Category Archives: Sporting Kansas City

Sporting Kansas City

The Short-lived KC Wiz

kirsten-sporting-or
Official Sporting Kansas City Reporter

By Kirsten Arpin // @Kirsten_Hoogs

If you’ve been to a Sporting KC game then you have surely heard the Cauldron sing:

“Oh when the Wiz go marching in. Oh when the Wiz go marching in. Oh how I long to be in that Cauldron when the Wiz go marching in.”

Or chant:

“Ooooh KC Wiz! KC Wiz! KC Wiz! KC Wiz! Vamos KC!”

These chants echo back to a single season from the beginnings of a humble little sporting association called Major League Soccer.

The MLS was officially founded as an LLC in 1995. The reason for founding the league was because the United States promised to start a Division 1 professional league as a stipulation of their successful bid for the 1994 World Cup. It would have been pretty silly to have the World Cup in a country without a highly competitive professional league.

Kansas City sportsman extraordinaire Lamar Hunt, owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, was one of the founding investors of the MLS, and he owned two of the original ten chartered teams. Hunt wanted to bring more to the sports culture of Kansas City, so he started the Kansas City Wiz. The Wiz even played their home games at the home of the Chiefs, Arrowhead Stadium. Mr. Hunt also owned the Columbus Crew and in 2003 purchased the Dallas Burn who are now FC Dallas. Mr. Hunt was such an influential figure in the US soccer community that in 1999 the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) renamed the US Open Cup to the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.

The Wiz were officially named a charter member of the MLS on June 6, 1995, and it took them four months to name former Crystal Palace player and Arizona Sandsharks manager Ron Newman as the first ever manager of the team. Newman was the first coach hired into MLS service, and he brought his son former San Diego Sockers (Major Indoor Soccer League) player Guy Newman with him as an assistant coach.

October of 1995 was an exciting month for the young MLS. The Wiz named Newman as a coach on the 11th, and MLS Unveiled, the first televised MLS programming, was simulcast to all ten MLS market cities on the 17th. At MLS Unveiled each team released their inaugural kits, colors, logos, and their first allocated player.

The event turned out to be pretty ridiculous. The league let the uniform manufacturers have too much say in the team names, colors, logos, and jerseys. That’s how the Tampa Bay Mutiny ended up with a mutant bat. Personally, I think The Wiz ended up as the winners of the name, color, and kit categories. There ended up being a problem with the name, but we’ll get to that later. The Wiz’s first ever allocated player was national team member and St. Louis native, midfielder Mike Sorber.

mlsunveiled

In December, January, and February, The Wiz were allocated one player per month. The player for December was former US national team forward Frank Klopas, January’s player was Zimbabwe national forward Digital Takawira, and the last allocated player was future Sporting Legend and future US national team member Preki. The rest of the players vying for a spot on a roster went to a combine and then to the draft where The Wiz drafted national team midfielder Mark Chung.

The Wiz’s first season was pretty exciting. In their April 13th home and season opener, The Wiz won their first ever game defeating the Colorado Rapids 3-0, with Digital Takiwara netting a brace. Three games later, on May 2nd, The Wiz and the Columbus Crew took part in one of the highest scoring games in MLS history. The two teams combined to score 10 goals with KC taking the win at 6-4.

Preki and Mo Johnston both scored twice with Sorber and Chung each getting a single goal. After losing their next four games, which took place over a 15 day streak, The Wiz traded wins with their opponents for the next eight games. That set of games was bookended by a game against future Sporting KC coach and player Peter Vermes and the NY/NJ Metrostars. The Wiz won the first game 2-1, but fell to the Metrostars 0-2 in the second game. The second game against the Metrostars also ended a five game scoring streak by Preki.

The Wiz had a successful inaugural regular season with 17 wins, 15 losses, and 0 draws as draws weren’t actually allowed in the first seasons of the MLS.

*Since the league was “experimental”, the founders decided to try a few rule changes from regular soccer. They thought that American fans would be bored by draws, so they implemented a shootout at the end of tied games. If a team won the game they would get 3 points, the losing team would get zero points, and the winning team in a shoot-out win would get 1 point. Another weird rule change was that the time clock counted down to zero as opposed to counting up to 90.

Their record qualified The Wiz for the playoffs. They defeated the Dallas Burn two games to one in the Western Conference Semi-finals before losing to the LA Galaxy two games to zero in the Western Conference Finals.

Wizards V Clash
21 Apr 1996: Team photo of the Kansas City Wizards before a game against the San Jose Clash at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, California. The Wizards won the game 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn /Allsport

At the end of their first season The Wiz were in a bit of a bind. There was a company in a different industry that already had been named The Wiz, and they sued The KC Wiz for use of the trademark. After a little digging I found that the trademark was most likely held by a small electronics chain from the northeast called Nobody Beats the Wiz. Since they weren’t allowed to continue with The Wiz, Kansas City officially changed their name to the Kansas City Wizards at the end of their first season. Thus ending the short life of the KC Wiz, but laying the foundation for the Sporting KC we know today!

#WeTogether

While doing research for this article I found this set of interviews done by Sports Illustrated. You should check it out >> https://www.si.com/longform/2015/mls/index.html

Featured image courtesy: @SportingKC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @Kirsten_Hoogs

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Who Are We Penalizing?: The players, the fans, or both?

Kirsten Arpin - Sporting Kansas City/mlsfemale
Official Sporting Kansas City Reporter

By Kirsten Arpin // @Kirsten_Hoogs

US Open Cup match

Tuesday, July 11: 3-0 Win

Would you call this a penalty?

I’m not one for complaining about refs. It makes us (the royal us) sound like a bunch of whiny homers, but today I will represent whiny homers everywhere!

This season we have all been PROed! I don’t think this is a controversial statement. The MLS even has a whole youtube video series about missed/questionable calls!

