Monday, March 30, 2015

RVDV Deal Unlikely, de Jong Injured, Espinoza Sits, and More

Catching up on some news from the past day or so that I've brought up on Twitter, but I'll mention further here.

RVDV Deal Unlikely

Sports Illustrated writer Grant Wahl was present at Yankee Stadium on Saturday night for Sporting KC's game against New York City FC. Around half time, Wahl provided an update on the rumored move by KC to acquire Rafael van der Vaart, who has been told he won't be offered a new contract at Hamburg. For those that were excited about the potential signing, it looks like they're going to be disappointed. Wahl is reporting now that a deal for the Dutchman is looking unlikely and that Kansas City is going in a different direction.

Wahl reports that KC is still looking at additions for this summer, and has two players in mind, one of which is a South American.

De Jong Injured

Sporting has already lost Graham Zusi for this weekend (most likely) after picking up a hamstring injury in the win over NYCFC. They also could be without Jimmy Medranda, who also left the game with an injury. And now they have a third player who has picked up a knock. Tonight in Canada's 3-0 win in an international friendly against Puerto Rico, KC left back, Marcel de Jong started for Canada but only played 34 minutes before being subbed out. De Jong picked up an injury in the 33rd minute and tried to continue playing, but was quickly taken out and replaced by Karl Ouimette in the 34th.

Of all the positions that KC could suffer an injury, left back might be the easiest position for KC to recover from. With Seth Sinovic also available, KC should be fine should de Jong not be able to play this weekend. Still it'd be a blow for KC, while Sinovic may be a bit better defensively in KC's system, de Jong offers KC much more going forward with his crossing and also with the set pieces as he showed against Portland.

Espinoza Sits as Honduras Qualify

The Honduran national team filled out the final team in this summer's Gold Cup and will play the United States in each team's first game in Group A. After suffering an embarrassing 3-1 loss in the first leg in French Guiana, Honduras came out and scored three goals in the first half in the return leg in San Pedro Sula on Sunday with former DC United midfielder Andy Najar scoring two.

For Roger Espinoza though, he had no place in the team and was on the bench for the game after being subbed out in the 65th minute of the first leg in French Guiana. Still, Espinoza will likely have a role to play this summer for Honduras and could be missing more time for KC with Honduras qualified now.

Copa America Centenario Submitted

While KC was already on the short list to be a potential host for the 2016 Copa America Centenario which will feature teams from CONMEBOL and CONCACAF, today it became official. The above tweet from Dave Ficklin confirms that KC has officially submitted their bid to host games in next summer's tournament. A tournament that could bring some of the best players in the world like Lionel Messi and Argentina or Neymar and Brazil to Kansas City. Certainly something that would be quite exciting as a fan of soccer to watch.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday After Stats

Sporting KC won their 100th away game in all competitions.

In the 24th minute, Seth Sinovic hit 10,000 minutes played in league play for Sporting KC, he finished the game with 10,066 minutes played.

Sinovic made his 143rd start in all competitions, tying him with Michael Harrington for 14th on that list.

Matt Besler made his 184th appearance in all competitions for KC, breaking his tie with Matt McKeon for 8th place on that list.

Graham Zusi started his 145th game in all competitions, breaking his tie with Josh Wolff for 12th on that list.

Sporting Get Off the Mark

It wasn't a pretty game last night at Yankee Stadium between Sporting KC and New York City FC, but KC made an early goal from Ike Opara stand up for their first win of the season. The game should have brought back some not so good memories to KC fans watching the game take place in a baseball stadium. Even though the stadium is much bigger, the size of the field looked no different than the pill box that KC played on at Community America Ballpark for three years.

KC set out to try to immediately take advantage of the small field with their long throw-ins. Through the first three games of the season we hadn't seen a lot of the long throw, but KC was using it a lot last night. In the 10th minute after a long throw by Matt Besler, the ball fell to Jalil Anibaba who got enough of a shot to get the ball on goal, but Josh Saunders grabbed the ball in front of Dom Dwyer to settle play down. Two minutes later though Saunders could do nothing as KC took the lead. Again off the long throw Besler put it right on the head of Opara who thundered it past Saunders and into the net giving KC the 1-0 lead. In the 32nd minute that could have made it 2-0 as Jimmy Medranda picked out Benny Feilhaber with a nice through ball, Feilhaber flicked the ball out wide to an open Graham Zusi who skied is effort well over the bar. An effort that Zusi would want back as he only had Saunders in front of him from 18 yards out. Less than 10 minutes later Zusi's night would be done as he pulled up lame with a hamstring injury. A big blow to KC who will now likely be without Zusi for a couple weeks as he recovers from the injury.

NYCFC had injury issues of their own before the game even started as designated player; David Villa was a late scratch from the lineup. Already down another forward in Adam Nemec, who was away on international duty New York was very thin up top and it showed as they struggled to create chances with Opara and Besler both doing very well to shut down the New York attack. In the 43rd KC again had an opportunity to add to their lead and it again came off a Besler long throw. The initial ball was cleared just out of the box, but Paulo Nagamura knocked it back to the top of the 18 where it fell to Medranda who fired an effort just over the goal.

The second half lacked in real quality chances, but each side did create some. KC created a couple in the matter of a couple minutes, first a nice through ball for Dwyer, but it ran a little long and Saunders was quick off his line to tackle it away. The best chance came in the 64th minute after some very good combination play in the middle of the field the ball got played wide to Jimmy Medranda who dribbled into the box and slid a ball to Bernardo Anor near the six yard box, but Anor's one time effort skied over the bar.

New York controlled much of the second half, and the game as they searched for the equalizer. NYCFC thought they'd earned a penalty kick in the 70th minute as referee Edvin Jurisevic called a hand ball in the box. Sporting immediately surrounded Jurisevic, unhappy with the call, pleading with him to confer with his assistant referee. After a conversation, Jurisevic waived off the penalty and gave a drop ball in the box.

Late in the game NYCFC picked up the pressure searching for an equalizer. In the 83rd minute a nice cross into the box found its way all the way through to Andrew Jacobsen at the back post, but Jacobsen appeared surprised that the ball made it all the way through and scuffed his shot wide of the net. In stoppage time New York had another glorious opportunity as Jeb Brovsky played a cross right into the middle of the box for an unmarked Ned Grabavoy but he put his diving header wide of the net. A minute later the final whistle blew and KC were able to walk out with all three points.

Wizards Man of the Match - Ike Opara - Scored the winner and was a rock in central defense for KC last night. Him and Besler controlled the middle of the defense shutting down Patrick Mullins and Javier Calle.

Honorable Mention - Matt Besler

Player Ratings
- Marin 6, Sinovic 7, Opara 8, Besler 8, Anibaba 6, Carrasco 6, Nagamura 6, Feilhaber 6, Zusi 5, Dwyer 4, Medranda 5. Subs Anor 4, Peterson 4, Mustivar 5.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Match Day 4: Still Searching for a Win

Sporting KC are back on the road for their fourth game of the season as they travel to New York City to take on the expansion New York City FC at Yankee Stadium. Kansas City is still searching for their first win of the season after two home draws and a road loss to Dallas. New York on the other hand is actually unbeaten on the season with a 1-0-2 record after a 0-0 draw on the road last week against Colorado.

NYCFC is 1-0 on the season at home, winning their home opener two weeks ago 2-0 over the New England Revolution 2-0 on goals by David Villa and Patrick Mullins. Villa, the Spanish international is someone that KC is going to have to account for the entire time he's on the field, shutting him down will be a key to KC's defense. The rest of NYCFC is struggling with some injuries and call ups though (like much of MLS). They'll be without forward Adam Nemec (who has started all three games) and Khiry Shelton (who has played in all three games) who are both on international duty. In terms of injuries, the likes of Sebastian Velasquez is out for the game. NYCFC's defense, which has only allowed one goal in three games, may have to do some shuffling as well. Josh Williams,who started the first two games at right back for New York is questionable still with health concerns because of a blood clot. His replacement, Shay Facey, on loan from parent club, Manchester City FC was red carded in their draw with Colorado. If Williams is unable to go NYCFC may be doing some shuffling of their back line.

KC has some international absences of their own, with two starters, Roger Espinoza and Marcel de Jong, and as well as reserve defender Erik Palmer-Brown away on international duty. In de Jong, KC has a ready made replacement in Seth Sinovic, the starter at left back for the last three plus years for Kansas City, so KC should miss little there. With Espinoza that are a few other questions to ask. KC could insert Servando Carrasco, who came in for Benny Feilhaber late in the 0-0 draw with Portland or they could insert Haitian international, Soni Mustivar, who came into the game for Espinoza last week. I'd lean towards Vermes going with Mustivar, mainly because of the way that Peter Vermes has had Carrasco play in preseason. The former Seattle and Houston man spent most of the time playing deep in the midfield for KC. Mustivar seems likely to play further up the field. That won't be what KC fans want to hear as most would like to see a defensive midfielder inserted and Feilhaber move up to his more traditional attacking midfield role. Unfortunately for fans, I don't see Vermes moving him up, Feilhaber's new role is the deep lying playmaker. Feilhaber's deep play play though has really affected KC's offense, as KC's offensive players had yet to score a goal this year.

Anibaba - Opara - Besler - Sinovic
Mustivar - Nagamura
Medranda -Dwyer - Zusi

Number to Remember - 3 - That's the number of shots on goal that Dom Dwyer has had this season for KC through three games. That average of one shot on goal a game half a shot on goal per 90 minutes less than he last year, and has yet to score a goal this year.

Key Match Up - Ike Opara and Matt Besler vs David Villa - The Spanish international is a handful to deal with, he's going to get his chances, but the goal for Opara and Besler is to limit those chances and keep him from getting clear looks on goal against Luis Marin.

PREDICTION - Traditional strong starters, Kansas City is in very unfamiliar waters as a team, they've picked up just two points on the season through three games, and are winless in seven straight across all competitions since their 2-0 win over Chicago back on October 10th. KC actually has a good record all time against expansion sides, going 6-3-2 against expansion teams in their first meeting against them since 1998. For this game though, it's going to be a question of whether KC's offense can step up, they lead MLS in shots with 45, but have only scored twice, only five teams have scored fewer (three of those five have played one less game). That's only a 4.4% conversion rate of their shots. For a team that wanted to prove themselves this year, and show that the back half of the 2014 season was behind them, they're not doing a good job of it.

The small field tomorrow in Yankee Stadium should bring back memories of the field at CAB for those that attended games at the then Wizards temporary stadium. The low camera angle of the game will bring back similar memories as well. Unfortunately for KC they don't have much of an advantage of experience on the small field any more as only Graham Zusi and Matt Besler are available of players who have extensive experience at CAB. The shorter field though should lend itself very well to the long throw, and if Besler or Sinovic can get a nice ball into the box KC could steal at least one goal on the set play. With the lack of offensive spark this team has shown though I'm not sure KC can grab all three points tomorrow.

