Sporting Kansas City hosts the Los Angeles Football Club for the first time on Sunday, October 28 in the battle for the top spot in the Western Conference. The regular season finale will also welcome home former players Benny Feilhaber and Latif Blessing.
The last time these two clubs met was on August 11, when Sporting KC delivered LAFC their first and only home loss of the regular season in a 2-0 victory at the Banc of California stadium.
It is important to note that the black-and-gold were missing several key players due to coming off a two-game streak – with their last match being in Houston, for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinals, three days prior to meeting Sporting KC. Andre Horta, Danilo Silva, and Christian Ramirez filled these empty roles while also having earned their first MLS career starts.
The black-and-gold are expected to be at full strength for Sunday’s contest with Tyler Miller back in goal and Steven Beitashour, Walker Zimmerman and Adama Diomande returning to the pitch.
Bob Bradley‘s team will be coming off the momentum they gained from their final regular season match at home where they earned a 2-2 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps and made history as the first club to reach 57 points in their inaugural season.
Sporting KC currently holds first place in the Western Conference with LAFC just two points behind – tied with FC Dallas. A win would secure the top spot for the black-and-gold, however, if the match ends in a draw or loss they could potentially remain in second place. Of course, we would need to take into account the fact FC Dallas and the Seattle Sounders would both need to lose in order for this to happen. Given their current records – that’s a tall order for any team.
The top two seeds will earn knockout round byes, while the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds will host a single-elimination knockout round match on either Oct. 31 or Nov. 1 against the No. 6 and No. 5 seeds, respectively.
On the other side, similar to their visitors, Sporting KC will look to stay atop the standings and a first-round bye. The home side could still finish anywhere from first to fourth, having clinched their first home playoff game since the 2013 MLS Cup.
Only one question remains. Who will come out on top?
So, friends, it’s March. How is it already March? In a week and a half I’ll be on spring break again, but this time I’ll be on spring break in the place where everyone else goes for spring break. So no Disney for me for awhile. Read more here
Also, I’m really sorry I’ve been AWOL for the past few months. This transition to a new school hasn’t been difficult, per say. I have just been far busier than I was at my old school. I promise that I will be here for the season, so if you look forward to my ramblings they will be there.
I could also treat you to a paper on the history and rise of LGBTQ culture in American musical theatre, or a theoretical comparison of Max Richter’s Recomposed and Vivaldi’s La Primavera…if you’re interested. I can also clinic your concert band. But back to soccer.
Sporting KC has made a good bit of movement during the offseason. We lost Latif Blessing to the Expansion Draft, Benny Feilhaber is gone to LAFC for allocation money, and Andrew Dykstra is off to Colorado for a pick in the 2020 Super Draft.
We picked up quite a few players as well. We drafted Eric Dick a goalkeeper from Butler who was born in Roeland Park, KS, and Graham Smith (yes, we have two Grahams) from the University of Denver. We also signed homegrown player Matt Lewis, a defender from Fordham. Lewis, Dick, and Smith seem like they can be solid loans to Sportings USL affiliate the Swope Park Rangers so they can continue to grow and improve.
There are also three new International Players with some serious soccer chops. Yohan Croizet is a midfield/forward transfer from Belgian side KV Mechelen. He has scored 31 goals since beginning his professional career in 2011.
Another new midfielder is Chilean national team veteran, Felipe Gutierrez. Gutierrez has featured in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the 2015 Copa America Gold Medal Team, the 2017 Confederations Cup, and 2018 World Cup qualifying. Last season he was on loan to Brazilian team Internacional from Real Betis.
The last international player is forward Johnny Russell from Scotland. He is a proven goal-scorer with 94 professional goals in both England and Scotland. He has spent the last five years at Derby County in England’s second-division. In addition to his 94 professional goals, he has one international goal in his four caps for Scotland.
Many Sporting fans have been worried about having a consistent goal-scoring threat up front. It seemed like Dom Dwyer was going to be that type of player, but he was never able to recreate his success from his pair up with Kristian Nemeth. Diego Rubio and Gerso Fernandes are both working their way toward that level, but neither has quite reached where the team needs them to be yet.
Russell could be that guy. He has the experience, so if he can translate those skills to MLS he could be a major threat.
