SPORTING KC

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Sporting Kansas City suffered a 2-1 loss at the Philadelphia Union on Saturday at PPL Park in the team’s final road match of the 2014 regular season.

Dom Dwyer extended his single-season club record with his 22nd goal of the season sandwiched between goals from Brian Brown and Pedro Ribeiro.

With a playoff berth secured, Sporting Kansas City sits in third place in the Eastern Conference and will determine its postseason seed when fourth place New York visits Sporting Park at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 26, in the final game of the MLS regular season.

The match will be nationally televised on ESPN2.

The reigning MLS Cup champions were without eight players due to injury on Saturday, including designated players Matt Besler and Claudio Bieler. Additionally, manager Peter Vermes rested Graham Zusi after his recent return from the U.S. Men’s National Team.

Sporting KC outshot the Union in the first half on Saturday, but failed to test Zac MacMath with any of their seven attempts while the hosts put four of their six shots on target in the opening 45 minutes.

Dom Dwyer
Dom Dwyer

Dom Dwyer — looking to add to his 21-goal haul in 2014 — twice threatened, including a shot in the game’s fifth minute that carried just wide of the target.

Ten minutes later, the Englishman was behind the Union backline and took a touch around MacMath only to see his cross into the middle well covered by the recovery of Carlos Valdes.

Philadelphia came close to opening the scoring on multiple occasions before Brown’s go-ahead goal in the final moments of the first half.

Cristian Maidana and Andrew Wenger sent shots narrowly wide of net three minutes apart before Eric Kronberg made a pair of saves on Danny Cruz in the 15th minute. Kronberg’s best save of the night came in the 29th minute, coming 10 yards off his line to deny Maidana in the one-on-one situation.

After back-to-back clean sheets to open October, Sporting Kansas City’s 229-minute shutout streak came to an end in the 45th minute.

Vincent Nogueira forced a turnover in midfield and the Union capitalized on the counter when Brown smashed home a cross from Maidana with a first-time finish from inside the six-yard box. Brown — making his first MLS start — now has two goals in his 2014 campaign with both coming against Sporting KC.

Sporting Kansas City wasted little time in pulling level, earning a penalty kick seven minutes into the start of the second half.

Lawrence Olum dispossessed Nogueira 35 yards from goal, Paulo Nagamura picked out Saad with space on the left and the Lebanese international took a touch around the goalkeeper before being brought down. Dwyer converted the ensuing penalty kick, his seventh of the season to tie Preki (1996) for the club’s all-time single season record.

Dwyer now has 23 goals in all competition, a new single-season club record, with 22 coming in the regular season, second most in MLS and four more than the team’s previous single-season high set by Preki in 1996. The former first round draft pick has eight goals in his past nine MLS matches and is three behind Bradley Wright-Phillips in the MLS golden boot race.

MacMath made his only save of the night in the 57th minute, diving low to his right to turn away a shot from Soony Saad. The 2014 U.S. Open Cup runners-up then struck for the game-winning goal on the opposite end in the 71st minute.

Moments after entering the match as a second-half substitute, Ribeiro was left unmarked in the middle of the penalty area and collected a pass from Maidana before burying his shot into the back of the net from eight yards out. Maidana earned his second assist of the night and now has a team-best 11 assists on the season.

The Union might have been left to rue two missed opportunities — Ribeiro came close to a second in the 76th minute and Wenger was superbly stopped by Kronberg in the 82nd minute — to add to their lead, but a tightly marked Paulo Nagamura lifted his shot over the crossbar two minutes from full time on a night in which he made his 200th regular season start.

With the victory, Philadelphia improves to 7-4-6 under interim head coach Jim Curtin and moved up to sixth place in the Eastern Conference.

Sporting Kansas City will now shift gears for a road match in San Jose, Costa Rica, on Thursday for the group stage finale in the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League against Deportivo Saprissa. Sporting KC sits atop Group 2 with seven points and will advance to the quarterfinals for the second straight year with a draw or win on Thursday.
- Story from Sporting KC

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sporting kc logo
Sporting Kansas City wraps up its regular season road slate when it faces the Philadelphia Union Saturday at PPL Park in Chester, Pa.

The 6 p.m. contest will be televised locally on KMCI 38 and across the Midwest on SKCTV with pre-game coverage beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Sporting KC (14-11-7, 49 points) clinched a spot in the MLS Cup playoffs for a fourth straight campaign after beating the Chicago Fire 2-0 on Oct. 10.

The team is currently tied with the New England Revolution for second place in the Eastern Conference, six points behind D.C. United, two ahead of fourth place New York and three ahead of fifth place Columbus. The top five teams in each conference will qualify for the postseason.

Peter Vermes’ men have tasted recent success at PPL Park, notching a pair of victories to bookend the 2013 regular season. No team boasts more road wins this year than Sporting KC’s eight (8-7-1 overall).

Conversely, Philadelphia has struggled to obtain maximum points at home, winning five of 16 contests in Chester, Pennsylvania (5-3-8 overall). The home team is winless in the last five meetings between the clubs.

