Bruno gets 100th career volleyball win in split in Nebraska tourney

Mary Bruno (KCKCC file photo)
Mary Bruno (KCKCC file photo)

by Alan Hoskins
Mary Bruno put her 100th career volleyball win in the record book over the weekend as Kansas City Kansas Community College divided four games in the tough Central Nebraska Tournament in Columbus.

Both KCKCC losses were to nationally ranked powers, 3-0 to Iowa Western, the No. 1 rated team in Division I, and 3-2 to the host, Central Nebraska, which is ranked No. 6 in Division II. Win No. 100 came in a 3-1 win over North Platte and the Blue Devils also blanked Northeast Nebraska 3-0.

In just her fourth season at KCKCC, the Blue Devils are currently ranked No. 7 in Division II, 5-1 in the Jayhawk Conference and 23-8 overall.

“This is a milestone that could not have been achieved without the coaches and the present and past players,” Bruno said. “But hopefully there’s still a long way to go.”

The Blue Devils return to action Wednesday, playing a Jayhawk Conference at Labette, before returning home next Monday hoping to give revenge against another Division I volleyball power, Missouri State, which took a 3-1 decision from KCKCC at West Plains Sept. 22. One of only three remaining home contests, game time is 6:30 p.m. in the KCKCC Field House.

Besler, Zusi join U.S. Men’s National Team

Matt Besler
Matt Besler

Graham Zusi
Graham Zusi

Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler and midfielder Graham Zusi were added to the U.S. Men’s National Team roster ahead of Tuesday’s international friendly against Honduras, U.S. Soccer announced.

Both players will join the U.S. MNT for the first time since playing all four matches for the United States at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil this summer.

After a 1-1 draw against Ecuador on Friday, the U.S. now hosts Honduras on Tuesday at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Florida. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. on ESPN, WatchESPN, UniMas and ESPN Deportes Radio.

“Honduras has proved that they are one of the top teams in CONCACAF,” said U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “As we begin our preparation for the Gold Cup, this is a great opportunity for our players to see the type of opponent they will face next summer.”

Honduras — whose roster features Sporting KC midfielder Jorge Claros — competed in the last two FIFA World Cups, the first time in team history where the country has reached the tournament in consecutive cycles. The United States holds a 14-4-3 lifetime record against the Catrachos, including an 11-2-2 record on home soil. The teams last met in the semifinal of the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, where the USA collected a 3-1 win on the way to capturing the tournament title.

No players in the men’s national team pool have more appearances for the United States in 2014 than Besler and Zusi, who have each earned nine caps this year. The duo helped Sporting KC secure the team’s fourth consecutive postseason berth with a 2-0 win over Chicago on Friday and will re-join their club teammates in time to be available for Saturday’s match at Philadelphia.

An Overland Park, Kan., native, Besler has anchored a Sporting KC defense that has allowed the fewest shots in Major League Soccer this year. He was named captain of the reigning MLS Cup champions prior to the 2014 season and signed a Designated Player contract in July. Besler has made 159 MLS appearances (including postseason) with two goals and seven assists since being drafted by Kansas City in the first round of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft out of Notre Dame.

The 27-year-old centerback debuted for the U.S. in January 2013 and has 21 career international appearances. Besler has twice collected MLS Best XI (2012, 2013) honors and is a three-time MLS All-Star (2011, 2013, 2014). He was awarded MLS Defender of the Year in 2012 before being named a finalist again in 2013 and was honored as Sporting Kansas City’s Defensive Player of the Year each of the past three seasons.

“As always, I am very excited to represent my country. It’s always an honor when you get an opportunity,” Besler said. “I’m looking forward to playing with the guys again and also meeting some of the new guys who have been called in. I’m also looking forward to playing against Honduras. They are becoming a rival of ours and it’s always a good test.”

Zusi, an MLS All-Star for the third straight year, is leading Sporting Kansas City in assists for a fourth consecutive season with eight in 2014. He is the only player in Major League Soccer with five or more goals and seven or more assists in each of the last four seasons. Now in his sixth professional season, his 39 career assists rank third most in club history and his 22 goals are 10th on the team’s all-time scoring chart.

Taken in the second round of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft as a two-time national champion at the University of Maryland, Zusi was named to the MLS Best XI each of the last two years and was an MLS MVP finalist in 2012 after leading the League with a career-high 15 assists. He has been voted Sporting Kansas City’s Most Valuable Player each of the last two years and signed a Designated Player contract with the club in July.

The 28-year-old has earned 27 career international appearances with three goals and six assists in a U.S. Men’s National Team jersey. Zusi contributed assists in back-to-back group stage games against Ghana and Portugal at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

“This will be the United States final home game of the year and I’m thrilled that I have the chance to be a part of it. Being back in our nation’s colors is an incredible honor for me personally.” Zusi said. “There are locker room bragging rights to be won against Jorge (Claros) and Honduras.”