This season has been fraught with PKs both warranted and unwarranted. There have been 68 PKs attempted so far, and of those 68, 53 have been made (Tim Melia has blocked 1/5 of the missed PKs btw. That’s pretty cool.)

A few PK stats: Teams with the most PKs attempted are Toronto FC and Portland Timbers (see the dive above) with 7. Teams with the fewest PKs attempted are Sporting KC and San Jose Earthquakes with 0, because you can’t attempt less than zero. Though if the refs found a way to give Sporting a negative PK then they would have. Sorry. That may have been a bit too on the whiny homer side.

Though there have been 68 PK attempts I bet we can all think of multiple times this season where our teams have deserved a PK that they weren’t awarded. One that really stands out to me was from Sporting’s game against the Timbers when Gerso was pulled down from behind when a Timber’s defender grabbed him by the shoulder.

Watching the play from the (extremely biased) Cauldron one could see that Gerso immediately puts his uninjured arm up to call for help. The referee though looked straight at him and waggled his finger no and ran off. The non-foul was so harsh that it dislocated Gerso’s shoulder. My sister, a certified athletic trainer, said that the hardest way to dislocate a shoulder is for it to be pulled out backwards. That is the direction Gerso’s shoulder went. He left the game, and didn’t start the next one.

Later that game though, Tim Melia was called for a penalty when he used his wizard powers to make Fanendo Adi trip. He must have used magic, because he sure didn’t touch him. Luckily, Timmy blocked the PK for his third PK save this season. It was a nice karma moment. If you believe in that sort of thing.

Now, I’m not saying that all the PKs given against Sporting are wrong. The call against Benny for his foul on Philly’s CJ Sapong was completely warranted. The call against Bes when he “pushed” Vancouver Whitecap‘s Fredy Montero was not. Tim Melia going studs up against DC United‘s Julian Buescher was also warranted. Tim saved those last two penalties as well, btw. Please feel free to share your opinions, thoughts, and commentary below.

Hot Takes:

Sporting defender, Ike Opara, was kicked in the side of the head by FC Dallas forward Max Urruti. We thought Ike was finally going to have a full healthy season after being plagued with injuries throughout his career, but that is obviously not the case. When you watch the play you can see Ike immediately go limp in the air, and fall to the ground.

We received some information that the kick was so severe that Ike may have been seizing on the pitch before he was stabilized. After being strapped to a stretcher, he was able to give a quick thumbs up while he was taken off the pitch. Urruti went to the SKC locker room post game to check up on Ike’s condition which was a pretty classy move.

Ike was released from the hospital on Wednesday morning, and he had his sense of humor back per his tweets. He was diagnosed with a grade 3 concussion, and the team trainers don’t expect him back for at least a month.

Sporting KC has a starter in the All Star Game! Defender Graham Zusi was selected by the fans to the All Star Starting XI. His defensive compatriots, aka one of the best centerback duos in the league, Ike and Matt Besler, were not selected, but could still be named to the full roster along with Roger Espinoza, Benny Feilhaber, Dom Dwyer, Gerso, and Tim Melia. Can we all agree that Tim Howard being in the Starting XI over Tim Melia is absurd? If you check out this article right here, you can see that everyone loves the good Tim. The right Tim. The Tim you could take home to your mother.

American Citizen Dominic Dwyer has scored two goals for the USMNT in two games. He is basically killing it. Dom, Zus, and Bes all started the first two games of the friendly + Gold Cup schedule, and were effective. There were some defensive blunders in the Panama game, but it was insanely hot in Nashville. Hopefully, the guys get back in for the game against Nicaragua. But since none of them played on Wednesday no one can blame them for the mediocre showing the US had against “international soccer powerhouse” Martinique.

Adorable Hot Take:

Watch this Instagram slideshow of Latif Blessing hugging people! It’s adorable!

Does someone need a hug?

A post shared by Sporting Kansas City (@sportingkc) on

Literal Hot Take:

I have officially moved to Orlando, Florida. It is so hot and humid here! If it wasn’t for the rain (every damn day) the temperature would be unbearable. Luckily, the rain cools it down…at least until the sun comes back out and makes it all steamy again.

Sporting KC doesn’t play again until July 22nd when they take on Real Salt Lake in Utah, so the guys have been getting a much needed rest.

Enjoy the international break! Go USMNT!

#WeTogether

Featured image courtesy: @SportingKC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @Kirsten_Hoogs

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Spending June at the Top

Kirsten Arpin - Sporting Kansas City/mlsfemale
Official Sporting Kansas City Reporter

By Kirsten Arpin // @Kirsten_Hoogs

Oh man! It has been quite a month, guys! The hubs and I are packing to move from Kansas City to Orlando, and in the middle of that I spent a week in Colorado for a conducting symposium. Not going to lie, but Colorado was AMAZING! I did have to miss the first US Open Cup game, but Sporting KC handled that pretty easily…and Andy Edwards said that I got the good side of the deal, so I’ll take it.

Since it’s been awhile, and we have a lot of ground to cover…here are some Top Fives of June!

Top Five Games

5. June 17, 0-0 Draw at San Jose Earthquakes: No offense, San Jose, you’re not very good.  This should have been a win for Sporting, but one point is better than no points.

4. June 10, 1-1 Draw against Montreal Impact: Sporting was ahead in this game thanks to Gerso, but a careless pass by sub Soni Mustivar led to a goal by Manteo Mancuso. Augh!

3. June 28, 2-0 Win at Houston in the USOC: The first half of this game was pretty boring actually. There was one great chance with Gerso crossing a ball in from the end line, but Jimmy Medranda‘s shot went off the crossbar and Cameron Porter‘s rebound shot went over. Things we found out…Cameron Porter has mad ups. Ike Opara‘s 4th shot in the last 6 games, and Gerso’s stoppage time goal sealed this game for SKC.

