Sports

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Sporting Kansas City’s 2014-2015 CONCACAF Champions League run came to an end Thursday night with a 2-0 loss to Deportivo Saprissa at Estadio Ricardo Saprissa in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Saprissa and Sporting KC each finished the group stage with seven points, but the Costa Rican side will advance to the quarterfinal round of the tournament due to their stronger goal differential.

Sporting KC went into Thursday’s match in the driver’s seat of the group. With a win, a tie or a one-goal loss, the defending MLS Cup champions would have advanced to the knockout stages of the tournament.

The home side made things difficult early, however. Sporting KC goalkeeper Eric Kronberg was called into action in the 15th minute when Juan Bustos picked up an errant clearance and volleyed a strike to the near post. The veteran goalkeeper dove to his left and punched the ball away from goal.

With more than 20,000 fans in attendance, Saprissa struck first in the 23rd minute off a set piece. Bustos whipped in a ball that was headed toward the goal. Kronberg dropped low to block the first attempt, but Heiner Mora cleaned up the rebound to put the home side ahead.

Sporting KC’s luck turned from bad to worse moments later when 2010 World Cup veteran Benny Feilhaber and 19-year-old defender Igor Juliao were forced out of the game with injuries. Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes replaced Feilhaber and Juliao with Soony Saad and Jacob Peterson.

Despite conceding a goal and suffering two injuries, Sporting KC took a 1-0 deficit into the half, a result good enough to advance through to the next round. That score was short-lived, however. Less than a minute into the second half, Mora squared a pass to an open Ariel Rodriguez at the six-yard box. The Costa Rican international made no mistake, poking the ball past Kronberg for his fifth goal of the tournament.

Kronberg was called into action often in the second and responded well. The California native made a one-handed save on a Rodriguez shot in the 63rd minute, stopped a David Ramirez breakaway in the 64th minute and tipped a Marvin Angulo free kick over the bar in the 80th minute.

Sporting KC’s best opportunity of the night came in the 66th minute through striker Soony Saad. The Lebanon international turned a defender and curled a shot toward the far post. Goalkeeper Donny Grant made the save and held on to the ball despite an onrushing Dom Dwyer.

Sporting KC will resume MLS play Sunday night when it plays the New York Red Bulls at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan., in the last game of the 2014 MLS regular season.

The match will kick off at 7:30 p.mCT and will be broadcast on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes. Sporting KC currently sits in fourth place in the Eastern Conference and would lock up the No. 3 seed and a spot in the Eastern Conference Semifinals with a win on Sunday.

- Story from Sporting KC

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Pediatric patients at The University of Kansas Hospital, Kansas City, Kan., now have a new way to pass the time as their bodies heal, thanks to the World Series, Major League Baseball, the Kansas City Royals and Starlight Children’s Foundation.

As part of the World Series celebration, the pediatric unit at the hospital was presented with a Starlight Fun Center mobile entertainment unit, equipped with the latest gaming system and games. The unit can be checked out to go into a room or be used in the learning center on the unit.

The gift is a component of the community service theme for the first four games of the World Series, according to Tom Brasuell, vice president, community affairs, for Major League Baseball.

The American League Champion Kansas City Royals were well represented by Sluggerrr, and Royals’ Hall of Famer Willie Wilson. The kids and their parents were thrilled with both celebrities and the Starlight Fun Center was getting a pretty good workout as well.

To see a KU Hospital video on this topic, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ey5H1kfY7jY.


– Story and video from University of Kansas Hospital

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Sporting Kansas City concludes the 2014-2015 CONCACAF Champions League group stage Thursday night in Costa Rica against Deportivo Saprissa.

The defending MLS Cup champions will advance to the knockout stage with a win or draw. Sporting KC can also advance with a one-goal loss or a two-goal loss as long as Sporting KC scores two or more goals.

Thursday’s match will kick off at 9 p.m. and will be broadcast on FOX Soccer Plus.

Sporting KC is currently in first place in CCL Group 2 with seven points through three games. Saprissa is in second place in the group with four points and Nicaraguan side Real Esteli rounds out the group with two points after four matches.

Sporting KC opened the group stage in Nicaragua marking the second consecutive year the club played Real Esteli at Estadio Independencia to begin the tournament. The match ended in a 1-1 draw on Aug. 19. Sporting KC then earned back-to-back victories at Sporting Park, a 3-1 win over Saprissa on Sept. 18 and a 3-0 result over Real Esteli on Sept. 23.

Sporting KC is the only MLS team making a second consecutive appearance in the CCL and is unbeaten in the group stage over the past two years (4-0-3).

Winger Antonio Dovale has scored a goal or tallied an assist for Sporting KC in all three CCL matches this year. Dovale is second on the club’s scoring chart with three goals in international competition, one behind Chris Brown. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Eric Kronberg has five shutouts in seven CCL appearances. His five clean sheets in competitive international matches are a club record.

Sporting KC All-Star and World Cup veteran Graham Zusi will not be available on Thursday as he serves his mandatory one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation. Saprissa defender Jordan Smith is also unavailable after receiving two cautions in his team’s first three group stage matches.

Sporting KC defenders Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Igor Juliao and Seth Sinovic and midfielder Paulo Nagamura are all on yellow card warning and would be suspended for a potential quarterfinal first leg match if they pick up another caution Thursday night.

The CONCACAF Champions League features the top club from across North America, Central America and the Caribbean. The winner of the tournament earns a berth in the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup. The tournament started in 1962 and was originally called the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup before switching to the current format in 2008 (and now called the CONCACAF Champions League).

Sporting KC finished atop Group 2 standdings in the 2013-2014 edition of the tournament with a 2-0-2 record before falling 5-2 on aggregate in the quarterfinals to reigning champions Cruz Azul.

Fans may follow the match online at SportingKC.com/GameOn or via Twitter @SKCGameday.
-Story from Sporting KC

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