Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sporting KC Defeat LA, Retain Besler and Zusi

With a special 5pm kickoff, Sporting Kansas City looked to continue their winning ways against the Los Angeles Galaxy at Sporting Park.

Early on, it looked like it would be a rout. In the 10th minute, Sporting KC was given a free kick just outside of the penalty area, in what we in the press box are starting to call "The Benny Zone." Feilhaber took the ball up and over the wall and in the upper 90 on the near post. Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo didn't have much of a chance.

The pressure continued and the Galaxy didn't pick up their first good opportunity until the 25th minute and finished the opening 45 minutes with only 2 shots, neither of which was on target.

In the postgame press conference, manager Bruce Arena said the team had played poorly in the first half, but the Galaxy had a majority of the possession in the opening stanza and completed 82.5 percent of their passes. They also won 57.1 percent of the duels in the first half.

The second half was better for the Galaxy, but Sporting KC still managed to double their lead. In the 61st minute, Graham Zusi was taking a corner kick to the right of Penedo's goal. Zusi's in-swinger looked like it was intended for Aurelien Collin on the back post.

Penedo managed to get to it first and punched it out. Collin chased it down and crossed it back across the goal. Jacob Peterson went up to head it and Penedo got his hands to it. The ball then fell to Lawrence Olum, who headed it into the net.

Sporting KC then seemed to struggle to hold on to the lead. They gave up a goal to Robbie Keane in the 79th minute that appeared to have been a little offside, but the club managed to close the game out and collect all three points from a hungry Galaxy side.


The big news of the day, though, broke about an hour before the game. Defender Matt Besler and midfielder/forward Graham Zusi signed long-term contracts and are the club's newest Designated Players.

In a statement, Besler said, "This is a dream come true to know that I'll be playing my whole career in Kansas City. A lot of factors went into this decision, but the ownership and the great fans played a huge part. Now, there is a responsibility to go forward to keep pushing this team farther and farther."

After the announcement was made, there were several people on social media who said Besler and Zusi staying in Kansas City was bad for the USMNT. Club president and CEO Robb Heineman addressed those comments after the postgame press conference.

"I've seen a lot of stuff on social media around – 'Oh, you know, this is not a good decision for the guys from a national team perspective' – and to me, that's complete BS," Heineman said. "This is one of the best clubs in the world from a development perspective, the opportunity and the tools that are available here, including Peter and the way he trains these guys, is world-class. So any reference or thought that it's not a first-class opportunity for these guys to be here, to me, is just complete crap."

Maybe it's just me, but you have to like a team executive wearing a t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops and drinking a beer during the interview. One reason so many fans love Robb: He's very much like them.


Before the game, Sporting KC had a military family out at midfield and played them a message from their son who was sorry that he couldn't be there right then. When they announced the video, I started looking around for someone wearing fatigues and found him before they did.

After that, I started looking for the bastard who was chopping onions. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Up next for the club is a midweek friendly with reigning BPL champions Manchester City. The kickoff is scheduled for 8:00.

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