2. June 24, 2-1 Win at LA Galaxy: This game had a lot of highs, and one really big low. Roger Espinoza smashed a shot from 30 yards out, and Diop decided that punching the ball away would be smarter than catching it…he was wrong. Then 5 minutes later, the #IkeBike happened! LA’s goal in the 77th minute was not enough to get them back in the game. The worst thing that happened in this game was the Nathan Smith‘s egregious tackle on Benny Feilhaber. Smith somehow escaped with a yellow card, and Benny thankfully escaped with only a sprained ankle.

1. June 3, 3-0 Win against Minnesota United FC & 4-0 Win against Minnesota United FC: Both of these games were awesome! I also like winning by a lot, so there’s that. In these games we had Saad Abdul-Salaam‘s first ever MLS goal, Daniel Salloi‘s first goal for SKC, Roger Espinoza’s 200th game for SKC in all competitions, Dom Dwyer becoming SKC’s leading goalscorer in the US Open Cup, Erik Palmer Brown‘s 2017 debut, and the most important, Soony Saad Abdul-Salaam! June 3rd was also our Pride Night!

Those were actually all the games in June…I cheated a little…

Top Five Facts and Tidbits

5. Nathan Smith received an after-the-fact red card for his tackle on Benny Feilhaber in the game against the Galaxy. This is the fourth time that a red card/suspension has been given to a Sporting opponent after the game. That sucks.

4. Sporting had three players called up to the USMNT for the Gold Cup! This is not the greatest thing for the team, especially when we’re making a big push in the US Open Cup and Benny Feilhaber is out for who knows how long. It is still a compliment to your team and your players. Matt Besler and Graham Zusi got called up again, and American Citizen Dom Dwyer was called up for the first time as one of three forwards. They play on July 1st, 8th, 12th, and 15th.

3. Sporting is still doing their theme nights! The last one I shared was their Russell Westbrook night, which was epic. In the past month they have done both Hat Night and Jorts Night.

2. There have only been two teams in MLS history to have road wins at Portland and at LA in the same season, and those teams are Sporting KC and Real Salt Lake (2012).

1. Sporting KC has been on the top of the table since May 22nd! They also didn’t lose a single game in the month of June! That’s pretty awesome.

In the near future, Sporting KC will play three consecutive home games in two different competitions.

  • July 1st against Portland
  • July 6th against Philadelphia
  • July 11th against FC Dallas (US Open Cup quarterfinals)

Those games interspersed with USMNT games and the Confederations Cup final! Yassss!

#WeTogether #Get3

Featured image courtesy: Kevin Kuo/USA Today

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @Kirsten_Hoogs

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Win With Pride

Kirsten Arpin - Sporting Kansas City/mlsfemale
Official Sporting Kansas City Reporter

By Kirsten Arpin // @Kirsten_Hoogs

June. The month that brings us the middle of the season, the beginning of summer, and the end of school.

June also brings us something much more important…Pride.

Teams all around the country have been celebrating Pride this month to show their support for the LGBTQIA community. Not just MLS teams, but also USL teams, NWSL teams, and even the US National teams have participated. There have been tifos, scarves, t-shirts, team warm ups, fundraisers, and jerseys.

MLS may be the league that embraces the meaning and spirit of Pride more than any other American sports league. Sporting Kansas City had this to say about their Pride night:

As an organization that prides itself on creating an inclusive environment for all, Pride Night has always been an important initiative for us. If you’ve ever been to a match and sat in the Cauldron, you know that our supporters are extremely welcoming to new fans regardless of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. Pride Night is just an extension of that and another way to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for our supporters.

I was able to talk with a couple of Cauldron members and see what Pride night meant for them:

[June 1] meant to me community, acceptance, and love for one another even with our differences and backgrounds.
Brandy Peed

Having a Pride themed game may seem like a small (or unnoticed) event for the fanbase as a whole, but it goes a long way in showing support for people that are often underrepresented in our community, soccer or otherwise. Showing support for all types of human beings is a great gesture, and one that we should be proud of. Hopefully, our show of support was inspirational for people that may feel excluded or afraid because of who they are, and  that will lead to a greater sense of community in our amazing group.
Elliot Arpin

When the National Team decided to use the rainbow numbers I read some of the Twitter and Facebook comments, and it was a really bad idea. There was so much hate and disdain there that it was almost sickening, but beyond that people were saying that the National Teams should stay out of politics and stick to soccer. But this shouldn’t have to be a political issue, it should be a humanity issue. By the USMNT and USWNT showing their support they are setting a precedent for the rest of American sports.

Keep being prideful soccer fans! Don’t let this sense of camaraderie and community end with June! Pride month should be every month. Acceptance and equality are for every month.

#PrideMonth #LoveisLove #AllAreWelcome #WeTogether

Featured image courtesy: @SportingKC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @Kirsten_Hoogs

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Well, that was frustrating.

Kirsten Arpin - Sporting Kansas City/mlsfemale
Official Sporting Kansas City Reporter

By Kirsten Arpin // @Kirsten_Hoogs

Saturday, May 27: 1-0 Loss

73% possession, 24 shots, 8 corner kicks, no yellow cards

Normally this combination of stats would lead to a win, but not this time.

Sporting KC went to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park last Saturday to take on the Colorado Rapids, and frankly they dominated the game. It seemed like they could score at any time! They just didn’t.

The game changing moment was when Ike Opara “fouled” Dominique Badji. I would like to note the quotation marks. Many soccer analysts have stated that it should not have been a foul. This is not just an angry fan moment. Ike was going for the ball. Sorry you fell down. But the “foul” led to a free kick that was taken by Shkelzen Gashi. Gashi’s cross found the head of Kortne Ford for his very first MLS goal.

