Tag Archives: Sporting Kansas City

Sporting KC: 2019 Roster Moves

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Sporting Kansas City’s roster has undergone some drastic, much needed changes in the past few weeks, including the club making a momentous splash earlier this week with the signing of Liga MX top-scorer Alan Pulido.

First, the 2019 MLS Expansion Draft hit SKC’s roster once again – followed by an immediate trade saw two Sporting KC players sent to Nashville SC.

Jimmy Medranda

Nashville selected Jimmy Medranda, a 25-year-old midfielder, for their 10th and final pick of the draft – ending his six-year career in Kansas City. He became the 11th Sporting player to be taken in an MLS Expansion Draft.

Medranda recorded five goals and eight assists in 108 competitive appearances for Sporting from 2013-2019. The Colombian’s tenure with the club was highlighted by a 2013 MLS Cup title and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles in 2015 and 2017.

But is Medranda another “Latif Blessing level” mistake?

It’s too soon to be certain, but Medranda was a great asset for the team.

Adrian Zendejas

Immediately after the draft concluded, the club acquired $125,000 in 2020 Targeted Allocation Money, $50,000 in 2020 General Allocation Money, and an international roster spot for the 2020 season from MLS expansion club Nashville SC in exchange for goalkeeper Adrian Zendejas.

Zendejas was a prominent backup keeper for Sporting KC and their USL affiliate, the Swope Park Rangers. It has been a rocky season for the young keeper, who, after two years with the club, finally made his league debut in a 1-1 draw over FC Cincinnati on April 7. Additionally, Zendejas conceded four goals in SKC’s early exit from the 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

Additional Roster Moves

The club announced further roster moves heading into the 2020 MLS season on November 21st ahead of the drafts.

Sporting KC has exercised contract options on the following five players: goalkeeper Eric Dick, defender Graham Smith and forwards Gerso Fernandes, Erik Hurtado, and Daniel Salloi.

In turn, Sporting declined contract options for Seth Sinovic, Benny Feilhaber, and Gedion Zelalem.

Forward Krisztian Nemeth, and defenders Nico Hasler and Rodney Wallace are also out of contract with the club.

But it’s not over yet.

Sporting KC passed for the End-of-Year Waivers process. However, the club made a selection during the first stage of the Re-Entry Draft before passing on the second stage.

Richard Sanchez

Sporting KC selected former Chicago Fire goalkeeper Richard Sanchez in Stage 1 of the 2019 MLS Re-Entry Draft.

The 25-year-old already has nine seasons of professional experience under his belt, getting his start in the FC Dallas Academy and competing in both the United States and Mexico. Sanchez has spent the last three seasons in MLS with the Chicago Fire – recording 90 saves across 27 league appearances.

According to the club’s statement:

“On the international stage, Sanchez was the starting goalkeeper and played all seven matches for Mexico as El Tri captured the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup title on home soil. He was also Mexico’s starting keeper at the 2013 U-20 World Cup two years later, helping his side reach the Round of 16.”

Sanchez’s signing completes SKC’s goalkeeper roster, with Tim Melia and Eric Dick. Sanchez will likely serve as a great backup, if not occasional starter.

Roberto Punčec

Sporting Kansas City announced they have signed 28-year-old Croatian defender Roberto Punčec. Punčec has inked a two-year MLS contract through 2021 with an option for 2022. He will occupy an international spot on Sporting’s roster pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and P1 visa.

The Varazdin native has amassed almost 300 professional appearances across 12 professional seasons in Croatia, Israel, and Germany. He played over 100 matches with Union Berlin in the second-division, German 2. Bundesliga before returning home to Croatia to play the last two and a half years for HNK Rijeka, where he won the 2019 Croatian Cup this spring.

Manager Peter Vermes seemed enthused with the new signing:

“Roberto has significant experience playing in Europe over the last several years,” Vermes said. “He is very excited to be here and we look forward to him integrating into our club and our city.”

Punčec joins four other center backs on the roster: Matt Besler, Botond Barath, Andreu Fontás, and Graham Smith. He will likely serve as a backup to either starter since Fontás has undergone surgery for a insertional Achilles tendon clean up and repair surgery in October – he is expected to be out for 4-5 months.