Another player to be excited about is veteran MLS player Brad Evans. He comes to SKC as a free agent from the Seattle Sounders where he was part of four Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Championships and one MLS Championship. He is also a former member of the US Men’s National Team having started five matches in 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying and competing in two CONCACAF Gold Cups. He will add some depth to a defensive line that took a hit with the departure of Saad Abdul-Salaam to NYCFC and the waiving of Kevin Ellis.
I am optimistic about the season. SKC’s defensive line plus Tim Melia was the strongest in the MLS last season and with the growth of Gerso and Diego Rubio and the addition of Johnny Russell I can see this being a successful season for boys in blue. Ben Baer from MLS.com thinks we’ll finish 3rd in the West. Let’s show him what’s what, guys. Oh, Captain My Captain, Matt Besler says it’s time for more trophies, so let’s bring some cups home to KC.
The new alternate jersey is straight fire. I’m 100% serious. The Men in Blazers even think so.
Trust @MenInBlazers when they say you need to get your hands on this new kit. Must be the English accents.
Good evening, Sporting KC fans! It’s been a bit hard for me to write articles during school season, so I decided that I would let you in on what goes through my brain while watching a game on TV. This is roughly what I do on Twitter, but I might ramble because I have more than 140 characters so… oh, and I was at a concert for the first half, so this is only the final 45 minutes. We’ll see if that turns out to be a good thing.
If you don’t want to read my rambling thoughts then you can TLDR to the end for some takeaways.
How did we spend the entire season near the top of the table, and then at the end sink to fourth? That is unacceptable. We need to get back ahead of Seattle and Seattle South (Portland).
Peter Vermes is the best-dressed coach in the league. If you disagree you can @ me, and we can have a grown-up discussion about it.
Second half underway. Leonardo Machado may have pushed Zusi out of bounds, but whatever.
BENNY! Ugh, so close. Jimmy Medranda feeds the ball straight to Feilhaber who kicked it into the shin of the keeper, Mr. Beard Man. He looks like he needs a razor and a What Not to Wear makeover.
They keep showing the Houston coach. He looks a little bit like an angry uncle.
Benny yelling a bad word on camera. I’ll let you guess which one.
There is going to be a fight by the end of this game. I can feel it.
I have said this before, and I will say this again. If your name is really common (like Alex) you can’t just put that on the back of your jersey. There are too many Alexes for you to claim it for just you.
I wonder what Tyler Deric‘s middle name is? I love when people have first names as all of their names.
Ilie won Sporting KC’s Newcomer of the Year, and there is no one more deserving. This team would not be the same without him.
“This ball falls to Medranda” who then promptly actually fell.
I love when soccer commentators say “Went to ground” when someone falls like the players are plants or something.
How is Mr. Beard Man in the way of every shot? Move Beard Guy! I would like a goal please. Also, VAR, that ball may have been in.
Roger Espinoza almost killed a guy. It was kinda awesome.
Benny’s ankle turned in a way that ankles are not supposed to turn. He has had some bad luck with ankles this season.
Sidenote: husband just returned with Chinese food!
Jimmy Medranda with a great chance, but his cross is missed by both Rubio and Salloi. Besler‘s pass to Medranda was a beauty!
The ref just got nutmegged. That was kinda funny.
An SKC player ends up on the ground in the box, and there is no call. Half of the season in a sentence. The other half would be: Sporting made 3 million shots on goal, and none went in, but they were really good at passing.
Why is Tyler Deric Tim Melia-ing tonight? Geesh!
Diego Rubio just had a gorgeous strike, but it was deflected off Machado and flew over the bar. The bad words are happening in the Arpin household.
Ilie fashion update: After a season of black boots Ilie has moved to a pair of bright orange ones. He is also still in his trademarked long sleeved jersey. Find you someone that is as dedicated to you as Ilie is to not showing his arms.
So in the 82nd minute, Sporting was making an attacking run, and the ref got in the way and made us lose the ball. Not cool man.
22 shots so far. None in the goal. #2017
Bes motioning for the ref to hurry up and pull the yellow card is my new spirit animal.
Ike Opara just headed the crap out of a Dynamo corner kick, and it was the bravest move I may have seen all year. He had that terrifying concussion earlier this season. There is a good amount of concussion checking for both SKC and Houston.
Sporting needs to get their crap together because Seattle and Seattle Jr. are both killing it tonight. At least Vancouver drew.
Hey Houston, want to actually throw the ball in? Do you need a handwritten invitation?
Go go go go go go go go go…or kick it to the goalie. That’s cool too.