Now, regardless of the validity of the foul, Sporting should have defended better. There were lots of eyes on that cross, and not enough on where it could have been going. Defending crosses is one of our weaknesses, and going into the time when we’ll be down two defenders due to being called up to USMNT it will be even more crucial to remedy this problem.

The rest of the game was really frustrating. Our little Memorial Day family gathering kept getting our hopes up for a goal, but it just wasn’t happening. Our shots were a little too high or a little too wide. We are really missing Dom Dwyer. I’m hoping that he can get back onto the field soon. He started light practice this week, and Peter Vermes thinks that he may be a game time decision on Saturday against Minnesota United.

Bobby Burling did receive a suspension for a hit on Benny Feilhaber in the 23rd minute. He got a yellow for it in the game. This marks the third time this season that an opponent has gotten a suspension after the fact as opposed to in game. Someone did the math, and if those players had gotten red cards when they should have Sporting would have played a total of 216 minutes against 10 men teams.

Some good news from this week is that the Fan Vote for the MLS All Star Fan XI opened up. Sporting KC got eight players onto the ballot:

Goalkeeper: Tim Melia
Defenders: Matt Besler, Ike Opara, Graham Zusi
Midfielders: Roger Espinoza, Benny Feilhaber
Forwards: Dom Dwyer, Gerso

You may notice that Ilie is not on the list. This is a travesty! He’s so good! His presence in the midfield has been so strong this season, and if you’ve watched Sporting games in the past you should be able to see the difference he makes.

This season I have been a huge proponent of our defensive line, and seeing that three of them made it into the voting made me quite pleased. It’s easy to see why Ike is on there. In the games where Ike doesn’t play we are not as likely to win. His strength and height put him up with the top defenders in the league.

Matt Besler made it! I knew he was in all star form! His ability to see how plays unfold, and to put not only himself but the rest of his line in the right places is amazing. If he doesn’t eventually end up as a coach then there is something wrong with this world. He is so smart (soccer and book wise…he graduated pre-med!)

Graham Zusi has been getting a lot of flack this season because of his move to defense. With Sporting’s formation they play their two outside defenders up as almost midfielders, and they play the center midfielder in more of a defensive position. This suits Zusi well since he can still be a scoring threat and make assists. Zusi became just the second player since 2010 to complete 100% of his passes and create at least 5 chances in the same game when Sporting played the Vancouver Whitecaps. Take that, haters.

Fun facts

Four members of the Sporting KC roster have been called up for their respective national teams. Matt Besler and Graham Zusi for the USMNT, Roger Espinoza for Honduras, and Tyler Pasher for Canada.

Erik Palmer-Brown has captained the US U-20 squad into the knockout round of the U-20 World Cup! They will take on New Zealand on Thursday morning (after I finish writing, but before posting)…fingers crossed for a good result!

Graham Zusi threw out the first pitch at the Colorado Rockies game on Tuesday, and a few of his USMNT teammates, including Bes, were there to cheer him on!

On Wednesday night my husband and I, and two other Cauldron members, played sports trivia in a fundraiser for the Victory Project against some SKC players. Benny, Ike, and Seth Sinovic made up Team Cavs in 7. We were team Children’s No Mercy Park. We didn’t win, but we had a good time!

This Satuday, June 3, Sporting KC takes on Minnesota at Children’s Mercy Park. The Cauldron will be celebrating Pride Day with special t-shirts and scarves to support the LGBTQIA community!

#WeTogether

Featured image courtesy: Chris Humphreys/USA TODAY Sports

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @Kirsten_Hoogs

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Gerso Vain…You probably think this game is about you.

Kirsten Arpin - Sporting Kansas City/mlsfemale
Official Sporting Kansas City Reporter

By Kirsten Arpin // @Kirsten_Hoogs

Wednesday, May 17: 3-0 Win

But I mean, if you are going to score a hat trick against the reigning MLS Champs then this game can be completely about you! #Gershow

Last Wednesday the Seattle Sounders came to Kansas City to take on Sporting Kansas City on our Retro Night. The festivities started off with so many ’90s songs. It was amazing! As a child of the mid to late 90s I was all for it. Though they didn’t play No Diggity by Blackstreet until the game was over, so that sucked.

There was no looping. There was very little diggity-ing…? That’s not a word. Oh well. There were also not a lot of things happening in the first half, but that will come later. Before the game Mo Johnston was inducted into the Sporting Legends Wall of Honor.

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In the pics above you can see the awesome tifo that Tifo Team 6 painted for the occasion, when Mo came over and shook hands with the Cauldron‘s very own capo Cowboy Brandon, and our owner Robb Heineman serving up free beer in the #HeinemanBeerCorner. Now, I’m a fan of our current mascot, Blue the Dog, but our throwback mascot Dynamo the Dragon was killing it! He has the big hula hoop stomach like KC Wolf from the Chiefs, he was sassy af, he played the crap out of that drum, and he can wiggle his nose!

Now if you were to look at the reports about the game then you will find very little written about the first half of the game. That is because not much happened during the first half of the game. It was a frustrating half of soccer. Tim Melia made a few really big saves including two in the last minute of the half. That was actually pretty worrisome, but by the time he had saved the goals the half was over. I hadn’t ever seen a half with no stoppage time, but I have now. The whistle blew at 45:04.

Knowing Peter Vermes, as we all do, we can probably guess what went down. Yelling. Lots of yelling. This was actually corroborated by Gerso in the post game. Per Sam McDowell from the KC Star at the press conference Gerso said, “Basically, Peter had to scream at us…” Peter’s response, “That’s true.”