Khiry Shelton

Welcome back, Khiry!

A familiar face returns to the Blue Hell as the club signed the 26-year-old forward to a three-year MLS contract through 2022 with an option for 2023.

Shelton spent 2019 with German club SC Paderborn 07, returns to Kansas City for his second stint. He first helped the club place in the Western Conference in 2018.

In his first stint with Sporting KC, Shelton started 17 of his 24 appearances in all competitions. Shelton was not prolific in 2018, scoring twice and adding five assists in MLS play but he was part of the record breaking offense that saw SKC sit atop the west with an 18-8-8 record. Sporting KC was 12-3-5 in matches Shelton played. 

With that being said, I feel like this is more of a depth signing for the club, but only time will tell.

Alan Pulido

Last but not least, SKC’s blockbuster signing.

Sporting KC finally found a striker in Liga MX’s top-scorer Alan Pulido. Pulido was acquired for a record fee transfer – a reported $9.5 million – making him the most expensive signing in the club’s history and one of the most expensive signings in MLS history.

“My dream would be to fight for the MLS Cup and to win the title. There’s no bigger dream or motivation than that, and of course I want to bring joy to the fans with my goals. I’d like to grow personally, and I would like to be the top scorer in MLS—that would be a big dream of mine,” Pulido said.

Pulido has yet to arrive in Kansas City and he is already making waves.

Sporting KC kicks off the 2020 MLS campaign on the road in Vancouver. Then will return to KC to open the season on March 7 as they host longtime rival, Houston Dynamo.

Featured image: Peaty Romano

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Sporting KC Signs Liga MX Striker Alan Pulido for Record Fee

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Sporting Kansas City has officially acquired 2019 Liga MX Apertura Golden Boot winner Alan Pulido from Chivas Guadalajara on a club record transfer fee.

The Mexican striker signed a four-year MLS contract through 2023 and will occupy an international spot on Sporting’s roster pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and P1 visa.

After years of searching, Manager Peter Vermes finally got his momentous No. 9 for a reported $9.5 million – making it the richest transfer fee ever paid by Sporting KC and Pulido the highest paid player in MLS history. However, it is important to note the club has not officially released any details beyond a “club record”.

“We are very excited to add Alan Pulido to our roster ahead of the new season,” Sporting Kansas City Manager and Sporting Director Peter Vermes said. “He is a winner, has a terrific work rate and embodies all of the attributes we value at our club. We also want to thank Chivas for being an incredibly professional partner and appreciate the relationship we have created with them. Alan is ready for this new challenge and looks forward to getting started with us on the field in January.”

The highly decorated 28-year-old striker joins Sporting KC having scored over 100 combined goals for club and country. His appearances include five domestic championships, the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League title and 13 caps for the Mexico Men’s National Team. Pulido finished atop the Liga MX scoring charts with 12 goals for Chivas Guadalajara in the 2019 Apertura season (the July to December half) this fall.

Image courtesy of Sporting Kansas City

Alan has earned seven club titles among other individual honors:

  • 40 goals for Tigres in all competitions (2009-2014)
  • 41 goals for Guadalajara in all competitions (2016-2019)
  • Five goals in 13 appearances for Mexico Men’s National Team
  • 2012 Concacaf Olympic Qualifying Tournament top scorer (Mexico U-23s)
  • 2014 Copa MX Clausura top scorer (Tigres)
  • 2017 Liga MX Clausura Best XI (Guadalajara)
  • 2018 Concacaf Champions League Goal of the Tournament (Guadalajara)
  • 2019 Liga MX Clausura top scorer (Guadalajara)

Click here to view a full list of honors

El Tri fans will recognize the Ciudad Victoria native from his time with Mexico’s men’s national team after making his senior international debut on January 29, 2014, scoring a hat-trick in a 4-0 friendly win against South Korea in San Antonio, Texas. He went on to score two additional goals for El Tri and made his last appearance for the senior team in September 2018, featuring in a friendly losses to Uruguay and the U.S.

Pulido is expected to arrive in Kansas City in January.

