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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Featured image courtesy: Chris Humphreys/USA TODAY Sports
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
300 games in charge ✅ 200 starts ✅ 200 appearances ✅
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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!
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!
Sporting KC @ DC United: Home Opener 0 – 0 and freezing
Sporting KC vs FC Dallas: Home Opener 0 – 0 and freezing
Sporting KC @ Toronto FC: Home Opener 0 – 0 and freezing
I’m beginning to sense a trend here, and we need a Mommie Dearest moment…
Sporting KC has personally scored a whopping one goal in their four games, and they have been gifted one by the generous gaff of David Bingham. While both of those goals were at home, we had already opened for business.
The good side of the this story is that Tim Melia is straight up fire in home openers (and all games actually)! Three clean sheets in three openers with some monster saves thrown in for good measure. I would like to reference a tweet from this past game…
Tim Melia being an actual unicorn has neither been confirmed nor denied, so I’m just going to go with it…Now on to the game!
Toronto, you are cold. You are very cold, and you are very damp. It rained, and rained, and rained, and rained some more. I feel for our Toronto FC writer, @crissypayne, because she was there. She might still be thawing. I felt bad for the poor mascot children who had no coats! Michael Bradley‘s children had coats. Toronto, get those kids some coats!
The game can be summed up in one word really. Almost. Toronto almost scored. Sporting almost scored. That’s about all there was. A whole lot of almosts. Hopefully, now that we’re past everyone’s opening jitters we can start turning those almosts into actualities.
There have been some good things going on among these almosts though. The new guys on the team have all been positive additions to the line up. Gerso Fernandes is starting to get some great touches up front. He had three attempts, an assist on an attempt, and won a free kick in the attacking half against Toronto. Some of his passes were questionable, but there was a good amount of sloppy play on both sides. I’m going to chalk some of it up to the weather, and see what happens as the season continues.
Soony Saad is not technically new, but he had a solid game and was creating chances. Hopefully, he gets some more time to keep working on his rhythm with Dom Dwyer, and they can regain that magic they had a few seasons ago. Latif Blessing was a late sub for Soony, and he was like an instant jolt of electricity! He is fast, and knows how to move the ball both in space and through defenders. The only worry I have with Latif is that he is not very big, and he will need to be strong against some of the bigger defenders in the MLS.
The last new guy is Ilie Sanchez. Last week I was iffy on Ilie, but this week I am all for him. His on ball decisions were good, his passes were concise, and he had an amazing delivery from the corner in the waning minutes of the game! If Dom had been a foot closer it would have been a goal.
The real stars of the season so far have been the back four and Tim. The back line of Seth Sinovic, O’Captain my Captain Matt Besler, Ike Opara, and Graham Zusi has been so solid. Matt and Seth have continued their strong foundation from last season, and with the additions of a healthy Ike and converted midfielder Zusi, the SKC back line is one of the best in the league.
All things aside, Sporting escaped with a point, and their unbeaten streak against Toronto now stands at eight games.
Week 4 Fun(ny) Facts
Toronto fans kept throwing toilet paper on the field which was annoying, but it led to the best moment of the game. Poor Soony…
SKC likes to play April Fool’s Day pranks. See last year when they got Tim Melia and Jordi Quintilla to “audition” for Dancing With The Stars. This year Dom, Soony, and Coach Peter Vermes catfished rookie Colton Storm, or should we say Mark from Cabo… You just have to watch.
Three points? A goal by Benny Feilhaber? A nutmeg goal by Soony Saad? I’ll take one of each, please!
Saturday’s game versus the San Jose Quakes at Children’s Mercy Park started off much like the rest of the season so far. Sporting Kansas City was creating, but not capitalizing, and Tim Melia was staying strong in goal.
*Before I go any further, you should know that there is no love lost between Sporting and referee Jair Marrufo. Some of you may know about the game against San Jose last year when Dom Dwyer was tripped by Andres Imperiale in the box, and was not awarded a PK. Afterwards, both coaches agreed that a PK was warranted.* With that said, there was a good bit of chippy-ness going on (read chippy-ness as Dom getting tripped up three times and play continuing each time). I know Dom has a tendency to “embellish” fouls, but not to that degree.
Now, moving on. There were so many close shots in this game! If the goal was one foot wider the score would have been something like 5-2. Benny missed just wide right in the 18th minute, Jimmy Medranda missed slightly wide left in the 39th minute, Dom tripped in front of the goal after beating keeper David Bingham in the 54th minute and he then missed the far post by about two feet in the 58th (the U-S-A chant by The Cauldron was a nice touch though).
This is the same issue we had the majority of last season. Sporting would get forward and make shots like no one’s business, but they couldn’t convert. The thoughts of many SKC writers were that we needed someone up front to help Dom, ala Krisztian Nemeth, and this off-season we signed Gerso Fernandes, Latif Blessing, and Dom’s Man Crush Monday Soony Saad.
Let’s see how this turns out once the team gets going and some more of these guys get worked into the Starting XI. One other worrisome note is Ilie Sánchez in the midfield. Some of his decisions seem a little questionable, and his passes aren’t connecting as much as I would like them to. Hopefully, he just needs a little more time to gel with the rest of the team.
But on to the fun stuff! Nearing the end of the first half Benny Feilhaber lofted the ball over David Bingham and into the corner for the first goal of the season! Bingham had no chance, and Sporting got to celebrate!