SKC - 1 (Dwyer)
NYCFC - 1 (Villa)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Braithwaite Charged with Assault

Former Missouri Comets' defender, Andre Braithwaite has been officially charged with a Class A misdemeanor of Assault in the Third Degree by the Jackson County prosecutor for his actions after the Comets 10-7 loss to the Baltimore Blast that ended the Comets season. After the final whistle while Baltimore defender, Pat Healey was talking with Comets midfielder, Josh Gardner, Braithwaite walked up to Healey, put his hand on the back of his head and headbutted him. Healey suffered a gash above an eye that required five stitches to close.

The quotes from Independence police that were made after the event occurred made it sound like Independence police and Jackson County prosecutors hands were tied because the event occurred on the field, but it appears that is not the case and things will move forward.

When the Comets were reached for comment regarding the charges, the Comets said that they did not have one since the player had been released by the club.

While they may not want to comment on the charges against Braithwaite they may not be able to avoid a comment on this news that came out with the charges. According to the report, Baltimore owner, Ed Hale says that the Comets are culpable for the actions of Braithwaite and said he would be looking to file criminal and civil charges against the Comets owners.

To me that seems like that would be hard to prove. Braithwaite didn't have a history of behavior like this and it'd be hard in my opinion to make that argument, but I'm not a lawyer. I've also never heard of an incident where an owner has sued another in the same league for an action that took place on the field. I mean there have been instances of an owner suing another owner or suing their league, but this I haven't, I guess we'll see what comes of it.

#TBT Kansas City's Worst Start to an MLS Season

With Sporting Kansas City off to their worst start to a season since the team started 0-3 in 1999, I figured I'd use this week's Throw Back Thursday to take a look at the start of the 1999 season and how Kansas City got to the point in that season of starting 0-3.

To get to the start KC had in 1999, we first need to look at the end of the 1998 season. To close out the 1998 season, the KC Wizards won just two of their final 10 games, going 2-8 with one shootout loss in that stretch (sound familiar? KC went 2-1-7 down the stretch in 2014). KC ended up losing their final three games, all by shutout, 1-0 to the Fire, 1-0 to Dallas, and 2-0 to San Jose. Kansas City finished bottom of the Western Conference, five points out of a playoff spot.

In the offseason, Kansas City made a big move, trading away MLS Best XI member, Mark Chung and goalkeeper, Mike Ammann to the NY/NJ Metrostars in exchange for US national team veterans, Alexi Lalas and Tony Meola. At the time both teams had to have felt good about the move, NY/NJ got themselves a very good midfielder and a goalkeeper who did quite well for KC in the 1997 before having a down 1998. KC meanwhile got two of the most recognizable US Soccer players of that time in Lalas and Meola, so hopes were renewed and high for the 1999, especially with the addition of 1990 World Cup veteran, Chris Henderson as well. Unfortunately, for both teams actually, things don't always turn out as planned as 1999 was a disaster for both.

The season took a big blow just days before the season started, Meola tore his ACL in practice (while playing in the field) and had to have an arthroscopic ACL reconstruction done that put him out for six months. On top of that, his back up, Chris Snitko hurt his back and would miss the first two games of the season. In their place, Kansas City brought in unknown Cesar Delgado for the season opener against the Dallas Burn in Dallas. Relatively little is known about Delgado, even by the club, for years his number had been represented as ?? on rosters because his actual number wasn't known/remembered. Needless to say the opener didn't go well as Delgado and the KC defense gave up four goals as the team fell in the opener 4-0. Once the team got back to KC, I remember hearing stories that the next day at practice, Delgado didn't practice with the team, instead they had him sit inside and watch the tape of the game in Dallas. Delgado was unceremoniously waived by the club and the team started their home opener against the Chicago Fire with veteran David Winner in goal. Winner had been in MLS since its inception, mainly as a backup, spending time with Columbus, New England, Chicago, and Miami before coming to KC in the 1999 season. Winner would go on to play in eight games for KC, but the opener against Chicago saw Winner give up three goals as the Fire won 3-0, putting KC at 0-2 and stretching their goalless streak to five straight games.

For the third game of the season, Kansas City had Snitko back and able to play, so he got the start ahead of Winner, but the losing streak continued as KC lost 1-0 at home to the New England Revolution. At this point the Wizards hadn't scored since the 80th minute of the team's 5-1 win over the San Jose Clash in the fourth to last game of the 1998 season, a span of 550 minutes as the team headed into their fourth game of the season against the same Clash team.

In the game against the Clash, Kansas City found themselves with a man advantage early on after San Jose's Caleb Porter (now Portland's coach) was sent off just after the half hour giving about 60 minutes to play with the advantage. KC couldn't take advantage of it though, and fell behind with a goal just before half time by Ronald Cerritos, who caused KC all sorts of problems throughout his MLS career. As the game rolled on it looked like KC was going to be shutout for the seventh straight game. In the 87th minute though, Chris Brown was able to get down the line, past his marker and roll a shot towards the far corner that was just a bit too far in front of Henderson, but the ball rolled into the net tying the game, and ending KC's shutout streak at 637 minutes. The game ended up going to a shootout where Cerritos and Eddie Lewis both scored while Nino Da Silva, Preki, Paul Wright, and Mo Johnston all missed (all had their efforts saved except Preki who put his effort wide). KC did catch a bit of a break in the shootout, Snitko got sent off during the shootout for a handball outside the box. Referee Kevin Stott though incorrectly allowed KC to bring in Winner to finish out the shootout.

After the game, things really came to a head as Meola and head coach Ron Newman traded jabs in the media with Meola saying that Newman didn't prepare the team to play San Jose during the week before the game, and Newman responding, calling out the goalkeeper for speaking publicly about it and stating his disgust with the comments.

On the surface, the quotes from Meola would seem to point towards a coach who has lost his locker room when players are that critical in the media about the coach. And sure enough, Newman "resigned" from his position later in the week. Newman was replaced by Ken Fogarty as the team's interim head coach. Fogarty was in charge of the club for 3 games, going 0-3 (1 a shootout loss), getting shut out two times before new head coach, Bob Gansler was hired. In his first game, Gansler led KC to its first win, 2-1 over the LA Galaxy. The season as a whole though didn't go well for KC, they finished the season 8-24, second worst in the league, just ahead of the previously mentioned Metrostars.

Hopefully KC can reverse the fortunes for their second worst start in team history here quickly. Below are the highlights of Newman's last game in charge, the 1-1(0-2) shootout loss to the San Jose Clash.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Jerome Signing with San Antonio? - Former SKC Wizards Update

When the recent international rosters were announced for the upcoming international break, former KC defender, Mechack Jerome was named to Haiti's roster for their friendly against China. In the announcement it said that Jerome, who last we knew was without a club, was signed by NASL club, the San Antonio Scorpions. Jerome has been on trial with the Scorpions, but I can't find any official word on his signing. Here's the rest of this week's update.

Active without a club or unknown
Federico Bessone
Bobby Convey
Mechack Jerome
Will John
Michael Kafari
Neal Kitson
Jonathan Leathers
Nelson Pizarro
Ivan Trujillo
Konrad Warzycha

Davy Arnaud - DC - Started and played 90 minutes in DC's 2-0 loss to New York.
Teal Bunbury - New England - Out injured.
Aurelien Collin - Orlando City - Started and played 90 minutes in Orlando's 1-0 loss to Vancouver.
Luis Gil - Salt Lake - No game this week.
Michael Harrington - Colorado - Started and played 90 minutes in Colorado's 0-0 draw wtih NYCFC.
Jack Jewsbury - Portland - Started and played 90 minutes in Portland's 0-0 draw with KC.
Eddie Johnson - DC - Out on leave.
Kei Kamara - Columbus - No game this week.
Chris Konopka - Toronto - No game this week.
Eric Kronberg - Montreal - Not eligible for Montreal's 2-0 win over Alajuelense. Dressed but did not play in Montreal's 0-0 draw with New England.
CJ Sapong - Philadelphia - Out injured.
Khari Stephenson - San Jose - Did not dress in San Jose's 2-1 win over Chicago.
Tyson Wahl - Columbus - No game this week.
Sal Zizzo - New York - Started and played 65 minutes in New York's 2-0 win over DC.

Stefan Antonijevic - Tampa Bay - No game until 4-4.
James Marcelin - Fort Lauderdale - No game until 4-4
Rauwshan McKenzie - Atlanta - No game until 4-4.
Kyle Miller - Atlanta - No game until 4-4.

Christian Duke - Oklahoma City - No game utnil 3-28
Brian Fekete - Austin - No game until 3-28
Adnan Gabeljic - Sacramento - Started and played 83 minutes in Sacramento's 4-2 loss to Seattle.
Cyprian Hedrick - Oklahoma City - No game until 3-28
Alex Martinez - Charlotte- No game until 3-27
Victor Munoz - Arizona - No game until 3-28
Tony Rocha - Austin - No game until 3-28
Michael Thomas - Oklahoma City - No game until 3-28
Yomby William - Richmond - No game until 3-28

Jamar Beasley - Ontario - Offseason.
Adnan Gabeljic - St. Louis - Offseason.
Josh Gardner - Missouri - Offseason.
Pat Healey - Baltimore - Offseason.
Mike Jones - Dallas - Offseason.
Michal Mravec - Tacoma - Offseason.
Boris Pardo - Wichita - Offseason.