Featured image: Courtesy of Major League Soccer

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Decision Day: Can the Timbers clinch a playoff spot at home?

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Following a chippy 2-2 draw against Sporting Kansas City this past Sunday night, the Portland Timbers are taking the point and the fight for a playoffs spot back home to Providence Park.

In a night full of trading cards and goals – Sebastian Blanco notched the opening goal in the 29th minute. However, Krisztián Nemeth cut the celebrations after finding the equalizer just moments later.

Then chaos ensued.

A brief altercation broke out in the 35th minute after Felipe Gutierrez and Brian Rodriguez collided on the sidelines that ultimately led to both Rodriguez and Roger Espinoza receiving red cards and were ejected from the match.

Head Coach Giovanni Savarese disagreed with the decision telling media during the postmatch conference:

“To be quite honest, I don’t think anybody should [have been] thrown out, from what I saw,” said Savarese. “From what I saw it got heated, but no, I think a lot of yellow card situations there. So I have to be honest that I haven’t seen it yet, I just heard that it wasn’t as much as they made it seem like.”

Steve Clark who rose to the occasion during the midseason after starter Jeff Attinella suffered a season-ending injury, made three saves to keep the match level.

Savarese said of Clark’s performance: “He’s done fairly well. We said from the beginning he is an important player. [And] that’s why we put him in. We felt very content to have two goalkeepers like Jeff [Attinella] and [Steve] Clark – that we knew what they’re going to give us. And we’re very content [he would] step up to help us out. I think he made some good saves.”

Sporting KC immediately regained the lead in the 46th minute after Daniel Salloi hit home the rebound scoring his first goal of the season.

In the 85th minute, a penalty was awarded to the Timbers after Ilie Sanchez tackles Jeremy Ebobisse in the penalty area. Darien Asprilla converts the goal leveling the match and giving the Timbers a hard-fought point on the road.

Although everything went their way score-wise across the league with a loss from both FC Dallas and San Jose Earthquakes, it all comes down to Decision Day.

But it comes with an added challenge.

After Savarese stated the club would be appealing Fernandez’s suspension; the club has since rescinded the appeal Wednesday based on new evidence – leaving them without their star forward for the big matchup. In addition to Diego Valeri still questionable due to tightness in his calf he acquired in Kansas City.

But maybe luck will be on Portland’s side as the Earthquakes are currently on a five-game losing streak and are a point below the line. As well, losing defender Tommy Thompson to a red card during their previous match against the Seattle Sounders.

The Timbers will look to clinch a playoffs spot at home when they face the Earthquakes on Sunday, October 6.

“It’s a must win. That’s all it is,” said Zarek Valentin.

Featured image: @TimbersFC

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Sporting KC Falls to Real Salt Lake In 2-1 Loss

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Coming off of a strong win in Seattle, Sporting Kansas City fell back into old ways dropping points to rival Real Salt Lake in a 2-1 loss at Children’s Mercy Park.

The match kicked off to a rocky start with winger Gerso Fernandes forced to leave the pitch early in the sixth minute due to an ankle injury. Daniel Salloi came off the bench to take his place in helping the team maintain possession of the ball.

Johnny Russell put SKC on the board in the 31st minute with a free kick. But seven minutes later, Corey Baird was quick to respond for the visitors and leveled the match. 

The home side had a chance to restore their lead after being awarded a penalty kick when RSL’s Donny Toia tripped Russell from behind inside the box. Felipe Gutierrez stepped up to convert but he watched as the ball rattled off the left post – sending them into the half tied up 1-1.

The visitors found their lead in the 70th minute when Jefferson Savarino picked out an unmarked Baird who tucked in a left footed shot into the bottom right corner for a brace.

The home team petitioned for a penalty in the 73rd minute after Gutierrez went down under Aaron Herrera’s lunging challenge and with the support of the crowd chanting for VAR – referee Fotis Bazakos reviewed the play but stood by the call of no penalty.

Things took a turn for the worst in the 84th minute when Sporting lost their second player of the match. Salloi was shown a straight red for a hard tackle on Damir Kreilach when he clipped the midfielder studs up, reducing the home side to 10 men for the duration of the match.