Going into the second half you could see the difference in Sporting’s game. In the 55th minute Benny Feilhaber served a corner kick straight to Ike Opara whose header almost made it under the crossbar, but Stefan Frei got his fingertips on it and pushed it over the bar. This led to another corner from the other side of the field. The attempt this time got deflected out to Gerso who took the ball back in for a shot that bounced off the leg of a Seattle defender and into the goal. #1

Two minutes later Jimmy Medranda took the ball up the side, and sent a cross into Gerso who launched it off of the post. Luckily the defender it bounced to couldn’t control it. Gerso got the ball back, and sent it past a sprawling Frei. Assist to the post…? #2

In the 69th minute Sporting strung together a beautiful sequence of passes to get their third goal. Benny brought the ball up the middle, passed it to Graham Zusi on the edge of the box, Zusi then passed it to Gerso back in the middle who finished with a huge right-footed slam into the top of the net. #3

Good thing this wasn’t a hockey game or there would be hats all over the field! The last time SKC had a hat trick was back in 2010, in the Wizards’ era, by Birahim Diop.

Then last Saturday Sporting traveled up to Vancouver to take on the Whitecaps. I would like to note that this was four days after their previous game, and their sixth game in 22 days. It has been quite a run, and in those games SKC did go 3-2-1 which is not bad.

We are still on the top of the table, we have 3 more points and have allowed 11 fewer goals than the next team, and the only team who has given up fewer goals than us is FC Dallas who also has the same goal differential.

In Vancouver there were some lineup changes due to injury and rest. Peter Vermes does not like to play Ike on turf fields or in the third game of the 3 in 8 streaks due to the higher risk of injury. We do not want Ike to get injured. He is in top form right now! Dom wasn’t starting due to a knee injury, and Benny and Jimmy got a bit of a rest…but just a bit because they both came on in the second half.

The roster choice that was the most vexing was Tyler Pasher starting in place of Jimmy. T-Pash is a mainstay on the Swope Park Rangers roster as a defender. I understand that the current defensive line is going to be hard to break into, so maybe Vermes was giving him a chance elsewhere. It was just an odd decision that didn’t pan out at all, and he was pulled for Jimmy at half.

Vancouver had two goals during the game both off of crosses. Why can’t we defend crosses? Is this going to be a thing? It’s kind of already a thing. I want it to stop being a thing. Moving on. Vancouver’s Cristian Techera had a really gorgeous ball that he played off of the chest of Christian Bolaños. It didn’t touch the ground. It went straight to his foot and into the goal. Ugh. Later in the game Tim Parker scored his first goal of the season off of a free kick from right outside the penalty area. Sporting should have scored. There were multiple chances where we were right at the goal and couldn’t put it away.

There were a few good things from this game. Tim Melia was outstanding again. He stopped a penalty kick! That does not happen every damn day! Sporting’s defense also made some pretty amazing plays (minus the goals). Seth Sinovic made a diving steal/clearance that was awesome, and after the saved penalty kick there were some fast feet by the defense to get that ball cleared.

I know there’s been a lot of talk about Dom getting onto the USMNT, but Matt Besler needs to get a serious look. He has been so good this season! I was excited to see Cameron Porter sub in for this game. I’ve been waiting to see him play in a big game for awhile, and he did alright. It’s nice to see some height on the attacking front. It was also his birthday on Tuesday the 23rd!

Fun Facts!

The US U-20 team is on their World Cup campaign, and Sporting defender Erik Palmer-Brown is captaining the squad. If you’re up super early you can catch them between the hours of 3am and 7am central standard time. When he gets back hopefully he can make some starts when Ike needs a rest.

Tim Melia and Gerso Fernandes made it onto the MLS Team of the Week, and Tim was in the lead for Save of the Week last time I checked!

Children’s Mercy has this cool robot named Rex that is used to help kids who aren’t able to go to the games due to medical conditions be a part of the gameday experience!

I started this article on Tuesday, and made it a sentence in. Between starting and finishing this I have played two games of bar trivia, watched a whole season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, eaten a pint of Halo Top, and done three loads of laundry. I guess I type better at night…it’s 2:50 in the morning right now, and 1,351 words later I am done! Thanks for sticking with me!

Sporting KC travels to Colorado this Saturday to take on the Rapids. Look for a huge Cauldron presence to turn Dick’s Sporting Goods Park into Children’s Mercy West!

#WeTogether

Featured image courtesy: @SportingKC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @Kirsten_Hoogs

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

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A Brace? What a Blessing!

Kirsten Arpin - Sporting Kansas City/mlsfemale
Official Sporting Kansas City Reporter

By Kirsten Arpin // @Kirsten_Hoogs

Saturday, May 13: 2-2 Draw

Man, the wordplay is…well it’s something I guess.

Here we are with another short week for Sporting KC. A game against Orlando City FC on Saturday, and then one against the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday night. So that leaves us with some quick fire articles.

On Saturday my husband and I were driving to the watch party for the game only to get stuck in a traffic jam where the main highway into downtown KC was closed for construction. Then we had to navigate the patrons for the Garth Brooks concert at the Sprint Center, and after that we got to walk through a country concert at KC Live in Power and Light. Quick note: We are not country people. We walked through this concert wearing Vans and Sambas so that we could get to No Other Pub. There were soooo many pairs of boots.

After the saga of getting to the watch party, we finally made it around the 11th minute. By that time, Latif Blessing had already scored his first goal! Ilie fed a ball up to Gerso who looked like he was going to shoot it, but he sent in a cross that tipped off a sliding Matt Besler and Latif tapped it in. The goal came off of a cleared setpiece hence Besler still being up front. Not going to lie, but I’m lucky that this game was the MLS Condensed Game of the Week or I would have just been confused… If the darn highlights started just a smidge earlier. Also, darn you Garth Brooks!

