Thursday, November 19, 2015

Sporting KC and Children's Mercy Hospital Announce Partnership

KANSAS CITY, MO -- In a major announcement, Sporting Kansas City will play next season at Children's Mercy Park, part of a ten-year agreement with Children's Mercy Hospital (CMH). CMH is one of the nation's best pediatric hospitals, according to rankings released by U.S. News & World Report.

In addition to the stadium, CMH will also have exclusive naming rights to the training center in Swope Park and the championship field at Swope Soccer Village, home to the Swope Park Rangers and FC Kansas City.

The National Training Center (NTC), currently expected to break ground in the spring, will also house the Children's Mercy Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Center. It will serve players from the Sporting KC Academy, as well as offering a full range of sports medicine services, resources and programming for young athletes from all sports, not just soccer.

According to the press release, more than two million high-school athletes and 3.5 million children under age 14 are injured playing sports in the U.S. each year. Only a small percentage (21 percent in the KC area) are treated by pediatric-trained sports medicine specialists.

That is something this partnership will help change. Through their participation in the NTC, CMH is hoping to help change how pediatricians are trained in this country. They're going to be trained in not only the treatment of injuries, but also their prevention.

This would be huge for CMH. They are a teaching hospital and the line for their sports medicine training would probably be a mile long, and that's the list of names on paper, both sides, single-spaced.

The timing of the announcement could not have been better planned. The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) recently announced new rules banning heading for players 10 and under and limited in practice for players aged 11-13. Those rules will be finalized within the next few weeks.

This is important because of the numbers of players who are suffering concussions every year. The long-term effects could be rather daunting to think about when you consider how many NFL players have been found to have had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and what it did to them in the last few years of their lives and how many of them, including Junior Seau, committed suicide because of it.

It might be overstating it a bit, but November 19, 2015 could go down as the day CMH changed the world of sports medicine forever.


On a personal note, this partnership joins together two things I dearly love. I've been a fan of Sporting KC since day one. I attended all but two games in that first season and had season tickets for a few years before starting to get media credentials in 2008.

Children's Mercy Hospital has had a special place in my heart for longer than that. My sister was born with a heart murmur and she received excellent care when she was younger, so I love them for that.

I know it's not normal to be this geeked about a stadium name, but as has been well established, I'm anything but normal.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Mission (Un)Accomplished: Sporting KC Falls to Rapids 2-0.

Thoughts from tonight's 2-0 loss to the Colorado Rapids. They reflect the opinions of no one but myself (and maybe not even that if I get drunk enough).


Normally, when you go up a man in soccer, you get more chances to score. That's normally.

Unfortunately for Sporting KC, that's not what happened in the second half tonight at Sporting Park. Already trailing 1-0 in the 84th minute, an opportunity presented itself to the home side when Rapids captain Sam Cronin received his second caution of the match and was sent off. You would think that would provide the home side a boost.

That is what you get for thinking. Approximately two minutes after Cronin was sent off (but only a minute after his slow walk reached the sideline), second half sub Marcelo Sarvas put the ball in the back of the net and doubled the Rapids lead. Sporting was up a man, but they certainly weren't playing like it.


As was pointed out on Twitter during (or just before) the match tonight, despite the conference switch, Rapids keeper Zac MacMath was the fourth Union keeper (or former keeper) Sporting had faced this season.  Rais Mbolhi, Andrew Blake, and John McCarthy were the other three. Mbolhi was the keeper who gave up the two late goals against Sporting in KC in April. Blake and McCarthy played for the Union in the U.S. Open Cup Final.


It is still possible for Sporting KC to get a first round bye in the playoffs, but it is, as they might say in England, not bloody likely.

What would be required, you ask? They would have to beat the Galaxy on Sunday. How badly? They'd have to win 5-0, the same score they lost to San Jose in August.

If they tie, they can still make the playoffs if San Jose ties or loses. If they lose, they have to hope San Jose loses at Dallas.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

If Gulati Won't Fire Klinsmann, Gulati Should Go Too

Thanks to uninspiring, lackluster efforts during the Gold Cup, the USMNT was forced into tonight's playoff with Mexico for the right to represent CONCACAF in the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia. Thanks to the piss poor effort tonight, that berth went to Mexico.