This ref has been so in the way!
Please score. Please! Just something! Anything! How is everything such an almost?
And there was almost another fight!
Ball right in front of the ball twice and no goal! How?!? Why?!? I am disgusted and annoyed at Sporting’s inability to score.
So here are my takeaways from this game, and the last game, and the majority of this season.
If we can’t start scoring goals we will not make it far into the playoffs. I don’t understand how SKC can score in the US Open Cup, but not in any other game. It’s not for lack for putting the ball on goal, but it’s about getting it past the keeper. There is no excuse for what is going on. Sporting can defend, pass the ball, dominate possession, anything but score. It boggles my mind.
The defense was on it tonight. Besler came back from the Men’s National Team with a score to settle, and he was holding it down. He was getting the ball to Zusi and Medranda all night, but unfortunately, nothing came of them. Zusi was controlling the game from the wing, Ike was a commanding presence in the middle, and Lobato was alright… Dykstra did a great job tonight too. There was rarely a time when I felt the goal was threatened.
With the draw tonight, Sporting KC has officially qualified for their 7th straight playoff appearance which is the third-longest streak in the MLS. SKC fans are looking forward to the next game against RSL to hopefully clinch home-field advantage for at least the first playoff game.
INTO THE PLAYOFFS THE DUMBEST WAY POSSIBLE LETS GOOOOOO
Wednesday, September 20: 2-1 Loss (Open Cup Final)
I had to sleep on this post. A lot, it would seem.
I didn’t want to get sucked into all the “So Metro” talk leading up to the Open Cup final. The New York Red Bulls had made such a good run, defeating regional adversaries NYCFC, Philadelphia Union, and the New England Revolution. Fans reveled in the stomping out of Cinderella opponents FC Cincinnati and watched as they learned RBNY would have to face Sporting KC* in the final at Children’s Mercy Park. I was all set to attend another Watch party and celebrate a huge milestone in Red Bulls history: this was finally going to be the year the team lifted the Lamar Hunt Open Cup.
Well. Not so much.
THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Children’s Mercy Park is a fortress, and Sporting hasn’t lost at home all season. They weren’t looking to start anytime soon. As for me, a new job kept me super busy and prevented me from joining fans for the watch party (although I did meet a season ticket holder in my office– woop woop!). Thankfully, the Open Cup had finally garnered enough interest to be aired on ESPN2, so at least I wasn’t stuck watching on a tablet again.
I KNOW ABOUT POPULAR: SKC has now won 3 Open Cups and an MLS cup. RBNY has won 2 Supporter’s Shields, which would be huge if MLS didn’t have playoffs. Usually for me, comparing relative sizes of trophy cases is a serious turnoff. But it just can’t be helped. Both teams have history that spans the entire existence of Major League Soccer, and the Red Bulls should really have more to show for it.
I’M MELTING: There’s no other way for me to put it. Both of Sporting’s goals (Latif Blessing 25′ and Daniel Salloi 66′) came because they caught the defense sleeping. I commend RBNY coach Jesse Marsch for sticking with GK Ryan Meara as he had throughout the Open Cup run, but it just didn’t work as it should have. Alex Muyl was scrambling, Fidel Escobar was gassed. Sal Zizzo made a fatal error, and my personal favorite Damien Perrinelle didn’t even make the 18.
TRY DEFYING GRAVITY: It wasn’t as if the Red Bulls let SKC wipe the field with them. There was plenty of fight in the boys in red and white. The fact that Bradley Wright-Phillips was able to pull one back in the 91st minute shows that they didn’t give up. It may not have been enough, but I respect that it was still a lot.
So… it’s time for the team to focus on the remainder of the season. Maybe go deep through the playoffs. Plan for next year. Why then, oh why can’t we?
*If you weren’t aware, Sporting KC used to be known as the Kansas City Wiz. Between that and my penchant for musical theater, the article headings wrote themselves.
Hello. I’m Kirsten Arpin, and I am a fan of Sporting Kansas City. I was born in Topeka, KS, and moved to Kansas City, MO when I was 11 years old. I have also lived in Lawrence, KS, Manhattan, KS, and Lee’s Summit, MO. None of these places are farther than an hour and a half from Kansas City.
This summer I moved to Orlando, FL for school. Orlando is 18 hours away from Kansas City, without stopping. It has been a huge change from what I’m used to. I used to be able to go to any Sporting game I wanted! Now I’m relying on my in-law’s cable subscription to watch via the interwebs.
