benny Feilhaber, one touch passing sets up Claudio Bieler against Toronto.

Best player that is underrated outside KC.

Seth Sinovic

Sporting's left back had another solid season for Kansas City, in fact he was my vote for KC's defender of the year this year. He appeared in 42 of KC's 45 games in all competitions and played more minutes than any other player this year. With Chris Klute having a breakout season for Colorado, Sinovic has again been "overlooked" by larger media. But hopefully Sinovic has done enough this year to finally get the call up many KC fans feel he deserves.

Low moment of the year

1-0 loss to Orlando 6/12

KC's last game before the US Open Cup match up with affiliate club, Orlando City was on 6/1. So they had 11 days since their 2-1 loss at home to Montreal. So they were well rested, and they had another 10 days before their next league game against Dallas. Combine that with the fact that Orlando's leading scorer, Dom Dwyer did not play in the game because of the affiliate agreement between KC and Orlando kept him and KC's other loaned players from playing in the game. Orlando though came in with a chip on their shoulder, scored in just the second minute and held on to top Sporting 1-0.

Non-Sporting KC, KC player moment

10/15 Graham Zusi vs Panama

What this is, is a moment for a Sporting KC player away from Sporting KC. While it'd be easy to pick Zusi's goal at Sporting Park against Jamaica, I'm choosing his goal a few days later. Mainly because his goal against Panama made him a cult hero in Mexico. San Zusi should probably be enjoying an all expenses paid trip to a Mexican resort at some point for that goal.

Comets Goal of the Year

1/19/13 Leo Gibson vs Rochester Lancers

Gibson had a heck of a performance against the Lancers in this game, setting an MISL record for points in a game with 16, scoring 6 goals and adding 2 assists. His best goal was his fifth, a bicycle kick off a long ball from Vahid Assadpour. The goal starts at 1:55 in the below video.

FC Kansas City Goal of the Year

6/23/13 Lauren Holiday (Cheney) vs Washington Spirit

In their first game against the Washington Spirit, Holiday scored both goals, but it was her first goal that was her best. Receiving the ball at the top of the 10 yard arc at the top of the box, Holiday took a centering touch and then let fly with a shot that went into the corner, a great shot.

KC Soccer Player of the Year

Lauren Holiday (Cheney)

In the NWSL's first season, US women's national team player, Lauren Holiday had a fantastic season. She was named the league's MVP while leading the league in both goals (12) and assists (9). On top of winning the MVP award, Holiday also got married this year and played a key role for the US throughout the years.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Rosell Appears for Catalonia

Oriol Rosell made his international debut today for the Catalonian national team.against Cape Verde in Barcelona. Rosell came on in the 68th minute, for Marc Valiente. He played the final 22 minutes as Catalonia defeated the African side 4-1.

Catalonia fell behind 1-0 early, but then scored three unanswered before half time with Sergio Garcia scoring twice and Bojan Krkic adding the third. Oriol Riera scored the fourth goal before Rosell entered the game. A fantastic experience for Rosell that has to be a great honor for him.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Comets Fall to Syracuse

In a battle for first place, the Comets and Syracuse Silver Knights had an encounter that deserved to be called such. The refereeing though left plenty to be desired with a number of questionable decisions having an effect on the game.

The Knights jumped out to an early lead as Machel Millwood received the ball back to goal and ended up turning Coady Andrews and firing a shot past Danny Waltman to give the Knights the lead. The Comets were able to get back into the game on the power play. Vahid Assadpour fed the ball to Leo Gibson who beat Brian O'Quinn to make it 2-2. The rest of the quarter saw the Comets spending time on the penalty kill, first Brian Harris went to the box for tripping, and with just 2 seconds left on the power play, Kenardo Forbes hit a three pointer. Then with time running down in the half, Ramone Palmer went to the box for kicking after making a slide tackle for a ball at midfield. Shortly after he went to the box, Robert Palmer joined him after a tripping penalty. In a 3v5 situation the Comets held out, but not long as Neto scored with under a minute left to make it 7-2.

The second quarter saw the Comets grab control of the game. Gibson scored his second goal of the game just over four minutes in off an assist from Milan Ivanovic. Less than a minute later, the Comets had tied the game. Off a restart in the corner, Bryan Perez fed the ball back to Assadpour who let rip from 3 point range, the ball curled inside the near post to level the game at 7-7. The Comets grabbed the lead just over nine minutes into the quarter as Harris found Gibson and finished off the opportunity to complete his hattrick. Nelson Santana tied the game back up with under 3 minutes left in the half off an assist from Forbes. The Comets though would hed into the half up 11-9 after Rober Palmer found Assadpour for his second of the game.

Just two minutes into the third quarter, the Comets extended their lead, as Assadpour raced down the field and fed the ball to Stefan St Louis. St Louis' shot though went off the wall, but the rebound fell to Assadpour who finished his opportunity on the second chance to make it 13-9. Just before the half way point, the Knights got a gift to get them within one score. After collecting a shot, Waltman was looking to distribute it short, but the ball slid out of his hand as he tried to pull it back into his body. Neto was the first to react. Waltman tried to slide and save it, but Neto got around him and scored. The Comets had a few opportunities to extend their lead, but didn't  finish or couldn't convert. Harris had a goal rule out because the rebound of his initial shot bounced off his arm and into the goal. Gibson raced in 1v1 with O'Quinn, but as he got into the box he got caught from behind. No foul was called though as Gibson was barreled over. With under a minute left, the Knights won a restart, it was played to the top of the 3 point arc by by Millwood. Forbes fired from 3 point range, beating Waltman again to give the Knights the lead again at 14-13.

In the fourth quarter the Comets grabbed a goal less than five minutes in as Assadpour fed the ball to the back post for Byron Alvarez to tap home to make it 15-14. The Comets defense held as the minutes ticked off the clock. the Comets offense also got opportunities, but O'Quinn did a very good job in goal. Then with under 5 minutes left, the Comets turned the ball over in their own end to Neto. John Sosa tried to chase him down, but ended up fouling him and earning a blue card. A play similar to the one that had been a no call in the previous quarter when Gibson was fouled. Santana stepped up for the shoot out, as he tried to round Waltman, the Comets goalkeeper stuck an arm out and knocked the ball away. Unfortunately, his hand was outside the box. Waltman was given a blue card, that Ramone Palmer served, and Santana got another chance. This time Santana didn't try to go around Waltman and just beat him with power to give the Knights a 16-15 lead. The Comets would pressure and with just under 2 minutes left would go with the sixth attacker. The Knights though would be the ones who would take advantage of the less experienced goalkeeper in goal with Forbes finishing off his hattrick to make it 18-15 with under a minute left. That's how the game would end up as the Comets would drop their second home game of the season.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Rumor Time - Man City, Dwyer, Heineman

Been resigned to just Twitter over the past few days while doing family stuff and during that time, there's been a few rumors that have come out regarding Sporting KC.

First the rumor that has gotten the most talk and is probably based on the least information. It comes from what appears to be an off-handed comment from midfielder Oriol Rosell in an interview with a Spanish sports site. When asked if Sporting KC could compete in La Liga, Rosell says that Sporting is better suits to the EPL, then says "Two years ago Kansas beat Manchester United in a friendly and this year we will play [Manchester] City."

That one sentence has set off tons of speculation about KC playing a friendly in 2014. Both The Daily Wiz and MLSsoccer.com have gotten quotes from Sporting KC regarding the rumor, and both have been fairly non-committal, saying that they are looking at a big name friendly in 2014. 

The MLSsoccer.com quote I find more interesting, because the team's quote says "after a busy 2013 we're certainly eager to bring a big-named opponent to Sporting Park next year."

It's an interesting/humorous quote considering in 2013, Sporting was guaranteed 39 games at minimum and played 45 (a club record for a season). In 2014 Sporting KC is already scheduled for a minimum of 41 games and that number could expand exponentially if Sporting KC advance in the CCL, the Open Cup, and make the playoffs. So with more games taking place in a shorter time frame thanks to a World Cup break, we're going to be playing a friendly again.

The game though isn't for a fan like me who is more focused on winning MLS Cup, the Supporters' Shield, the Open Cup, or the CCL, it's for the casual fan who currently isn't a big fan of SKC, or a Euro-snob who won't give MLS the time of day.

And while the quote from Sporting in the MLSsoccer.com article specifically references Sporting Park, this tweet from Robb Heineman still rings in my ear:

If the friendly is indeed against Manchester City it's one that would fit the above description. And while I'm not a fan of friendlies, I'd still attend the game and would prefer the cheaper Arrowhead ticket.

Dwyer to Charlton

Dom Dwyer has apparently been training at Charlton Athletic, and on Boxing Day he was at The Valley for their 3-2 win over Brighton.

From reading through some Charlton forums, fans of the club seem fairly confident that Dwyer will be joining the club on loan in January, although they don't seem sure of the length, whether it would be for the rest of the season, or similar to Kei Kamara's loan where it would end before the season ended.

Heineman Hints at News

With two Tweets tonight, Robb Heineman has gotten the rumor mill turning again for Sporting KC fans on potential signings. It's brought out a number of unreasonable signings, the likes of Wayne Rooney and others, it's also brought out more logical ones, like the return of Roger Espinoza. My assumption is that the player is one that very few if anyone will guess, and few have heard of and know much about.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Nielsen vs Meola

While watching Sporting KC lift MLS Cup, a thought went through my head regarding goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen. It's hard not to judge Nielsen's career with Kansas City compared to that of Sporting Legend, Tony Meola. Up until Nielsen's arrival, Meola appeared to be on an untouchable level among goalkeepers for Kansas City.