The U.S. Men’s National Team is 6-3-3 in 2014 and ranked No. 17 in the latest FIFA rankings. Tuesday’s friendly is the penultimate match of the calendar year with the 2014 finale to be played at Ireland on Nov. 18.
– Story from Sporting KC

Sporting KC secures fourth straight playoff berth with 2-0 victory in KCK

Sporting Kansas City secured a berth in the 2014 MLS Cup Playoffs with a 2-0 victory over the Chicago Fire on Friday at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.

Graham Zusi contributed a goal, the game-winner in the 80th minute, and an assist on Dom Dwyer’s 21st goal of the season in second half stoppage time. With the win, Sporting Kansas City moves into second place in the Eastern Conference and sits three points back of leaders D.C. United.

The reigning MLS Cup champions will enter the postseason for a fourth consecutive year. The team’s seeding will be determined over the course of the final two weeks of the regular season, which see Sporting KC travel to Philadelphia next Saturday and then return home to play host to the New York Red Bulls in the regular season finale on Oct. 26.

Having lost the previous three home matches, Sporting Kansas City was the early aggressor on Friday against a Fire squad mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. Benny Feilhaber earned a penalty kick in the 12th minute when Lovel Palmer’s careless challenge brought down the playmaker inside the area for the third penalty won by Feilhaber in all competition in 2014.

Dwyer stepped to the spot — where he was seven for seven across all competition prior to Friday — but sent his shot over the crossbar. The miss was the team’s first from the penalty spot since March 25, 2012, snapping a streak 13 straight successful conversions.

On a night in which Gruenebaum made six saves, four came in a 12-minute span of the first half. The Overland Park, Kan., native started the spree in the 21st minute with a stop on Matt Watson, reacting well to push away the volley after recovering from an aerial challenge.

Less than a minute later, Gruenebaum was called into action again to turn away a shot from Florent Sinama-Pongolle from the ensuing corner. Chicago continued to press forward in search of the game’s opening goal as Quincy Amarikwa tested the nine-year veteran in net with a quickly released shot toward the near post in the 28th minute.

Sporting Kansas City responded on the opposite end with arguably its best build-up of the night, nearly capping it off with a goal fitting of the possession that preceded it. The 19-pass sequence began with a goal kick and after more than a minute of uninterrupted possession, Dwyer played a pass back from the endline that found Feilhaber 15 yards from the net. The U.S. international’s sliding shot deflected off the hand of Johnson and into the post before being smothered in front of the goalline.

The back-and-forth action refused to dissipate as a steady drizzle poured down with a standing-room only crowd on hand at Sporting Park for the 52nd consecutive MLS sellout at the state-of-the-art venue. Antonio Dovale sent his shot narrowly wide of the net in the 31st minute and Gruenebaum came well off his line two minutes later to stop Amarikwa’s 50-yard run at goal.

The second half started in similar fashion with Lawrence Olum sending a shot from 25 yards out blazing over the bar before Chicago managed a single second of possession. Dwyer came close to making amends for his missed penalty with a pair of chances to open the scoring. His curling shot carried just beyond the far post in the 58th minute and a diving header was on frame despite a considerable degree of difficulty only to be saved by Johnson six minutes later.

Chicago survived another scare in the 75th minute when Matt Besler’s clearance from inside his own half brought Johnson sprinting off his line. The ball fell to Zusi at a tight angle and the shot was blocked by Bakary Soumare in front of an empty net.

Zusi — a three-time MLS All-Star — would find the breakthrough 10 minutes from full time. Kevin Ellis and Igor Juliao combined for a give-and-go along the right touchline before Zusi took two touches and unleashed a left-footed strike from 25 yards out that nestled inside the far post.

The 28-year-old now has 22 goals in his six-year MLS career, including eight game-winning goals which ranks sixth most in club history. Sporting KC is 16-0-2 all-time when Zusi scores in MLS competition and his five goals rank second most on the team in 2014. In addition, the goal sees Zusi become the only player in MLS with five or more goals and seven or more assists in each of the last four seasons.

The Fire, who have set an MLS record with 18 draws in 2014, twice threatened to equalize in the game’s late stages courtesy of second-half substitutes. Sanna Nyassi sent a dipping volley inches high of the target in the 83rd minute and Gruenebaum made his best save of the night to kick away Matt Fondy’s effort from close range in the 91st minute.

Dwyer then put the game out of reach with his league-leading fifth headed goal of the season, out-jumping Palmer and directing Zusi’s cross into the back of the net from eight yards out. The Englishman now has 21 goals in 2014, a single-season club record and three shy of Bradley Wright-Phillips in the MLS Golden Boot race. Dwyer scored in all three meetings against Chicago this season.

Gruenebaum recorded his third straight clean sheet and extended his shutout streak to 308 minutes, fifth longest in Major League Soccer this season.

– Story from Sporting KC