Luckily for Sporting, San Jose didn’t have much of an answer. Our defense was solid minus a terrifying two minute stretch at the end which led to a stoppage time goal by Florian Jungwirth. This would have been an issue, but Soony Saad’s 89th minute shot nutmegged David Bingham and rolled into the goal. We’re going to say it was a goal for Soony…the MLS is saying it’s an own goal off of Bingham…tomato tomato (that is way less effective when you type it). You know a goal is lucky when the team’s tweet about it is “¯\_(ツ)_/¯”.
The ending was probably the best part of the game. If you look at the picture at the top of the article you can see The Cauldron in the distance. At the end of the game The Cauldron sang “When the Wiz Go Marching In”, and the players sang, swayed, and jumped along. It was a great ending to an awesome game!
Week 3 fun facts
Captain Matt Besler and Graham Zusi have been called up to the National Team for the World Cup Qualifiers! You can watch them play against teammate Roger Espinoza when the USMNT meets Honduras on March 24. The other US qualifier is against Panama on March 28.
Forward Dom Dwyer is officially a US citizen! He had his swearing in ceremony on Thursday, so we may be seeing him on the USMNT roster some day soon…
Sporting KC did an “official” team bracket on Tuesday, and it was pretty interesting. The guys who had teams in the tournament got together to make their picks: Matt Besler – Notre Dame, Soony Saad – Michigan, Graham Zusi – Maryland, Ike Opara – Wake Forest, Cameron Porter – Princeton, Colton Storm – UNC. Ike basically took over much to the chagrin of his teammates. Ike’s picks were a Duke vs UNC final with Duke winning. Benny came in once everyone left and lambasted Ike’s choices. The video is on Sporting’s Facebook, you should check it out.
*Note: at the time of writing Duke had just lost to South Carolina. Also, the KU Jayhawks have made it through to the next weekend…Rock Chalk
Have a great spring break, everyone, and I’ll see you for the next game on Friday, March 31st at Toronto FC!
This was my matchday in a nutshell. As I mentioned in my “About Me” article I am a Graduate Student at the University of Central Missouri (UCM). Part of my job is to run the UCM Pep Band for basketball games. This is normally not an issue and a super fun part of my life, but this time it got in the way. Both the Men’s and Women’s teams, the Mules and the Jennies, were playing in the MIAA Conference Basketball Tournament in KC this weekend, and I had two games on Saturday. The Mules played at Noon, and the Jennies played at…you guessed it…6:00pm, AKA gametime.
My husband was lucky enough to get to No Other Pub, our Sporting KC bar in the Power & Light District, to watch the game with members of The Cauldron who didn’t make the trip up to DC. *Side note: Great job to The Cauldron and SKC for having the most traveling fans of any MLS team by far this week! Anyway, my husband was at No Other Pub and kept sending me updates by text, when he remembered. Here is the extent of my gametime commentary:
“Medranda starting as attacking mid, Zus right back”
“Gerso is contributing a lot”
“Melia saved a pen”
and that was it…please note his lack of punctuation. All of these things happened before 17 minutes on the clock. The lack of communication may have been helped out by the $30 unlimited burgers, wings, and beer at the watch party.
So, here are my thoughts from watching the game and highlights, and listening to interviews after the fact.
Sporting KC’s starting XI has gone through some changes since last year with the retirement of Paulo Nagamura and Brad Davis and Jacob Peterson being signed away by Atlanta United. Last year we also had a crazy defensive rotation that was forced by injuries. Hopefully this season we see a stabilized line up with Captain Matt Besler, a healthy Seth Sinovic and Ike Opara, and utility man Graham Zusi.
One of SKC’s immediate needs was to get Dom Dwyer some help up front. The answer for this first game was the addition of Gerso Fernandes and Jimmy Medranda on the wings with Benny Feilhaber and Roger Espinoza at attacking mid. Gerso has previously played in Portugal, and he made an impact right off the bat. Not only is he fast, but there was a play late in the game where he made a crazy shot from right inside the box. It would have been perfect if he had been another 10-15 yards out.
The player of the game definitely goes to Tim Melia. This may have been the hardest I have seen anyone work for a clean sheet. Shots seemed to come in flurries, and there was no relaxing in goal. Timmy also had some assistance from his teammates with Jimmy and Dom providing huge goal-saving headers in the 66th minute. Tim’s heroics in no way diminish the show put on by DC’s Bill Hamid. Dom, Benny, Gerso, and Jimmy all had some legitimate chances, and Bill was on fire, so props to Bill!
Though it was freezing out, manager Peter Vermes chose to keep all 11 starters in for the full 90 minutes. I don’t think this was detrimental to the team’s performance though, because the guys were still playing strong at the end of the game. It seemed like DC United was bunkering down in the last ten minutes, and SKC was still making chances literally up until the final whistle.
Some things I’m curious to see coming up this season are how Jimmy and Zus are utilized, Latif Blessing…period, and the return of Soony Saad. Blessing may prove to be one of the fastest players in the MLS, and he was the leading goal scorer in Ghana’s premier league last year. Look for him to get worked into the line-up soon. Soony’s return is also a big point of interest, because him and Dom have had such great chemistry on the front line in the past.
This week is the home opener at Children’s Mercy Park, and there’s supposed to be freezing rain…welcome to Kansas City.
Oh, and by the way, the Jennies lost…
*The Tuesday before the game SKC hosted a preseason kickoff party, and that was the best time! We got to meet a few players, and play drums in the fan march through downtown KC! I was on Dom Dwyer’s insta story, so that was pretty awesome.