Sporting KC watched as their chances of playoff contention diminished further last night but is it too late? Maybe.

With ten games left in the regular season and still sitting in tenth place with 28 points and a -6 goal differential, every game from now on is crucial for SKC.

“I’m not giving up,” Peter Vermes told the press during the post match press conference.

Sporting KC will now look to bounce back in a mid-week fixture when the team visits Orlando City.

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Sporting KC turning things around following 3-0 shutout in Vancouver

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

After suffering a tough first half of the season, Sporting Kansas City is finally turning things around in back-to-back shutouts.

It seems the only thing the club will have to claim at customs (as they return home) is three points they earned in a 3-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps on the road Saturday night at BC Place.

Gerso Fernandes helped lift Sporting KC to their second straight win by playing a part in all three goals, having scored two of them himself.

For the first time this season, Peter Vermes fielded the same starting XI he used in the 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire last weekend; giving the backline of Graham Zusi, Matt Besler, Botond Barath, and Seth Sinovic their fourth clean sheet in five regular-season matches as a defensive unit.

Tim Melia returned to peak performance after recording six saves to earn his 58th win this season – surpassing the record of Jimmy Nielsen and becoming the new all-time leader in wins since joining the club in 2015.

Controlling over 60% possession throughout the match, Sporting KC pressured Vancouver’s defense before finding the opening goal in the 24th minute.

With Sporting KC in search of a second goal and Vancouver looking to level the match, both sides created chances just before the half. The visitors came close to doubling the lead in the 39th minute as Yohan Croizet’s volley was re-directed by Salloi and went straight to MacMath at close range.

Melia came up huge to turn away Inbeom Hwang’s free kick in the 48th minute. Moments later, 19-year-old Homegrown forward Theo Bair‘s shot misses narrowly wide of the post.

Sporting KC kicked it into high gear after the restart. Felipe Gutierrez wasted no time and immediately doubled the lead with a strike from the top of the box; sneaking it in past MacMath in the 56th minute.

The boys continued the fight to close out the game on a good note, something they had struggled with all season-long. The Whitecaps came close to pulling one back in the 76th minute. But Yordy Reyna’s free-kick ricocheted off the post. Sporting KC went on to threaten for a third goal for the duration of the second half; forcing MacMath to make double saves.

Sporting KC subbed in Johnny Russell for the final moments of the match. And right away, the Scottish forward linked up with his Hungarian teammate, playing the ball to Krisztian Nemeth, who cut it back to Fernandes and he squeezes it through for the game-winner – securing all three points.

With two straight wins and only four players on a once injury-riddled roster, Sporting KC sets their sights on getting back above the line for playoffs.

During the post-match interviews, Melia explained:

“Baby steps, right? We’re just trying to build into our better performances. Getting guys back – being able to bring [Johnny Russell] off the bench, someone who is as explosive as him. I mean, right now things are moving in the right direction.”

Sitting in ninth place with 25 points in a tight race in the Western Conference standings, the club will host FC Dallas who sits just above the line with a four-point difference on Saturday, July 20.

Featured image: @SportingKC

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Sporting KC drops midweek fixture to LA Galaxy 2-0

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Despite coming off a hot win over the Seattle Sounders this past weekend, Sporting Kansas City fell to the LA Galaxy in a dismal 2-0 loss at Children’s Mercy Park.

The midweek fixture was a chance to regain a rhythm and some points. But as the script goes, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s goal and assist and missed chances for the home side would help lead the Galaxy to victory – the first time they have won at CMP since 2007.

Navigating a stressful three-game week, Peter Vermes was able to fill a bench to capacity for the first time as the injury list continues to shrink. And Jimmy Medranda was removed from the list completely.

A rested center back Andreu Fontas, a former teammate of Zlatan, stepped in for the captain – who started on the bench. Johnny Russell was back after his heroic hat-trick and Fontas returned to the starting XI.

Their only real challenge was missing Krisztian Nemeth again since the league added an extra suspension for the Hungarian on Monday.

So what went wrong?

“I think we missed too many really good chances in the game,” Peter Vermes told the press.