I hate to say it, as a proud American soccer fan, but the Mexican national team takes results much more seriously than US Soccer does. Since Jurgen Klinsmann was named manager and technical director of the USMNT on July 29, 2011, Mexico has had five different coaches, and they're about to get their sixth. Juan Carlos Osorio, best known in this country for his awful tenure at the helm of the New York Red Bulls, was slated to take the top job, regardless of the results.

Since US Soccer has so far done nothing to suggest they will terminate Jurgen Klinsmann's contract, which runs through the 2018 World Cup, there's only one thing left to do. The United States Soccer Federation's board of directors must terminate the contract of Sunil Gulati.

With Klinsmann serving as both coach and technical director, he honestly answers to no one except Gulati. With all the votes of confidence Gulati has given Klinsmann in recent months, despite the unsatisfying nature of the team's results, he's shown he has absolutely no interest in making a change.

Normally, I wouldn't write a blog post like this without putting together a list of candidates to take the job I'm asking someone to be relieved of. Despite the abnormality of the circumstances, I have a list of people who I think would do a better job as the head of US Soccer than the current one. This list is in no particular order.

1. Mitt Romney

People who know me really well might be a bit surprised that I would suggest 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney should be given any job, much less a job running the American governing body of a sport I love, but I have a reason for it.

He's done it before. No, he hasn't been the president of the USSF before, but he has successfully run a large sports organization before.

On February 11, 1999, Romney was named president and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in 2002. When he was given the job, the group was running hundreds of millions of dollars behind its revenue goals and there was talk of scaling back the games, possibly even moving them altogether.

We all know what happened next. The 2002 Winter Olympics were very successful and Romney can claim a share of the credit for it. Therefore, he's on this list.

2. Joe Biden

People who know me really well would be a lot less surprised I would suggest Vice President Joe Biden take over US Soccer. Honestly, there are a few reasons Biden is on this list. 

If it's one thing he's known for, Biden speaks his mind, even when it may not be the most appropriate time. You may recall, on March 23, 2010, right after introducing the president at the bill signing for the Affordable Care Act, Biden embraced President Obama and said, "This is a big [expletive] deal..."

He also strikes me as someone who hates to lose. Quite honestly, some of the results the USMNT have had in recent months, especially at the Gold Cup, would have driven him a little crazy, if he's anything like me when I watch games.

Biden is also very well-respected around the world. After Georgia's short, but disastrous war with Russia, then-Sen. Biden called the Georgian president to box his ears over the ill-advised stunt. As a former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and now as Vice President, Biden's used to getting his calls answered in foreign capitals.

3. Mark Cuban

Every list like this usually has one or more names on it that make people say, "What?!" I'm well aware Mark Cuban would be one of those.

Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, would not be scared of the amount of money that would be required to terminate Klinsmann's contract. Quite honestly, he could probably write Klinsmann a check and be done with it.

Cuban is also, and I say this with all due respect, a very sore loser. I'm sure it would be fair to say that former NBA commissioner David Stern had Cuban on speed dial for those times when Cuban felt his team had been wronged by the league's referees. I'm sure Cuban treats his coaches the same way when they fail to perform.


Honestly, it doesn't really matter to me who ends up succeeding Gulati. The important part right now is that whoever does, fires Jurgen Klinsmann. Because if Klinsmann is allowed to continue to run the USMNT into the ground, the streak of consecutive World Cups is in serious jeopardy.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Mission Accomplished: USMNT U23s Qualify for Semifinals

After two strong efforts in the group stage of the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship, the United States U23s punched their ticket to the semifinals. Defeating Canada (3-1) and Cuba (6-1) means the US team has six points out of a possible nine and passage through to Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.