After four years here though I think Nielsen has equaled or bettered Meola for his time with Kansas City.

Statistically, Nielsen has bettered numbers that I wasn't sure another goalkeeper would reach. Playing a similar number of games as Meola (128 league for Nielsen vs 125 for Meola), Nielsen recorded more wins, 57 to 49, had more shutouts 45 to 37, and a lower goals against average .99 to 1.22.

In all competitions, Meola made more appearances than Nielsen 156 to 142, but Nielsen topped him in wins 65 to 63, shutouts, 52 to 47, and GAA .95 to 1.24.

Nielsen ends his career as the all time leader in MLS for goals against average for a goalkeeper with over 1,000 minutes played at .99. Meola meanwhile retired as the MLS all time leader in basically every category a goalkeeper could hold.

Award wise, Meola leads that category, winning goalkeeper of the year, comeback player of the year, league MVP and MLS Cup MVP all in 2000, where he set a number of a single season records. Nielsen topped many of those records in 2012 on his way to winning goalkeeper of the year in 2012. One he didn't top was Meola's single season shutout record of 16.

The other thing that both players will likely be judged on is their performance in the league's marquee game, MLS Cup. For me this one isn't an argument, although I've had people go the opposite way. For me, the better performance goes to Meola. Nielsen made some big saves, including two in the PK shootout, but I don't think you can top Meola's 10 save performance. While Nielsen made the two penalty stops, and the mystique of doing it with 2 broken ribs will surely help his argument, the rest of his game was not that good. He got beaten to the near post, which most goalkeepers will tell you is a cardinal sin, on RSL's goal, and was saved by the goalkeepers best friend, the post, on three other chances by Salt Lake. The first by Robbie Findley in a situation very similar to the one Findley scored on when the teams met in the regular season. The second a long range effort by Kyle Beckerman that bounced and hit the post, although Nielsen may have had it covered. The third he was left to watch Javier Morales' curling shot hit the base of the post and some how curl around the opposite post.

Now to be fair, Meola was also saved by his cross bar on an effort by Diego Gutierrez, oddly in a situation the exact opposite of Findley's miss for Salt Lake. Instead of coming off his line to attempt to punch a ball clear, Meola stayed at home, but Gutierrez missed.

In the end I think Nielsen will likely go down as the better keeper for KC, eventually taking his place as a Sporting Legend. But Meola is not that far behind Nielsen.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Rosell Named to Catalan Squad for Friendly

While it's not it's own country, the autonomous community of Spain called Catalonia has it's own national team that plays international games through the year. The Catalan region of Spain is in the northeast of the country and includes the capital city of Barcelona.

Catalonia has a friendly coming up on December 30th against African side Cape Verde.  A player that would likely be consider a surprise addition, is Sporting KC midfielder, Oriol Rosell, was included in the roster. The KC midfielder is one of only two foreign based players named to the roster, the being Bojan Krkic of Ajax.

This is a huge honor for Rosell as he'll get to play with some of the regions best, including eight from the club of his youth Barcelona. The Barcelona contingent includes the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Gerard Pique, and Jordi Alba. Certainly a star studded group. But this has to be a great honor for Rosell and a chance to show himself off with some of the worlds best.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Comets Top Ambush for Third Time

So far this year, the Missouri Comets have been in control of the rivalry with their cross state rival, the St. Louis Ambush. The teams had met twice already this season, both in St. Louis with the Comets coming out on top of both of those games. Today at the Independence Events Center the two teams met for the first time on this side of the state. The end result wasn't different though as the Comets pulled off an 11 point win, winning 24-13.

The Comets jumped out to an early lead as just a minute 24 seconds in John Sosa was played in behind the Ambush defense. His shot was saved by Jeff Richey, but the rebound fell to Bryan Perez who took a touch and fired a shot that hit the post, bounced off Richey and into the net to make it 2-0. Just over the half way point in the first quarter the Comets doubled their lead. Byron Alvarez started a counter by blocking an Ambush shot. Alvarez raced down the field before playing the ball to Ramoe Palmer who beat Richey to make it 4-0. The Comets continued to get chances as they pushed the game and with just under four minutes left in the quarter they added another. After some nice possession, the ball was played to Perez at the back post. Perez played the ball back across goal where Stefan St. Louis beat Richey to the ball and was able to get the ball to loop into the net. Before the quarter was over the Comets added another. After some possession in the Ambush end, the Comets turned the ball over. But before the Ambush crossed the midfield line, Brian Harris won the ball back. Harris played the ball wide to Vahid Assadpour. Assadpour played the ball across the field to Perez who played it to the back post for Alvarez who had a tap in to make it 8-0.

The second quarter saw St. Louis start to come into the game. Just over three minutes into the half, the Ambush got on the board as Mike Mesle fired from 3 point range. Danny Waltman in Missouri's net was blocked and didn't see the shot until late and the Ambush cut the lead to five. A couple minutes later they cut the lead to three as the Comets turned the ball over in their half of the field. Jeff DiMaria played the ball behind Missouri's defense to Odaine Sinclair. Sinclair cut around the on rushing Waltman and rolled the ball into the empty net. That'd be as close as the Ambush would get though. Less than a minute after the Ambush goal, Milan Ivanovic received the ball on the side of the field and fired a shot to the back post was Alvarez was lurking to turn the ball home and make it 10-5.  Then just over nine minutes into the quarter, Perez had his second goal of the game. Perez worked a 1-2 with Leo Gibson before chipping the ball over Richey to make it 12-5. The Ambush cut the lead to five again as Dimaria got a goal off a nice restart, sprinting onto a ball played into the box and hammering it home.e But before the half the Comets restored the lead to seven. A Sosa three pointer was saved by Richey but it went right to Lucas Rodriguez who headed the ball in to make the half time score 14-7.

The third quarter saw the Comets continue to control the game and get the majority of shots. Just under three minutes in the Comets had another goal. Ramone Palmer stole the ball off the foot of an Ambush attacker and was able to beat Richey to make the score 16-7. A couple minutes later the Comets found themselves on the power play, but it was the Ambush that found the net. After some sloppy play in the back, DiMaria beat Waltman top shelf to make it a seven point game again.

The fourth quarter again saw the Comets get another goal early. Gibson got in behind St. Louis' defense, but could not his chip over Richey. Gibson collected the rebound though and after digging it out of the corner fired it back into the middle. Richey got a touch but the ball came to Sosa who knocked the ball home to make it 18-9. The Ambush continued to stick around. About two minutes later, Corey Adamson got behind Missouri's defense. Waltman made a good first save, but from the ground Adamson was able to knock his rebound home to make it a 9 point game again. A minute and a half later though the Comets found the net again. Perez got his third assist of the night as he played the ball wide to Assadpour who cut around Richey and from a tight angle slide the ball into the net to make it 20-11. Once again the Ambush cut the lead to seven, with DiMaria getting his hattrick, but it wouldn't be enough. The Comets added two more before the end of the game. Assadpour fired in a shot after Sosa played it to him off a restart. Then Gibson got a goal as Sosa played him in 1v1 with Richey and after the goalkeeper had committed low, Gibson went high and made it 24-13. The win was the Comets fourth straight, they'll be back at it next Saturday night against Syracuse.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Kronberg Re-Signed

Looks like we are going to have ourselves a full on goalkeeper battle for the number 1 shirt this year with Sporting KC.

After the season, KC was down to just a single keeper on their roster. Jimmy Nielsen retired, and Eric Kronberg was out of contract, leaving KC with just Jon Kempin on the roster. Since the team has traded for Andy Gruenebaum and today the team announced that they'd re-signed Kronberg to a new contract.

Heading into preseason in about a month I expect we'll see Gruenebaum and Kronberg battle it out to see which one will be the starter come opening day. Whether both are actually still with the team at the start of the season is a question, but as of right now, KC have their three goalkeepers for the 2014 season.

Sporting Have a New Affiliate

Today, Sporting KC confirmed the rumors that had come out on Wednesday this week. Sporting KC will have to affiliate teams in the US third division, the USL-Pro. Along with continuing their partnership with Orlando City for the final year of their two year deal, Sporting will also have an affiliation with expansion side, the Oklahoma City Energy.

The deal will see Sporting KC send four players on loan again, this time though, the two teams will get two players each from Sporting KC on loan. The move allows KC to not break their deal with Orlando City, but also allows them to prepare beyond 2014 as Orlando City will be moving up to MLS after next season. So in 2015, the Energy will be KC's only USL affiliate.

Sporting's newest affiliate also announced their coach today, and once again, the rumors were true as Sporting's recently retired captain and goalkeeper, Jimmy Nielsen. Nielsen moves right from the field to the sideline. He'll have quite a bit of work to do filling out the rest of his roster before the season. Already there's some speculation that Sporting's first home grown player, Jon Kempin will be heading down to OKC in 2014 and be the club's starting goalkeeper. We'll see if that ends up happening.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sporting Juniors in College

As I did last year, here's a look at former SKC Juniors players who continued to play soccer at the collegiate level. The list comes from KC's website. Jordan Rideout and Alex Sweetin led the former Juniors in goals with both scoring seven. Sweetin led all academy graduates in assists with nine. Sweetin will be at the MLS combine ahead of the 2014 MLS Superdraft, although it's unknown if he'll qualify as a player KC could sign as a home grown signing.

Tom Adams (Oral Roberts) - F - Jr - Played in 13 games, starting three of them, scoring one goal as Oral Roberts went 6-8-4.

Joe Amico (Central Florida) - D - Fr - Played in 15 games, starting eight games, recording one assist as Central Florida went 8-5-5.

