Monday, January 02, 2017

2016 Moments of the Year

One last look back at 2016, here are my end of year awards for moment of the year in 2016.

Game of the year - Comets vs Mustangs 12/3/16 - Shutouts don't happen often in indoor soccer, since the Kansas City Comets rebirth back in 2010, the Comets had never had one. That changed in December of this year when the Comets defeated the previously unbeaten Chicago Mustangs 6-0 at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. The Comets jumped out to a two goal lead in the first quarter thanks to goals by Ignacio Flores and Lucas Rodriguez. After a scoreless second quarter, Rodriguez scored his second goal of the game off a set piece with a second assist to John Sosa and the Comets were up 3-0.

The Comets extended their lead early in the fourth quarter as Odaine Sinclair scored two minutes in to make it 4-0. Vahid Assadpour added a goal before Ramone Palmer scored with less than a minute left against the sixth attacker to make it 6-0. For his part in goal for the Comets, Stephen Paterson faced 19 shots, saving all of them in route to the shutout.

Goal of the Year - Brad Davis vs Galaxy - When Sporting KC brought in Brad Davis, Sporting was expecting to get another player to help set up goals while scoring a few himself. The assists never really came for Davis in Kansas City, but he did score some important goals for KC early on against LA and Toronto. The one that wins goal of the year is his finish against the LA Galaxy that seemed to even impress him. In the 30th minute of a scoreless game, Graham Zusi headed a long ball into the path of an on-rushing Davis. Davis chased the ball into the box and took a single touch, cutting the ball back that allowed him to beat both Emmanuel Boateng and Jelle Van Damme. With his second touch he curled a beautiful shot with his left foot that curled around goalkeeper Brian Rowe as he dove for the ball, and inside the far post to put Sporting up 1-0 on the Galaxy. Davis didn't have a ton of highlights in his final season of professional soccer, but this was certainly one of them.

Assist of the Year - Benny Feilhaber vs Orlando - I'm cheating just a little bit because it's the secondary assist, but I'm a sucker for Feilhaber's scoop passes. Down 1-0 in the 74th minute, Feilhaber received a ball just outside the top of the box, took a touch and scooped the ball into the box for substitute, Jacob Peterson, who headed the ball back into the middle for Dom Dwyer, who headed the ball in to tie the game at 1-1 in a game KC would eventually win 2-1.

Single Game Performance of the Year - Nicole Barnhart vs Western New York - It wasn't the greatest season for FC Kansas City as they missed out on the playoffs for the first time in their history, but there were some bright spots. From the emergence of Shea Groom, to the return of Desiree Scott, to the defensive performance, FCKC had plenty of highlights. One of those was Nicole Barnart against the Wester New York Flash in July of this year. Playing against the highest scoring team in the league, KC sat a little deeper and absorbed a lot of pressure in the game. That led to a number of opportunities for the Flash. Barnhart though was up to the task, making 14 saves against the Flash in route to a 1-0 win. The performance was enough to earn Barnhart player of the week honors.

Low Point of the Year - Sporting KC vs DC United 5/27 - Heading into the game, at Children's Mercy Park, Sporting KC had won just one game in their last nine after starting the season 3-1. KC had gone 1-6-2 in the nine games priorgoing 1-2-1 at home in that stretch. KC had scored more than one goal just once in that nine game stretch (their only win) and had been shutout three times, scoring just seven goals while allowing 14. Welcoming a DC United team that was 0-2-3 on the road heading into the game. KC completely controlled the game (as KC tends to do in a lot of home games) with 58% of the possession, out shooting DC 18-5, and creating the better of the opportunities. But KC paid for putting just three of their 18 shots on goal as DC United struck late to steal all three points as Alhaji Kamara beat Tim Melia to a ball near the penalty spot, knocking the ball down and then burying his shot into the net as Melia was on the ground after coming for the ball and missing. The 1-0 loss mean that KC had won just one of their last 10, a streak that would turn into 11 games the following week after a 0-0 draw in LA before KC got back to winning against FC Dallas on June 19th.

Non-Kansas City-KC Player Moment of the Year - Matt Besler Scores First International goal - 2016 probably isn't going to go down as the best year in Matt Besler's professional soccer career. He started 2016 as Sporting KC's captain, but then lost it to Roger Espinoza, lost his starting spot with Sporting KC for a time and played the fewest games for his club since his second season as a pro in 2010. It'll still be a memorable year for Besler though as he welcomed his first child.

In early September, Besler had been called up for US national team qualifiers against St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago. Besler traveled to the game in St. Vincent and while there heard that his wife was having their first child. Due to travel, Besler was unable to leave to get home in time for the birth of his daughter so instead took the field for the US, starting in central defense for Klinsmann's side. Already up 1-0 in the 32nd minute, Graham Zusi chipped a free kick into the box where a St. Vincent defender cleared the ball right into the path of Besler who chested the ball down and blasted it into the net for his first international goal. He followed it immediately with a celebration with his teammates in honor of his just becoming a father. The US went on to win the game 6-0 and Besler left to be with his family instead of flying to Jacksonville for the second game.

KC Soccer Player of the Year - Amer Didic - No player on the KC soccer scene probably had a better year than Amer Didic did for the Swope Park Rangers and Sporting KC. The Baker product started the season as a bench player for the Rangers, getting garbage minutes at the end of the game to preserve the lead and kill some time off the clock. After a string of three straight losses and a red card to Oumar Ballo, Didic got a start in Swope's 2-1 win over Tulsa and never looked back. He started 21 of the final 24 games in the regular season for SPR and started all four of their playoff games. He formed a strong partnership with Ballo that helped carry the SPR defense to the USL final, going 13-1-2 when paired together, the only loss in the USL final. Didic's play with SPR earned him a call up to Sporting KC where he started three of KC's four CONCACAF Champions League games, the only game he didn't was the final meaningless one, just days before the USL final. Didic has already signed on to return to SPR in 2017 and continued solid performances should see him up with Sporting KC either on a temporary contract or full time soon enough.

Sporting KC Player of the Year - Dom Dwyer - Dwyer had his second most successful season in terms of goal scoring in his career this past season. Take out Dwyer's penalty kicks in 2014 and Dwyer actually scored more goals from the run of play in 2016 than he did in 2014 (16 to 15). This despite not having a secondary threat to really take the pressure off and being on Dwyer Island for long periods of time in the season.

FCKC Player of the Year - Shea Groom - The second year forward had the unevnyable task of having to try to replace the scoring of Amy Rodriguez and Sydney Leroux, who both missed the season. Groom didn't miss a beat though, scoring eight goals for the Blues in 2016, good for fifth in the league. Groom's eight goals were good for 44% of the Blues' offense in the 2016 season. Add in Rodriguez and Leroux in 2017 and the Blues look to have a strong offense.

Comets Player of the Year - Vahid Assadpour - The Comets captain and assistant coach is one of the few remaining players who have been with the Comets since their rebirth in 2010. He finished last season third in the league in points with 23 goals and 27 assists and was a first team all league selection. So far in the 2016-2017 season he has added five goals and four assists, which is fifth on the team in goals and fourth in assists.

Newcomer of the Year - Didic - Didic does the double winning the player of the year award, and winning that it's easy to see why he's also newcomer to professional soccer in Kansas City in 2016. Didic is probably one of the leading candidates to be the next player to make the jump from the Rangers to Sporting KC permanently.

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