The best part of the tournament for me, so far, has been the play of the kids called up from the U20s. Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur), Emerson Hyndman (Fulham), Jordan Morris (Stanford University), Gedion Zelalem (Rangers), Jerome Kiesewetter (VfB Stuttgart), Maki Tall (FC Sion) and Gboly Ariyibi (Chesterfield FC/England) have all acquitted themselves very well. In addition, Miazga, Carter-Vickers, Hyndman, Morris, Kiesewetter all scored in the first two matches with Morris and Kiesewetter tallying two goals each.

This is a welcome change from the team that played in the tournament trying to qualify for London in 2012. The semifinals/finals were held here at Sporting Park, but the US didn't qualify because they played poorly and got knocked out of the competition by Canada, something you don't hear very often, unless it's in relation to ice hockey.

The main change, I think, comes from the team's attitude. While Cuba may be a depleted side with only four available subs on the bench (two of whom were goalkeepers), coach Andi Herzog said after the game that he was pleased with the fact there wasn't a letdown and they kept the foot on the gas. Midfielder Wil Trapp said they'd developed the killer instinct and once they get one goal, they keep wanting to get more, no matter how many they get.

The final group stage game, at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO, on Tuesday against Panama will be more of a challenge than Cuba (I know that's not saying much), but it will also provide an opportunity for Herzog to get some guys playing time that haven't so far. Goalkeeper Ethan Horvath is joining the team from his club in Norway (Molde) after playing well against Ajax in the Europa League this past week.

As long as they make the final, a United States soccer team will be traveling to Brazil for the second time in three years. The kids, as they've shown in the last three days, are all right.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

"Throwaway" Lineup Gets Result at Home Against Sounders

Thoughts from today's surprise draw against the Seattle Sounders. They are my own, unless cited, and should reflect upon no one except myself, and any resemblance to smart things is purely coincidental.


A lot of the talk the last few days about today's game has centered around the "throwaway" nature of the game. No one wants the regular starters to get hurt before the US Open Cup final on Wednesday. Benny Feilhaber and Matt Besler got yellows in Houston making them unavailable because of card accumulation. Tim Melia, after playing in Houston, got held out today. Basically, hardly anyone gave Sporting KC much of a chance against the Sounders.

I say "hardly anyone," because the reserve players being called on to play the match gave themselves a chance. In fact, in the locker room after the game, midfielder Mikey Lopez said they used the discussion of the throwaway game as motivation. Frankly, combined with their normal "trying to show the coach I'm worthy of more playing time" effort, it was good enough for a draw. Except for a few unlucky bounces, it could have been good enough for a win.

Something else it does is make Peter Vermes's job that much harder to pick a lineup down the stretch. Let's just say it's a problem Peter doesn't mind having.


In about the 85th minute, SKC goalkeeping coach John Pascarella was dismissed from the team's bench. Steve and I saw him in the locker room after the game and asked him if he'd gotten sent off, and JP said it was pretty much an annual thing. I asked him what he said to get sent off and he said, "He was offside." One thing I love about JP (and most of the coaches), they'll tell you what they think, not what you want to hear.


If there was one moment you could look to and say, "That's the moment I knew Sporting might get a result," you'd probably point to the 74th minute entrance of forward Dom Dwyer.

Dom is one of those players that changes a match just by being on the pitch. He seems to make the players around him better just by his work rate and his passion. He's also never satisfied with his own effort and always wants more.

It showed in his goal in the 79th minute to tie the match at 1-1. After the match, Dom described the goal this way:

"It was a great play between Jake [Peterson] and Amadou [Dia] down the line. Jake got Amadou in behind and, in training every week, he shows that he can split that ball in-between the goalkeeper and the center backs. I checked away and checked far post and he sent it in perfectly. I just had to slide in and run it into the goal."

Dom said the coaches were telling him to simply come in and make a difference and try to get something in the game. He did that, but again, wasn't satisfied. He said, "I got a bit, but I wanted another one and should have gotten another one. I’m pleased to get a goal, but I definitely wanted another one there."