Chris Arce (Neosho CC) - MF - Fr - Played in 15 games, starting nine of them, recording one goal and one assist as Neosho went 11-7-1

Matt Bernard (Drake) - MR - Fr - Did not play this season for Drake.

Jovanny Bonilla (Barton County CC) - MF - So - Played in 15 games, starting 14 of them, scoring one goal and recording two assists as Barton went 11-5-1.

Andrew Brown (Bradley University) - MF - So - Played 23 games, scored one goal and recorded 4 assists as Bradley went 14-7-2.

Paul Dean (Rockhurst University) - D - Fr - Played in 24 games, starting 11 of them, recording 4 assists as Rockhurst went 17-4-3.

Eric DeJulio (Creighton University) - D - So - Played in 12 games, starting seven, scoring two goals as Creighton went 9-9-2.

Brandon Fricke (Butler University) - D - Jr - Played and started all 20 of Butler's games, scoring three goals as Butler went 11-8-1.

Daniel Hare (Loyola University in Chicago) - D - So - Played in 16 games as Loyola went 6-11-2.

Asher Herbet (University of Missouri Kansas City) - MF - Jr - Did not play in any games for UMKC this year.

Eric Hymer (Fort Hays State) - D - Jr - Started all 20 of Fort Hays State's games, as they went 12-5-3.

Seo-In Kim (Duke) - MF - Fr - Played in all 19 of Duke's games, starting nine of them, recording four assists.

Raymond Lee (Saint Louis University) - MF - Jr - Appeared in 19 games for St. Louis, scoring four goals and recording an assist as St. Louis went 14-5-2.

Adam Lightner (Northern Illinois University) - D - Fr - Appeared in 15 games, starting six as Northern Illinois went 4-13-1.

Andrew Lightner (Dayton) - D - So - Apepared in 15 games, starting 13 ,recording one assist as Dayton went 14-2-3.

Andrew Miller (Baker University) - D - So - Played in 14 games, starting nine, scoring one goal and recording two assists as Baker went 15-6-2.

Eric Moore (Rockhurst University) - D - Jr - Did not play any games for Rockhurst.

Michael Oakley (University of Missouri Kansas City) - D - Jr - Played and started all 19 of UMKC's games as the Kangaroos went 4-11-4.

Paul Oliver (California Baptist) - D/MF - Jr - Appeared in 15 games, starting 14, recording two assists as CBU finished 10-6-1.

Nate Opperman (University of Evansville) - F - So - Played in 18 games, starting 11, he scored two goals and added an assist as Evansville went 10-8-1.

Jordan Rideout (University of Missouri Kansas City) - F - Jr - Played and started all 19 of UMKC's games, scoring seven goals as the Kangaroos went 4-11-4.

Derek Schrick (University of Missouri Kansas City) - MF - So - Played in 17 of UMKC's games, starting 12, scoring one goal and adding two assists as UMKC went 4-11-4.

Alex Sweetin (Saint Louis University) - MF - Sr - Appeared in all 21 of St. Louis' games, scoring seven goals and recording nine assists as St. Louis went 14-5-2.

Chris Tuso (Baker) - MF - So - Played in 23 games, starting 14, scoring two goals and adding three assists as Baker went 15-6-2.

Taylor Vinnage (Benedictine) - GK - Jr - Started and played all 18 games as Benedictine went 11-4-3.

Wes White (University of Missouri Kansas City) - F - Fr - Did not play in any of UMKC's games.

Austin Wilcox (University of Missouri Kansas City) - MF - Fr - Played in 13 games, starting three of UMKC's games as they went 4-11-4.

Drew Wilson (Fort Hays State University) - D - FR - Started all 20 of Fort Hays State's games as they went 12-5-3.

Will Witherspoon (Virginia Tech) - F - Jr - Did not play in any of Virginia Tech's games.

Shane Woods (Drury University) - F - So - Played in all 20 of Drury's games, scoring one goal as Drury went 13-7.

Dwyer Training with Charlton Athletic

Shortly after Sporting had raised MLS Cup, rumors about all sorts of players started to come out. One of those rumors pertained to Sporting KC's Generation Adidas forward, Dom Dwyer. The Englishman Dwyer said in an interview that he was heading to England for a loan with a Championship club and there was an option for him to stay there permanently.

Today, word came out of England that Dwyer is currently training with a Championship club, although it's not known if this is the club he is looking to go on loan with. The club is southeast London side, Charlton Athletic. After returning to the United Kingdom recently Dwyer has apparently started to train with the Addicks.

The club currently sits one spot above the relegation zone in the Championship. If a deal is made I'm sure we'll start to hear more in the next few weeks, especially once the transfer window opens up in the UK.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Nielsen Candidate for OKC Coaching Job - Former SKC Wizards Update

It looks like it may not take long for Jimmy Nielsen to find his first post playing career job. As I mentioned earlier tonight, Nielsen is apparently a candidate to become the first head coach for USL-Pro side, Oklahoma City Energy. Combine that with the talk that OKC will become an affiliate for KC, and Nielsen could still play a role for KC.

In other former KC player becoming a coach news, Frank Klopas was named the head coach for the Montreal Impact. He'll become the club's third coach in their three seasons since becoming an MLS team. And the other big news this week, was the move by Eddie Johnson from Seattle to DC United for allocation money. Here's the rest of this week's update.

Active without a club or unknown
Jose Burciaga
Julio Cesar
Edson Elcock
Brian Fekete
Aaron Hohlbein
Mike Jones
Jonathan Leathers
Scott Sealy
Ivan Trujillo
Michael Thomas
Shavar Thomas
Diego Walsh
Konrad Warzycha

Davy Arnaud - DC - Offseason.
Bobby Convey - New York - Offseason.
Luis Gil - Salt Lake - Offseason.
Michael Harrington - Portland - Offseason.
Jack Jewsbury - Portland - Offseason.
Eddie Johnson - DC - Offseason.
Chris Konopka - Toronto - Offseason
Rauwshan McKenzie - Portland - Offseason.
Khari Stephenson - Salt Lake - Offseason.
Tyson Wahl - Columbus - Offseason

Stefan Antonijevic - Fort Lauderdale - Offseason.

Cyprian Hedrick - Phoenix - Offseason.
Neal Kitson - Phoenix - Offseason.
Nelson Pizarro - Los Angeles - Offseason.
Mike Reidy - Rochester - Offseason.
Yomby William - Richmond - Offseason.
John Wilson - Charleston - Offseason.

Scott Angevine - Des Moines - Offseason

Birahim Diop - New England Force

Jamar Beasley - St. Louis - Did not play in either of St. Louis' games.
Pat Healey - Baltimore - Played in Baltimore's 12-0 win over Rochester.

Korede Aiyegbusi - FC Haka - Finland - Offseason.
Vicente Arze - Sporting Charleroi - Did not dressed in Charleroi's 2-2 draw with Club Brugge.
Omar Bravo - Chivas - Mexico - No game this week.
Mitchell Cardenas - Atlético Coatzacoalcos - Mexico - No game this week.
Sunil Chhetri - Bengaluru - India - Started and played 90 minutes in Bengaluru's 2-0 loss to East Bengal.
Eloy Colombano - UAI Urquiza - Argentina - No game this week.
Daneil Cyrus - W Connection - Trinidad - No game this week.
Pablo Escobar - Patriotas Boyaca - Colombia - No game this week.
Roger Espinoza - Wigan - England - Started and played 90 minutes in Wigan's 2-1 loss to Maribor. Did not dress in Wigan's 3-2 win over Bolton.
Herculez Gomez - Tijuana - Mexico - No game this week.
Jermaine Hue - Harbour View - Jamaica - Suspended
Jeferson - AC Goianiense - Brazil - No game until January.
Will John - AZAL - Azerbaijan - Started and played 90 minutes in Azal's 3-0 loss to Simurq.
Kei Kamara - Middlesbrough - England - Did not dress in Middlesbrough's 1-0 loss to Brighton.
Igor Kostrov - Slavia - Belarus - Offseason.
Carlos Marinelli - Universidad San Martin - Peru - Offseason.
Neven Markovic - Servette FC - Switzerland - No game this week.
Yura Movsisyan - Spartak Moscow - Russia - No game til March.
Michal Mravec - Zilina - Slovakia - No games until February.
Akeem Priestly - RoPS - Finland - Offseason.
Pablo Punyed - Fylkir - Iceland - Offseason.
Yann Songo'o - Blackburn - England - Did not dress in Blackburn's 3-2 win over Millwall.
Milos Stojcev - Atyrau - Kazakhstan - Offseason.
Matt Taylor - Preußen Münster - Germany - Started and played 87 minutes in Munster's 0-0 draw with RB Leipzig.

Sporting to Have Second USL Affiliate?

Last year Sporting Kansas City began a two year relationship with Orlando City SC of the USL-Pro league, the US third division of soccer. This was part of the new affiliate program that MLS and USL had come to an agreement on. Then about a month ago, it was announced that Orlando City would be joining MLS in 2015 along with New York City FC.

With OCSC entering the league, the 2014 USL season is going to have some different meanings for them. While another title would be a good way for them to close out their time in the USL, they'll also be focused on beginning to put together some pieces that will be part of their inaugural MLS season. With that in mind they may not be as interested in the development of the players that KC sends to Orlando next year.

That's a point that's brought up near the end of this article by Brian Straus about the USL-Pro division. In the article, Straus mentions that Sporting's former captain and goalkeeper, Jimmy Nielsen has talked with expansion side, Oklahoma City Energy, about becoming their first coach. That was followed later in the day by a tweet by Nielsen that said "exciting news around the corner."

