Archive for Sporting KC

Sporting KC ties Real Salt Lake, 1-1

Sporting Kansas City pushed its unbeaten streak to 10 straight games in all competitions after splitting the points with Real Salt Lake in a pulsating 1-1 draw at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday night.

Benny Feilhaber’s second-half penalty kick canceled out Luis Silva’s first-half opener as Sporting Kansas City (8-4-9, 33 points) dropped a point behind FC Dallas for top spot in the West but avoided defeat against a Real Salt Lake side (7-12-3, 24 points) that unleashed 20 shot attempts – the most faced by Sporting KC in a match this season.

With Matt Besler and Graham Zusi on CONCACAF Gold Cup duty with the U.S. Men’s National Team and center back Ike Opara sidelined with a concussion, Manager Peter Vermes fielded a reshuffled Sporting Kansas City lineup.

Goalkeeper Tim Melia was shielded by outside backs Saad Abdul-Salaam and Seth Sinovic, while homegrown Kansas Citians Kevin Ellis and Erik Palmer-Brown patrolled central defense. Captain Roger Espinoza returned from suspension to join Feilhaber and Ilie in the midfield, and Diego Rubio was flanked by Gerso and Latif Blessing up top.

The visitors carved out an opening within three minutes when Abdul-Salaam’s delightful cutback pass was scuffed by Rubio near the penalty spot. At the opposite end, Tony Beltran’s stinging blast from distance was pushed wide by an outstretched Melia for his first of five saves throughout the evening.

Having exploded for 10 goals in their previous two matches, Real Salt Lake threatened twice more before the half-hour mark. Silva lashed high from outside the box in the 16th minute before Jefferson Savarino’s bouncing volley flashed marginally wide eight minutes later.

Vermes’ men remained dangerous themselves, however, and a superb buildup on 28 minutes nearly resulted in the opening goal.

A precise long ball over the top from Palmer-Brown was corralled by Gerso, who picked out Abdul-Salaam in the penalty area. The right back accelerated toward the byline and flashed a dangerous ball across the face of goal that went untouched by slew of nearby bodies.

Albert Rusnak entered Saturday as Real Salt Lake’s most prolific chance creator and did just that in the 41st minute, serving a free kick that was headed onto the post by Silva. Yet the RSL forward wouldn’t be denied a second time, drawing first blood two minutes before intermission with a calm finish into the right corner following a pass from Joao Plata.

Gerso nearly provided an instant leveler for Sporting Kansas City, exhibiting great hustle along the right endline to win possession and cut centrally, but his left-footed effort was blocked by a lunging Justen Glad.

An eventful and hotly contested second period saw both teams try their luck within eight minutes after the restart.

Blessing’s acrobatic bicycle kick was comfortably saved by Nick Rimando, then Sinovic produced a vital block to thwart Savarino on the breakaway. Glad would steer a header well over the bar on the ensuing corner kick.

Referee Nima Saghafi awarded Sporting Kansas City its very first penalty kick of the season when Silva toppled Feilhaber on the left side of the penalty area.

Feilhaber would bury the ensuing spot kick, recording his third goal of the campaign and his fifth goal in his last eight appearances against Real Salt Lake in all competitions.

The hosts responded with vigor, as Savarino lashed a shot just off frame in the 65th minute before Plata’s right-footed attempt deflected off Palmer-Brown and rolled inches wide of Melia’s right-hand post.

Sporting Kansas City would breathe a massive sigh of relief in the 74th minute when Silva raced behind the defense and unleashed low drive from the right side of the box that caromed off the far post and then the near post before rolling back into play.

Silva was first to the rebound and sent a thunderous shot high off the near post, his third woodwork strike in as many seconds. Less than a minute after the heart-stopping scare, Melia dove at full extension to palm Savarino’s long-range blast away from goal.

Rusnak was on the receiving end of another glorious opportunity in the 82nd minute, but lifted his volley inches above the bar after breaching Sporting KC’s back line. Melia would make three further saves in the dying embers of the match, denying Silva, Plata and Beltran before the final whistle blew.

Feilhaber almost bagged his brace with a wonderfully struck right-footed bullet in the 85th minute, but Rimando leapt to get his fingertips to the ball and record his second save.