Next up for the club is the US Open Cup final on Wednesday at PPL Park in Chester, PA. If a full-strength Sporting KC lineup goes into Philly and plays the way they've shown they're capable of, popular wisdom says they will light Philly up like a Christmas tree.

While it may be popular wisdom, Philly is also a team that really has nothing to lose. They're in ninth place in the Eastern Conference and don't really have a realistic shot at making the playoffs. Teams like that are scary in that they have a knack for doing the seemingly impossible.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Closeout Special on Aisle Nine

Thoughts on the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal match between Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo. Thoughts are only my own (unless cited) and should reflect on no one with either club.


As my friend and colleague Steve Brisendine of says, it's in the rules that Hatredball can't finish 11-v-11. That condition of this match was met in the 30th minute when Luis Garrido was given a straight red card for a two-footed, studs up tackle on Sporting KC's Amadou Dia. Even Houston manager Owen Coyle said after the match that it was a straight red and he didn't have a problem with it, other than having to deal with going down a man for an hour.

What Coyle did have a problem with was the match not ending 10-v-10. In the 69th minute, both Houston's Brad Davis and Sporting KC's Roger Espinoza were given yellow cards. Davis was cited for dissent and Espinoza for unsporting behavior. Coyle said he saw Espinoza punch Davis in the face, which would warrant, in my opinion, a straight red card for Espinoza.

Davis told reporters after the game, "I don’t know what he’s doing, to be totally honest there. I’m not going to go into it a whole lot, but you can go back and probably watch it and see yourself."

At the time, Houston had a 1-0 lead. Had Espinoza been sent off, it probably would have changed the game quite a bit. As it was, Benny Feilhaber's 72nd minute strike from distance tied the game and the club didn't really ever look back.


Some people will say they knew the game wasn't going to extra time when Dom Dwyer scored in the 86th minute. I would say that I already knew and Coyle did too.

When Brad Davis came off for Mauro Manotas in the 77th minute, that was Houston's third and final substitution. The fact that Coyle didn't save any subs at all for extra time tells me he thought the game would finish in the 90 minutes, and that is what convinced me. The two goals from Dwyer and Nemeth were just confirmation of what I already knew.


Across all competitions, this quarterfinal match was the team's ninth straight home win across all competitions. The club has played 13 home matches in their 2015 campaign and have yet to lose, going 7-0-3 in league matches and winning all three of their Cup games.

All the winning makes it much easier to write about these games, but I'm sure it makes it much easier to play them as well. Players said as much in the locker room after the game, going so far as to say they didn't want to let themselves down or let the fans down. They say they feed off of the energy from the fans and that fuels the success on the field.


I spoke with new acquisition Amobi Okugo in the locker room after the game. He seems to be a good, down-to-earth guy, one of those good guys Peter Vermes seems to value so much when putting the team together.

When he first found out that he'd been traded to KC, he said he was excited. When asked if he'd spoken to former player Aurelien Collin about what to expect, Okugo said he hadn't had time, but Collin had been talking about Kansas City all season. Okugo even said Collin had left his heart here (Take that, San Francisco) and felt at home here. That should be of some comfort to the fans he left behind.

Okugo also said he was going to be wearing the number 20. I hope he's ready for the expectations that come with that number around here, considering the last guy to wear that number regularly was Uri Rosell. Hope it works out.


Up next for Sporting KC is its third match in seven days with a trip to Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, to take on Real Salt Lake. Salt Lake will be without Kyle Beckerman, but Kansas City will still be without Graham Zusi. Kickoff is set for 10:00 p.m. on Friday.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Sporting KC v. Domtreal Impact 7/18/15

These are some of my thoughts from tonight's match between Sporting KC and the Domtreal Montreal Impact at Sporting Park on July 18th. The opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone. So, don't take them you thieving jerks.


Benny Feilhaber continues to play like one of the best midfielders in MLS. His fourth minute goal was his sixth of the season, another career high. His assist on Dom Dwyer's goal in the 34th minute was his 10th in league play and 14th across all competitions, again another career high.

Sporting KC has played 18 games so far this season and Feilhaber has a chance to not only tie, but shatter the club record for assists in a season across all competitions, which is 18.