Not only could Nielsen be getting his first coaching job, but according to Straus it could be as the coach of a Sporting KC affiliate team. Straus mentions that Sporting is also not sitting idle while in their last year of their affiliate relationship with Orlando. KC is apparently starting to transition to Oklahoma City as their affiliate, and could send players to both clubs in 2014.

The day before MLS Cup, Robb Heineman in a chat on the KC Star's site mentioned Oklahoma City as one location they were looking at for an affiliate once Orlando moved up. He also mentioned new expansion team, Tulsa, and Omaha as well.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Second Stage of Re-Entry Draft Tomorrow

The second stage of the re-entry draft takes place tomorrow via conference call. The draft, a way for players in the league with a certain amount of experience to get a chance to re-enter the league. The first stage sees teams having to pick up the player's option or contract. The second stage just gives the team's the right to negotiate with the player.

This is the fourth year of the draft. In the previous three, Sporting has only made one pick, selecting Frankie Hejduk (who they traded to LA for Luke Sassano's rights). Usually, Sporting KC has done their business picking up players outside the draft.

KC's already made one similar move this year, trading for Andy Gruenebaum, who was not on the original list, but was out of contract this year.

There are a number of interesting options available in the draft, but many of them are going to be on the high side salary wise and not be worth the cost. A player like Dwayne De Rosario, David Ferreira, Joel Lindpere and Juan Toja fall into that category for me. The lowest salaried player of those three is Lindpere at $180,000 and I'm not sure he's worth that cost. When he was with New York I would have jumped at the opportunity to get Lindpere, now I'm not so sure.

There are a couple that could be potential depth signings. Someone like Brandon Barklage of New York made $60,000 last year and would be an upgrade for KC depth wise on the back line. Although the question would be whether he'd still be there at the end of the round, when KC picks. We'll see if KC actually makes a move tomorrow, I wouldn't be surprised if they don't make any.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Rumors of Bieler's Exit Continue

Since Claudio Bieler started to regularly find himself on the bench instead of in the starting lineup, rumors have persisted on whether Bieler was going to be like Omar Bravo and depart KC after only one season. The team has said that they want Bieler back in 2014, but that hasn't stopped rumors, especially ones in Ecuador linking him with a move back to the country.

Bieler's agent though has been really playing down the rumors, seen as an example in the Tweets below.

Basically, Bieler's agent, Gustavo Lescovich, is responding to the question of whether Bieler is going to go to Barcelona (the Ecuadorian one). Lescovich responds saying that he still plays for Kansas and no offers are available. After small talk about Barcelona vs LDU Quito (Bieler's former club, Lescovich again reiterates that Bieler currently has a contract with a club (KC) that wants him to stay.

So if Bieler is going to exit, it appears that it will be involving a transfer out.

Sporting KC Acquire KC Native Gruenebaum from Columbus

Sporting Kansas City made a move to attempt to fill their hole at goalkeeper today trading with the Columbus Crew to bring in Kansas City native, Andy Gruenebaum. In return KC sends a second round pick in the 2016 Superdraft to Columbus.

A move of some kind was inevitable for Gruenebaum, as the Crew today announced they'd traded for Steve Clark from Seattle. That gave the Crew five goalkeepers on their roster, including the out of contract Gruenebaum.

Gruenebaum made 70 league appearances for the Crew over his eight year career, the last two years he'd been the Crew's starting goalkeeper after Will Hesmer went down injured. His time this year though was cut short due to shoulder injuries. While he was injured, Matt Lampson took over and did well in net. With Gruenebaum out of contract he became expendable. That said, KC getting a starter quality keeper, even if he's out of contract, for a second round pick years down the road is a nice piece of business for Sporting.

Gruenebaum will come in and compete with Eric Kronberg and Jon Kempin for the starting spot in 2014. While Gruenebaum has to be considered the favorite to win the spot, you have to like the idea of the competition. Force someone to prove that they are the better keeper. If Gruenebaum can't prove it, then KC will go into the season with Kronberg, Kempin, or whoever confident after winning the battle. In the end, whoever wins the competition, I expect one of Gruenebaum and Kronberg to not be in KC next year. I can't see both keepers staying in KC if they lose the starting spot. And I think it's time for Kempin to start to develop as the backup.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Comets Top the Wave

From the Comets

The Missouri Comets put on an offensive showcase to extend their winning streak to three games in front of 3,569 fans at Independence Events Center. Comets’ defender Brian Harris led the team with a hat trick, including a three-point goal for 7 points on the night. Milwaukee’s Carlos Munoz and Tony Walls tallied the only scores for the Wave as they fell 15-6.

In their last match against the Wave, the Comets jumped to several big leads, only to see their advantage disintegrate and ultimately end in an overtime loss. This match started off slightly slower than the last one, with Brian Harris’ three-point goal being the only score of the first quarter.
After weathering the Milwaukee offensive strategy, the Comets put together one of their best defensive performances of the season. Behind Coady Andrews and Stefan Stokic, the Comets defense only allowed 2 shots in the first quarter and six in the first half. Meanwhile, Leo Gibson and Harris led the Missouri attack with two and three goals respectively.

The Wave finally made their way onto the scoreboard late in the third quarter after a Carlos Munoz shot from beyond the arc deflected off a Comets defender and over the hands of a sprawling Danny Waltman. Tony Walls hit another three-point shot early in the fourth quarter to cut the Comets’ lead to 9-6. That’s as close as they got though. Leo Gibson scored back-to-back goals less than 20 seconds apart. Harris capped his team-leading night with less than four minutes remaining in the match. His score put the Comets ahead 15-6 and ended the Wave’s four-game winning streak

The Comets are home again on Sunday December 22nd at 5:10p.m. CT. The game will mark the first visit to the Independence Events Center for the new St. Louis Ambush. The Comets currently hold a 2-0 advantage in the six game series between the two teams. Fans are encouraged to take advantage of the Comets Family Four Pack, four tickets, four hot dogs and four sodas for $44 plus fees. Visit Ticketmaster or any Ticketmaster outlet to purchase tickets.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Sporting Trade for Zizzo

Sporting made their first offseason acquisition today, after having three players leave earlier this week either by retirement (Jimmy Nielsen) or being waived (Kyle Miller, Brendan Ruiz). Today Sporting made a deal with the Portland Timbers, acquiring midfielder, Sal Zizzo from the Timbers in exchange for allocation money.

The 26 year old Zizzo has spent the last three years with the Portland Timbers, playing in 60 league games, starting 28 of them, scoring two goals. Before that he spent the 2010 season with Chivas USA playing 10 times, starting once, being acquired through a weighted lottery.

Zizzo was one of the bright spots of the 2007 U20 World Cup in Canada for the US. His performance there helped him to get a contract in Germany with Hannover 96. In his four years in Germany though he only made a handful of appearance for the Hannover first team.

He'll help to provide KC with depth on the wing position. It'll be interesting to see what this means for a similar player currently on KC's roster, in Jacob Peterson.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Besler, the US Senate, and Me Not Ready to Let Go

Just some quick news today about Sporting KC.

The big news on the net today was this Tweet from Sporting defender, Matt Besler.

Besler gets married this weekend and Sporting fans found their registry online. And Sporting KC fans picked up 95% of the things on the registry. It's not a huge story, but it shows the growth and fever of the support for the team. Also, congrats to Besler and his fiancé, Amanda.

Senator Moran's Resolution

Kansas senator, Jerry Moran has put Sporting KC, the Cauldron, and the rest of KC's supporter's groups into a resolution on the floor of the Senate. Moran, with Pat Roberts introduced a resolution extending the Senate's congratulations to Sporting KC for their MLS Cup victory.

And because I'm not ready to let go yet.

Because I want to continue enjoying the MLS Cup win, here are some videos from MLS and Kick TV that I really enjoy. The Matchday 360 from last year's US Open Cup final is still one of my favorite videos and we got a similar one this year.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Sporting Returning to Orlando and MLS Cup Ratings

The participants in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic have been announced. For the third straight year Sporting KC will be in the tournament. KC is one of five teams already announced for the eight team tournament, joining Philadelphia, Columbus, Montreal, and USL-Pro affiliate, Orlando City. The team will arrive in Orlando on February 15th and stay through March 1st. This will be their second leg of preseason, which begins in Tucson, Arizona on January 23rd.

MLS Cup ratings

Also released a little earlier this week were the ratings for MLS Cup on Saturday. Nationally, the numbers were not too great, with only 505,000 watching the game, a rating of .5 on ESPN. for the first time ever, the Spanish broadcast of the game, this year on Unimas, outdrew ESPN. The Spanish channel drew 514,000 viewers.

Locally, things were better, especially considering the game was going head to head with the SEC Championship, featuring Mizzou. Locally, the Mizzou game drew 18.5 ( per this, that means the game drew about 171,000). Sporting drew  4.3, just about 40,000. Not a bad number as a whole. In fact, Sporting actually out drew another local team that played a little earlier. KU drew a 1.8 rating, for almost 17,000. a decent drew for KC.

Arnaud Traded to DC - Former SKC Wizards Update

Davy Arnaud is headed to another club. Arnaud was traded yesterday from the Montreal Impact to DC United in exchange for an international spot for two years. Arnaud has signed a new contract with DC as well. On Friday, Arnaud will be in Houston for another event with another former Wizard. Arnaud will play in Brian Ching's testimonial match. Joining Arnaud is Jimmy Conrad. I love the idea of a testimonial match for an extremely long tenured player with the club. Unfortunately I don't think anyone (even Jimmy Nielsen) is at that level.