Korede Aiyegbusi - Auerbach - Germany - Started and played 82 minutes in Auerbach's 1-0 win over Viktoria Berlin.
Scott Angevine - Vasa - Finland - No games until 4/12
Vicente Arze - Blooming - Bolivia - Did not play in either of Blooming's games.
Claudio Bieler - Quilmes - Argentina - Came off the bench and played 28 minutes in Quilmes' 1-1 draw wtih Newell's Old Boys.
Omar Bravo - Chivas - Mexico - Came off the bench and played 9 minutes in Chivas' 2-1 win over Chiapas. Started and played 77 minutes, scoring a goal in Chivas' 1-0 win over Toluca.
Reinaldo Brenes - Saprissa - Costa Rica - Dressed but did not play in Saprissa's 1-0 win over Cartagines. Did not dress in Saprissa's 4-0 win over Santos de Guapiles.
Mitchell Cardenas - Atlético Coatzacoalcos - Mexico - Lost 9-0 to UAEM Potros.
Sunil Chhetri - Bengaluru - India - Started and played 90 minutes in Bengaluru's 1-0 win over Salgaocar.
Jorge Claros - Qingdao Jonoon - China - Started and played 90 minutes in Qingdao's 2-0 win over Wingdao Hainiu.
Eloy Colombano - AD Berazategui - Defeated Excursionistas 3-0.
Daneil Cyrus - Ha Noi T&T (W Connection) - Vietnam (Trinidad) - No game until 4/3
Toni Dovale - CD Lugo - Spain - Started and played 88 minutes, scoring a goal in Lugo's 3-2 win over Deportivo Alaves.
Pablo Escobar - Cúcuta Deportivo - Colombia - Did not dress in Cucuta's 2-1 loss to Atletico Bucaramanga. Started and played 90 minutes in Cucuta's 0-0 draw wtih Alianza Petrolera.
Herculez Gomez - Puebla - Mexico - Came off the bench and played 20 minutes in Puebla's 2-1 loss to Pumas.
Jermaine Hue - Harbour View - Jamaica - Defeated Reno 2-1.
Jeferson - Boavista - Brazil - Did not dress in Boavista's 2-0 loss to ABC. Came off the bench and played 30 minutes in Boavista's 4-0 loss to Bonsucesso.
Peterson Joseph - Azam FC - Tanzania - No game this week.
Igor Juliao - Fluminense - Brazil - Dressed but did not play in Fluminense's 1-1 draw with Tigres do Brasil.
Carlos Marinelli - Universidad San Martin - Peru - Did not dress in San Martin's 2-1 win over Cienciano.
Igor Kostrov - FK Kyzyl-Zhar - Kazakhstan - No game until 4-4.
Neven Markovic - Servette FC - Switzerland - Dressed but did not play in Servette's 0-0 draw with Wil.
Yura Movsisyan - Spartak Moscow - Russia - Dressed but did not play in Spartak's 1-0 win over Torpedo Moscow.
Lawrence Olum - Kedah FA - Malaysia - No game this week.
Akeem Priestley - Sheikh Russel KC - Bangladesh - Offseason.
Pablo Punyed - Stjarnan - Iceland - Defeated Thor 1-0.
Oriol Rosell - Sporting Club de Portugal - Portugal - Dressed but did not play in Sporting's 4-1 win over Vitoria Guimaraes.
Soony Saad - BCC Tero (loaned fromBEC Tero Sasana FC) - Thailand - Defeated Chamchuri United 3-1.
Peter Schmetz - Wuppertaler SV - Germany - Drew 0-0 wtih SF Baumberg.
Yann Songo'o - Blackburn - England - Dressed but did not play in Blackburn's 1-0 loss to Brighton.
Martin Steuble - Ceres-La Salle - Philippines - Defeated Stallions 3-0.
Milos Stojcev - FK Sarajevo - Bosnia - Came off the bench and played 22 minutes in Sarajevo's 1-0 win over Borac Banja Luka. Came off the bench and played 20 minutes in Sarajevo's 2-0 win over Velez.
Matt Taylor - Saarbrücken - Germany - Started and played 89 minutes in Saarbrucken's 1-0 win over Nottingen.

Espinoza and Honduras Find Themselves in a Hole

The week of international matches for Sporting KC players did not get off to a good start. Roger Espinoza were in French Guiana to take on their national side in the Gold Cup playoff. The two teams are playing a home-home schedule for the final spot in this summer's Gold Cup.

Honduras got off to a good start as Jerry Bengston got a goal in the 18th minute to take a 1-0 lead. From there though things went down hill. A pair of goals in the 25th and 27th minute put French Guiana on top with Marvin Torvic finding the net off a corner kick and Sloan Privat finishing off a low cross. Privat finished off the scoring in the 62nd minute scoring his second on a long cross.

Sporting's Espinoza started the game for Honduras and played the first 65 minutes before making way for Andy Najar as Honduras tried to chase the game. Honduras will now need to over come a two goal deficit on Sunday at San Pedro Sula or else they'll miss out on qualification for the Gold Cup. The winner of the series will face off against the USA, Panama, and Haiti in Group A.

Here are the highlights from the game.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Conflicting Stories on van der Vaart

Over the past two days, a pair of conflicting stories have come out regarding Sporting KC and their potential new designated player, Rafael van der Vaart. The Dutch international has been linked with a summer move to Kansas City once his contract expires with German club Hamburg.

Yesterday, KC Star beat writer, Sam McDowell provided an update on the situation saying that Peter Vermes and SKC were still in contact with van der Vaart, but that the two had no movement in regards to a new contract. Peter Vermes, Robb Heineman, and Mike Illig met with van der Vaart after his club played Eintracht Frankfurt in Bundesliga action. In the article though, Vermes claims that "there is nothing happening at the moment."

Then today came a story from that was picked up by Univision about KC's pursuit of van der Vaart. The article claims that the deal to bring van der Vaart to the US is done and that the 32 year old will sign a two and a half year contract with the club. The only quotes in the article are old ones from Heineman referencing the fact that van der Vaart is unlikely to come until the summer when he'd be available on a free transfer unless Hamburg were to release him early the same way that Wigan did.

In response to this latest story today, McDowell took to Twitter today to explain that nothing had changed from his reporting the day before regarding van der Vaart's status on signing with Sporting KC. For what it's worth, I put more faith in the reporting of McDowell than I do That's not to say that I don't think a deal will get done, just that I believe McDowell's sources on where things stand right now.

With the way that KC continues to play right now, the van der Vaart move makes more and more sense for KC. Vermes seems dead set on keeping Benny Feilhaber in that deep lying playmaker role, which has reduced his role in the offense. KC's passing from the midfield in the final third has really lacked this year with Paulo Nagamura, Roger Espinoza, and even Krisztian Nemeth filling in at the advanced role. Another playmaker on the field in front of Feilhaber would help to release some of that pressure that is currently on the attacking midfield position. My early concerns about his health, fitness, and defensive play are still to be answered though.

Lopez Loaned to OKC

Sporting Kansas City has announced the first player that they have loaned to USL affiliate club, the Oklahoma City Energy. KC is sending third year pro, Mikey Lopez to OKC to begin the season with the Energy. OKC kicks off their season on Saturday with a game against in-state rivals, the Tulsa Roughnecks.

Lopez appeared in eight MLS games last season while splitting time between KC's two affiliates, Orlando and OKC. Those were his first MLS appearances for the club, having appeared in one US Open Cup game in his rookie campaign. He is currently still a Generation Adidas player, meaning his salary does not count against the cap for KC. But with this being his third season, this is going to be a big one for him to prove that he still deserves to have a spot on this team. That'll likely mean needing to have a big season this year, whether that's in Oklahoma or in KC.

Don't expect Lopez to be the only player to go on loan though, I expect a few others to eventually make their way there. KC's entire 2015 draft class could eventually go to OKC, but Saad Abdul-Salaam, Connor Hallisey, and James Rogers would likely be the favorites to go on loan. Amadou Dia could also be a possibility once Chance Myers returns and is able to go, especially if Jalil Anibaba does well.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday After Stats

The two points through three games is the fewest KC's had through three games since they had 0 points through three in the 1999 season.

In the 90th minute, Matt Besler moved past Jack Jewsbury and into 7th place for minutes played in league play for KC. He finished the game with 13,276 minutes played.

Besler made his 183rd appearance in all competitions for KC, tying him with Matt McKeon for 8th all time on that list.

In the 7th minute, Graham Zusi moved past Michael Harrington and into 12th place for minutes played in all competitions. Zusi finished the game with 13,360 minutes played.

Zusi started his 144th game in all competitions for KC, tying him with Josh Wolff for 12th all time on that list.

Roger Espinoza made his 116th appearance in league play for KC, breaking his tie with Jose Burciaga for 20th all time on that list.

Dom Dwyer made his 50th start in all competitions for KC, he's the 53rd player to hit that mark for KC.

Sporting's Defense Cleans Up, but Offense Still Lacks in 0-0 Draw

Sporting Kansas City is off to their worst start to the season since 1999. Last night at Sporting Park made it three straight to start the season without a win as they played the Portland Timbers to a 0-0 draw. The defense stepped up against a Portland team that has shown to cause Kansas City trouble on the counter in the past, shutting out the Timbers offense while Luis Marin came up with saves when he was called upon.

Kansas City had much of the early pressure and created probably their best chances of the game in the early going. Ike Opara had two good chances early on off a pair of Marcel de Jong corner. The best of those two being the second when Opara got himself some space against Nat Borchers but flashed his open header wide of the net. In the 15th minute, Jimmy Medranda did a good job of breaking down Portland's defense, going between a couple defenders. From there Medranda played the ball to Dom Dwyer who fired a shot but it was imediately deflected. The immediate deflection though almost worked to Dwyer's advantage as it carried his shot over goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey, but it carried it just over the cross bar and out as well. KC's early pressure led to no goals for the team though as Portland's defense held firm and kept KC out of the net. As the half went on, Portland started to get more of the play, but KC's defense and Luis Marin both held firm keeping Portland off the board.

The second half saw both teams trade possession without much in the way of chances. In the 60th minute, Fanendo Adi broke past Jalil Anibaba and raced in on goal, but his shot from a tight angle was right at Marin. It had enough pace on it that Marin could only knock it away, but Marin kept it out of the net. KC's best chance of the second half came in the 77th minute when a cross by de Jong was put right on the head of Opara, but Opara put this effort just over the bar. Minutes later, Anibaba had a glancing header go just wide of the goal. In the end though Kansas City really lacked in terms of creating chances last night, and creating dangerous chances. KC recorded 16 shots, but only placed two of those on goal. For the most part Dwyer was marked out of the game by Portland's back line, and Benny Feilhaber's role last night left him so far away from goal that he wasn't able to really be involved in KC's attack, something that leaves KC without a lot of dynamic play when it comes to their attack.

Wizards Man of the Match - Luis Marin - Not a lot on the field to be really impressed with overall, but Marin had himself a very good game, making some good saves and his distribution was on point more of the night.

Player Ratings - Marin 7, de Jong 6, Besler 6, Opara 6, Anibaba 6, Feilhaber 5, Nagamura 4, Espinoza 4, Zusi 4, Dwyer 4, Medranda 5. Subs Anor 4, Carrasco NR, Mustivar NR.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Match Day 3 - Still Searching for the First Win

Sporting KC return home for their third game of the season,welcoming the Portland Timbers to Sporting Park. Both teams are looking for their first win of the season, Sporting sitting 0-1-1 with one point after drawing with New York and losing to Dallas. Portland sits 0-0-2 after home draws against Salt Lake and LA.

Portland comes into this game with a midfield that is still beaten up. The team has three long term injuries in their midfield with Diego Valeri, Will Johnson, and Ben Zemanski all out with long term injuries. The three being out have changed Portland tactics a bit this year. Without any of those three in the midfield, Portland has taken a more direct approach, bypassing their midfield and getting the likes of Darlington Nagbe and Rodney Wallace involved in the play much faster. Against LA, Nagbe and Wallace both caused the Galaxy a number of problems with their pace as each had an assist on one of Fanendo Adi's goals last week.