Sporting Kansas City now looks ahead to a marquee interconference clash with Supporters Shield contender and longtime rival Chicago Fire (11-4-5, 38 points) next Saturday at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and a limited number of tickets are available at SeatGeek.com.

– Story from Sporting KC

Share

First-place Sporting KC travels to Utah tonight

With Major League Soccer’s two-week break in the rearview mirror, Western Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City (8-4-8, 32 points) return to action Saturday when they visit rivals Real Salt Lake (7-12-2 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.

Kickoff is set for 9 p.m. with FOX Sports Kansas City Plus, FOX Sports Midwest Plus and FOX Sports GO airing three hours of live coverage beginning at 8:30 p.m. Additional live updates will be available on the Sporting KC Uphoria mobile app and the SportingKC.com MatchCenter.

Additionally, Saturday’s Western Conference showdown will be joined in progress on FOX Sports Kansas City and Sports Radio 810 WHB following Kansas City Royals baseball.

Unbeaten in nine straight matches across all competitions, Sporting Kansas City will take the field Saturday for the first time since defeating FC Dallas in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal clash on July 11 at Children’s Mercy Park.

Manager Peter Vermes’ men played down a man from the 15th minute onward but forced extra time after regulation ended 0-0.

FC Dallas had two players sent off in the extra session as Sporting KC exploded for three late goals – two from Latif Blessing and one from Daniel Salloi – to notch an emotional 3-0 win just two days after the passing of Neal Patterson, the club’s co-owner and the chairman and CEO of Cerner Corp.

Sporting Kansas City’s spot at the summit of the West has been predicated on a stingy defense that has conceded a league-low 14 goals through 20 MLS matches.

Among goalkeepers with at least two games played, Tim Melia ranks No. 1 in shutouts (nine), save percentage (81.1) and penalty kick saves (three) while ranking second in goals against average (0.70) and fifth in total saves (60).

Defensive midfielder Ilie had added further stability in the middle of the park, having played every minute of all 23 matches in all competitions as Major League Soccer’s most prolific passer.

Yet Saturday’s contest will provide an entirely different test altogether, as Sporting Kansas City will be without three defensive mainstays.

Center back Ike Opara is ruled out with a concussion – sustained in extra time against Dallas 10 days ago – while captain Matt Besler and right back Graham Zusi will be with the U.S. Men’s National Team for Saturday’s CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal against Costa Rica, which will kick off concurrently with Sporting KC’s match at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Real Salt Lake endured a tumultuous start to the 2017 campaign, parting ways with former manager Jeff Cassar after a winless month of March, but the Claret and Cobalt have rebounded since the turn of July with two straight jaw-dropping victories away from home.

RSL hammered LA Galaxy by a 6-2 scoreline on July 4 before cruising past the Portland Timbers 4-1 on Wednesday at Providence Park. Head coach Mike Petke’s men have exploded for 10 goals over their last two matches after scoring just 17 through their first 19 fixtures of the season.

Talented midfielders Joao Plata and Albert Rusnak have keyed Real Salt Lake’s recent uptick. Plata has bagged three goals over the two-game stretch, while Rusnak has tallied two goals and two assists during the same span. Rusnak is tied for seventh in MLS in both assists (seven) and chances created (44).

Ravaged throughout the year by injuries, suspensions and international absences, Real Salt Lake has struggled to find consistency on the defensive end. The club has conceded 1.95 goals per match, second-most in MLS, while their 268 shots faced are third-most across the league.

Saturday will be no exception for an RSL side that has grown accustomed to playing short-handed. Veteran midfielder Kyle Beckerman will serve a one-game red card suspension, while Chad Barret (knee), Jordan Allen (knee), Omar Holness (knee), Ricard Velazco (ankle) and Matt VanOekel (ankle) are all out through injury. Leading scorer Yura Movsisyan (hip), forward Sebasian Saucedo (calf) and defender Demar Phillips (hamstring) are listed as questionable with less severe ailments.

Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake last met on April 29 at Children’s Mercy Park. The hosts ran out 3-0 victors behind goals from Benny Feilhaber, Dom Dwyer and Gerso to snap a seven-game winless run against RSL in the MLS regular season. Feilhaber notably has four goals and two assists in his last seven appearances versus Real Salt Lake in all competitions.