Philadelphia (9-11-12, 39 points) was eliminated from postseason contention last Saturday after suffering a 3-2 defeat to the Columbus Crew. However, the Union has earned two positive road results against the reigning MLS champions this year, winning 2-1 on May 14 and earning a 1-1 draw on Aug 1.
- Story from Sporting KC

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Sporting Kansas City recognized the team’s annual award winners on Saturday at Sporting Park during the Pitch Black event. Sporting KC players, coaches, media members and fans voted on the following awards:
• Most Valuable Player, Graham Zusi
• Offensive Player of the Year, Dom Dwyer
• Defensive Player of the Year, Seth Sinovic
• Goal of the Year, Benny Feilhaber (July 16)
• Newcomer of the Year, Antonio Dovale and Igor Juliao
Additionally, the club chose the following awards:
• Golden Boot, Dom Dwyer
• Victory Project Humanitarian of the Year: Soony Saad
• Bob Gansler Award, Nic Jaimes
• Sporting Club Network Club of the Year, El Padrino
• Academy Affiliate Club of the Year, Sporting St. Croix

Zusi earns team MVP honors for a third straight season with five goals and eight assists in 24 MLS matches to go along with an assist in the 2013-2014 CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals. The 28-year-old playmaker leads the team in assists for a fourth straight season and is the only MLS player with at least five goals and seven assists in each of the past four years. His 68 successful crosses/corners in 2014 are most in MLS, as are his 346 chances created in MLS competition (including playoffs) since 2011. Zusi’s 39 career assists are third most on the team’s all-time charts and his 22 goals rank 10th most in club history.

Dwyer’s breakout season garnered Offensive Player of the Year recognition in the midst of a campaign that has seen the Englishman score a single-season team record 21 goals, including League-highs with 13 left-footed goals and five headed goals. The 24-year-old is second in the MLS Golden Boot race with two games to play and he also scored in the 2014/15 CONCACAF Champions League group stage. Major League Soccer’s Player of the Month in May, Dwyer scored in four straight MLS matches on two separate occasions in 2014 and his five multi-goal games are tied for the League lead. He has scored six game-winning goals on the year, second most in MLS and tied for the most in a single-season in club history. His 23 career MLS goals are ninth most in team history.

Sinovic accepted Defensive Player of the Year accolades as the team’s stalwart on a backline that has allowed the fewest shots among all MLS teams in 2014. The 27-year-old leads all Sporting KC players in interceptions (68) and minutes played (2,575) during the regular season while contributing three assists across all competition. The Leawood, Kan., native ranks third among MLS defenders with 1,913 touches and fourth at his position with 1,170 passes and 275 duels. Since 2011, no player in Major League Soccer has contributed to more shutouts than Sinovic (47) in MLS competition (including postseason). Over that span, he’s played in 63 MLS victories (including postseason), which is fourth most among MLS players.

For the second straight year, Feilhaber claimed Goal of the Year bragging rights. The World Cup veteran received the recognition for his game-winning goal in the final minute of a 2-1 victory at Columbus on July 16, the team’s latest game-winning goal of the season to date. In his fourth MLS season, the 29-year-old has set career-highs in games played (30) and games started (29) en route to recording five goals and seven assists across all competition. Named MLS Player of the Month in July, the two-way midfielder leads the team with 43 chances created from open play, 56 tackles won, 191 duels won, 221 recoveries, 1,498 passes and 2,026 touches.

Dovale and Juliao shared Newcomer of the Year distinction in their first seasons in Major League Soccer. Dovale, 24, has four goals and four assists across all competition while playing wide in Sporting Kansas City’s 4-3-3 formation. Juliao, 20, has contributed three assists in all competition as a right back and leads all MLS defenders with a team-high 39 dribbles completed in 2014. During a season that saw Sporting KC suit up the youngest field player (Erik Palmer-Brown, 17) and goalkeeper (Jon Kempin, 21) in MLS this year, Juliao became the youngest player in club history to start 20 MLS matches for the team.

Saad was named Humanitarian of the Year for going above and beyond in his commitment to philanthropic causes throughout the community. Saad serves as an ambassador for the Shadow Buddies Foundation and is a regular visitor at Children’s Mercy Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House to interact with local youth. The Lebanese international has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and has attended charitable events to support the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Braden’s Hope for Childhood Cancer. The 22-year-old is amongst the most active players to participate in Victory Project soccer clinics and was also in attendance at Give Kids the World Village.

Sporting KC Under-18 Academy midfielder Nic Jaimes was the recipient of the Bob Gansler Award as the most outstanding Academy player. The Blue Valley Northwest senior was a member of the Sporting KC U17’s, coached by Jon Parry, that were crowned champions at U.S. Youth Futsal Nationals in February. He joined the U.S. Futsal National Team in June for a training camp and returned to the international level in August for a trip to Argentina. Jaimes – rated the No. 4 player in the region and No. 94 player nationally in the Class of 2015 by TopDrawerSoccer.com – has played in all four games for the Sporting KC Academy U18’s in the 2014-15 U.S. Soccer Development Academy after appearing in 20 games with four goals last season.

Sporting Club Network Club of the Year El Padrino enjoyed a successful year in a variety of ventures. In their second year as a member, El Padrino secured an agreement with Kansas City Power and Light through the Sporting Club Network and teamed up with Soccer Nation to unveil a new, two-field indoor complex while also helping to support the planned construction of new futsal courts throughout Wyandotte County. El Padrino has held three different Sporting Club Network events this year, benefitting both their players and coaches, and has been instrumental in helping the Network and The Victory Project launch the community-focused Recycle Your Game initiative.

In their first year as an Academy Affiliate, Sporting St. Croix took home Academy Affiliate Club of the Year. Despite being the furthest Academy Affiliate — located in the twin cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota — St. Croix consistently delivered the best participation in Academy events. Whether it was sending players and teams to compete during Academy Affiliate Weekend and MLS/MRL league play or welcoming new Academy Affiliate Technical Director Desmond Armstrong on a visit, St. Croix was well represented at all activities. The club also helped Sporting Kansas City’s Academy teams kick off their seasons by playing in their first friendlies.

Sporting Park welcomed fans alongside Sporting Kansas City players and coaches on Saturday for a night of drinks, dining and live entertainment on the field. The team honors were formally presented to the award winners and a portion of proceeds raised will benefit The Victory Project in its mission to help children thrive through life’s challenges.

- Story from Sporting KC

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