All this and when I asked Juergen Klinsmann what it was Feilhaber had to do to get called into the national team, all he could say was there were other players ahead of him. Since he didn't answer the question I asked, it probably just means there isn't a good one.


Dwyer is slowly turning into the shark in front of goal that most of us know and love. His 34th minute tally against Montreal is his sixth goal in his last five matches cross all competitions.

It also marks the seventh goal he's scored against Montreal in the last two seasons. How impressive is that? It ties him with his hero (and the inspiration behind his uniform number) Thierry Henry for most goals against Montreal. When he was asked why he has so much success against the Impact after the game, he said, "Maybe I just love scoring against Canadian teams."


Something that Peter Vermes mentioned during the postgame press conference kind of struck a chord with me. He said that one thing that's really driving him crazy right now is the special treatment that Designated Players seem to get from the referees in this league, as opposed to everyone else that's not making that kind of money.

He specifically mentioned Dwyer and how he gets manhandled every game and yet doesn't get the calls. When asked about that in the locker room and whether his aggressive style worked against him, he said it probably did. He said that if you try to stay on your feet and play through, you should be more likely to get the call when you do, in fact, go down.

I agree with both of them. As Vermes said, the player with the ball should be the one the refs are looking to protect, regardless of his paycheck. It's one of those inconsistencies that are really making him crazy and I don't blame him. I can't blame him not because he coaches the local team, but it's because he's right. Just because you're a DP doesn't mean you should get wrapped in bubble wrap so you don't get hurt, while everyone else is on their own.


On a side note about officials, I'm about to become one. I have registered with the states of Missouri and Kansas to officiate high school boys and girls soccer (boys in the fall, girls in the spring). I now have the date, time and location of my first experience on a soccer field as the man in the middle, but I'm not sure I want to let that many people know this information. I'm not sure I want to have a bunch of people show up to watch me make a fool of myself (hopefully, I won't, but...).


Up next for the club is yet another elimination match at home against the Houston Dynamo. The quarterfinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup kick off on Tuesday, July 21, at 7:30 p.m. The winner will host Real Salt Lake in the semifinals on the 11th or 12th of August.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Now THAT'S A Beating

Thoughts and stories from Sporting KC's fifth round US Open Cup match-up with FC Dallas. These thoughts are only my own and no one else needs to take any responsibility for any of them. Promise.


A couple of records got either tied or broken tonight at Sporting Park. The club scored six goals in a match for the first time in almost a decade. The last time they scored a touchdown but missed the extra point was August 3, 2005. The victim that night was the Des Moines Menace and the match was a Round of 16 match-up in the US Open Cup, just like tonight. In that match, Davy Arnaud had two goals and an assist, Josh Wolff had two goals (both from the spot) and two assists and the other two goals came from Scott Sealey and Sasha Victorine.

An individual record set was goals in a game as Dom Dwyer put in four, the first time any one in club history has ever done that. It was also the first time any player had gotten a hat trick for the club since Birahim Diop scored three against the San Jose Earthquakes at CommunityAmerica Ballpark on October 23, 2010.

Benny Feilhaber got in on the record-setting action as he became the first player with three assists in an Open Cup game in club history.


Krisztian Nemeth's second goal in the 59th minute was one of those goals that you had to see to believe. Now, I've seen players chip the keeper before. I've seen players shoot from impossible angles before. What I've never seen is someone do both at the same time.

Nemeth had the ball within a foot of the end line and a little space to do something with it. It looked as if he was thinking about whether or not to take it and decided, "Why not?" When he was asked after the game whether it was a shot or a cross, he said, "Both."


That golazo by Nemeth also provided another first. The assist went to rookie defender Saad Abdul-Salaam, his first as a pro. All three first round draft picks made appearances in this match and again had an impact. I would think it would be fair to say that Peter Vermes chose very well when he chose Abdul-Salaam, Connor Hallisey and Amadou Dia.