Not exactly like Portland, but KC has a midfield problem of their own after the first two games of the season. With KC's inverted triangle this year in midfield that has seen Benny Feilhaber play a more withdrawn playmaker role, KC has struggled defensively in the midfield. At times both Feilhaber and Roger Espinoza have been going forward, leaving KC's back four exposed without the safety net in front of them to break up plays. Peter Vermes tried to negate that a bit against Dallas by inserting Paulo Nagamura into the midfield, but KC still struggled with gaps between the midfield and defense. With Portland's direct style that they're playing right now, leaving gaps like that will cause KC a lot of problems.

The big question for the team may be who starts at left back, Canadian international Marcel de Jong, or last year's starter, Seth Sinovic. Whoever gets the call will be the one called upon to mainly deal with Nagbe for Portland, not an easy ask at all.

Dia - Opara - Besler - Sinovic
Feilhaber - Espinoza
Zusi - Nemeth - Anor

Number to Remember - 1999 - If KC fails to get a win tomorrow, it'll be the first time since 1999 that the team has gone through the first three games of the season without recording one win. The last time the team went two games into the season without a win was 2009 when the team won their third game 2-0 over San Jose. KC has traditionally been fast starters.

Key Match Up - KC outside backs vs Darlington Nagbe and Rodney Wallace - As I previously mentioned, Portland has been playing a more direct style this year because of their midfield injuries. That, and with KC's style of high pressure means that KC's outside backs are going to have to be on their toes tomorrow because the combination of the two styles could leave Sporting very exposed in the back for the likes of Nagbe and Wallace to have a field day. Whether it's Sinovic or de Jong on the left, and whether it's Dia or someone else on the right, they're going to have to be on top of their game defensively to deal with Portland's wingers. Last weekend against Dallas the team struggled to cope with another pacey winger, Fabian Castillo, hopefully they've learned their lesson.

PREDICTION - This isn't a must win game for KC at this point, but a win would certainly be a big boost here. KC hasn't won a game since a 2-0 win over Chicago on October 10th. That's four straight league games without a win, and six straight in all competitions with the CCL loss in Costa Rica and playoff loss to New York. It's not something that Sporting has had to deal with in a long time. Shutting down Portland's wing play will be key. Unfortunately that's really not something that KC has been successful with over the last year or so. The team's high pressure leaves them exposed, especially on the wings. If KC is going to continue the high pressure, KC's forward and wide midfielders are going to have to be really tight with their pressure, giving a lot of space will get Nagbe and Wallace the time to get open against KC's outside backs and we've seen how well that's gone for KC. Both teams are really needing a win to get their season going. While I'm not overly confident that KC can get all three points, I think KC does get things done tomorrow night against Portland.

SKC - 2 (Dwyer, Nemeth)
PTFC - 1 (Wallace)

Kempin Loaned to San Antonio

Sporting Kansas City announced today that homegrown goalkeeper, Jon Kempin is headed out on loan, and it's not to the place that most people expected him to go though. Most people expected Kempin to be headed to Oklahoma City to continue to play under Jimmy Nielsen with affiliate club, the Oklahoma City Energy. That has turned out not to be true, instead, Kempin will go to the NASL and has joined the defending NASL champion, San Antonio Scorpions for the 2015 season.

Kempin not going to OKC, while surprising, does make some sense, as the Energy currently have three goalkeepers on their roster, including Evan Newton, who played 28 games for Arizona United in the USL last season. So with three goalkeepers already, and a goalkeeper with experience playing at this level, OKC doesn't need Kempin at this time. After last season when Kempin was recalled with plenty of time left in the season, I'm sure Nielsen wanted to get some further consistency in goal.

So into the picture comes San Antonio who had a similar situation last year when they had current NYCFC goalkeeper, Josh Saunders, in on loan before that club started up this year. This will give Kempin the chance to be a consistent starter and get him game time that he desperately needs at this point in his career. With Tim Melia in town to back up Luis Marin, this gives Kempin the chance to go to San Antonio, fight for the starting job there and get a number of games he likely wouldn't get here.

There's no word yet on whom on the roster Sporting will send to Oklahoma City at this point, but the likes of Saad Abdul-Salaam, Jimmy Medranda, and James Rogers seem like a few that could be on their way south.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

#TBT Four Years Ago Today, Sporting Debuts

Time for another Throw Back Thursday, and some more Sporting KC/KC Wizards history for you. Originally today I was going to bring the last time KC had one point or less through the first two games of the season and how the third game went, 2009, against San Jose in the rain, sleet, and snow. Instead thanks to Time Hop I'm going to bring up the first game the team ever played as "Sporting Kansas City," which occurred four years ago today, in 2011.

With the opening of then Livestrong Sporting Park not happening until June, Sporting KC opened the 2011 season on the road against Chivas USA (RIP) in the first of seven straight on the road. The game against Chivas seemed like a good start to the season for KC, Chivas had finished at the bottom of the Western Conference in 2010 while KC had seen an improved 2010 season under Peter Vermes in his first season as head coach. While Sporting hadn't made the playoffs, they'd finished third in the Eastern Conference with an 11-13-6 record. The team had gone through a lot of roster turnover ahead of the 2011 season, in was the team's second designated player, Omar Bravo, eventual rookie of the year winner, CJ Sapong, future MLS Best XI defender, Aurelien Collin (who did not play against Chivas), and Julio Cesar, along with many others (Luke Sassano and Milos Stojcev for example). Chivas USA meanwhile had a very familiar face to KC fans, in the form of Jimmy Conrad who was Chivas' captain in his final season as a player.

The game was also my 10th road trip for a competitive game for Kansas City. In the previous nine I'd gone an unremarkable 0-5-4, so obviously even though the match up favored Kansas City, my expectations were low for seeing my first ever away win in person.

Things couldn't have started better for Kansas City as in only the second minute a long free kick into the box by Luke Sassano was not cleared and eventually fell to Sapong who touched the ball away from a defender and fired it past Zach Thornton to give KC the lead. To put in perspective how rare of an occurrence Kansas City having a lead on the road when I traveled was, that was just the third time in my nine trips that Kansas City ever held the lead in a game I went to. Chivas controlled the game after the goal, forcing Jimmy Nielsen to make a few good saves to keep KC in front. Then right before half time KC grabbed a second. A long cross from Kei Kamara made it over the head of Sapong and his defender right to Bravo who was unmarked at the top of the box. Bravo chipped his shot over an on rushing Thornton and into the net to double KC's lead at the half 2-0.
The second half saw Chivas cut the lead in half as Conrad scored against his former club after KC failed to clear a corner. KC reestablished their two goal lead with Bravo getting his second in the 74th minute. A long goal kick by Jimmy Nielsen was then headed from Sapong, to Bravo, to Kei Kamara back into the path of Bravo who touched it past Thornton and into the net to make it 3-1. Late on, Chivas would make it interesting as Ben Zemanski scored off a partially cleared corner to make it 3-2 before KC held on to finish the game off.

I really can't explain what a joy it was to finally see the team win on the road, funny enough, since the team re-branded, I'm 4-2-2 when I travel to games.

Outside the game itself, the time I had at the Home Depot Center (now Stub Hub Center) was great, the Chivas supporters that we tailgated with were great, just like the majority of supporters that I've met all over the US in my travels. They gave us beer, we could get food, it was all around enjoyable. They even provided entertainment with a water balloon launcher, which one of them used to take a water balloon to his face from point blank range.

Inside the stadium, as has become tradition, Robb Heineman came down and visited the 70 some odd supporters that had traveled for the game, cheering with the supporters, while making sure to replace any time we said Wizards with Sporting (the re-branding was still a sore subject to some of us, myself included). Not only was Heineman in the section, but after Sapong's second minute equalizer, he got the entire traveling Cauldron beer. Earlier in the day, Mike Illig (son of Cliff) had tweeted that with KC's first goal against Chivas he'd buy every SKC fan a beer at Johnny's Tavern in downtown KC. When Heineman was asked what about those that were traveling to LA, Heineman made the same offer. So after celebrating Sapong's goal I was brought along with Heineman to get beers for the group of traveling supporters.

Overall probably one of my favorite road trips, probably behind only my trip to Vancouver and Portland in 2012.

A Good and Bad Day for the Missouri Comets

It's been a mixed bag for the Missouri Comets this afternoon as the team got good news regarding some of the league's year end awards, but that was combined with the bad news of the league handing down suspensions from the past weekend's Eastern Conference Finals against the Baltimore Blast.

First the good news as the league announced the year end awards, and of the five major awards, Kansas City walked away with two of them. Leo Gibson was the overwhelming winner of the league's MVP award this year, setting lead records for points (93), goals (48), assists (45), and points in a game (12). The other winner for the Comets, was the team's head coach, Vlatko Andonovski, who helped coach the team to the 20-0 regular season for the Comets. Neither of those two were a surprise really, it would have only been a surprise if neither one of those two players had won the award.

The same lack of surprise could fit two of the other awards as goalkeeper of the year went to Baltimore's William Vanzela, who beat out Danny Waltman for the award. While Waltman had more wins (17), Vanzela's goals against average of 2.83 and four shutouts were both league records that were definitely worthy of the award. The other was rookie of the year which unsurprisingly went to Gordy Gurson, who scored 46 goals while splitting time with the Seattle Impact and St. Louis Ambush.

One award that was a bit of a surprise though was the defender of the year award. Two Comets players, John Sosa and Brian Harris were up for the award against Baltimore's Pat Healey. In what the Comets described as a close race, Healey won the award. It certainly could be argued that Harris and Sosa cannibalized votes for the other, leaving Healey as the favorite, but I thought the award would be going to Harris for his defensive and offensive performance for Missouri.

As for the bad news, the suspensions from the Eastern Conference Finals for the two players, Harris and Sosa, who received red cards in the final minute of the game, and Andre Braithwaite for his post game activities. Braithwaite, who headbutted Baltimore defender, Healey received the harshest punishment, an indefinite suspension from the MASL. Braithwaite can re-apply for entrance back into the league after the 2015/2016 season. The Comets have already parted ways with the defender, releasing him within hours of the incident.

The next harshest punishment went to Harris who got himself a three game suspension for his late slide tackle with 12 seconds left in the game. The final suspension was given to Sosa who got just the one game for the foul and abusive language. Overall, I think the punishment for three is perfectly just and not one any of the players, or the team really should argue with or appeal.

The announcement from the league also makes mention of Andonovski's comments about Ed Hale and referee Ryan Cigich, which the league found no merit in. Finally the league says that the behavior or others is still being investigated at this time. It would surprise me to see a fine for Andonovski at some point for his comments.

