Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lucky Thirteen...

It seemed, for a while at least, like the magic had run out and Sporting KC's unbeaten run would come to an end. But then AJ Soares got sent off in the 82nd minute for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. As Peter Vermes said during the post-game press conference, the team had pretty much dominated the 2nd half, but it seemed like the soccer gods had deemed the men in Sporting blue worthy of a little help. Or something. The team came away with a point, but this was one of the worst-officiated games this season. Terry Vaughn, tonight's referee, has been one of the worst referees in MLS for quite some time. It may seem like I say that a lot, but I always cringe when I see him walk out of the tunnel. Both teams didn't seem very happy with his work tonight, and I can't say that I blame them.

I'm rambling and I'm sorry, but I've got a headache and even Excedrin hasn't helped it. I'll just post some pics and call it a night.

I didn't write down his name, but this guy that sang the national anthem was pretty damn good...

If looks could kill, this linesman would be lying in the morgue...

Omar Bravo makes a run into the box...

Revs coach Steve Nicol at the post-game press conference...

The happy goal-scorer and bobblehead subject...

That's all for now... See you soon...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

FM2011 Predicted Bradley Firing

Granted, FM2011 is usually a BizarroWorld when it comes to coaching changes, but it really did predict this in a way...

A couple of weeks ago, I was playing FM2011, coaching York City in England. I'd gotten them promoted to League 2 and was going through the offseason. Anyway, on July 23, 2011, the game said that due to a bad performance at Copa America, Bob Bradley had been fired. Here's hoping, though, that the rest of the scenario does NOT play itself out. The game then said that Bruce Arena would replace Bradley and Bradley would replace Arena in L.A. We've already tried Bruce Arena as head coach and I don't want to do it again. But, the game was only 5 days off on Bradley's termination as USMNT head coach.

The other coaching "cascade" if you will (in this game "universe") went this way: Mourinho gets fired by Real Madrid. He gets replaced by Arsene Wenger from Arsenal. Arsenal then hires David Moyes from Everton, who hires Alan Shearer to replace him. Talk about Looney Tunes...

In other real world news, defender Aurelien Collin will be out for 4-6 weeks following an injury to his lower back. He suffered a nondisplaced fracture of the transverse process of both the L2 and L3 vertabrae. That means that they're cracked, but didn't break off. Peter Vermes, in making the announcement during the weekly press conference, said that he'd suffered the same injury, but his was displaced, necessitating surgery. Vermes said that he's challenged Collin to get back in the same time he did. He was told he would be out 6 months, but was back doing two-a-day sessions on the field in 4 weeks. Good luck to Aurelien and hope he feels better soon.

That's all for now... See you soon...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

As Hot As The Weather Was...

...the offense was hotter. With three goals in 9 minutes in the first half (the quickest three-goal burst in the league this season), Sporting KC put up a pace that Toronto FC simply could not match. Kei Kamara, who almost missed the match with a sore right ankle, scored twice six minutes apart (28th and 34th minutes). Omar Bravo added the third, and eventual game-winner, three minutes later. Kamara's two goals were his first in 12 games, snapping the longest goal drought of his career. He last scored against New England on April 25th, almost three months ago.

Bravo's second goal, coming in the 64th minute, did two things (besides restore a three-goal lead). First, it matched the team's season high for goals with 4 (scored in the 4-1 win in Dallas). Second, it marked the 3rd time in franchise history that the team had two players score twice in the same game in league play, and the first time since 1996. Across all competitions, it's the 2nd time this year. Chance Myers and CJ Sapong each netted twice in the Open Cup v. New England on May 25th.

Jeferson made his league debut tonight and notched an assist, finding Omar Bravo with a ball into the box. Bravo made Stefan Frei make a save, but Frei couldn't control the rebound and Bravo slotted it home after getting around Frei.

Jeferson also did something that Peter Vermes hadn't planned on when the game started. He went the full 90. The plan, at least as Vermes laid it out on Wednesday after the Newcastle game, was to have Jeferson play 60-75 minutes at the most. That plan, though, got tossed in the garbage when Aurelien Collin had to come out in the 62nd minute. Vermes said after the game that "he took a knee to his lower back and glute and basically when he hit that last ball it kind of aggravated it and he actually made the right decision in coming out."