This may have been the hardest part of the move for me. I mean, I miss my family, and I miss my friends but being a Sporting KC fan is part of my identity. It is so important to me. I didn’t get to be a part of any of the U.S. Open Cup games this season, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have great memories that they have brought me.
When SKC took on Minnesota United on June 14th I was in Colorado for the University of Colorado’s conducting symposium. It was an amazing experience! I watched that game on my phone in a bar while eating a pulled pork sandwich and donut holes from a food truck. Shoutout to the Sporting KC Uphoria team who gets the game up on the website so we can watch from afar.
This can’t be just me, but whenever I’m by myself in public and following games I am accidentally loud. There are quite a few looks in my direction, and then I have to explain myself to people who are not Sporting KC fans. My husband was at this game, and he said the atmosphere was absolutely crazy. When you can get that many fans to the stadium for a USOC early round game it is pretty awesome. They also got to see a 4-0 win, so that’s not too shabby.
The next home game was against FC Dallas on July 11th. We finished packing our moving truck and left for Florida on the 10th, so we were still driving when this game kicked off. We got to my cousin’s house in Windermere (about 10 minutes from the Magic Kingdom) by the time the game actually started.
For those of you who didn’t watch, this game didn’t start until extra time. That was when the magic happened. We got to see the two goals by Latif Blessing, Ike getting kicked in the head, and Daniel Salloi sealing the win in the 118th minute. It was my husband’s birthday, and SKC clinching a trip to the USOC semi-finals was one of the best presents he could have gotten. That and the Sporting dress socks I got him.
For the semi-final game against the San Jose Earthquakes, we watched at our new apartment in Winter Park. Sidenote: Florida, for having no winter, sure puts it in a lot of its city names. Winter Park, Winter Garden, Winter Haven, Winter Beach.
This game was tough because Sporting was playing from behind almost immediately thanks to a goal by Danny Hoesen. Luckily, Diego Rubio brought SKC even about half an hour in. The rest of the game was super stressful, but all that stress was for naught because it ended up in penalty kicks.
In Kansas City, there is a love-hate relationship with penalty kicks. They do well with them in USOC games though, and this game was no different. After an uncharacteristic miss by Benny Feilhaber, Sporting made the rest of their PKs including one where Matt Besler slid to the ground afterward.
The hardest part of this game, personally, was how late it was. I’m still not used to this Eastern Timezone thing. The USOC games were starting at 9:00pm here and, with extra time and PKs, the win came around midnight. Trying to unwind after that made for a long night and an early morning.
I was looking forward to the final for weeks, and I was even more hyped after Sporting’s win against New England Revolution the week before. My colleagues got to hear about my love of Sporting for days, and they are probably sick of it. This game was perfectly timed after marching band rehearsal, and both my husband and I were able to get home in time to watch almost all of it. I would like to point out that marching band rehearsal here lasts until 8:30pm, which is so crazy late! Coming from Kansas City where rehearsals happen in the afternoon it was a big shift.
There were so many emotions coming into this game. My little sister got to go and did an awesome Instagram story for MLSFemale. My husband and I were watching from home wishing we were there. When that final whistle blew it was so emotional.
Seeing a team that I love so much win the cup was amazing, but knowing that I couldn’t be there to see it in person hurt. I miss Kansas City every single day, but on SKC gamedays I miss it so much more. That’s my home. That’s my city. That’s my team. I cried that day, and I’m crying now while writing this.
There are some awesome friends back home who know what we’re going through. Big shoutout to our Twitter diva Dayna for going live on Periscope during the trophy celebration and while Bes was painting the wall. It gave me all of the feels.
On a sunny Sunday afternoon, Columbus Crew SC played Sporting Kansas City to a pretty uninspiring draw in one of Crew SC’s final three home games of the regular season.
Kansas City struck first scoring a goal in the 19’ on an unnecessary failed bicycle clearance by Jonathan Mensah.SKC’s Cristian Lobato took the missed clearance and nutmegged Crew SC’s keeper while he was trying to stop the shot.
There were a few opportunities for Crew SC in the first half to equalize, and they felt like the more dominant team.In first half stoppage time, Ola Kamara headed in a beautiful goal off a Pedro Santos’ corner kick to finish the half with a 1-1 draw.