The win puts the club through to the Open Cup quarterfinals. Their opponent is one they know well. The Houston Dynamo will make their 2015 debut at Sporting Park on July 21 at 7:30 p.m. Houston may have some of the same players, but long-time head coach Dominic Kinnear left for San Jose after last season, to be replaced by Scotsman Owen Coyle (who's also coached Burnley, Bolton and Wigan Athletic in England).

One person who could shed some light on his tendencies would be Roger Espinoza, who played for Coyle at Wigan. It will be their second match against each other, but first in Kansas City. One would imagine an electric atmosphere as the club would look for another Open Cup sellout against one of their big rivals.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Fans Building, Football Brilliance and Funny Bloopers

What a day. Lots of time outside (or outside-ish), and lots of fresh air on very little sleep. These are some of my thoughts from June 27, 2015, date of the first (actually played) home match with the Colorado Rapids.


Kansas City. I don't care what anybody else thinks, but this is truly one of the great sports towns in this country. There's also a reason they call this the "heart" of America.

My day started early. Very early. Like seven in the morning early. While that may not sound like a big deal to you, that was after only three hours of sleep.

Unlike some days, though, I had a good reason for being up that early. Sleepiness for a cause, if you will. Today, I was going to participate in the inaugural Super Fans Big Build with Habitat for Humanity.

Heartland Habitat for Humanity (HHH) builds homes for people who wouldn't otherwise be able to afford them, holding the mortgages on these homes for 30 years, interest free. In addition to the 300 hours of "sweat equity" each participant puts in on the building of their new residence, they also participate in 30 hours of classes on things like budgeting and other things that will help them be responsible homeowners and able to keep their homes.

Fan groups for each of the three major league teams in town were assigned to a HHH build site. Sporting KC's fans were helping build a house in the Armourdale section of Kansas City, Kansas. It looked like a small house from the outside, but was actually quite spacious once you looked around inside.

To make a long story not so long, of the three fan groups, the Sporting KC fans not only had the most volunteers, but also raised the most money (though, a $500 donation on their behalf didn't hurt). At the raffle during lunch, prizes were available from all three teams. I happened to pick up a replica American League championship trophy, which is heavy enough to almost kill somebody, and a pair of tickets to a Royals game.

All in all, it was a fun start to the day and I'll be able to drive by this house and say that I helped build it.


Krisztian Nemeth made some MLS history against the Rapids. He became the second player in league history to score on his first seven shots on goal to start his career. The first was Claudio Suarez, playing for the now-defunct Chivas USA.

The difference between Nemeth and Suarez is that Suarez was a central defender and took two seasons to get his seven goals in seven shots (2006-07). Nemeth is the first to get them all in one season.

In the locker room after the game, when he was asked about making league history, he said he was more concerned about the team getting the win. That seems to be something that should be common everywhere, but is especially common to Sporting KC and Liverpool, one of Nemeth's former clubs. The culture surrounding those two clubs is all centered more on the name on the front of the kit than the one on the back.


When you're around a game a long time, you begin to think that you've seen everything. Then something happens and it just blows your mind.

In the 47th minute, as Colorado was lining up for a free kick from a fairly dangerous spot on the field, a scene reminiscent of a commercial for Buffalo Wild Wings popped up on the pitch at Sporting Park. The sprinkler system, usually only on before the game and at halftime, suddenly sprang to life.

It took a couple minutes to get the water turned off and the explanation for how it happened didn't actually surprise me when I thought about it for a minute, considering the home club.

Evidently, one of the groundskeepers had an app open on his phone that controlled the sprinklers and he, in effect, butt-dialed the sprinklers. For a club that's as tech-savvy as this one, it's not really a surprise they'd have a high-tech way to turn on the water. The only surprise was they'd have the app open after play had resumed.


Up next for the club is a Round of 16 matchup in the US Open Cup with FC Dallas at Sporting Park on Wednesday, July 1. The timing is actually not bad considering that, yes, there are only three days between this game and that, but they have the following weekend off and aren't scheduled to play in league again until July 12, on the road against Vancouver.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Thoughts on US Open Cup Fourth Round

I thought I'd put together some thoughts on the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup from the press box at Sporting Park. Not all of these concern Sporting KC's match with St. Louis FC.