This game also marked the first time since the loss to the Galaxy that the team had allowed more than 1 goal. It didn't hurt that they scored 4, but it was the first time since May 14th they'd allowed more than 1. Not a bad stretch at all.

Next up for Sporting KC is game two of the nine-game homestand on July 30th against New England. The last time these two teams met in league play, New England pulled out a 3-2 victory in Foxboro. However, the last time they met, period, was that 5-0 shellacking in the Open Cup qualifier at BVDAC.

Here are some pics from tonight's game.

Kei Kamara's 2nd goal...

Omar Bravo's first... His eyes are closed...

Referee Chris Penso looks on as Frei gets treatment on his right wrist...

Peter Vermes gives 4th official Landis Wiley an earful (not that this is new)...

That's all for now... See you soon...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

EPL Unbeaten Streak At 2

Cross one off of my life's To Do list... see an EPL team play. Granted, I still have see Liverpool play on the list, but I can say I've seen a team from England's top division live and in person. I just wish I could say that the game was more entertaining.

Scoreless draws are a part of the game, I know, and it was pretty freaking hot out here. The game time temperature was listed as 99. It felt hotter than that, but that's what the official thermometer said.

That's not to say that there weren't interesting bits of the game. New designated player Jeferson made his debut. There were passes he made to Omar Bravo that suggested he had been training with the team for more than just 2 days.

Newcomer Soony Saad also made his first team debut, coming on for Teal Bunbury just after the hour mark. He looked good and he wasn't afraid to shoot the ball, which is a bit refreshing. Some guys seem to be waiting for the perfect shot before they take any shot. That's not meant as a criticism, just an observation. Sometimes, though, you just need to put the ball on frame and see what happens.

Daneil Cyrus also came on as a 2nd half substitute. He's had more time training with the team than the others, and it shows. He seemed to be more comfortable with his teammates.

Next up for Sporting KC is a home matchup with Toronto FC. The lineup that Toronto puts on the field on Saturday will probably look nothing like their lineup 5 weeks ago at BMO Field. Their many roster moves have made sure of that. Kickoff is at 7:30pm per usual.

Here are some of my fave photos from tonight's game.

That's all for now... See you soon...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Last Road Game For A While

When the Houston Dynamo scored in the 8th minute, I had a feeling that it was going to be a long night. The team, however, responded well and did not concede again. The ball did find the back of the net again, but was ruled out for offside. It was a good call one of Houston's players was offside and interfered with Jimmy Nielsen's ability to make a play on the ball.

In the 51st minute, when Colin Clark went in on Aurelien Collin with studs showing, I thought it was certainly a yellow, but I wasn't really that surprised when Kevin Stott went with the straight red. It was, as mentioned on the broadcast, a "frustration" tackle and a "cynical" foul. It also presented SKC with an opportunity to get an equalizer.

Nineteen minutes later, when Brian Ching kicked Collin from behind (wonder what he did to earn that distinction), I would have been surprised if Ching HADN'T seen red. Ching had absolutely no way to get to the ball and deserved to be sent off. The 2nd red also removed any excuses SKC might have had for failing to equalize.

It seemed strangely appropriate that it was Collin that got the equalizer. With Dynamo fans booing him every time he touched the ball, it's almost as if they said it was his fault he was fouled by Clark and Ching. I can't even blame him for the yellow card for the celebration after the goal. I probably would have gotten carded too.

So, with the draw, the SKC unbeaten streak in MLS play runs to 11, the 2nd longest streak in the league this season. The team also continues its stingy defense and runs its streak of allowing 1 or 0 goals in a game to 12.

Next up for the men in Sporting Blue is an international friendly with Newcastle United of the EPL. It is the first of 10 straight games at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. A nice long winning streak would go a long way to helping people forget how bad the 10-match road trip was.

That's it for now. I'll have more tomorrow on the new acquisitions (Soony Saad, Deneil Cyrus and a major player to be announced later today). See you soon.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

An Opportunity Wasted

I'm sure some people will be making excuses for the weather, the officials... any number of things, really... as reasons the SKC run in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup came to a screeching halt. Fact is, it seemed there were people on the field that didn't take the Richmond Kickers seriously, and when you get to this stage of a tournament, any tournament, you can't do that. Well, you can, but you do so at your peril.