Active without a club or unknown
Jose Burciaga
Julio Cesar
Bobby Convey
Edson Elcock
Brian Fekete
Aaron Hohlbein
Mike Jones
Jonathan Leathers
Scott Sealy
Ivan Trujillo
Michael Thomas
Shavar Thomas
Diego Walsh
Konrad Warzycha

Davy Arnaud - DC - Offseason.
Luis Gil - Salt Lake - Started and played 87 minutes in Salt Lake's 1-1 (6-7) shootout loss to KC in MLS Cup.
Michael Harrington - Portland - Offseason.
Jack Jewsbury - Portland - Offseason.
Eddie Johnson - Seattle - Offseason.
Chris Konopka - Toronto - Offseason
Rauwshan McKenzie - Portland - Offseason.
Khari Stephenson - Salt Lake - Did not dress for Salt Lake in MLS Cup.
Tyson Wahl - Columbus - Offseason

Stefan Antonijevic - Fort Lauderdale - Offseason.

Cyprian Hedrick - Phoenix - Offseason.
Neal Kitson - Phoenix - Offseason.
Nelson Pizarro - Los Angeles - Offseason.
Mike Reidy - Rochester - Offseason.
Yomby William - Richmond - Offseason.
John Wilson - Charleston - Offseason.

Scott Angevine - Des Moines - Offseason

Birahim Diop - New England Force

Jamar Beasley - St. Louis - No game this week.
Pat Healey - Baltimore - Played in Baltimore's 12-10 loss to Milwaukee.

Korede Aiyegbusi - FC Haka - Finland - Offseason.
Vicente Arze - Sporting Charleroi - Did not dress in Sporting's 1-1 draw with Kortrijk.
Omar Bravo - Chivas - Mexico - No game this week.
Mitchell Cardenas - Atlético Coatzacoalcos - Mexico - No game this week.
Sunil Chhetri - Bengaluru - India - Started and played 85 minutes, scoring 2 goals in Bengaluru's 3-1 win over Churchill Brothers. Started and played 90 minutes, scoring 2 goals in Bengaluru's 3-2 win over Mohammedan.
Eloy Colombano - UAI Urquiza - Argentina - Did not dress in UAI's 1-0 win over Los Andes.
Daneil Cyrus - W Connection - Trinidad - No game this week.
Pablo Escobar - Patriotas Boyaca - Colombia - No game this week.
Roger Espinoza - Wigan - England - Came off the bench and played 9 minutes in Wigan's 2-1 loss to Millwall.
Herculez Gomez - Tijuana - Mexico - No game this week.
Jermaine Hue - Harbour View - Jamaica - Suspended
Jeferson - AC Goianiense - Brazil - No game this week.
Will John - AZAL - Azerbaijan - Started and played 90 minutes in Azal's 2-1 win over Revan.
Kei Kamara - Middlesbrough - England - Started and played 89 minutes in Middlesbrough's 2-2 draw with Birmingham City.
Igor Kostrov - Slavia - Belarus - Offseason.
Carlos Marinelli - Universidad San Martin - Peru - Offseason.
Neven Markovic - Servette FC - Switzerland - Dressed but did not play in Servette's 4-0 win over Locarno.
Yura Movsisyan - Spartak Moscow - Russia - Did not dress in Spartak's 1-0 win over Rostov.
Michal Mravec - Zilina - Slovakia - No games until February.
Akeem Priestly - RoPS - Finland - Offseason.
Pablo Punyed - Fylkir - Iceland - Offseason.
Yann Songo'o - Blackburn - England - Did not dress in Blackburn's 0-0 draw with QPR.
Milos Stojcev - Atyrau - Kazakhstan - Offseason.
Matt Taylor - Preußen Münster - Germany - Started and played 90 minutes in Munster's 2-1 win over MSV Duisburg.

Miller, Ruiz Waived

Sporting KC made their second and third moves of the offseason today. Following the retirement of Jimmy Nielsen, the team today announced that they'd waived two players, defenders Kyle Miller and Brendan Ruiz.

Miller was drafted by the team in the 2012 Supplemental draft but never made a competitive appearance for the club in his two seasons. He did appear in the team's two friendlies against Montpellier and Stoke City, scoring the goal in KC's 1-1 draw with Stoke.

Ruiz was signed on transfer deadline day this year along with Jimmy Medranda. Ruiz, like Miller, never made a competitive appearance for the club.

Here's the brightest moment for either player in a Sporting uniform.

NCAA Championships Coming to Sporting Park and Swope

The NCAA announced today the cites for upcoming championship series throughout the US. A number of those events will be taking place at around KC. Fourteen events in all will be hosted in KC between 2014 and 2017. Of that, 13 of the events will be hosted at Sporting KC facilities.
The Swope Soccer Village in Swope Park will be hosting eight championships over the four years, starting next year. In 2014 the NCAA Division III men's and women's championships will be hosted at Swope. Then in 2015, 2016, and 2017, the NCAA Division II men's and women's championships will be hosted there. Those events all take place the first weekend in September (Dec 5-6 in 14, Dec 4-5 in 15, Dec 1-3 in 16, and Nov 30-Dec 2 in 17)
Sporting Park will be hosting five events over the next four years. The big one for soccer fans comes in 2015, when Sporting Park will be hosting the NCAA Division I men's championships. The championship will take place December 11th through the 13th. While that one is probably the most exciting, the other events are not going to be seen as exciting for some soccer fans. Sporting Park will be hosting the NCAA Division II football final for the next 4 years, 2014-2017.
I can already hear the comments "football at Sporting Park? Football lines on a soccer field? ANGRY!!!" A couple things, first the final is after the MLS season is over (unless they switch to a winter schedule). The final is Dec 20th in 2014, the 19th in 2015, the 17th in 2016, and the 16th in 2017. So even if Sporting makes MLS Cup the season should be over. The other issue is the lines still showing up the next year. I've seen early season games in both DC and Dallas that have had faint football lines on the field. That's certainly a minor concern, but one that I think Sporting would do their best to make sure it wasn't not an issue.
The final event being hosted in KC is the women's volleyball championship in 2017 at the Sprint Center.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Collin Rumors Return

A month ago, news came out from France that Aurelien Collin was potentially looking to move back to Europe after the season. At the time, Collin said that it was a bad translation of the interview that he did.

Just two days after winning MLS Cup and the MLS Cup MVP award, the rumors resurfaced in another French outlet, RMC, Radio Monte Carlo. This time, the rumors have been picked up by a major media outlet in the states, ESPN. In the interview, Collin said "I hope some nice opportunities will present themselves. If I come back, it's for something big. The top level in Europe."

Collin feels that his game is more adapted for England or Germany to match the more physical style of those league.

While Collin has put down some roots here and has produced his fashion line here, you can't fault him if he does move. It would be a new challenge and likely a bigger payday for him. The other thing that could play a role is his fiancé, who was denied a visa to get into the US. He could look to move so that the two could be together.

As for KC, the combined loss of Collin and the retiring Jimmy Nielsen would be a big blow for KC. While Ike Opara has stepped up and played well for KC, Collin and Matt Besler have developed a strong partnership and it'd be hard to replicate that.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Nielsen Announces His Retirement

A night of celebration for Sporting Kansas City's MLS Cup championship turned a little somber when Sporting goalkeeper and captain, Jimmy Nielsen announced that he was retiring as a professional soccer player.

The rumors of Nielsen's retirement had started to really gather steam in the few days ahead of the final. Tonight in front of an overflow crowd at Union Station, he made it official.

Nielsen will go down as one of the greatest goalkeepers in team history. He retires as the team leader in almost every single goalkeeper category in team history. He recorded more wins in league play (57) than any other keeper and more wins in all competitions (65). He also set team league (45) and all competition (52) shutout records for KC. He set a team record for league appearances and starts (128) and minutes played by a goalkeeper in league play (11,497). In all competitions he finished behind Tony Meola in most of those stats. He also retires tied for the team lead in consecutive league starts for KC, with 90 straight, tied with Kevin Hartman for the most all time. He also retires as the third oldest player to appear in a game for KC at 36 years, 123 days.

With Nielsen now retiring there are two on field questions for KC to answer. The first is who will mind net for KC next year. Eric Kronberg, the team's longest tenured player would seem to be a favorite, but in but in eight years with the team he has played just 19 games for KC, mainly in the Open Cup and CCL. He does sound like he is wanting to get more starting time, whether that is here or elsewhere remains to be seen.

Another internal option would be to have KC hand the reigns over to the team's first home grown player, Jon Kempin, but that doesn't seem as likely.

KC could also look within the league for a goalkeeper. A number of keepers could be available. They could look to go after the recently waived Michael Gspurning from Seattle, or local product, Andy Gruenebaum, whose contract was no renewed by Columbus. Another potential play would be to make a trade with Colorado for Matt Pickens, who appears to be on the way out there. Acquiring Pickens though would require more of a trade.

The other question is who will take up the captain's arm band now that the team's captain has retired. Over the past two years, Nielsen has been the clubs captain, but with his retirement the question is who will step up and replace him. The last player to wear the armband in a game not named Jimmy Nielsen ,was Besler in the team's last CCL group game. Besler would seem to be the favorite to pick up and become the leader of the team.

Congrats to the White Puma on a fantastic career that spanned 20 years  and he goes out where all athletes would love to go out at, on top.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Sunday After Stats

Sporting KC earned their fifth trophy tonight, tying them with Columbus for the fourth most in league history

Seth Sinovic set a team record for minutes played in all competitions in a single season, playing 3,733 minutes this year, topping the old record of 3,695 set by Nick Garcia and Peter Vermes in 2000.

Jimmy Nielsen finished 6th all time for minutes played in all competitions in a single season, with 3,570 minutes played.

Nielsen made his 142nd appearance in all competitions for KC, breaking his tie with Francisco Gomez for 17th on that list.