With an announced attendance of 19,298, Sporting Park had the highest attendance for a fourth round match in the modern era of the tournament. In fact, there were 435 more fans in the stands for this match than there were on August 8, 2012. Why would that date be significant? It's the date of the final that year, with the club defeating Seattle in penalties.

If they can do better than a final on a weeknight against a side from the third division, it's more proof (as if any was needed) that the sport and club have arrived.


One of the biggest cheers from the sellout crowd at Sporting Park was when defender Chance Myers was announced as a starter before the game.

It was perfectly understandable (and deserved). Myers' last match was May 23, 2014, when he suffered a torn Achilles tendon.

How'd he do? Myers told us in the locker room after the game he and Peter Vermes had discussed limiting his play to 30-45 minutes, but they would play it by ear. Myers told Vermes at halftime he was good for at least another 10-15 minutes after halftime and he came out in the 56th, replaced by Saad Abdul-Salaam.

Myers said he felt good, hadn't cramped up at all and felt like he could have gone another 20-25 minutes. Considering Vermes' history, Peter isn't one to push guys coming back from injury, so that probably wouldn't have happened, regardless of how the game was going.


Great credit has to be given to the St. Louis FC supporters section. Not only did they make the cross-state trip, but they also made sure everyone knew they were here. From the march into the stadium to their 90 minutes of noise, they gave us a taste of what a Sporting KC-St. Louis rivalry could be like if St. Louis were ever given an MLS team.


Not that it's going to happen, but Benny Feilhaber has given us more evidence as to why he should be getting called in by USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann. Feilhaber played a solid 90 minutes and assisted on the only goal, putting a cross into the box for Graham Zusi to get a head on in the 70th minute.


In the clash between the Philadelphia Union and Rochester Rhinos, a scoreless draw the Union won on penalties, some people were claiming former Rhinos goalkeeper John McCarthy was amazing because he stopped three of the four kicks Rochester took.

While McCarthy did stop the penalties, it didn't hurt him that Rochester was taking atrocious penalties. It's almost as if Rochester was talking their advice on how to take penalties from the US U-20 team. The U-20s have the excuse of their youth. The Rhinos? Not so much.


The next US Open Cup match for Sporting KC will be played on either June 30 or July 1. The draw will take place on Thursday, June 18, at 10 a.m. CT in Chicago and be shown live on

The 16 teams involved will be divided geographically into groups of four, regardless of their league affiliation. They will do a random draw for the pairings and hosts for each matchup. This draw will also map out the potential Quarterfinal games to be played July 21 and 22.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Thoughts on Seattle v. Sporting KC

Just thought I would write out a few thoughts on the game played at Sporting Park on Saturday night between the Seattle Sounders and Sporting Kansas City. They may not have anything to do with each other.


Having seen the replay, the Seattle goal that was disallowed may have been onside. It appeared that Connor Hallisey may have been keeping Neagle onside, but it may have been some karmic payback for the goal Dallas should not have been given when they had five players offside.


Benny Feilhaber now has five goals this season, a career high for him. It seems to me he should be getting called in to the USMNT, but Jurgen Klinsmann seems to be willing to cut off his nose to spite his face. Feilhaber has been playing incredibly well over a long period of time and it boggles the mind that Klinsmann can't see that.


Tim Melia is unbeaten in his first six starts as the Sporting KC goalkeeper. His six saves during tonight's match were a career high. He's even earning comparisons to another Kansas City netminder with the initials T.M. Yeah, Tony Meola. He told us in the locker room after the game that Meola had even trained him a long time ago.

Melia is a very steady presence in between the sticks. For a club going through so much chaos in regards to how many different players they're having to use, that's huge.


For the second straight game, Sporting KC had a former player start the "I Believe" chant, with midfielder Uri Rosell doing the honors this time. The Sporting Lisbon player seems to be doing well in Europe and hopefully his new manager plans to make more use of him next season.