The second half didn’t provide a lot to write home about.This could have been a game like many others earlier in the season where Crew SC gave away a draw for a loss, but they held on for a point.
Some thoughts about the game:
Pedro Santos is good.Really good.I don’t want Kei Kamara back, but I’m pretty sure if he was, Pedro would put every corner kick or set piece directly on to his head. He can see the field and the plays before they happen.I think he will be Schelotto-like—making all the players around him even better as he grows to know his teammates, and they grow to know him.
What is with both Santos and Higuain standing together to take corner kicks?Is it to confuse the defenders with who may kick the ball?It’s a corner kick.Most of the time, it is going into the mass of players in front of the goal.Wouldn’t it be better to have another man in front of the goal or someone to clean up any balls that leak through from the corner kick instead of having two players standing over the ball to kick it?
Honestly, I imagined them having this conversation at the corner flag:
Pipa:I really should take the corner. I’ve been on the team a long time.I’m good at it.
Santos:I’m new.Let me give it a try.Plus, if they’re anything like your PK taking ability maybe I should take them…
Then I laughed at my crazy imagination, and figured this is some kind of game plan Gregg has conjured up for corner kicks that I just don’t understand.
Finally, the second half really wasn’t very exciting soccer.This made Gregg’s substitutions in the second half even more puzzling.Ola Kamara was subbed out in 64’ for Adam Jahn, Pedro Santos was subbed out in the 65’ for Cristian Martinez, and Jimenez was subbed out for Afful in 84’. Bringing Afful in, I can understand as he is working his way back from an injury, and I found out later that Kamara is fighting an injury.However, why not bring on Manneh instead of Jahn for Meram or Kamara?Why pull Santos off the field?
It felt like Gregg was playing for the tie, and with Crew SC’s track record of giving up goals earlier in the season, I kind of understand this decision.However, we are in a precarious spot in the playoff hunt.We have 1 to 4 games on hand on teams that can challenge us for a playoff spot, and we need all the points we can get.
Thoughts on the previous week’s happenings:
I’ve been absent writing for the last few games.Real life has kind of been busy, but I’m back on the beat.I had some thoughts about the last few matches or off field happenings that I wanted to share:
Nicolai Naess was recently traded.We evidentially made a profit from his transfer.He played a great long pass, and he stayed calm on the ball.I never understood why he got benched.I feel like his absence is a real loss for the team.However, I’m happy he will go somewhere he can contribute.
Frederico Higuain has recently stated that he believes this will be his last season in a Crew SC uniform.Is this a negotiation tactic?Who knows?However, I still feel like Crew SC is a better team with Pipa on it.I wonder if having someone like Santos on the team that thinks as fast as he does on the field will help change his mind about sticking around for another season.Seeing Santos and Pipa when they have had even more time to gel on the field would be a sight to behold.
I also know that Ola Kamara wants to renegotiate his contract as well.This man needs to get paid.He is our only true forward.We need to work on bringing someone else in as well because if his injury develops into something more serious, we will be in trouble.Plus, we just need another forward.
During the LA Galaxy vs. Crew SC game, VAR (video assistant referee) was used three times in pretty significant ways during the game resulting in a PK, red card, and call back of a goal.All these calls went in Crew SC’s favor.Being there, I can say it was a crazy short stretch of time.I’m not sure how I feel about VAR.It did break up the flow of the game a bit, but I don’t know how often it will impact a game as much as it did this one.
Finally, I have given Mensah and Abu a lot of criticism this season.Some justified criticisms–some probably not.These two have been brilliant in the last few games.They both seem confident and are working well with their teammates on the field. Yes, Mensah did make a mistake in this week’s game, but he stayed confident afterward and continued to make strong defensive plays the rest of the game.
This is a different guy from the beginning of the season.If the same mistake had happened to him earlier in the season, I think you would have seen shaky play the rest of the game.Gregg Berhalter may have final found a centerback combination that works and another good center midfield option.
Hopefully, the team can stay confident and dominant against the Vancouver Whitecaps this Saturday and earn 3 much needed road points to help solidify the road to the playoffs.
Hey MLS fans! Sorry I’ve been MIA for a month or so. If you’ve read some of my past articles then you know that I moved to Orlando this summer to continue my Master’s Degree in Wind Band Conducting. Well, since my last article, I have worked four weeks of band camps, and am getting ready to start school.