To his credit, manager Peter Vermes is as incredibly "ticked" to use his word as most fans are. After the game, he said that practice won't be much fun the next few days. It shouldn't be. How, if you're a professional athlete, do you forget everything that had gotten you through the last 12 games unbeaten across all competitions? How, if you're taking pride in your performance as a soccer player, do you let a game end like that. When you come up on a delay like that, treat it like an intermission that will allow you to refocus your efforts.

I'm a supporter of the team, and have been since the beginning. I'm saying these things because I'm just as miserable that they lost as they are (or pretty darn close). I'm mad, like Peter Vermes, that people seemed like they were just going through the motions, especially after the 2nd goal. I'm upset because I want the team to do well every day, in everything they do. I'll get over it, eventually. I always do. At the same time, I want the players to remember how this feels and use it as fuel to do better next time. While dropping out of the US Open Cup closes one path to the CONCACAF Champions League, there is still another open to us, the league title. I just don't want the way the team went out of the cup to affect league play. They still have a 10-game unbeaten streak in MLS play and they still haven't given up more than 1 goal in 11 straight league games.

On a more positive note, I've acquired a copy of the team's all-time roster (as provided to them by the Elias Sports Bureau). Over the next few days/weeks, I'm going to be putting on my detective's hat and go look for them. Well, not literally look, but using the power of the Internet, I'm going to try and find as many of them as I possibly can and report back on what they're up to. It's going to be a lot of work, but it may be a lot of fun, too.

That's all for now. See you soon.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

And One More Equals A Dozen

Talk about waiting for the last minute. Sporting KC forward Omar Bravo scored on a header in the third of four minutes of stoppage time to equalize the game at 1-1 and extend the team's unbeaten streak to 12 games across all competitions (10 in league play).

That's an impressive streak, but the team also continued one that's a touch longer and equally impressive. The team allowed 1 or fewer goals for the 13th straight game. The last time the team gave up more than one goal was against the LA Galaxy all the way back on May 14th. The stinginess of the defense has been a key to the team's unbeaten streak.

Next up for Sporting KC is the US Open Cup quarterfinals on Tuesday, July 12, at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. They will face the Richmond Kickers of USL Pro, the 3rd tier of soccer in the United States. Now, before you simply dismiss the Kickers as just a small team out of their element and ripe for a beatdown, take this into consideration. While Sporting KC enjoyed a fairly easy 3rd round match at home against the Chicago Fire PDL team, Richmond beat the Columbus Crew 2-1... on the road. Sporting KC takes Richmond lightly at their own peril.

I've actually got some pics for tonight. Shocking, I know.

Tell me that Aurelien Collin and Justin Braun aren't both fouling each other...

Looks like the White Puma is getting ready to pounce...

I think Jimmy's saying to the official, "You've got to be kidding me..."

Michael Harrington being marked closely by Chivas's Michael Lahoud...

I would still like to ask Jasen Anno how you don't call for a penalty kick on this?

And, I wish the focus was better, but this is the game-winner... Goalkeeper Dan Kennedy is airborne and the ball is in the back of the net (upper left of the picture).

That's all I have for now... See you soon...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

This One Goes To Eleven

On the strength of a 1-1 draw against the defending MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids, the Sporting KC unbeaten streak is now at 11 across all competitions. When confined to just league games, the 4-0-5 streak is 2nd in franchise history. Only the 10-0-2 streak to start the 2000 MLS Cup season is longer.

The Rapids scored first on a goal in the 32nd minute by Conor Casey. Casey got on the end of a Tyrone Marshall free kick, chested the ball down and got the ball in the back of the net. This seemed to be part of the plan by the Rapids to simply play long balls down the field and pray someone would get on the end of it. This was especially evident after Graham Zusi tied the game in the 62nd minute. The Rapids continually played long ball after long ball and when the ball would go out of bounds, they would drag their feet, literally, and it would take at least a minute to get the play restarted. I suppose that's what you do when the other team seems like they're going to score any second and you're just trying to hold on for a draw, but it was ridiculous. So much so that there were 6 minutes of stoppage time at the end of the 2nd half. There were 9 at the end of the home opener, but they had to clean garbage off the field for that.

I'll have more later. I'm coming down with a cold and it sucks. See you soon...