De Jong and Espinoza Called Up

Sporting Kansas City's first trip to Yankee Stadium will be with a bit of an undermanned roster. Today Canada and Honduras named their rosters for the upcoming FIFA International window and Kansas City had players from both countries named to the rosters.
Canada has called up KC left back, Marcel de Jong for their friendlies on March 27th against Guatemala and March 30th against Puerto Rico. The game against Guatemala will take place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, while the Puerto Rico game will be played in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. De Jong would become the first Kansas City player to represent Canada while a member of Sporting KC and the third overall (Alex Bunbury and Pat Harrington the other two).
Honduras called up Roger Espinoza for their Gold Cup playoff against French Guiana. After finishing fifth in this past year's Copa Centroamericana, this is used as Central America's qualifying for the Gold Cup. Having finished fifth, Honduras has to play a home and away qualifier against French Guiana, who finished fifth in this past year's Caribbean Cup. The two sides will meet in French Guiana on March 25th with the return leg four days later in Honduras. The winner will advance to the Gold Cup where they will join the US, Panama, and Haiti in Group A. It's Espinoza's first call up to the national team since the World Cup last summer where he played in all three games for Honduras.
Both will miss Kansas City's game on March 28th in New York against NYCFC. There's also the potential for another few players to be called up and miss the game as well because both Haiti (Soni Mustivar) and the US (Matt Besler and less likely Graham Zusi) also have friendlies during the upcoming window.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Chhetri Brace Leads India in World Cup Qualifying - Former SKC Wizards Update

It seems crazy, but qualifying or the 2018 World Cup in Russia has kicked off. The Asian Federation got the process started with their lowest ranked teams playing in the first round of qualifying. This included Sunil Chhetri and the 171st ranked India. They were matched up with 186th seeded Nepal. In the first leg in India, Chhetri scored a pair of second half goals to lead India to a 2-0 win. In the second leg, India again held Nepal scoreless and advanced 2-0 on aggregate. They will now move on to the second round of qualifying.

Here's the rest of this week's update.

Active without a club or unknown
Federico Bessone
Bobby Convey
Mechack Jerome
Will John
Michael Kafari
Neal Kitson
Jonathan Leathers
Nelson Pizarro
Ivan Trujillo
Konrad Warzycha

Davy Arnaud - DC - No game this week.
Teal Bunbury - New England - Out injured.
Aurelien Collin - Orlando City - Suspended for Orlando's 1-0 win over Houston.
Luis Gil - Salt Lake - Started and played 70 minutes in RSL's 3-3 draw with Philadelphia.
Michael Harrington - Colorado - No game this week.
Jack Jewsbury - Portland - Started and played 90 minutes in Portland's 2-2 draw with LA.
Eddie Johnson - DC - Out on leave.
Kei Kamara - Columbus - Started and played 90 minutes, scoring a goal in Columbus' 2-0 win over Toronto.
Chris Konopka - Toronto - Dressed but did not play in Toronto's 2-0 loss to Columbus.
Eric Kronberg - Montreal - No game this week.
CJ Sapong - Philadelphia - Out injured.
Khari Stephenson - San Jose - Did not dress in San Jose's 3-2 win over Seattle.
Tyson Wahl - Columbus - Dressed but did not play in Columbus' 2-0 win over Toronto.
Sal Zizzo - New York - No game this week.

Stefan Antonijevic - Tampa Bay - No game until 4-4.
James Marcelin - Fort Lauderdale - No game until 4-4
Rauwshan McKenzie - Atlanta - No game until 4-4.
Kyle Miller - Atlanta - No game until 4-4.

Christian Duke - Oklahoma City - No game utnil 3-28
Brian Fekete - Austin - No game until 3-28
Adnan Gabeljic - Sacramento - No game until 3-21
Cyprian Hedrick - Oklahoma City - No game until 3-28
Alex Martinez - Charlotte- No game until 3-27
Victor Munoz - Arizona - No game until 3-28
Tony Rocha - Austin - No game until 3-28
Michael Thomas - Oklahoma City - No game until 3-28
Yomby William - Richmond - No game until 3-28
John Wilson - Charleston - No game until 3-21

Jamar Beasley - Ontario - Offseason.
Josh Gardner - Missouri - Had a goal and an assist in Missouri's 8-2 win over Milwaukee. Did not play in Missouri's 6-4 loss to Baltimore. Had two goals in Missouri's 10-7 loss to Baltimore.
Pat Healey - Baltimore - Scored a goal in Baltimore's 6-4 win over Rocheser. Had an assist in Baltimore's 6-4 win over Missouri. Had an assist in Baltimore's 10-7 win over Missouri.
Mike Jones - Dallas - Offseason.
Michal Mravec - Tacoma - Offseason.
Boris Pardo - Wichita - Offseason.

Korede Aiyegbusi - Auerbach - Germany - Did not dress in Auerbach's 3-0 loss to Wacker Nordhausen.
Scott Angevine - Vasa - Finland - No games until 4/12
Vicente Arze - Blooming - Bolivia - Did not dress in Blooming's 1-0 loss to Nacional Potosi.
Claudio Bieler - Quilmes - Argentina - Started and played 84 minutes in Quilmes' 2-1 win over Velez Sarsfield.
Omar Bravo - Chivas - Mexico - Started and played 82 minutes in Chivas' 2-1 win over Puebla.
Reinaldo Brenes - Saprissa - Costa Rica - Did not dress in Saprssa's 1-1 draw with Puma Generalena. Dressed but did not play in Saprissa's 2-1 win over Limon.
Mitchell Cardenas - Atlético Coatzacoalcos - Mexico - Lost 1-0 to Toros Neza UTN.
Sunil Chhetri - Bengaluru - India - Started and played 90 minutes, scoring a goal in India's 2-0 win over Nepal. Started and played 90 minutes in India's 0-0 draw with Nepal. Did not dress in Bengaluru's 1-0 win over Warriors.
Jorge Claros - Qingdao Jonoon - China - Started and played 90 minutes in Qingdao Jonoon's 4-1 loss to Harbin Yiteng.
Eloy Colombano - AD Berazategui - Defeated Central Cordoba 3-1.
Daneil Cyrus - Ha Noi T&T (W Connection) - Vietnam (Trinidad) - No game until 4/3
Toni Dovale - CD Lugo - Spain - Started and played 69 minutes in Lugo's 0-0 draw with Real Zaragoza.
Pablo Escobar - Cúcuta Deportivo - Colombia - Did not dress in either of Cucuta's games.
Herculez Gomez - Puebla - Mexico - Started and played 90 minutes in Puebla's 2-1 loss to Chivas.
Jermaine Hue - Harbour View - Jamaica - No game this week.
Jeferson - Boavista - Brazil - Did not dress in either of Boavista's games.
Peterson Joseph - Azam FC - Tanzania - No game this week.
Igor Juliao - Fluminense - Brazil - Did not dress in either of Fluminense's games.
Carlos Marinelli - Universidad San Martin - Peru - Did not dress in San Martin's 3-2 loss to Melgar.
Igor Kostrov - FK Kyzyl-Zhar - Kazakhstan - No game until 4-4.
Neven Markovic - Servette FC - Switzerland - Did not dress in Servette's 2-2 draw with Le Mont.
Yura Movsisyan - Spartak Moscow - Russia - Came off the bench and played 27 minutes in Spartak's 1-0 win over Dinamo Moscow.
Lawrence Olum - Kedah FA - Malaysia - Tied Pulau Pinang 3-3. Lost 1-0 to Johor Darul Ta'zim II.
Akeem Priestley - Sheikh Russel KC - Bangladesh - Offseason.
Pablo Punyed - Stjarnan - Iceland - No game this week.
Oriol Rosell - Sporting Club de Portugal - Portugal - Started and played 90 minutes in Sporting's 1-0 win over Maritimo.
Soony Saad - BCC Tero (loaned fromBEC Tero Sasana FC) - Thailand - Lost 3-1 to Rayong United.
Peter Schmetz - Wuppertaler SV - Germany - Defeated Jahn Dinslaken-Hiesfeld 5-0.
Yann Songo'o - Blackburn - England - Dressed but did not play in Blackburn's 3-1 win over Charlton. Dressed but did not play in Blackburn' 3-2 loss to Brentford.
Martin Steuble - Ceres-La Salle - Philippines - Defeated Kaya 2-1.
Milos Stojcev - FK Sarajevo - Bosnia - Started and played 58 minutes in Sarajevo's 2-1 loss to Borac Banja Luka. Started and played 65 minutes in Sarajevo's 0-0 draw with Borac Banja Luka.
Matt Taylor - Saarbrücken - Germany - Started and played 90 minutes, scoring a goal in Saarbrucken's 1-0 win over Zweibrucken.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Suspension and Fines Handed Out From KC's Game in Dallas

Today, the MLS Disciplinary Committee came down with two announcements regarding this past weekend's game between Sporting KC and FC Dallas. Sporting KC's fitness coach Mateus Manoel was suspended for one game and giving a fine for entering the field of play and kicking the ball.

That sounds a lot worse than it actually is. In the 64th minute, a shot by Kansas City went wide of the goal and out of bounds. It bounced off the sign boards and rolled towards the corner flag, eventually rolling back into play. Manoel, who was in the corner working with KC's bench players, jogged quickly onto the field and kicked the ball back to Chris Seitz. While it seems innocent enough, it's something that the league is looking to cut down on this year apparently, as Dallas' fitness coach was hit with the same suspension and fine after the first week of games. Manoel will now miss this weekend's game against the Portland Timbers.

The other incident involved FC Dallas substitute, Kyle Bekker as he was fined for violating the league's policy about hands to the face.. In the 89th minute, Bekker and KC center back, Kevin Ellis tangled in KC's end of the field. A ball was played up the field towards Bekker, but Ellis beat him to the ball with a sliding tackle. As the two game together, Bekker didn't seem to fully try to jump over Ellis. When that happened, Ellis grabbed Bekker's ankle. Bekker took exception to this while Ellis was on the ground, as Ellis tried to get to his feet, still holding Bekker's ankle, Bekker ended up grabbing Ellis by the face and throwing him to the ground.

There was no mention of any of the other incidents in the game mentioned by Simon Borg in his Instant Replay segment on the league's website. But that doesn't necessarily mean that there won't be action, a lot of times the league will get the obvious violation of rules (like entering the field of play and hands to face) early in the week and then get the more debatable stuff later in the week.

As for the referees in the game, PRO does not announce if there are any suspensions for referees, but Jair Maruffo, the center on Saturday, assistant Eric Boria, and the other two referees were given no assignments for this upcoming weekend's games.

