After having a perfect August, Sporting Kansas City started the new month off on the wrong foot by falling to the Seattle Sounders 3-1. The win is their eighth straight – the most in a single season in the post-shootout era.
Sporting KC had a perfect start when Diego Rubio scored his eighth goal of the season after knocking in a half-volley to give his team the early lead in the second minute.
Unfortunately, the lead wouldn’t last long as Raul Ruidiaz found the equalizer in the 12th minute. He snuck in behind Sporting KC’s backline and tapped the ball home from close range.
Just shortly after the restart, Seattle got a lucky break. While the Ruidiaz’s goal gave Seattle life after a tough start, the game turned when the ball caromed off of Graham Zusi at an impossible angle and over Tim Melia into the net. This own-goal would later become the winning goal for the visitors later in the match.
Moments later, Seattle continued to pressure as Brad Smith’s cross ricocheted off of Ike Opara‘s upper arm from point-blank range, and Toledo awarded Seattle the penalty. Nicolas Lodeiro stepped up and tucked the ball into the corner, increasing the score 3-1.
Sporting KC received a chance to redeem themselves in the 80th minute after a straight red card was issued to Chad Marshall for a foul on Johnny Russell. Initially missed by Toledo, VAR confirmed the foul and Russell gave Nemeth the ball, but his chance quickly diminished as the attempt went straight to Frei.
The loss pushed Seattle above the line into fifth place and moved Sporting KC down to third place – just below LAFC and above Real Salt Lake by one point.
Sporting KC returns home to host Orlando City SC at Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday, Sept. 8. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. CT.
I’m not one for complaining about refs. It makes us (the royal us) sound like a bunch of whiny homers, but today I will represent whiny homers everywhere!
This season we have all been PROed! I don’t think this is a controversial statement. The MLS even has a whole youtube video series about missed/questionable calls!
This season has been fraught with PKs both warranted and unwarranted. There have been 68 PKs attempted so far, and of those 68, 53 have been made (Tim Melia has blocked 1/5 of the missed PKs btw. That’s pretty cool.)
A few PK stats: Teams with the most PKs attempted are Toronto FC and Portland Timbers (see the dive above) with 7. Teams with the fewest PKs attempted are Sporting KC and San Jose Earthquakes with 0, because you can’t attempt less than zero. Though if the refs found a way to give Sporting a negative PK then they would have. Sorry. That may have been a bit too on the whiny homer side.
Though there have been 68 PK attempts I bet we can all think of multiple times this season where our teams have deserved a PK that they weren’t awarded. One that really stands out to me was from Sporting’s game against the Timbers when Gerso was pulled down from behind when a Timber’s defender grabbed him by the shoulder.
Watching the play from the (extremely biased) Cauldron one could see that Gerso immediately puts his uninjured arm up to call for help. The referee though looked straight at him and waggled his finger no and ran off. The non-foul was so harsh that it dislocated Gerso’s shoulder. My sister, a certified athletic trainer, said that the hardest way to dislocate a shoulder is for it to be pulled out backwards. That is the direction Gerso’s shoulder went. He left the game, and didn’t start the next one.
Later that game though, Tim Melia was called for a penalty when he used his wizard powers to make Fanendo Adi trip. He must have used magic, because he sure didn’t touch him. Luckily, Timmy blocked the PK for his third PK save this season. It was a nice karma moment. If you believe in that sort of thing.
Now, I’m not saying that all the PKs given against Sporting are wrong. The call against Benny for his foul on Philly’s CJ Sapong was completely warranted. The call against Bes when he “pushed” Vancouver Whitecap‘s Fredy Montero was not. Tim Melia going studs up against DC United‘s Julian Buescher was also warranted. Tim saved those last two penalties as well, btw. Please feel free to share your opinions, thoughts, and commentary below.
Sporting defender, Ike Opara, was kicked in the side of the head by FC Dallas forward Max Urruti. We thought Ike was finally going to have a full healthy season after being plagued with injuries throughout his career, but that is obviously not the case. When you watch the play you can see Ike immediately go limp in the air, and fall to the ground.
We received some information that the kick was so severe that Ike may have been seizing on the pitch before he was stabilized. After being strapped to a stretcher, he was able to give a quick thumbs up while he was taken off the pitch. Urruti went to the SKC locker room post game to check up on Ike’s condition which was a pretty classy move.
Ike was released from the hospital on Wednesday morning, and he had his sense of humor back per his tweets. He was diagnosed with a grade 3 concussion, and the team trainers don’t expect him back for at least a month.
Soooo…what'd I miss? 😉
Big thanks to the EMTs, KU med, trainers, doctors. Thank you to all for the love and support. Always means (1/2)
Sporting KC has a starter in the All Star Game! Defender Graham Zusi was selected by the fans to the All Star Starting XI. His defensive compatriots, aka one of the best centerback duos in the league, Ike and Matt Besler, were not selected, but could still be named to the full roster along with Roger Espinoza, Benny Feilhaber, Dom Dwyer, Gerso, and Tim Melia. Can we all agree that Tim Howard being in the Starting XI over Tim Melia is absurd? If you check out this article right here, you can see that everyone loves the good Tim. The right Tim. The Tim you could take home to your mother.
American Citizen Dominic Dwyer has scored two goals for the USMNT in two games. He is basically killing it. Dom, Zus, and Bes all started the first two games of the friendly + Gold Cup schedule, and were effective. There were some defensive blunders in the Panama game, but it was insanely hot in Nashville. Hopefully, the guys get back in for the game against Nicaragua. But since none of them played on Wednesday no one can blame them for the mediocre showing the US had against “international soccer powerhouse” Martinique.
Adorable Hot Take:
Watch this Instagram slideshow of Latif Blessing hugging people! It’s adorable!
I have officially moved to Orlando, Florida. It is so hot and humid here! If it wasn’t for the rain (every damn day) the temperature would be unbearable. Luckily, the rain cools it down…at least until the sun comes back out and makes it all steamy again.
Sporting KC doesn’t play again until July 22nd when they take on Real Salt Lake in Utah, so the guys have been getting a much needed rest.
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.
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.