Sporting KC is also back! They were in a bit of an MLS slump with two draws against beatable teams, a loss, and a 3-2 win against Chicago Fire. The results of these four games led them to fall from first place in the Western Conference. But guess what? Sporting is back, baby! With Saturday’s win against conference foe, FC Dallas, Sporting has reclaimed some of their US Open Cup magic for the MLS season, and landed back at the top of the table!
Throughout the trials of the season, the one place Sporting hasn’t let up is in the US Open Cup. There are many teams that don’t put their all into the US Open Cup. They see it as an annoyance as opposed to an opportunity; which is something that Peter Vermes will never do. If Sporting is going to go for something then they are going to go all in. There was another team that went all in, and it was Cincinnati FC. Sorry New York Red Bulls, but no one wanted you to win that game. I do understand though that if Cincy had won that game, no one would want us to win the final… so hopefully we get the Cincinnati fans behind us on this one! I bet Mitch Hildebrandt and Tim Melia would be super good friends, so for that reason, cheer for Sporting! *wink wink
Sporting’s last game against FC Dallas came after a tough loss to Seattle Sounders. When Sporting went to Seattle, Vermes decided that it would be a good idea to rest a good chunk of the starters, and despite the result, I agree with his decision. The players that started all three games in the 8/6-8/12 span (Tim Melia and Matt Besler) ended up playing 300 minutes in one week. That’s pretty insane. Looking at the Starting XI that Sporting fielded against the Sounders and seeing the 1-0 scoreline makes me feel pretty good. Vermes can field a team that is not his best and can go into the game knowing that they can hang with the reigning MLS Champs at their house.
Now to the awesome game against FC Dallas! Sporting has been relatively weak against crosses this season, so it was finally time for them to get one of their own. In the 42nd minute, Graham Zusi‘s feed from the corner found its way to Diego Rubio and into the back of the net! I’m going to put this video in here…mostly because the background music makes it way more lit.
Two of the five @MLS Goal of the Week nominees came from @cmpark on Saturday!
Zusi assisted again on Gerso’s stoppage time goal that solidified a Sporting KC win! Last Saturday was a pretty special day for Sporting. It was their 100th straight sellout at Children’s Mercy Park, and they celebrated the whole week by getting different players’ favorite games at CMP. If you go back through Sporting’s media based tweets from the past week you can find all of them, but I’m going to go with Benny‘s game because it is the best.
Graham Zusi’s birthday was last Friday! He celebrated by winning! The MLS gave him a great present by putting him and his best friend forever, Matt Besler, on the Team of the Week!
Speaking of Zus, his stat line from Saturday was straight up fire: 2 assists, 7 key passes, 73 touches, 49/50(98%) passes, 7 crosses, 8 recoveries, 3 clearances, 2 tackles. He was named Man of the Match, btw.
Another awesome thing about the game against FC Dallas is that both of the goals were nominated for Goal of the Week!
This weekend Sporting starts a streak of three away games at Houston, NYCFC, and Columbus. It will be a tough test, but Sporting has been pretty alright away from home this season. They’ll get to come home again in mid-September for three straight home games and the US Open Cup final! To get you hyped up for that, here’s the video that US Soccer made of the game!
First things first: I’d like to ask the MLS Scheduling Department why they would schedule a game to coincide with Game of Thrones?!?!?!?!?! Thank goodness for HBO West, but I had to stay up way past my bedtime Sunday night. Totally worth it for both the game and GoT. No GoT spoilers here, but WOW.
Moving on! Atlanta United traveled to Kansas City this weekend to take on the team at the top of the Western conference. One thing I learned this weekend is that ATLUTD has more wins than ANY team in the West. Atlanta’s record is 10-7-5; the TOP SEVEN teams in the West all have nine wins. So there’s that. Sporting KC also has 10 draws this year after last night’s result.
I was reminded yet again last night of how bad the MLS referees are. This was not a foul:
For the record, that’s 7 games undefeated for ATLUTD. We have a 2+ week break (thanks to the delayed opening of Mercedes Benz Stadium) before the boys return to DC to take on DC United for the 3rd – and thankfully final – time this season. Here’s to hoping we can manage a win. Third time’s the charm, right?
Also in ATLUTD news:
ATLUTD traded a 2019 3rd round draft pick for CB Bobby Boswell this week. The man packed up his truck and drove all night to get here Wednesday and meet the team. We kind of love him already.
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.
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