The all-time regular season series is dead even through 24 meetings, with both teams owning nine wins and six draws. Sporting KC has a 3-6-3 road record in the series, including a winless skid of three games at Rio Tinto Stadium. A dramatic 2-1 away win in July 2013, decided by Ike Opara’s 97th-minute header, was followed by a pair of 2-1 road defeats in 2015 and a scoreless draw on the penultimate weekend of the 2016 campaign last October.

Outside of regular season play, Sporting KC has defeated Real Salt Lake in each of the last two meetings. Vermes’ men beat RSL in the 2013 MLS Cup and the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinals.

– Story from Sporting KC

Share

Dwyer, Zusi named to roster for MLS All-Star Game

Dom Dwyer


Graham Zusi

Sporting Kansas City forward Dom Dwyer and defender Graham Zusi were named to the MLS All-Star game day roster on Tuesday.

The duo will join a 24-man squad as Major League Soccer’s best players square off with Spanish giant Real Madrid in the 2017 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target.

The summer showcase at Soldier Field in Chicago will kick off at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 2 on FS1 and UniMas.

The MLS All-Star game day roster consists of the All-Star Fan XI, announced on July 7, as well as two commissioner’s Picks and 11 additional players selected by All-Star head coach Veljko Paunovic of the Chicago Fire.

Zusi was one of three defenders voted to the Fan XI, while Dwyer joined FC Dallas midfielder Kellyn Acosta as one of MLS Commissioner Don Garber’s two selections.

The full roster is a mix of 16 All-Star veterans as well as eight All-Star newcomers, representing 13 MLS clubs and hailing from 13 different countries, the most diverse group in All-Star history. Additionally, 20 of the 24 players named to the roster have represented their countries at the senior national team level.

Dwyer lands MLS All-Star honors for the second time, having previously done so in 2014. He has recorded six goals and one assist in all competitions this season for Major League Soccer’s Western Conference leaders.

Dwyer broke into the U.S. Men’s National Team earlier this month at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, becoming one of 10 American players to score in each of his first two international appearances. The England-born striker became an American citizen in March, thus gaining U.S. MNT eligibility.

Dwyer, 26, has been one of the most prolific strikers in MLS since 2014. His 55 regular season goals over the last four seasons are second-most across the league, while his 67 career goals in all competitions rank second on Sporting KC’s all-time charts. By the end of the 2016 campaign, he had become the first player in club history to net 12 or more goals in three straight regular seasons.

Zusi, 30, earns MLS All-Star recognition for the fifth time in his career, tied with current teammate Matt Besler for third-most in club history. The right back previously received All-Star accolades every year from 2012 to 2015, a period that saw Sporting Kansas City win an MLS Cup and two Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cups.

A veteran of the U.S. Men’s National Team, Zusi has started 15 of 16 MLS appearances this season for a Sporting Kansas City side that has kept nine clean sheets and boasts a league-low 0.70 goals against average. In addition to contributing to a stout backline, Zusi has assisted four goals in all competitions and leads MLS defenders with 31 chances created.

Zusi has collected 51 caps for the U.S. MNT since debuting in 2012. He tallied two assists at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil before competing at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup and 2016 Copa America Centenario. Zusi is currently representing the United States at the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup alongside Besler.

Under the guidance of the legendary Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid claimed its 33rd La Liga championship and 12th UEFA Champions League title last season. The club’s star-studded roster currently includes the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Sergio Ramos, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric.

Aug. 2 will mark the first time a club from Spain’s La Liga will appear in the MLS All-Star Game. The MLS All-Stars have previously faced teams from the England’s Premier League, Germany’s Bundesliga, Italy’s Serie A, Mexico’s Liga MX and the Scottish Premier League, owning an 8-4-1 record against some of the world’s most decorated outfits.

The best way to guarantee a ticket to the 2017 MLS All-Star Game is to contact the Chicago Fire at 888-MLS-Fire or tickets@chicago-fire.com. Visit MLSsoccer.com/allstar for VIP ticket package details.

– Story from Sporting KC

Share