Oriol Rosell finished 7th all time for minutes played in all competitions in a single season with 3,553 minutes played.

Sinovic and Rosell extended their team record for appearances in all competitions in a single season, making their 42nd appearance of the season for KC.

Sinovic and Rosell also set a team record for starts in a single season. MLS Cup was both players' 41st start of the season.

Aurelien Collin's goal was his 3rd this season in the playoffs, the most in MLS this season.

His third goal gives him 4 in the playoffs for his KC career, tying him with Davy Arnaud for 3rd all time.

His 3 goals is tied for the third most in a single season in team history (Miklos Molnar 5 in 2000, Preki 4 in 1996, Preki 3 in 2002).

Collin finished 9th all time for minutes played in all competitions in a single season wtih 3,525 minuets played.

Graham Zusi's assist was his 40th in allcompetitions for KC, tying him with Arnaud for 3rd all time on that list.

Matt Besler made his 151st appearance in all competitions for KC, breaking his tie with Chris Brown for 13th on that list.

Besler made his 144th start in all competitions for KC, breaking his tie with Michael Harrington for 12th place on that list and tying him with Josh Wolff for 11th place on that list.

Dywer Loan/Transfer to England? And the Start of the Offseason

We barely got 24 hours to enjoy the winning of MLS Cup before focus really started to shift towards the 2014 season. Already we're getting rumors and speculation towards who may or may not be leaving the team. The big news today is out of England. It was only the passing mention at the end of an article about Dom Dwyer coming to the US to play soccer, but it could have a big effect on the team. According to the Telegraph, Dwyer says he is set to move to an unnamed Championship squad in January on loan. That loan could turn into a permanent transfer for the forward as well.

Dwyer leaving would be a surprising exit for Sporting KC. After a very successful loan to Orlando City earlier this year, Dwyer returned to KC and became an immediate contributor to KC and started three games in the playoffs, scoring the winning goal in KC's 2-1 win over Houston.

The Dwyer rumor is just the first rumor to come out post season, but it joins a number of potential player exits that have come up. It includes Jimmy Nielsen potentially retiring, Claudio Bieler and his exit after a falling out with Peter Vermes, Matt Besler and Graham Zusi potentially going out on loan as Jurgen Klinsmann has asked/pushed for. It also includes the "misquoted" rumors of Aurelien Collin wanting to move back to Europe and Eric Kronberg being out of contract.

It looks like we're set for an interesting offseason, and it's starting early.

MLS Cup Dreams Come True in Sporting Blue

Sporting KC are once again MLS Cup champions after a 10 round penalty kick shoot out against Real Salt Lake at Sporting Park 1-1 (7-6).

A few weeks ago, Sporting Park hosted the coldest game in MLS history (since they started tracking), that record fell yesterday with the temperature at 20 degrees. It fell over the course of the game, especially once the sun went down. With the cold temperatures, the play on the field suffered, especially in the first half as it seemed like both of teams were trying to adjust to the cold while also getting the early nerves out. KC suffered a big blow just the 8th minute when they had to sub out midfielder, Oriol Rosell after he hurt his ankle in a challenge. The games first good opportunity came in the 25th minute for KC. Graham Zusi played a ball into the box where CJ Sapong had gotten between two Salt Lake defenders. Sapong got his header on goal, but Nick Rimando got down well and pushed the shot away for a corner kick. RSL really should have grabbed the lead a few minutes later. Off a long ball into the box, Jimmy Nielsen came out to attempt to punch it clear but did not get enough on it. The ball fell to Robbie Findley at the back post for RSL. Unlike when the teams' first met and Findley put away a similar opportunity. This one he put right into the near post from a tough angle and the ball bounced into the grateful arms of Nielsen. In stoppage time in the first half KC had another good opportunity. A free kick by Zusi was only partially cleared to Matt Besler. Besler played a ball back over the top to Dom Dwyer, who chested the ball down but by the time he turned to shoot, Rimando had closed down and the shot was blocked.

Early in the second half, Sporting had another great opportunity to take the lead. Another Zusi free kick was lofted into the box, it landed at the feet of Sapong. His first touch carried him past his defender, but with space to shoot he fired his shot over the bar. RSL though started to get more of the play and pressure the ball further up the field. The pressure paid off as they scored in the 52nd. An errant pass by KC fell to Kyle Beckerman who played a no look pass over the top to Alvaro Saborio. Saborio brought it down with his chest/arm, and fired a shot that beat Nielsen to the near post giving RSL the lead. As KC pushed numbers forward trying to find an equalizer, Salt Lake looked to hit on the counter. In the 62nd they almost got a second. after Findley raced forward at KC's defense. He then laid the ball back and it went to Beckerman. The US national teamer fired a shot that took a slit deflection and bounced past Nielsen but ended up hitting the post and bouncing back into play. Luis Gil collected the rebound and squared the ball towards Saborio, but Gil was offside when Beckerman's shot was taken. KC's pressure continued but it was RSL that continued to get the better chances and in the 73rd the post again came to KC's rescue. Again it was findley leading the break. This time he squared the ball into the middle for Javier Morales. Morales turned and tried to curl a shot towards the net. Nielsen acted like it was going wide of the goal but it hit the post. The ball bounced back into play and curled around the opposite post for a goal kick. Just an incredibly odd bounce of the ball. Shortly after KC finally got their pressure to pay off. Off a corner kick, KC equalized. Zusi's corner found Aurelien Collin who out jumped Chris Schuler and headed the ball past Rimando and into the net. KC continued to pressure looking for a winner and almost got caught on the counter again. With numbers pushed forward for a corner, Salt Lake sprung a break with Ned Grabavoy. The midfielder raced into KC's half of the field with only Nielsen in front of him. Seth Sinovic raced back, recovering and knocking the ball away for a corner, a fantastic recovery from KC's left back.

The first period of extra time started out quickly. Findley thought he'd given RSL an early lead, but was ruled out for being offside. Shortly after at the other end of the field, KC had a penalty shout as Sapong went out after a challenge from Schuler. No foul was called and replays showed that it was a bit of embellishment from Sapong. In the 93rd KC had their best chance of extra time. A long throw from Matt Besler was headed by Schuler into the path of Zusi who one timed a volley on goal but Rimando did very well tipping the ball over the bar. KC continued to get the better of the play in extra time and in the 102nd had another good opportunity. A long ball by Paulo Nagamura was played into the box for Claudio Bieler. Bieler beat Nat Borchers to the ball and headed it into the path of Sapong who shot with Schuler right on his back but his shot went just over the bar. Salt Lake again thought they had the lead in extra time in the 105th minute. Sporting gave the ball away in their end of the field to Ned Grabavoy. He played the ball wide to Findley who crossed the ball to Saborio. The Costa Rican headed the ball in, but was ruled offside. The second period of extra time saw both teams continue to pressure, but neither was able to find a goal and again a cup final with KC was to be decided from the spot.

Sporting shot first and Bieler stepped up and sent Rimando the wrong way.  Saborio came up for RSL's first attempt. He couldn't level things though, putting his effort over the bar. Up second for KC was Nagamura. He too sent Rimando the wrong way and KC was up again. Grabavoy was Salt Lake's second shooter. He fired a shot to Nielsen's right, but the Dane dove down and made the save. After two rounds, KC was up 2-0 and looked good for the cup. Besler stepped up for KC's third PK. He shot to Rimando's left, but the Salt Lake keeper made the save. Beckerman gave Salt Lake a life line with their third attempt, cutting the lead to 2-1. Benny Feilhaber took KC's fourth attempt, going right up the middle, beating Rimando with pace to make it 3-1. Substitute Joao Plata took Salt Lake's fourth, needing to make it to keep their hopes alive, he put his shot high in to the net to make it 3-2. Zusi stepped up to take KC's fifth PK, a goal would win it. Zusi's effort though hit the top of the cross bar and went over. Morales stepped up as RSL's fifth taker, looking to force sudden death PKs. Morales went with the stutter step, sending Nielsen the wrong way and leveling the PKs at 3-3.

Into sudden death PKS we went. Sinovic stepped up first for KC, sending Rimando the wrong way again making it 4-3. Schuler took RSL's sixth attempt, sending it right down the middle as Nielsen dove left. Sapong stepped up for the seventh round, again getting Rimando to lean the wrong way as he went to Rimando's right making it 5-4. Tony Beltran stepped up for RSL. Nielsen guessed right going to his right, but Beltran put the PK off the post and in to level things at 5-5. Lawrence Olum, who subbed on in place of the injured Rosell went eighth. Olum though put his effort wide of the net. Sebastian Velasquez stepped up as the eighth shooter for RSL with the chance to win it. Velasquez though telegraphed where he was going, looking to Nielsen's right, looking down at the ball and again looking up to Nielsen's right. The Dane made the easy save, keeping the scores level at 5-5. Chance Myers stepped up with the ninth attempt for KC going to Rimando's left as he dove the opposite direction making it 6-5. Borchers went next for RSL again going up the middle, but this time Nielsen almost got his leg on it. With the tenth attempt, Collin stepped up for KC. Rimando guessed right going to his left, but Collin's PK was too well placed, going into the side netting to make it 7-6. The tenth shooter for RSL was Lovel Palmer. Palmer put his effort into the cross bar and it bounced back into play giving the title to Kansas City.

A final that may have lacked a bit when it came to style of play, certainly lived up to a final when it came to drama and fight.

Wizards Man of the Match - Aurelien Collin/Jimmy Nielsen - Collin and Nielsen split the award. Collin for the game tying goal and for burying a perfect shot for the winning PK. Nielsen, while he didn't have a great game, came up huge in the PK shootout, saving two, the big one being on Velasquez in sudden death.

