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.