Sporting KC now has 10 days until their next match, a fourth round US Open Cup clash with St. Louis FC. In the postgame press conference, manager Peter Vermes said he hoped some guys got out of town for a few days to relax and clear their heads. It would be a good idea, as the schedule doesn't get any easier and the guys don't want a repeat of the end of last season.

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Future Is Now

In an ideal world, Connor Hallisey, Amadou Dia, and Saad Abdul-Salaam would not be playing significant minutes. They would be training with the team, maybe traveling to away matches, but mostly just soaking everything in and learning the system that manager Peter Vermes has instilled so deeply into the club that it's part of the DNA.

However, as everyone knows, this season has been anything but an ideal world. Injuries have been so numerous, Sporting KC has not been able to make a full bench, only having six subs available. Saad was even called back from his loan to San Antonio because of it.

The thing is, these kids are turning out to be all right. Dia's gotten the most playing time out of all of them so far, but Hallisey and Saad are starting to at least make the bench regularly and they're looking good when they're on the pitch.

Vermes agrees, calling these rookies (all first round draft picks) brilliant. The experience they get now can only help them (and the team) later on this season and beyond.


I'm probably not the only one who was more than a little surprised when goalkeeper Luis Marin and the club announced they had mutually agreed to part ways. Acquired in December, Marin was seen by many as the successor to Jimmy Nielsen.

I can understand being upset about losing my starting job, but there's more to it than that. Vermes said that Marin came to him after the match in Seattle last weekend and said he needed to go home. Vermes asked him to sleep on it and Marin refused.

For what it's worth, I hope that Marin can get the situation handled and get back to playing wherever he chooses to go next.


Since I was writing this during the game with Dallas, I thought I'd add a little bit about the rookies. Hallisey got his first MLS assist with a beautiful backheel on Graham Zusi's goal in a 4-0 win.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Some Random Thoughts About Sporting KC Home Opener.

In front of 19,784 fans at Sporting Park, Sporting Kansas City held on for a 1-1 draw against the visiting Red Bulls. They managed the result despite playing the final 20 minutes down to ten men after captain Matt Besler was sent off in the 70th minute.

There were a few new faces in the starting lineup for Sporting KC, and one old favorite returning. The most impressive of the debutantes was rookie outside back Amadou Dia, first round pick in this year's MLS SuperDraft. Dia played with a lot more poise than you might have expected from a rookie in his first league game as a professional. Normally a left back, Dia was inserted at right back and played really well. His performance was just one more reason to be impressed with this year's draft class and proof that Peter Vermes really enjoys (and is very good at) the technical director part of his job.


The feel-good story of the night was the return from injury of Ike Opara. Injured against the Colorado Rapids on March 29, 2014, Opara put in a very good shift against the Red Bulls. The cherry on top of the sundae was his goal in the 50th minute, a header on a cross from Benny Feilhaber. In the locker room after the game, I asked him if he could have imagined going the full 90 minutes and getting a goal in his return. He said that he could have envisioned it, but he certainly didn't expect it.


Another of the new faces in the starting XI for Sporting KC was goalkeeper Luis Marin. I asked goalkeeper coach John Pascarella after the game what it was that stood out for the staff that told them Marin might be their guy. Pascarella said it was his moxie. He makes everybody relax and say, okay, we've got this. Pascarella also said that when the club went down to ten men, goalkeepers all over the world would do what Marin did, start to slow the game down, but that's not what Sporting KC wants to do, and that's one thing Marin needs to learn.


A familiar face making his return to the Sporting KC lineup was Roger Espinoza. After his last appearance for the club in the 2012 playoffs, Espinoza made his way to England, where he helped Wigan Athletic win the FA Cup over Manchester City. The club was, unfortunately, relegated and Epinoza spent the 2013-14 season in the Championship. I asked him after the game how it felt to get back out in front of the Sporting Park faithful again and he said it felt good and he got a little emotional when he saw the crowd.


Up next for the club is a trip to Frisco, TX, to play FC Dallas. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.