Both sides kicked off the match with sloppy plays, incomplete passes, and misdirection of the ball. Fortunately, the home side soon regained solid possession around the 10th minute.

Tim Melia was called into action in the 24th minute, when the keeper made a diving save after Dave Romney connected powerfully with Sebastian Lletget’s header and smothered the ball amidst a crowded box to keep the game scoreless.

Gutierrez and Rowe nearly combined for the breakthrough just before the half, but David Bingham raced off his line and swiped the ball away for a corner kick that he later defended successfully.

Sporting were then prompted to make a halftime substitution as Besler replaced Botond Barath, who exited with tightness in his leg. No updates on his condition are known yet.

Ten minutes after the restart, Perry Kitchen sent a long pass to Zlatan at the far post, who directed the ball to Favio Alvarez – with the nice finish as he found a pocket of space and tucked away the goal.

Melia came up huge to deny Zlatan in a 1v1 situation in the 69th minute.

Zlatan, who just returned from a two-game suspension, got his revenge from the 1v1 standoff in the 86th minute and scored the game-winner for the visitors late into the second half.

The remainder of the match saw Sporting KC desperately trying to score a goal. Including a chance from the pair of Graham Zusi and Daniel Salloi. But Bingham kept punching them away to preserve the Galaxy’s 2-0 win.

Sporting KC will start a pivotal four-game road streak as they travel to Houston to face the Houston Dynamos on Saturday, June 1.

Featured image: Jimmy Medranda on Instagram @jimao7

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Sporting KC falls in tough 1-0 loss on the road

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Sporting Kansas City fell to D.C. United in a steep 1-0 loss on a rainy afternoon at Audi Field on Sunday night.

The injury list continues to grow with Graham Zusi now joining the ranks due to an oblique injury. Although both veterans (Matt Besler and Zusi) were listed as questionable, neither one appeared in the eighteen – giving Ilie Sanchez the opportunity to wear the captain’s band for the first time. The match also marked Seth Sinovic‘s 200th career MLS start. As well, introduced an old friend back to the lineup, Benny Feilhaber.

English captain Wayne Rooney was the first to test Tim Melia in the 14th minute – when he fired a strike from 25 yards out. Fortunately, the 31-year-old keeper made a full-stretch save to punch the ball away from the danger. Melia would go on to make a total of three saves.

Given ten players were out due to injury and only four players, including the goalkeeper, available on the bench, Sporting KC did well to hold the host scoreless into the second half.

Paul Arriola would finally break the goalless drought in the 78th minute when Wayne Rooney passed a perfect ball to Arriola, who then tucked it in the net by mere inches.

The goal gave the visitors an energy boost as they went on to create two solid opportunities in the final twelve minutes. But it wouldn’t be enough. Krisztian Nemeth instantly received a chance to equalize when he jumped on a giveaway and carried the ball toward goal, but his near-post shot goes wide.

A final chance at redemption saw late-half substitute Kelyn Rowe curl in a ball into a crowded box to find Graham Smith, but his header goes wide ending the match in a 1-0 loss.

Sporting KC’s winless skid continues. Now the club will have a three-game stretch at home, so hopefully, they can pick up some points at CMP before heading on the road for four-straight matches. First up, the club will host the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday, May 18.

Featured image: @sportingkc

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Sporting KC falls to Atlanta United 3-0

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Sporting Kansas City fell to Atlanta United 3-0; snapping their home unbeaten run on Sunday night at Children’s Mercy Park. It was the first time the home team lost to the reigning MLS Cup Champions.

With multiple injuries plaguing the roster – and missing key starters like Matt Besler and Roger Espinoza – Vermes fielded an almost unrecognizable lineup with only five subs available on the bench. Two of which earned their first MLS starts – Graham Smith and Gedion Zelalem (made his club debut). Kelyn Rowe and Botond Barath returned to the starting XI.

Sporting KC kicked off the match with a good opportunity when Graham Zusi unleashed a long-range curler that carried marginally beyond the right-hand post. Shortly thereafter, Atlanta’s Pity Martinez cut centrally onto his left foot and dragged a low shot wide of the near post.