Monday, March 16, 2015

US Soccer Training Center Moving Along

A week ago, we got more information about the upcoming US Soccer national training center in Kansas City. At a Neighborhood and Community Development Standing Committee Meeting, more information about the project was presented to the committee (start at 1 hour 15 minutes into the video below). There was lots of information regarding not just the training center but also the long awaited tournament fields that were to be built in conjunction with the construction of Sporting Park in the first place, and the futsal courts that On Goal is building in Wyandotte County.

First let's get the futsal fields, On Goal has already built two fields currently and will be building eight more of those courts. On Goal will now built double courts on tennis courts and the two that they have already built can be expanded if the Unified Government first lays the surface for the expanded courts. Robb Heineman said that they want to be building on multiple sites at one time, starting as soon as possible. If things were finalized now they could start in April and have all eight additional courts finished by the end of 2015.

On one of the big points of the stadium that has yet to be fulfilled was the building of tournament fields at Wyandotte County Park. Originally as part of the plan to use parts of the STAR Bonds that were used to finance the Legends shopping area in the first place, On Goal and the then Wizards had to agree that they would build tournament quality soccer fields in the park. The new deal though will move the tournament fields from Wyandotte County park to a new site from a family (Speer) in Wyandotte County. The site is the far right purple area in the below screen shot.

The site, near the corner of State Ave. and 90th Street would see at least eight fields of the 12 fields built at the Speer Family site. The other four would be at the national training center, although in the presentation they showed that there is space at the site for another four fields to bring the total there up to 12. On Goal would have the rights to bring up projects in those areas, but would not stand in the way if other projects were brought up. Below is a closer picture of that portion of the project. The facility would be run by On Goal as part of their agreement with the county.

Now, for the big part of the project that the majority of people are probably interested in, the US Soccer national training center. According to the slides that were shown, it's a $64 million proposal for the project. The training center would be built on the northern end of the Schlitterbahn along Parallel Parkway, to the north and east of Sporting Park. The training center will have at least one build, but up to 100,000 square feet of space. During the discussion, Heineman also mentioned that US Soccer is looking for 100,000 of office space for 300 workers, and On Goal is wanting to go after that to try and get that deal here as well. You can see a closer break down of the facility below.

The facility would not have a set number of fields, as Heineman mentions, the topography of the area isn't the greatest and what they're going to do is look to maximize flat usage. The facility would be run by US Soccer, On Goal, or a combination of the two, that portion is still to be finalized.The hope according to the presentation is that the facility will be up and running by 2017.

The full presentation to the full board will take place on March 26th. You can watch the full meeting below.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Comets Season Ends on a Very Sour Note

The Missouri Comets season came to an end today at the Independence Events Center today at the hands of the Baltimore Blast in the Eastern Conference Finals. Baltimore will now move on to take on the Monterrey Flash for the MASL title.

Missouri grabbed the only goal of the first quarter as Kiel Williams found the back of the net to give the Comets the lead late in the first quarter. The second quarter belonged to the Blast though as they scored three unanswered over the first 12 minutes of the quarter to take the lead 3-1. Alain Matingou with just over two and a half minutes left to cut the lead to 3-2. The Blast immediately responded though to make it 4-2 before John Sosa scored in the final second of the quarter to make it 4-3 Baltimore as the teams headed into the half time break.

In the third quarter, the Blast extended their lead to 5-3 early in the quarter on the power play. Missouri though finally got the offense going a bit and were able to level the game at 5-5 in the span of a couple minutes thanks to goals by Bryan Perez and Josh Gardner. Before the end of the quarter though the Blast had extended their lead to two again at 7-5 leaving the Comets with a hill to climb in the final quarter.

The fourth quarter saw the Comets try again and again to find the net but unable to as the Blast killed the clock off. In the final five minutes though things got crazy. Baltimore hit the Comets on the counter to make it 8-5. Missouri switched to the sixth attacker and Gardner almost immediately cut it to a two goal game at 8-6. Then a few minutes later, with a minute 15 left, Leo Gibson got a goal off a restart to cut the lead to one at 8-7. Unfortunately that's where the rally stopped. Twelve seconds after the goal, Baltimore made it 9-7 and then 11 seconds later finished off the scoring at 10-7 to the Blast.

Immediately after the goal, the Comets cool was collectively gone. Sosa picked up a red card for foul and abusive language to the referee. Then after believing he'd been fouled and not receiving a call, Brian Harris came in with dangerous tackle and picked himself up a red card with 12 seconds left to end the Comets season on an extremely sour note.

And unfortunately that wasn't the end of it as after the game ended, Andre Braithwaite did this to Pat Healey.

If not for how stunned I think most of the players were about it happening Braithwaite likely would have seen himself fighting the entire Blast team. And based on Josh Gardner's reaction (he was talking to Healey at the time) I don't think Braithwaite would have gotten a ton of support.

To the Comets credit they responded to Braithwaite's actions fairly quickly, announcing "The Comets organization announces that Andre Braithwaite has been released from the team effective immediately."

The team waiving him isn't a surprise at all based on the above video, a stupid move by the player. He'll likely also receive some sort of lengthy suspension from the league, if he's not outright banned from it for a while.

In the end though, Braithwaite's and the actions of other players at the end of the game ends a really amazing season very sourly. 

Sunday After Stats

Graham Zusi made his 150th league appearance for Kansas City, he's the 9th player to hit that mark for KC.

It also broke his tie with Mo Johnston and Michael Harrington for 9th place on that list.

Zusi made his 143rd start in all competitions for KC, tying him with Harrington for 13th on that list.

Benny Feilhaber started his 100th league game in MLS.

In the 71st minute, Feilhaber hit 10,000 minutes played in all competitions in his MLS career, he finished the game with 10,019 minutes played.

Feilhaber's assist was his 18th in all competitions for KC, moving him into a tie with Jose Burciaga and Francisco Gomez for 14th on that list.

Roger Espinoza made his 120th appearance in league play for KC, tying him with Jose Burciaga for 20th place on that list.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Sporting KC Fall in Dallas

Sporting Kansas City's first road trip of the year didn't turn out very well for KC in Dallas tonight as a Blas Perez brace helped to lead Dallas to a 3-1 win over KC. While KC didn't look extremely well in the loss, and probably deserved to lose the game, the scoreline did flatter Dallas a little bit considering Perez and about four other Dallas players were offside on Perez's second goal, and without that goal, the question becomes whether KC would have been pushing forward as much leading to Dallas' third goal on the counter.

KC actually had the better of possession in the first half, but in the run of play were really struggling to create chances. KC's best opportunities were coming from set pieces and corners from Benny Feilhaber and Graham Zusi. Fabian Castillo almost scored in the seventh minute as he cut in and around four or five Kansas City defenders before hitting a shot from close range that Luis Marin blocked clear. In the 17th minute though, Dallas were the ones that grabbed the lead on a mistake by right back Amadou Dia. Dia beat Castillo to a ball over the top, but didn't do well with the clearance, just right to Castillo collected it and played it right into the path of Tesho Akindele who cut back on Marcel de Jong and played the ball into the path of Perez who fired it past Marin and into the net giving Dallas the 1-0 lead. Kansas City continued to get some chances from set pieces but couldn't capitalize. On one of those set pieces it looked like KC's center back issues would continue as Ike Opara and Chris Seitz both went up for a ball, collided in the air and hit the ground hard. Opara looked in a lot of pain holding his shoulder, immediately fans flashed back to Feilhaber's dislocated shoulder against Houston last year. Thankfully in the end Opara was able to continue. Late in the half though they did find an equalizer through Roger Espinoza. Espinoza received a simple pass from Feilhaber near midfield. Espinoza dribbled up field into the Dallas final third with no one really shutting him down. Finally once he got to the top of the box he fired a shot on goal before pressure got on him. Dallas goalkeeper, Seitz was either shielded or made a horrible read on Espinoza's shot as he reacted late, diving to his near post but was unable to keep the ball out of the net.

Early in the second half, Dallas regained the lead with Perez again scoring the goal. After a Michel corner was cleared right back to the Dallas player, Michel cut back inside moving back up field before playing the ball back into the box. While Michel was doing this, the KC line had pushed back up field. The ball fell to Perez who brought it down with just chest and fired it past Marin and in. Unfortunately for KC Perez was offside when Michel's ball was played along with three to four teammates, but assistant referee, Eric Boria kept his flag down and the goal stood.  Shortly after the goal, Perez almost finished off his hattrick after a poor giveaway by de Jong in KC's defensive end of the field. Thankfully Perez's header from about the six was right at Marin, who had to hurry to get back into goal after the giveaway. Down a goal again, KC had to push numbers forward, and in the 73rd got hit on the counter, for Dallas' third goal. After Zusi had the ball tackled away in the Dallas half of the field, Michel played a great ball over the top to Ryan Hollingshead who ran straight by de Jong into KC's half of the field. As Opara came over to cover, Hollingshead played a ball back into the middle for Castillo who had burned past Dia, touched the ball past an on rushing Marin and calmly put the ball into the net to make it 3-1. A couple minutes later though KC thought they had a life line. Off a Zusi free kick, substitute, Bernardo Anor was fouled in the box by Matt Hedges leading to a penalty kick for Kansas City. Dom Dwyer stepped up to take the kick, but hit the PK poorly. It was right in that range to the keepers side where they can easily reach it with a dive. Seitz pushed the shot away and the rebound was cleared. KC pushed forward the rest of the way trying to find themselves a goal to close the gap but were unable to test Seitz and KC sank to the bottom of the West two games into the season thanks to other results around the league.

Wizards Man of the Match - Roger Espinoza - Really I don't think anyone looked that good overall tonight, the defense had a lot of issues, the outside backs especially, the midfield continued to be a bit disjointed in its style, even with the insertion of another defensive minded midfielder in Paulo Nagamura, and the attackers didn't test Seitz enough. Espinoza gets it for showing a willingness to attack on the dribble and scoring a goal tonight.

Player Ratings - Marin 4, Dia 3, Opara 4, Ellis 4, De Jong 3, Feilhaber 4, Espinoza 5, Nagamura 4, Nemeth 4, Dwyer 3, Zusi 4. Subs Anor 5, Peterson NR.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Match Day 2: Sporting KC at FC Dallas

Sporting KC head on the road for the first time in the 2015 season as they've traveled to Dallas for their first match against a Western Conference opponent since their move back to the West this season. It'll be a familiar opponent for Kansas City though as the two MLS originals have met 49 times in the past, with KC leading the overall series 20-19-10.

Dallas comes into the game on the back of a late game winner in their season opener at home against the San Jose Earthquakes. Blas Perez scored in second half stoppage time to lead Dallas to the 1-0 win, redirecting a shot with his head into the net. Dallas had an impressive end to the 2014 season, playing well under Oscar Pareja in his first season as coach of Dallas. With the likes of Fabian Castillo running at defenders, the Dallas attack poses a number of problems for KC's back line, especially with Matt Besler out. Defensively, Dallas has recent national teamer, Matt Hedges anchoring the center of defense. Behind him will be either Chris Seitz, who started Dallas' opener, or Dan Kennedy, who the team acquired in the Chivas USA dispersal draft.