Orlando came back pretty quickly when Cyle Larin snuck onside and past our defense to score their first goal. There was a slight uproar in twitter land about Larin being unmarked, and that seems founded. The defenders did seem mighty occupied with the cross. Ten minutes later there was an Orlando City breakaway, and Kaka found the back of the net. It was a beautifully handled ball, so I’ll say I can’t be too mad. That’s a lie. I hate losing, but it was a pretty play.

Until Latif’s second goal, we’ll get to that in a second, all I could think was, “We have to get a goal. Our offense looks too solid and too organized to not get one.” But all we were getting were good runs into the attacking third and lots of possession time. It seemed that Sporting was utilizing their strong passing game almost to a fault. We’d pass the ball around and let Orlando City flood the box with defenders. There was finally a crack in the defense when Gerso got the ball to Benny Feilhaber who played an on target shot that was deflected by Joe Bendik straight to Latif who tapped another short goal. There was definitely an undercurrent of “Finally!” to the celebrations at No Other Pub!

Let’s talk about Bendik right quick. Here in KC we have one of the best keepers in the league. Maybe the best this season. His name is Tim Melia. He is a unicorn, a hero, and a class act. I have not seen Tim Melia lean over a player from the opposing team and scream in his face no matter the circumstance. Joe Bendik leaned over Latif Blessing twice and screamed in his face. I understand that Latif dove a few times, and one or two were blatant. Knowing Peter Vermes, I also doubt that Latif will be doing that anymore. Joe Bendik needs to back off. Did it hurt him, no. Maybe he should have stopped those goals.

Fun Facts

Tim Melia and Ike Opara have been named to the MLS First Quarter Best XI. Sporting’s two players tie them with Orlando City for having the most players on the team.

Mo Johnson will be added to the Sporting Legends on Wednesday which is also Retro Night! Get ready to see a bunch of Charlie Brown jerseys!

Three Sporting KC players completed over 96% of their passes in game against Orlando City…passing game on point.

See you all on Wednesday for SKC v SEA! No Joevin Jones for Seattle. Bring it on, Deuce!

#WeTogether

Featured image courtesy: @SportingKC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @Kirsten_Hoogs

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017

8 Days, 3 Games, 5 Goals, 6 Points

Kirsten Arpin - Sporting Kansas City/mlsfemale
Official Sporting Kansas City Reporter

By Kirsten Arpin // @Kirsten_Hoogs

Oh hey everyone! I’m back! I apologize for my hiatus. School was kicking my butt, but I’m done with the grading and the tests and the papers!

Sporting KC played three games in eight days! RSL, NYRB, and MNU. It was crazy! Luckily the first two games in the stretch were at home, because SKC has been straight fire at home since the home opener (and we do not speak of those: See a few articles ago).

Sporting started off the run on Saturday, April 29th at Children’s Mercy Park to take on one of our big rivals, Real Salt Lake. I’m not going to lie…I don’t like RSL, and it’s all Kyle Beckerman‘s fault. When I mentioned players I didn’t like I completely forgot Kyle Beckerman. Beckerman is the worst, but he didn’t play…so I’ll move on.

So I don’t know how many of you have been to Kansas City in April, but it tends to be rainy. It does not tend to be this freaking cold! This is not Toronto, it should not be freezing! We were all worried that the game would be delayed due to weather because it had been storming off and on all day, but luck was on our side and the game went off without a hitch. Also, the Cauldron‘s tifo went…up with just a tiny hitch, but it was fine.

RSL was coming in with new head coach Mike Petke (whom Ambrosia is very excited about), but unfortunately for Petke RSL has been plagued with injuries. This includes his two USMNT mainstays goalkeeper Nick Rimando, and the aforementioned Kyle Beckerman. Petke had spent some time during the week saying that RSL didn’t need any “bulletin board fodder” to pump his team up for SKC. A slight dig at Sporting perhaps?

Some of our guys (Dom…Benny) do like to get a little chippy. I like it to call it friendly banter… With how the scoreline ended up though maybe RSL could have used something  more to pump them up. Benny Feilhaber got the scoring started in the 17th minute off a pass from Graham Zusi that led to a strike from just outside the penalty area. *Sidenote: I love when Benny scores. Not just because we get a goal, but our head broadcaster, Nate Bukaty, always yells FEILHABER really loudly and I think it’s the best thing.

There were some scares for SKC in between 20-30 minutes. Mulholland hit a shot wide, and then Plata had a ball bounce off his back and into the net. He was blatantly offside so it didn’t matter, but it was scary nonetheless. We also got to see some great shots from Gerso in the first half. Neither of them connected, but they showed the power he can get from about 20 yards out. In the 50th minute, Matt Besler fed a long ball up to Dom Dwyer who juked a defender and put the ball in the back of the net. After his goal Dom ran over to celebrate his first right-footed goal of the season with head trainer Kenny Ishii who helped him rehab after his ankle surgery in the offseason. The game ended on a garbage time goal by Gerso, and Blue Hell was sufficiently given.

Sporting’s next game was on the Wednesday immediately following the RSL game. SKC took on the Fighting Energy Drinks from New York. This game was a good bit warmer, and way drier than the last game. skcvnyrb

Please note the lack of raincoats and the regular attire.

The first half of this game was a little worrisome, but mostly almost exciting. There were shots that were so close! But the proverbial cigar…no dice. Supposedly over the half time break Dom was telling his teammates that he was going to score a goal, and boy did he deliver. He didn’t waste any time with a follow up on a shot by Benny from point-blank range in the 46th minute.

Benny had another great run about 15 minutes later that was deflected by Robles at the last second. It was pretty fun to watch actually. If you’ve ever played FIFA or watched someone play FIFA then you’d know about how when your player is making a solo run the camera blurs and all you can focus on is that one player. Maybe…or not. But it was totally like that. Take my word for it. Dom scored again in the 68th minute with a ball that bounced off the bottom of the crossbar and into the net. T’was lit, my dudes!