Honorable mention - Seth Sinovic

Player Ratings - Nielsen 7, Sinovic 7, Collin 8, Besler 6, Myers 6, Rosell NR, Nagamura 6, Feilhaber 5, Zusi 5, Dwyer 5, Sapong 5. Subs Olum 6, Bieler 6.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

It's Game Day

It's game day at Sporting Park.For the second year in a row, Sporting KC's home will be hosting a final. Last year, Sporting prevailed over the Seattle Sounders on penalty kicks to win their first trophy since 2004.

And while that trophy was important to the team and the fans, this afternoon at Sporting Park is a much bigger game. The MLS Cup final, the highest award in the league. People can argue about the Supporters' Shield and it's importance and the championship, but in the records it shows the MLS Cup winner as the league's champion. Today Sporting have a chance to bring home their second, and add another star to their jersey.

It's a big day for Sporting. In the 18 years that this team has played, the coverage of this team has never been greater. The support from not just soccer fans, but much of the general sports community has never been higher. I've had people that usually couldn't give two licks about soccer come up and ask me about the game and how we'll do. It's amazing to see how the support for the team has grown with this run. It may not be permanent, but it's a nice step in the right direction, when every night on the news stations in KC they are talking about the game, talking about the importance, talking about how cold it's going to be. In 2004, the last time KC played in MLS Cup, the team was an after thought. So seeing the coverage of the team is fantastic.

Keeping all of them around after the cup, even a little bit, will require a win. It was said best in the video's from last year's Open Cup final; "you know how starving this town is to see somebody actually life some hardware and win something here."

The Open Cup certainly was a step, but as I said earlier, it's not the league title. That's the thing that is the most important. The Open Cup, other sports fans see as some weird soccer thing.

Now don't think I'm trying to bad mouth our Open Cup last year, I'm not. But the Open Cup has a different meaning. Sporting can try to convey it's importance to the greater community in KC, but again it doesn't have the same meaning as winning the championship. Now, today, Sporting has a chance to do that. And they get that chance in front of their home crowd at Sporting Park.

It's funny, last year for the Open Cup final I was full of "The Terror." Worried about what would happen, and expecting in the end to be disappointed. This year for the Open Cup final is oddly different. That's not to say that "The Terror" is not there this year. Anyone that knows me, knows for a fact that it is there, I'll be worried sick and at times today will be the last person in the world that someone will want to talk to.

But this year, I have a level of confidence that I didn't have last year. And I think last year's Open Cup did that. Despite comments from some people about KC's lack of experience, I think that final was immense when it comes to experience, especially at home.

I've made a point to state my displeasure in the disappointing home form during the regular season for KC. But I feel the team has learned how they need to perform in knock out games at home, and the key is the Open Cup game. This team is ready for it.

I absolutely have doubts about today, but unlike last year, there is more confidence than doubt. Whether that confidence is misplaced or not, we'll find out today around 5:30-6 o'clock.

Last year I took creative licenses with a quote from the movie Troy, and the team won it's first trophy under the OnGoal regime. I'm going to do that again. OnGoal has done a fantastic job of turning this team around from a team on the cusp of being moved or contracted, to one of the envies of Major League Soccer, now in the words of Jake Taylor, there's only one thing left to do.

Friday, December 06, 2013

MLS Cup is Finally Here

After two weeks of wait, tomorrow, MLS Cup is finally here. Sporting KC will take the field at Sporting Park against Real Salt Lake with the chance to win their first MLS Cup since 2000.The match up is going to take place freezing temperatures, with a wind chill as low as the single digits during the game.

It'll be the second time that these two teams have met this season. Sporting KC won the first match up 2-1. Not a lot can be taken from that game though because both teams were playing without a number of their first team players. Salt Lake was without Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando, while Matt Besler and Paulo Nagamura. Other changes have taken place as well, with Chris Schuler starting in centerback now for Salt Lake, while Kei Kamara is no longer with Kansas City.

Salt Lake comes into the game with arguably the more impressive run in the playoffs. They first eliminated the defending champions, LA Galaxy 2-1 on aggregate. Then they looked really impressive taking out the West's top seed, Portland 5-2 on aggregate.  Salt Lake will have Alvaro Saborio and Chris Wingert back available for them after they've missed time with injury. They could be down Devon Sandoval, the rookie picked up an injury in training that could keep him out of the game. While Saborio being back is a big boost for Salt Lake, Sandoval's absence will hurt as he'd started to develop a good partnership with Robbie Findley up top.

Sporting's in the final after finally overcoming the Houston Dynamo in the Eastern Conference finals. It's KC's first trip to the finals as a member of the Eastern Conference, their prior trips coming when they were in the West. After the way the team has performed over the course of the last two home games, I don't see any reason for the lineup to change. Dom Dwyer will be at the top of KC's forward line with CJ Sapong and Graham Zusi on the wings. The midfield is going to have Benny Feilhaber in front of Oriol Rosell and Paulo Nagamura. While the back line and goalkeeper will be the same that has racked up a number of shutouts all year. That lineup has carried KC against New England and Houston and I see no reason for Peter Vermes to change it up.

Myers - Collin - Besler - Sinovic
Rosell - Nagamura
Zusi - Dwyer - Sapong

Number to Remember - 3,310 - That's the number of days since Sporting KC last played in the MLS Cup final, back in 2004. KC lost that game to DC 3-2. If you're looking for the last time KC won, it's been 4,801 days since MLS Cup 2000.

Key Match Up - KC's 3 man midfield vs RSL's diamond - This is where the game will be won and loss. Can KC's three man midfield win out against RSL's diamond? Benny Feilhaber has been superb in the playoffs, as has Paulo Nagamura since his return from injury. KC will need another big game out of those two to deal with the likes of Kyle Beckerman, Luis Gil, and Jaiver Morales in the RSL midfield.

PREDICTION - While KC's at home, they're not getting a ton of love from a lot of the media, including MLS's own editors. RSL is a good team, no doubt about that, it's not going to be an easy game. Like their previous meeting this year, I expect this to be another tight, physical game. I expect a lot of fouls and I expect cards. Like Houston has forced KC to change their style against them, KC has done the same to RSL over the last few years. Their match ups have turned into more physical games and tomorrow won't be different. While RSL is going to make it tough, in the end I think KC just pulls it out.

SKC - 2 (Zusi, Dwyer)
RSL - 1 (Findley)

Group G for Ghosts of World Cup Past

With the World Cup draw today, the US national team is going to face the ghosts of their past World Cups. Of the three teams in the USA's Group G in Brazil, they've met at least one of the teams in each of the past four World Cups.

The US faced Germany in the 1998 World Cup in France, falling 2-0 in their first group match. In the 2002 World Cup, the US again met up with Germany, this time in the quarterfinals, falling 1-0 to the Germans in a game that the US dominated for good periods of the game and had a hand ball on the goal line not called that would have led to a PK.

In the past two World Cups, the USA's elimination from the competition has come at the hands of their first opponent, Ghana. In the 2006 World Cup, after falling to the Czech Republic and tying Italy, the US needed a win to have a chance of advancing but ended up falling 2-1 to the African side. Then in the 2010 World Cup, after winning their group, the US faced Ghana again in the round of 16. This match went to extra time after a 1-1 draw in regulation. Again the African side advanced over the Americans with a goal in extra time to win 2-1.

Then there is Portugal, who the US defeated in their opening game of the 2002 World Cup, jumping out to a 3-0 lead before eventually winning 3-2 on their way to the quarterfinals.

Advancement out of the group will not be easy. Of the potential groups for the US, the only group that could have been harder, is if they were in Group B in Australia's place against the likes of Spain, Chile, and Holland. It's gonna be a chance for the US to exercise a few demons and has plenty of storylines already in place, Klinsmann vs his home country, can the US get over the Ghana hurdle, and Portugal's chance for payback from 2002.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Weather, SKC vs MU, and Other MLS Cup News

We're less than 48 hours away from MLS Cup. And with the game so close, there's lots of news coming out as soccer journalists around the US have descended on Kansas City for the final. Here's some news from today as MLS Cup gets closer.


This has been one of the big talking points for the last few weeks or so. After last weekend and earlier this week, that had temperatures in the 60's, the bottom has fallen out and temperatures for Saturday are now expected to only be in the 20's for Saturday. It gets even better, with the wind chill, it'll feel like it's in the single digits or below zero. Two weeks ago, KC played in the coldest game since MLS started keeping track in 2003. And Saturday it looks like a new record low could be hit. The expected snow this weekend looks like it'll hold off until Saturday night after the game, which is a good thing, but definitely dress in layers on Saturday.

SKC vs Mizzou

This has been a topic of discussion since last week when Mizzou defeated Texas A&M and clinched a spot in the SEC title game. That game kicks off in Atlanta at the same time that MLS Cup is set to kick off. With the two games starting at the same time, the conversation has turned to the coverage of both teams. So much so that the Wall Street Journal has made mention of it (albeit poorly in my opinion).

But let's be serious, Sporting KC is extremely unlikely to get top billing ahead of Mizzou, no matter how the SEC title game ends. Despite the MU/KU (and K-State) split in this city, MU is the larger fan base in the city. And while Sporting KC and soccer in general has made great strides in it's coverage in the media (print, TV, radio) over the past few years, football is still king in this city and country.

There really shouldn't be debate, unless you're a fan of both teams and not planning to attend one or the other. Then it becomes a debate of which one you watch live (or which one gets the big TV). Other than that, there is no debate here (especially in media coverage).