For KC the big question is who is going to replace Besler in the center of KC's defense next to Ike Opara. The options range from Erik Palmer-Brown, to the recently acquired Jalil Anibaba, to Kevin Ellis, who has returned from his concussion and will apparently be available for selection. Based on tweets by KC Star beat writer, Sam McDowell, it would seem that KC's teenage U20 international, Palmer-Brown looks set to start his first game of the season. After the center back position the question is whether Peter Vermes will do something to try to stabilize the midfield a bit more. There seemed to be issues last week for Benny Feilhaber and Roger Espinoza in regards to one staying home and one attacking more depending on the situation. Does Vermes try to work things out between the two of them and have them start again Saturday, or does he look to insert someone like Paulo Nagamura to bring some more stability in the midfield while sacrificing Bernardo Anor (who Nagamura subbed in for against New York) or possibly Krisztian Nemeth. In the end I think Vermes sticks with Espinoza and Feilhaber for consistency, but has them play a little deeper this game than they did at home against New York.

Dia - Opara - EPB - Sinovic
Feilhaber - Espinoza
Zusi - Dwyer - Anor

Number to Remember - 1 - From Sporting's By the Numbers, the home team in this series since 2010 has just 1 win in 6 in this series(1-3-2). That win was by Dallas in July of 2010. One is also the number of losses that Dallas has at home in their last 14 home games (11-1-2), that's home form that Kansas City only wishes that they had right now.

Key Match Up - Ike Opara vs Blas Perez - After going up against the MLS Golden Boot winner last weekend, Opara will now have to deal with another consistent goal scorer. Perez though is a different type of striker than Bradley Wright-Phillips, Perez will be much more physical with Opara than BWP was and will be a different challenge for Opara to deal with. At the same time, Opara's match up with Perez will be with Castillo being a pest running at KC's defense, which will cause its own problems.

PREDICTION - This should be a good test of where this Sporting team is at in this early part of the season.Dallas is a good young team that is well coached. KC's road form under Vermes the last few years has been quite good, compared to the rest of the league. Dallas though is extremely good at home under Pareja and will be ready for the game. I'd love to see a KC win for the 800 or so traveling Cauldron who will help turn Toyota Park into Sporting Park South, but I question whether that'll be enough. Dallas is a good team with plenty of attacking options, this will be a much sterner test than New York was. I'm not sure KC gets out of Dallas with anything tomorrow.

SKC 1 - (Dwyer)
FCD 2 - (Perez, Diaz)

Comets Fall for the First Time in Baltimore

The Missouri Comets lost their first game of the season in Baltimore tonight 6-4 to the Baltimore Blast in the first game of the Eastern Conference finals. Missouri traveled across the state after their game last night against the Milwaukee Wave and caught an early flight this morning to Baltimore for tonight's game.

Tonight's game ended up being a defensive battle from both teams. Alain Matingou got the Comets on the board late in the first quarter off a restart with Bryan Perez providing the assist to put the Comets up 2-0. The second quarter saw both teams defense and goalkeeper continue to put on a show, but late in the quarter the Blast tied the game up Adriano Dos Santos.

The defensive show continued in the third quarter, with Pat Healey picking out Tony Donatelli who beat Danny Waltman to give Baltimore a 4-2 lead. Baltimore extended their lead early in the fourth quarter through Lucas Roque to make it 6-2. The Comets pressured down the stretch, insert John Sosa as the team's sixth attacker. They were able to cut the lead to 6-4 with just over three and a half minutes to play as Vahid Assadpour picked out Leo Gibson who headed the ball home. Unfortunately Missouri couldn't find an equalizer and will now return to Missouri needing to win not just the main game on Sunday, but also the mini game as well to advance to the MASL finals.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

#TBT The Worst Road Trip Ever

With the big trip to Dallas this weekend, when there will be over 750 people traveling down the Toyota Park to watch Sporting KC take on FC Dallas I figured I'd use this Throw Back Thursday to look back at probably the worst road trip I've ever been on, and hard to think many others have been on worse.

First, let's set the stage, the year was 2009, the then Kansas City Wizards were headed down to Dallas to take on FC Dallas. The Wizards at the time were 5-6-6 having draw their last two games on the road 0-0 with New England and 1-1 at home against the LA Galaxy (the game Claudio Lopez scored from midfield). At this point KC's chances of making the playoffs, weren't hanging in the balance, but getting some sort of result was needed for Curt Onalfo's men. Adam Cristman got one of his three starts for KC in the game while Rauwshan McKenzie made one of his five league starts in that game. KC's current captain, Matt Besler was at right back.

From the start KC struggled to deal with Dallas as they came forward, the Wizards faced a lot of one way traffic, with Jack Jewsbury struggling to deal with Brek Shea and Jair Benitez on Dallas' left side. KC's defense held though for much of the first half either from saves by Kevin Hartman or from the offside flag. Finally in the 38th minute Jeff Cunningham opened the scoring as Atiba Harris was played in behind Besler and played a cross to the back post where Cunningham was unmarked to tap home. Only minutes later it was 2-0. Again Dallas broke down KC's right side way too easily and Shea played a ball into the middle where David Ferreira ran in front of McKenzie to flick on the cross and put it past Hartman to make it 2-0 before the teams headed into half time.

At half time, Onalfo tried to stop the bleeding, subbing out Herculez Gomez for Lance Watson, sliding him to right back and pushing Jewsbury into the midfield after all the trouble he had dealing with Shea. The move didn't hurt KC early on at least, Davy Arnaud forced a good save out of Dario Sala just after the half started and KC showed a little bit of life. It didn't last long though and in the 65th minute, after Hartman had come out of his box and muffed a clearance, Cunningham won the ball off McKenzie outside the box and proceeded to get fouled inside the box as the Dallas attacker carried forward. Cunningham stepped up and buried the PK for his second of the night. As if things couldn't get worse, a minute later Claudio Lopez got sent off for an elbow to the throat of Dax McCarty as KC's designated player tried to hold off the Dallas midfielder. Up a man, Dallas made it 4-0 in the 76th as a long Shea cross into the box caused Hartman to start to come out, then back pedal back towards goal. The hesitation led to the ball falling to the fee of Cunningham who finished off his hattrick. Two minutes later, a poor turnover in KC's defensive half of the field by Santiago Hirsig led to Ferreira going right at Hartman in a 1v1 situation. Hartman came off his line and tried to make a slide tackle just outside the box, but missed badly as Ferreira basically walked the ball into the net to make it 5-0. Cunningham officially finished the game off in the 89th as Hirsig hesitated in cutting out a through ball that made it to Cunningham. The striker hit a shot on goal that wasn't extremely hard, and hit right at Hartman, but the ball went under the KC goal keeper and rolled slowly into the net to finish off the second worst loss in KC history.

In the aftermath of the game, the Wizards fired head coach Onalfo on August 6th. KC was off until the 16th of August so the team had time to integrate under interim head coach, Peter Vermes, but KC proceeded to lose the next three games as well, 2-0 at home to Chicago, 1-0 on the road to San Jose, and 1-0 at home to Salt Lake. Only one player on the field for that game really suffered in terms of playing time for that game, and that was McKenzie, who would make only one more appearance for KC over the final 12 games as the Wizards limped to an 8-13-9 record. You can see the low lights of the match below.

Now I'm going to share my personal experience on this trip, those that know me have probably heard this story, for those that haven't, you'll be shaking your head by the end.

Yes I was at that game, you can see me and the rest of the traveling Cauldron in the far right corner in the highlights, a far cry from the nearly 1,000 that went in 2013 and the 750 plus headed there this weekend. At the time the Cauldron stayed in a hotel that was literally right across the parking lot from the stadium, so tailgating with the Dallas supporters was very easy. And like always on the trips to Dallas, they've treated us well. At the time I was actually doing my fair share of drumming in the Cauldron, a surprise simply because of my lack of musical talent. This was actually one of my last games doing it, because about five to seven minutes into the game I had ripped the skin on my thumb, not a pretty picture.

So by then I had drunk my share of beer, had my thumb torn open, and KC was playing like shit, needless to say I wasn't in a good mood. By half time I was sitting down in the section and I didn't get up for the second half, I figured if the players weren't going to put in the effort, I wasn't going to. Well as I explained above, things got even worse and the Wizards lost badly. As the group of us headed back out to the Dallas tailgate after the game to drink with them more before heading to a nearby bar to watch an LA Galaxy friendly (I believe it was against Real Madrid but it's been a while). Well to do that we had to walk by the bus where the team was getting on to head back to the hotel. I saw Onalfo walk out to the bus and proceeded to give him a piece of my mind, saying that we played like shit, that I was embarrassed to be a fan, and embarrassed that I'd traveled to that game. Onalfo walked straight onto the bus and sat in the front row. Unfortunately for him I could still see him and continued to give him a piece of my mind until I grew tired and walked back over to the tailgate. Not one of my prouder moments of supporting this team, course it wasn't one of the team's prouder moments either.

Enjoy this weekend traveling Sporting fans, hopefully your weekend is better than this one was.

Comets Roll Past Milwaukee, Now Head to Baltimore

The Missouri Comets used a big second quarter to help them top the Milwaukee Wave and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals where they'll play Baltimore in a home and away series starting tomorrow in Baltimore. Missouri scored four unanswered goals in the quarter and added two more in the third as Missouri won the game 8-2 to advance to play the Blast.

The two teams traded goals in the first quarter, with Vahid Assadpour's goal just over three minutes in being canceled out by Tony Walls only a minute later.  The second quarter is where the Comets really jumped on Milwaukee. Just 13 seconds in, Kiel Williams scored to put the Comets back on top. Bryan Perez made it 3-1 right before the half way point after some great work by Alain Matingou. Later in the half, the Comets had their first of three power plays after the Wave were penalized a second time for a substitution violation. Josh Gardner ended up scoring the goal with just under five remaining in the half as his shot went off Victor Quiroz and into the net. Assadpour finished off the scoring in the first half off an assist from Leo Gibson with just 10 seconds left in the half.