The home side would earn another chance after Krisztian Nemeth could have recorded his 11th off a corner kick by Johnny Russell in the 13th minute, but his glancing header on the edge of the six-yard box missed the mark.

And then it stopped?

With both sides holding close to equal possession and overall passing accuracy, it seemed they locked in a game of keep away, as they passed the ball back-and-forth without creating any solid chances for a full 15 minutes.

*Writer’s note: I’m not suggesting no one was trying to create an opportunity, I just found the situation odd.

Just as it appeared the match would go scoreless into halftime, Josef Martinez opened the scoring for Atlanta in the 39th minute after retrieving the rebound off of Tim Melia at short range. Martinez went down briefly after a collision with the keeper. But he returned to the pitch uninjured to score the game winner in the 76th minute.

Two minutes after the restart, Atlanta doubled the lead. Sporting failed to clear a loose ball at the top of the penalty area and a shot fell invitingly to Ezequiel Barco, who made right-footed strike down the middle into the left side of the post.

Melia did well to deny the 20-year-old nine minutes later, then produced another reflex stop on a strike from Miles Robinson.

Down by two, Sporting KC ran the ball down to try to close the gap and earned two solid opportunities in the process. But as the script goes, Kelyn Rowe’s thunderous effort from the top of the box was blocked and Nemeth’s 22-yard curler skimmed over the woodwork.

In the 65th minute, the energy changed as Ilie entered the match in a double substitution.

Ilie did not appear once in training this past week and he was listed as questionable. So it’s understandable the predicament Vermes was forced into. And one he will probably see himself again:

“The problem is I don’t have the whole team available. It’s not just one guy. When you have a team – and every team has their starters – to then have to supplant all those guys with new players, it’s very hard.”

Regardless, the Spaniard still had a solid attempt shortly after Russell cuts into the middle and forces Guzan into a leaping save with a left-footed curler that bounced off the top corner in the 73rd minute. But the striker couldn’t put his strike within the frame.

Ultimately, it was Martinez’s second goal that gave Sporting KC their first loss of the season at home in a 3-0 deficit.

Even though frustration filled the locker room, the team remains optimistic about the future. Especially with the newcomers earning more playing opportunities:

“I thought the two center backs did a really good job. It’s a quality team with a lot of attacking minded players that are really good at combining and for the most part, till maybe the 70th minute we did a really good job shutting [Atlanta] down.” Melia told the press.

Seth Sinovic added: “I think everyone had their moments. I think everybody got the opportunity to improve, not just the new guys but the experienced guys. And it’s on the experience guys that have not only played a lot of games in the league but a lot of games in a sporting uniform – we have to be better leaders. We got to do a better job and we’re not filling that job right now.”

Next up, Sporting KC will travel to Audi Field to face Wayne Rooney and D.C. United for the first time.

“We have to concentrate on our first day back at training. Making sure we’re doing everything there [..] we build them correctly for the game against [D.C. United],” said Melia. “We just got to get back to being us. And look at one game at a time.”

Featured image: Peaty Romano

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Sporting Kansas City faces a rocky journey as injuries continues to rise

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Slow starts and multiple injuries plague the club. But can Sporting Kansas City bounce back before it’s too late?

Sporting KC is currently in eighth place in the Western Conference standings, under Real Salt Lake – who fell to the LA Galaxy this past weekend. Even though they are undefeated at home, the defense is suffering due to multiple injuries. A list that is still dangerously growing.

The club confirmed on Wednesday morning, Gerso Fernandes underwent surgery for a broken wrist – now joining a long list of injuries:

  • Matt Belser (hamstring strain)
  • Roger Espinoza (PCL sprain)
  • Rodney Wallace (hip)
  • Jaylin Lindsey (torn meniscus)
  • Jimmy Medranda (knee)
  • Erik Hurtado (knee)

Only Besler is expected to return within the next month. Jimmy Medranda is set to return in June or July after a lengthy absence. This week he returned to training as a “neutral player,” which Manager Peter Vermes called: a step in the right direction.

The injuries are also affecting training as Tuesday’s training session was canceled due to a limited amount of players available – nine players were out. “This is the most guys we’ve ever had out,” Vermes told the press.