I have to do a quick shout out to the defense by the way. Zusi, Bes, Ike, Seth, and I’m throwing in Ilie are really killing it. In the game against New York Red Bulls they were on complete lockdown! It was like a clinic watching them out there. Note to any and everyone…don’t change the backline. Things happen that we don’t want to happen (See below…or just ignore because hopefully it will never happen again.) Oh, and Tim Melia is the best goalkeeper in the land. The Cauldron chanted it, so it must be true! @DaynaOG also agreed with my sentiment of how Tim is the hero this country needs. ‘Nuff said.

With the win on May 3rd Sporting was on the top of the table with 18 points! Then…

Sporting played a game last Sunday…and some stuff happened…and that’s about it.

Now we’re tied…not really…but we have the same amount of points as FC Dallas. Dang goal differential.

Fun Facts!

Mo Johnston is this year’s honoree for the Sporting Legends Hall of Honor! Johnston played for the Wizards from 1996-2001, scored 32 goals, and had 31 assists in his 170 caps.

The next game for SKC is Retro Night! There will be “Charlie Brown” jerseys everywhere! They are awesome btw.

Sporting’s next game is coming up this Saturday at 6:00 pm when they take on Orlando City FC in Orlando. Here’s hoping for another 3 points, and to getting back to the top of the table!

#WeTogether

Featured image courtesy: @SportingKC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @Kirsten_Hoogs

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017

For SKC Everything Is Coming Up Roses!

Kirsten Arpin - Sporting Kansas City/mlsfemale
Official Sporting Kansas City Reporter

By Kirsten Arpin @Kirsten_Hoogs

Saturday, April 15: 0-1 Win

Courtesy chuckle at the terrible joke…thank you.

This past weekend, Sporting Kansas City traveled to the great, colder than here, north-ish. Portland! It was weird watching the broadcast and seeing people wrapped up in blankets and wearing parkas because it has been between 65 and 80 degrees here for the past two games. I forgot that cold is still happening in other parts of this country.

I don’t know a ton about Portland as a place. I know about Portlandia, but I don’t know if that is an accurate representation of Portlandians…Portlandites…Portlanders…? I also know that Nat Borchers used to play there, and he is my least favorite MLS player ever. Don’t ask why. I just can’t stand him. I also don’t like post 2010 Landon Donovan, but that is another story for another article.

Now that I’m finished with my weekly tangent I’ll get on with the game.

Sporting entered the game as the number one defense in the league, and Portland Timbers boasted the number one offense, so it was bound to be a good game. The first test of the game for Sporting was a shot by Fanendo Adi in the 33rd minute. Unfortunately for Adi, and luckily for us, it was a terrible touch. He was right outside the six yard box, just him and Tim Melia, and he skied the heck out of that ball. Sorry man, but it was not good. We had the same sort of situation in the second half when Dom Dwyer played a beautiful ball back to Benny Feilhaber who couldn’t get a solid connection, and it rolled way wide.

There were strong chances for both teams though. One for Sporting in the first half off of a corner where Benny got the ball into Ilie who headed it just over the bar. It was great to see Ilie with a big move off of a set piece, and hopefully we can see some goals from him this year. One for Portland came late in the second half when Darlington Nagbe received a short pass in the attacking third, and Sporting’s outside defense decided to take a break. Nagbe had time to control the ball, basically unchallenged, and launch it toward the upper part of the net. It was a glorious shot. Too bad for Nagbe that Tim Melia is the hero this country needs. Tim got his fingertips on the ball, and managed to get it to bounce off the crossbar. *Side note: My husband loves Nagbe. He has Nagbe’s USA jersey, and calls him “My Darlington”. It’s weird when he does it in public.

The shining moment of the game happened in the 53rd minute when Sporting strung together a beautiful pass sequence that led to a Dom Dwyer header. Benny started off dribbling around three defenders, passed the ball wide to Jimmy Medranda, and Jimmy crossed a laser to Dom who put Sporting a-head (sorry) by one.

It was such a good feeling to get out of Portland with 3 points! The Timbers have only lost 12 regular season matches at Providence Park, so it was a pretty big accomplishment. It was also the first shutout against the Timbers this season.

A few notes: At the watch party we were having a small discussion about the fairness of some teams having turf fields and some having grass. It didn’t seem wet from the TV broadcast, but quite a few Sporting players were slipping on the turf. Turf is an okay choice for teams that play in wetter locations, but it’s crummy to play soccer on period.

There was a little contention about the refs. I read quite a few Timber fan tweets about how the refs may have contributed to them losing. Sporting got two yellows, and Portland didn’t get any. I’m not complaining, but I’m a smidgen perturbed on one. Seth Sinovic basically assaulted a guy, so that one was deserved. The yellow on Ike Opara could have just been a warning instead of a yellow, but Ike is also a hothead sometimes. It may have just been his time.

The game was chippy, but there were fouls missed and called on both sides. There was also a Timbers’ handball inside their box that should have been a PK for Sporting, but that’s neither here nor there. We have to remember that though we don’t like it, refs are people too. It’s probably not easy to watch 20 guys running around a field (22 depending on what the goalkeepers are doing, but I doubt they’re running about), and they have to make judgement calls on what warrants stopping the flow of the game. We can’t complain about the flow of the game, but then turn around and complain about a bunch of perceived missed fouls.

I have to give major props to Sporting’s defensive line. Those four guys are playing some of the best defensive soccer I have seen in the MLS in a long time. Matt Besler seems like he is back to All-Star form (please pay attention Bruce Arena), and Ike Opara is becoming a weekly feature on MLS Teams of the Week. In the midfield we saw the return of a healthy Benny for 80 minutes, and he looked pretty good. Oh, and Ilie Sanchez is a wizard. He has to be! His ball handling is magical!

This week’s fun facts!