Retirement Questions

This shouldn't be a surprising conversation given the hunt by journalists around the city to find a story, but questions have been asked about Jimmy Nielsen's future. In the Guardian, as well as in today's press conference, Nielsen talked about potential retirement after Saturday's game.

The Guardian got the more in depth answer from Sporting's captain, and Nielsen was very diplomatic in his answer. Nielsen though didn't rule out the possibility of retiring, saying he'll make the decision after the game "If we win, then the first thing I'm going to do is go on a little vacation with my family. Then I will follow my gut feeling after that."

Going out on top would certainly have it's advantages, but plenty of fans would be disappointed if the White Puma chose to hang them up after the season.

Heineman Letter

Last year before the US Open Cup final against Seattle, Robb Heineman penned a letter to fans that was posted on the team's site, thanking the fans for their support and getting people excited for the final against the Sounders. This year he's done it again with another letter to the fans, and like last year, it has the desired effect. It gets more excitement for the fans and while it does have the general "rah-rah" you'd expect, it does speak to the great efforts that Sporting KC have made to endear themselves to the city and fans.

Clashing Styles?

Over the past week or so, other than Ticket gate, one of the main talking points of this weekend's MLS Cup final has been the difference in style of play between Sporting KC and Real Salt Lake. A lot of talk has been made of Sporting's "thugish" style against Salt Lake's more beautiful style of play.

The comments come mainly from the fact that KC led the league in fouls with 511, 46 more than the next closest team. And from the fact that KC finished the season with the top two players in terms of yellow card accumulation (Aurelien Collin 13, Oriol Rosell 10). Meanwhile, people praise RSL and the way that they play. Fans make mention of the fact that they led the league in possession (although KC finished second). And today in the Central Winger it was shown just how many passes they average in possession that lead to shots. They kill the league in this stat.

And while it's hard to argue the numbers, they're against the entire league. When the two teams meet does the style of play change? KC's earned some of the thug comments that they get for their style of play, but when SKC and RSL meet, it's KC's style that becomes prevalent.

To get an idea of how the two teams play against each other, I think you have to go back to the 2011 preseason, when a game between KC and Salt Lake ended early after a tackle by Roger Espinoza on Javier Morales led to a confrontation between the teams. Since then, a rivalry on the field has developed between the two teams.

In those match ups, the games have been more physical as the teams have generally felt more physical than their other games they've played.. Back in 2011 in the two games they played, each team committed 30 total fouls (15 per game average), KC picked up two yellows and a red card, while Salt Lake picked up four yellows. Compared to the rest of the season, that was almost three fouls more per game for KC (12.3 average in the other 33 games) and just over 2 less per game for RSL. The red card in that game went to Roger Espinoza for a poor challenge from behind on Kyle Beckerman.

This year, the match up again featured deviations from the norms in their match up. RSL picked up 4 yellow cards, including two to Chris Wingert, doubling their average over the course of the rest of the season. Basically, what I'm saying is that while RSL may play a "prettier game" than Sporting during the season, their style changes, and I expect it to happen on Saturday.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Chhetri Brace Sees Bengaluru Go Top - Former SKC Wizards Update

Sunil Chhetri scored a brace in Bengaluru's 2-1 league win this week. The win by Bengaluru sees them return to the top of the table in the I-League. Here's the rest of this week's update.

Active without a club or unknown
Jose Burciaga
Julio Cesar
Bobby Convey
Edson Elcock
Brian Fekete
Aaron Hohlbein
Mike Jones
Jonathan Leathers
Scott Sealy
Ivan Trujillo
Michael Thomas
Shavar Thomas
Diego Walsh
Konrad Warzycha

Davy Arnaud - Montreal - Offseason.
Luis Gil - Salt Lake - No game this week.
Michael Harrington - Portland - Offseason.
Jack Jewsbury - Portland - Offseason.
Eddie Johnson - Seattle - Offseason.
Chris Konopka - Toronto - Offseason
Rauwshan McKenzie - Portland - Offseason.
Khari Stephenson - Salt Lake - No game this week.
Tyson Wahl - Columbus - Offseason

Stefan Antonijevic - Fort Lauderdale - Offseason.

Cyprian Hedrick - Phoenix - Offseason.
Neal Kitson - Phoenix - Offseason.
Nelson Pizarro - Los Angeles - Offseason.
Mike Reidy - Rochester - Offseason.
Yomby William - Richmond - Offseason.
John Wilson - Charleston - Offseason.

Scott Angevine - Des Moines - Offseason

Birahim Diop - New England Force

Jamar Beasley - St. Louis - Did not play in St. Louis' 12-10 loss to Missouri.
Pat Healey - Baltimore - No game this week.

Korede Aiyegbusi - FC Haka - Finland - Offseason.
Vicente Arze - Sporting Charleroi - Did not dress in either of Sporting's games.
Omar Bravo - Chivas - Mexico - No game this week.
Mitchell Cardenas - Atlético Coatzacoalcos - Mexico - No game this week.
Sunil Chhetri - Bengaluru - India - Started and played 90 minutes, scoring twice in Bengaluru's 2-1 win over Shillong Lajong.
Eloy Colombano - UAI Urquiza - Argentina - Did not play in either of UAI's games.
Daneil Cyrus - W Connection - Trinidad - No game this week.
Pablo Escobar - Patriotas Boyaca - Colombia - No game this week.
Roger Espinoza - Wigan - England - Came off the bench and played 6 minutes in Wigan's 2-1 loss to Zulte-Waregem. Came off the bench and played 45 minutes in Wigan's 3-1 loss to Derby. Dressed but did not play in Wigan's 2-0 loss to Leeds.
Herculez Gomez - Tijuana - Mexico - No game this week.
Jermaine Hue - Harbour View - Jamaica - Suspended
Jeferson - AC Goianiense - Brazil - Dressed but did not play in Atletico's 2-0 win over Guaratingueta.
Will John - AZAL - Azerbaijan - Started and played 90 minutes in Azal's 1-1 draw with Khazar Lankaran. Started and played 86 minutes in Azal's 1-0 loss to Qarabag in the cup.
Kei Kamara - Middlesbrough - England - Started and played 90 minutes in Middlesbrough's 1-0 win over Bolton. Started and played 90 minutes in Middlesbrough's 2-1 loss to Derby.
Igor Kostrov - Slavia - Belarus - Started and played 90 minutes in Slavia's 1-0 loss to Dinamo Brest.
Carlos Marinelli - Universidad San Martin - Peru - Started and played 90 minutes in San Martin's 1-0 loss to Cienciano.
Neven Markovic - Servette FC - Switzerland - Dressed but did not play in Servette's 1-0 win over Wohlen.
Yura Movsisyan - Spartak Moscow - Russia - Did not dress in Spartak's 6-1 win over Volga.
Michal Mravec - Zilina - Slovakia - Did not dress in Zilina's 3-1 loss to Senica.
Akeem Priestly - RoPS - Finland - Offseason.
Pablo Punyed - Fylkir - Iceland - Offseason.
Yann Songo'o - Blackburn - England - Did not dress in either of Blackburn's games..
Milos Stojcev - Atyrau - Kazakhstan - Offseason.
Matt Taylor - Preußen Münster - Germany - Started and played 83 minutes in Munster's 0-0 draw with Hallescher FC.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Besler and Zusi Named to Best XI

MLS announced their Best XI today as voted on by teams, media, and players. Sporting KC was represented on the list by two players. Sporting defender, Matt Besler and Graham Zusi were KC's two representatives on the list.  It's the second straight year for both players to be selected to the Best XI.

Jimmy Nielsen's absence from the team would seem to indicate that he won't win goalkeeper of the year, which usually goes to the goalkeeper in the Best XI (Donovan Ricketts).

Monday, December 02, 2013

More Ticket Fun

It's the week of MLS Cup. With the issues from last week with the season ticket holder pre-sale, I'd hoped that this week would be about the game itself. Today the sale to the general public begins, but that's apparently come with it's own issues. On the page for ticket sales for the game there is this notice under the "Please Note" section: "(venue name) is located in (city, state/province). Sales to this event will be restricted to residents of (geo-limited states/provinces or selected area). Residency will be based on credit card billing address. Orders by residents outside (geo-limited states/provinces or selected area) will be canceled without notice and refunds given. Delivery of all tickets will be delayed until 12/4/13 to allow for enforcement of 8 ticket limit."

Based on that, it looks like Real Salt Lake fans could again be left out of this sale, because apparently this is being restricted to Kansas and Missouri. Of the ticket issues so far, this is probably the one that annoys me the most. I understand canceling all the orders that came in from the leaked code, that I don't have an issue with. But with tickets going on sale to the "general public" the assumption is that those tickets would be available for anyone to choose from.

Some RSL fans have apparently gotten so frustrated with not being able to get tickets, even after scheduling flights to KC that some are wanting to file a class action lawsuit against MLS, SKC, and TicketMaster. The issue with that is it looks like Ticket Master may have this covered in their purchasing policy that I linked in a previous write up. The section on "Pricing and Other Errors" in the link states "If the amount you pay for a ticket is incorrect regardless of whether because of an error in a price posted on this Site or otherwise communicated to you, or you are able to order a ticket before its scheduled on-sale or presale date or you are able to order a ticket that was not supposed to have been released for sale, then we will have the right to cancel that ticket (or the order for that ticket) and refund to you the amount that you paid. This will apply regardless of whether because of human error or a transactional malfunction of this website or other Ticketmaster operated system."

That would seem to cover the pre-sale issue and other than that I don't think any of the other sales would cause issue enough to bring a lawsuit. The RSL fans could ask more questions of their front office about the distribution of their 1,000 ticket allocation, which rumors continue to fly that most of those tickets went to family, staff, and partners.