Midfielder Ilie Sanchez echoed similar frustrations:

“That’s unlucky for us. We are struggling in that area. […] Because fútbol is a contact sport. You are constantly getting hit [and] in pain. Most of those injured are coming from that contact against the opponent. This will change and we will get better. We will get players recovered, so that will help the team to have better dynamics.”

Although Sporting Kansas City is not the only MLS team to participate in the Concacaf Champions League this year, I was still wary of the effects it could have on the roster in the long run. The team had a great run in the CCL but it clearly came with a cost.

But it’s not over, yet. Even though we would normally see these type of injuries during the mid-season, it’s still early in the season for Sporting KC to turn things around.

Can we get players from the USL side, Swope Park Rangers? Technically, yes.

When asked about the possibility, Vermes explained:

“The problem is, the mechanisms are not in our favor. So we have to drop below fourteen available players before we can actually pull a player from the Swope Park Rangers for a short term loan. So it’s a catch 22, you don’t want to be in that place but then again – maybe you do, because you need the players.”

Though it is important to note that Vermes hope we’re “returning players” to avoid that situation.

The team will most likely have to rely on Daniel Salloi – who has been doing well at training. Along with Johnny Russell, Kristztián Nemeth, Graham Zusi, etc. while their teammates recover. Plus, Gianluca Busio and Tyler Freeman are with the United States U-17s.

Sporting KC is set to host reigning MLS Cup Champions Atlanta United on Sunday, May 5. And looking forward, the players are staying optimistic.

“It’s mental and hopefully that throughout this week, we look back and see the things we have – obviously with the injuries. And the fact that we do need to jell together as a team in different positions. Hopefully, this week we’ll determine that,” Kelyn Rowe stated.

Featured image: Sporting KC

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Sporting KC dominates in 2-0 home opener victory

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Sporting Kansas City finally kicked off the regular season at home with a 2-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union to an electric crowd at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday.

After dropping the MLS season opener in Los Angeles and the first leg in Panama for the Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals, Sporting KC switched gears and returned to Kansas City.

Missing Roger Espinoza due to red card suspension and Andreu Fontás to an injury – a reshuffled lineup introduced 16-year-old, Gianluca Busio, the youngest MLS starter in Children’s Mercy Park history.

Busio wasted little time proving his starting role, drawing a penalty kick in the ninth minute after Johnny Russell and Krisztian Nemeth exchanged passes in the penalty area. In a scramble to win the ball, the Union’s Auston Trusty tripped Busio from behind, and referee Chris Penso immediately called the foul. Ilie Sanchez stepped up and converted the penalty kick to give the home side the early lead.

Moments later, the Union would have a chance to equalize after Seth Sinovic was called for handball infraction inside the box, but as luck would have it – goalkeeper Tim Melia was a game changer as he dove low to push away Marco Fabian’s attempt, securing Sporting KC’s 1-0 lead into the half. Melia earned his eighth penalty kick save since joining the club in 2015, surpassing his former mentor; Nick Rimando’s record of five penalty kick saves.

The Union was reduced to 10 men after Fabian received a straight red card in the 60th minute. Graham Zusi sent a thunderous strike to see it miss the goal by inches and bounce off the post. Minutes later, Melia was called back into action catching the ball mid-air off a header by Cory Burke.

The 16-year-old midfielder earned a chance to score his first MLS goal in the 77th minute; after Ilie sent a pass over the top falling to Busio, who then try to run the ball into an open net but was denied by a last-minute save by Trusty.

Own goals. We love own goals.

In the 80th minute, Kelyn Rowe sent a pass to Gerso Fernandes but Philadelphia’s Jack Elliott intercepted the play; and instead of clearing out the danger, Elliott kicked the ball past Blake doubling Sporting’s lead 2-0. Even though it technically wasn’t counted as an assist for Rowe, we’ll make an exception.

The last ten minutes saw both sides exchange passes until the final whistle awarding Sporting KC a 2-0 shutout and three points.

Sporting KC will prepare to host Panamanian side Independent in the decisive second leg of the Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals; before going back on the road to face the Colorado Rapids on Sunday, March 17.

Featured image: Peaty Romano

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