This game was Peter Vermes‘ 300th game in any competition as Sporting KC’s head coach! It was also Matt Besler’s 200th start, and Graham Zusi‘s 200th appearance!

Sporting KC, the Swope Park Rangers, FCKC, and the Royals all played this weekend, and all of them won. This wasn’t just one baseball game either. The Royals swept the Angels at home. KC Total Domination! Oh, and Sydney Leroux Dwyer scored in her first game back to competitive soccer since the birth of Cassius. That’s pretty dang awesome.

Last thing. Just click on this and laugh…

Sporting KC travels to FC Dallas this week for a clash of the two final unbeaten teams in the MLS! Safe travels to the team and the Roaddron!

#WeTogether

Featured image courtesy: @SportingKC

Follow and chat with me on twitter: @Kirsten_Hoogs

Check us out on instagram! @mlsfemale

Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017

The Backflip is Back! aka…Tim Howard, we’re sorry we were so mean to you, but not really.

Kirsten Arpin - Sporting Kansas City/mlsfemale
Official Sporting Kansas City Reporter

By Kirsten Arpin @Kirsten_Hoogs

Sunday, April 9: 3-1 Win

That is how a game should be! They were almosts no more! We have goals, and none of them were goalie gaffs!

Sporting KC played the Colorado Rapids at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday night, and it was finally the game we had been looking for. The defense continued to be phenomenal, Tim Melia is most likely a unicorn, and the offense was finishing against one of the best goalkeepers in the history of the United States.

Speaking of the aforementioned goalkeeper, I was within 10 feet of him, and that was pretty dang cool. Also, Tim Howard, I would like to apologize for how mean The Cauldron was to you. Well, not really. We still love you though…but only when you play for the United States. Otherwise, it’s all your fault.

timhoward
Tim Howard (the bad Tim) before we made him all angry.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…

This game was the most fun that I’ve had so far this season. Sporting started the game off with a bang when they scored in the first few minutes. Defender Seth Sinovic had a career first when he scored his very first regular season goal in the 6th minute. Gerso’s shot was deflected by Tim Howard, and Seth caught the deflection with his left foot and slammed it into the goal. He is also only the 4th defender since 2015 to score a goal and have a primary assist in the same game.

The other big moment of the first half was a huge goal line save by Tim Melia that isn’t up for Save of the Week because some people at the MLS offices must be blind.

The first half ended with Sporting up 1 – 0, and then the teams switched sides as per usual. That meant The Cauldron finally got the Good Tim on our side! This Tim we love, and we would never yell at him because he is wonderful. This Tim also definitely won the Battle of the Tims by a landslide. (I have typed the name Tim so many times in this article…so many times)

Timmy Timmy Timmy Timmy Timmy Tim Melia!
Tim Melia (the Good Tim) being amazing as always.

The second half was twice as exciting as the first, and that’s because we scored twice…math!

Gerso Fernandes scored his first ever MLS goal in the 58th minute! He was set up beautifully by his teammates too. Dom Dwyer played a great ball to Roger Espinoza who held back just enough to stay onside. The defender was so preoccupied with Roger that he missed Gerso running up the middle to receive the assist until it was too late. Gerso is also so dang fast that no one could catch him.

In one final first for the game, Sporting KC’s fourth Homegrown player to play in a competitive match, Daniel Salloi subbed in for Soony Saad in the 83rd minute. *Sporting’s other Homegrown players to feature in matches are Kevin Ellis, Erik Palmer-Brown, and our first ever Homegrown player, Jon Kempin (who now plays for the LA Galaxy).

The third goal of the game was scored by our mainstay of the front line, Dom Dwyer. Soni Mustivar played a ball out to Seth Sinovic on the wing, and Seth made a beautiful delivery to Dom right in front of the goal. Dom blasted the ball over a diving Tim Howard, and Sporting was up 3 – 0.

Check out all three Sporting goals here.

Now the Rapids did “score” a goal. In a penalty that could have gone either way, Soni Mustivar tripped up/was tripped up by Kevin Doyle. The referee awarded Doyle a PK, and he got the ball past Tim Melia for the Rapids’ only goal of the game.

Sporting’s defense continues to be spot-on this season. Together with Tim Melia, the back line is tied with FC Dallas in goals against this season only allowing two goals in five games (FC Dallas has only played four games though). Good thing Ike Opara decided that coming back to soccer after a few years of injuries was worth the work and the risk. He is really killing it right now. I would like to make another shout out / apology to Ilie Sanchez. In first article I called out Ilie for his passing, and this week he proved me wrong again by completing 51 of his 52 passes. Lesson learned! I am an Ilie fan for life!

Week 5 fun facts

Four Sporting players earned their way onto Teams of the Week! Defender Seth Sinovic and forward Dom Dwyer made the Goal USA Team of the Week. While defender Ike Opara and midfielder Roger Espinoza were named to the MLS Team of the Week.

Sporting has been having a little fun with photo frames through their app for every game. This week’s frame happened to be of my favorite player, Matt Besler. So I can now say I have a picture with Bes…more or less. Actually just less, but it was pretty cool. MeandBes

This is something I have never seen before, Sporting had a theme night, but the theme night was not for the fans it was for the players! The players had a Russell Westbrook night, and it was great for some laughs! teamruss

I mean Saad Abdul-Salaam with the Tune Squad jersey…Graham’s huge chain…Kevin Ellis‘ poncho…Bes and the sleeveless turtleneck…fresh to death.

Sporting takes on first place Portland in the late game on Saturday. If you’re in KC we’ll see you at No Other Pub in the Power and Light District for the watch party at 9:00 pm!

#WeTogether

Featured image courtesy: @SportingKC

Follow and chat with me on twitter: @Kirsten_Hoogs

Check us out on instagram! @mlsfemale

Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017