The third quarter saw Missouri again jump out early and score another early goal as Brian Harris got on the board with a shot from distance just three and a half minutes in. The Comets extended their lead to 7-1 on another power play goal, this time with Gardner playing provider and setting up Gibson for his first goal of the night. The fourth quarter saw the Wave almost immediately switch to the sixth attacker, pulling Nick Vorberg as soon as the Wave won possession back. The extra attacker paid off with more possession for the Wave and they found an early goal through former Comet, Stefan St Louis who did a good job dancing around two defenders at the top of the box before firing past Danny Waltman to make it 7-2. That's as close as the Wave would get though. They weren't able to take advantage of the extra attacker any more, and around the half way point picked up another blue card. While the Comets pushed to attack, looking for another goal, the Comets also were able to kill two more minutes keeping the Wave pinned in their own end for much of it. Finally with under a minute left the Comets were able to break the Wave's sixth attacker pressure and find a goal as Assadpour finished off his hattrick burying a shot in the far corner.

With the win the Comets will now play two games this weekend against the Baltimore Blast, Friday in Baltimore and Sunday at the Independence Events Center. After 18 days off, the Comets will now play three games in a four day span with two trips halfway across the country in between; it'll certainly put their legs to the test.

Sporting Park to Host US vs Panama in the Gold Cup

CONCACAF today announced the groupings for this summer's Gold Cup, including the USA and their fourth trip to Sporting Park since the stadium opened. The United States, already grouped in Group A will play in Dallas, Foxborough and Kansas City for their three group games. Joining them will be Panama, Haiti, and Honduras or French Guiana (those two meet in a home and away playoff in late March to decide the final team in the tournament).
The United States will open the group in Dallas against the winner of the Honduras/French Guiana playoff on July 7th before taking on Haiti in Foxborough on the 10th. The Yanks will close out group play on July 13th at Sporting Park against Panama. Certainly not an easy group for the United States, especially if Honduras, as expected, takes care of French Guiana in the playoff matchup. You'll have Honduras who has qualified for the last two World Cups, Haiti, who while having not qualified for the World Cup since 1974, have given the US trouble in the past in the Gold Cup, including a 2-2 draw that the US had to salvage at the death in the 2009 version of the competition. Then you have Panama, the USA's opponent in KC, the team they beat in the 2013 version of the tournament in the final 1-0 (beating Mexico twice in that tournament), the team that was a late Graham Zusi goal from heading to the World Cup themselves, and the only team to beat the US in the group stages of the Gold Cup since the tournament was founded in 1991. So there really won't be any easy games for the US in this competition.
Group B will also see its share of tight games with Costa Rica, El Salvador, Jamaica, and Canada making up the group. In Costa Rica you have arguably the best team in CONCACAF right now as the seeded team. You then add in regional rival El Salvador, 2014 Caribbean Cup winners, Jamaica, and co-hosts, Canada, who automatically qualified. While Costa Rica should win the group, playing Canada in Toronto in their final group game could be a strong test.
Of the three groups, Mexico in Group C got the easiest as they'll go up against Guatemala, Trinidad and Tobago, and Cuba. While you have Guatemala and TnT both runner's up in their regional competitions, neither made The Hex in the last round of World Cup qualifying. Meanwhile Cuba qualified as the fourth place finisher out of the Caribbean.
The winner of the 2015 Gold Cup will meet the winner of the 2013 Gold Cup (the USA) in a home and home series for the right to go to the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia. If the US wins the Gold Cup this year, the US will automatically advance to the Confederations Cup.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Rough Week 1 for Former SKC Players - Former SKC Wizards Update

The 2015 MLS season has kicked off, but it wasn't exactly a smooth kick off for a number of former players. Teal Bunbury, Aurelien Collin, and CJ Sapong all had disappointing ends to their first games of the season. Collin's game ended in the 83rd minute when he was sent off for a sliding challenge on NYCFC's David  Villa. While Collin pleaded his innocence the way that KC fans have seen previously, there was really no arguing that Collin's red card was justified as he got none of the ball and all of Villa.

Bunbury's and Sapong's poor weekends were due to injuries. Bunbury picked up a shoulder injury late in his team's 3-0 loss in Seattle. New England at the time had used all three of their substitutions and had to finish the game with 10 men. Meanwhile, Sapong suffered a concussion and a facial fracture late in the first half of Philadelphia's 0-0 draw with Colorado. Sapong was replaced at half time of the game.

Here's the rest of this week's update.

Active without a club or unknown
Federico Bessone
Bobby Convey
Mechack Jerome
Will John
Michael Kafari
Neal Kitson
Rauwshan McKenzie
Nelson Pizarro
Tony Rocha
Ivan Trujillo
Konrad Warzycha

Davy Arnaud - DC - Started and played 73 minutes in DC's 2-1 win over Alajuelense. Started and played 90 minutes in DC's 1-0 win over Montreal.
Teal Bunbury - New England - Started and played 90 minutes in New England's 3-0 loss to Seattle.
Aurelien Collin - Orlando City - Started and played 83 minutes before being red carded in Orlando's 1-1 draw wtih NYC.
Luis Gil - Salt Lake - Started and played 88 minutes in RSL's 0-0 draw with Portland.
Michael Harrington - Colorado - Started and played 90 minutes in Colorado's 0-0 draw with Philadelphia.
Jack Jewsbury - Portland - Started and played 90 minutes in Portland's 0-0 draw with RSL.
Eddie Johnson - DC - Out on injured reserve for DC.
Kei Kamara - Columbus - Started and played 90 minutes in Columbus' 1-0 loss to Houston.
Chris Konopka - Toronto - Dressed but did not play in Toronto's 3-1 win over Vancouver.
Eric Kronberg - Montreal - Dressed but did not play in Montreal's 1-0 loss to DC.
CJ Sapong - Philadelphia - Started and played 45 minutes in Philadelphia's 0-0 draw with Colorado.
Khari Stephenson - San Jose - Did not dress in San Jose's 1-0 loss to Dallas.
Tyson Wahl - Columbus - Dressed but did not play in Columbus' 1-0 loss to Houston.
Sal Zizzo - New York - Came off the bench and played 22 minutes in New York's 1-1 draw with KC.

Stefan Antonijevic - Tampa Bay - Offseason.
James Marcelin - Fort Lauderdale - Offseason.
Kyle Miller - Atlanta - Offseason.

Christian Duke - Oklahoma City - Offseason.
Brian Fekete - Austin - Offseason.
Cyprian Hedrick - Oklahoma City - Offseason.
Jonathan Leathers - Charlotte - Offseason.
Alex Martinez - Orange County - Offseason.
Victor Munoz - Arizona - Offseason.
Michael Thomas - Oklahoma City - Offseason.
Yomby William - Richmond - Offseason.
John Wilson - Charleston - Offseason.

Jamar Beasley - Ontario - Offseason.
Adnan Gabeljic - St. Louis - Offseason.
Josh Gardner - Missouri - No game this week.
Pat Healey - Baltimore - No game this week.
Mike Jones - Dallas - Played in Dallas' 11-1 loss to Monterrey.
Michal Mravec - Tacoma - Offseason.
Boris Pardo - Wichita - Offseason.

Korede Aiyegbusi - Auerbach - Germany - Did not dress in Auerbach's 2-0 win over Hertha BSC II.
Scott Angevine - Vasa - Finland - No games until 4/12
Vicente Arze - Blooming - Bolivia - Did not play in Blooming's 0-0 draw with Wilstermann.
Claudio Bieler - Quilmes - Argentina - Started and played 45 minutes in Quilmes' 1-1 draw wtih Aldosivi.
Omar Bravo - Chivas - Mexico - Came off the bench and played 70 minutes in Chivas' 1-0 loss to Queretaro. Came off the bench and played 18 minutes in Chivas' 0-0 (4-3) PK win over Queretaro.
Reinaldo Brenes - Saprissa - Costa Rica - Dressed but did not play in Saprissa's 2-0 loss to America. Came off the bench and played 1 minute in Saprissa's 4-0 win over Carmelita.
Mitchell Cardenas - Atlético Coatzacoalcos - Mexico - Lost 3-0 to Orizaba.
Sunil Chhetri - Bengaluru - India - Lost 3-1 to Persipura in the AFC Cup.
Jorge Claros - Qingdao Jonoon - China - No game this week.
Eloy Colombano - AD Berazategui - Tied Midland 0-0.
Daneil Cyrus - Ha Noi T&T (W Connection) - Vietnam (Trinidad) - No game until 4/3
Toni Dovale - CD Lugo - Spain - Started and played 63 minutes in Lugo's 3-2 win over Barcelona II.
Pablo Escobar - Cúcuta Deportivo - Colombia - Did not play in Cucuta's 0-0 draw with Alianza Petrolera. Did not dress in Cucuta's 4-2 loss to Deportivo Cali.
Herculez Gomez - Puebla - Mexico - Came off the bench and played 20 minutes in Puebla's 2-2 draw with Chiapas. Started and played 90 minutes, scoring a goal in Puebla's 2-1 win over Merida.
Jermaine Hue - Harbour View - Jamaica - No game this week.
Jeferson - Boavista - Brazil - Did not dress in Boavista's 4-2 loss to Bangu.
Peterson Joseph - Azam FC - Tanzania - Defeated Ruvu Stars 1-0.
Igor Juliao - Fluminense - Brazil - Did not dress in Fluminense's 3-1 win over Botafogo.
Carlos Marinelli - Universidad San Martin - Peru - Did not dress in San Martin's 3-0 win over Sporting Cristal.
Igor Kostrov - FK Kyzyl-Zhar - Kazakhstan - No game until 4-4.
Neven Markovic - Servette FC - Switzerland - Dressed but did not play in Servette's 1-0 win over Lausanne Sport. Dressed but did not play in Servette's 2-1 win over Winterthur.
Yura Movsisyan - Spartak Moscow - Russia - Started and played 68 minutes in Spartak's 3-1 loss to Krasnodar.
Lawrence Olum - Kedah FA - Malaysia - Lost to PKNS 2-1.
Akeem Priestley - Sheikh Russel KC - Bangladesh - No game this week.
Pablo Punyed - Stjarnan - Iceland - Defeated Fjardabyggd 6-1.
Oriol Rosell - Sporting Club de Portugal - Portugal - Dressed but did not play in Sporting's 2-2 draw with Nacional. Came off the bench and played 5 minutes in Sporting's 3-2 win over Penafiel.
Soony Saad - BCC Tero (loaned fromBEC Tero Sasana FC) - Thailand - Defeated 1-0 by Kasetsart.
Peter Schmetz - Wuppertaler SV - Germany - Tied Kapellen-Erft 1-1.
Yann Songo'o - Blackburn - England - Did not dress in either of Blackburn's games.
Martin Steuble - Ceres-La Salle - Philippines - Started and played 90 minutes, recording an assist in Ceres' 7-0 win over the Philippine Army.
Milos Stojcev - FK Sarajevo - Bosnia - No game this week.
Matt Taylor - Saarbrücken - Germany - Started and played 73 minutes in Saarbrucken's 4-0 win over Baunatal. Lost 2-1 to Hertha Wiesbach 2-1 in the Regional Cup.