Sporting KC

Matt Besler
Matt Besler

Graham Zusi
Graham Zusi

Benny Feilhaber
Benny Feilhaber

Sporting KC’s Matt Besler, Benny Feilhaber and Graham Zusi are on the 22-player squad for tonight’s AT&T MLS All-Star Game at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo.

The MLS All-Stars will face English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur at 8 p.m. on FOX Sports 1 and UniMas.

Besler and Zusi each earn MLS All-Star honors for the fourth time, including Zusi’s distinction as the only field player to be an MLS All-Star each of the last four seasons.

Feilhaber is a first-time MLS All-Star during a career-year in which he ranks second in MLS with 10 assists while also contributing a joint team-high seven goals.
– Story from Sporting KC

Sporting Kansas City fell 2-1 at Real Salt Lake on Friday in the opening match of MLS Week 21. Benny Feilhaber scored in his third straight match with a stunning 30-yard strike in the 50th minute that was sandwiched between Real Salt Lake goals from Javier Morales (34′) and Joao Plata (73′).

The loss – only the team’s second in 15 matches across all competition, both of which have come by 2-1 scorelines at Rio Tinto Stadium – leaves Sporting KC tied for third in the Western Conference entering MLS All-Star week.

Four Sporting KC players will participate in the festivities for this year’s summer showcase in Colorado: Erik Palmer-Brown (Chipotle MLS Homegrown Game), along with MLS All-Stars Matt Besler, Benny Feilhaber and Graham Zusi.
Sporting Kansas City started Friday’s match on the front foot and created immediate scoring chances from two set pieces taken by Marcel de Jong.

He delivered a free kick in the fifth minute that resulted in a goalmouth scramble in which Dom Dwyer nearly pounced only to see his shot blocked from close range by Jeff Attinella.

The Real Salt Lake goalkeeper then made another save in short succession to hold onto Roger Espinoza’s snapped header on the ensuing corner kick.

On the opposite end of the field, Tim Melia made his first save of the match in the eighth minute to push away a shot taken from the right side by MLS All-Star Tony Beltran.

Sporting Kansas City quickly countered on the resulting corner kick as Paulo Nagamura played Dwyer behind the RSL backline, however Abdoullie Mansally made a 60-yard recovery run to tackle the ball away at the final moment.

Melia remained active in the game’s early stages, turning away Joao Plata’s left-footed effort in the 14th minute and then racing 30 yards off his line for a sliding challenge on a ball destined for Javier Morales.

The 35-year-old Morales would not be denied in the 34th minute and put Real Salt Lake ahead 1-0 with a superb individual effort.

Morales beat three Sporting KC defenders on the dribble at the top of the penalty area before slotting his shot past Melia for his first career goal against Sporting KC in nine MLS seasons. Morales now has five goals in 2015, including goals in two straight games, and 42 goals in his MLS career, while Sebastian Jaime earned his first career MLS assist.

Sporting Kansas City came close to leveling the score in the 38th minute on a throw-in from Matt Besler. The captain’s long launch found its way to the backpost, where Krisztian Nemeth’s shot was blocked inside the six-yard box.

Real Salt Lake was then inches from doubling its lead on the cusp of halftime as Mansally’s cross from the left flank was perfectly placed into the path of Plata. The designated player struck his shot first time as the attempt from 10 yards out bounced off the turf and onto the top of the crossbar.

Playing the club’s third game in a seven-day span, Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes brought on Feilhaber and Amadou Dia to start the second half.

The moves paid off within minutes as Feilhaber, who had started all 21 of the team’s matches in MLS and U.S. Open Cup play this season prior to Friday, scored the game-tying goal in the 50th minute. Feilhaber let loose a shot from 30 yards out that curled beyond the reach of Attinella and inside the post for his eighth goal in all competitions this season, an MLS career high.

Melia was called upon for an important intervention in the 53rd minute, narrowly beating Jaime to a ball played over the top by Elias Vasquez. The 29-year-old goalkeeper did well again seven minutes later to cut down the angle in a one-on-situation with Devon Sandoval, who saw his shot strike the near post in what would be his final play of the match before being replaced by Olmes Garcia.

Sporting Kansas City was poised to pull ahead in the 65th minute as Nemeth cut the ball back for Jacob Peterson in front of net. However, Attinella made his best save of the match to deflect the left-footed shot over the crossbar and set the stage for Real Salt Lake to instead gain the upper hand moments later.

Ten minutes after coming off the bench as a second-half substitute, Garcia proved to be the difference maker as he drew a penalty kick on a run that started from inside his own half. Plata then stepped to the spot and converted his shot low to Melia’s right to give him goals in back-to-back games and make him three-for-three in career penalty attempts.

Despite going down a goal for the second time on the night, an undeterred Sporting KC side responded resiliently. Dwyer stretched the Real Salt Lake defense with his run in the 76th minute and picked out Peterson at the backpost only to again have Attinella make a full-extension dive to thwart the 10-year MLS veteran.

Melia would finish the match with four saves, two of which came in a three-minute span. Garcia, falling away from goal, directed a header on frame that was held by Melia in the 83rd minute and then four minutes later Beltran’s shot was destined for the back of the net if not for Melia’s sprawling stop.

Though Friday’s match concludes the regular season series between Sporting KC and Real Salt Lake, the two sides will meet again on Aug. 12 at Sporting Park in the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinals. Tickets for the match will go on sale at 10 a.m. on Monday via while supplies last.
– Story from Sporting KC

Sporting Kansas City (9-3-6, 33 points) hits the road for a precursor of the U.S. Open Cup semifinal against Real Salt Lake (6-7-8, 26 points) at 10 p.m. on Friday in the club’s third game in a seven-day span.

The 2013 MLS Cup rematch will be nationally televised on UniMas and UDN (available in English), in addition to three hours of local coverage on KMCI-TV 38 the Spot beginning at 9:30 p.m. Radio listeners can follow the match live on Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM.

A win on Friday would see Sporting KC move provisionally into first place in the Western Conference standings.

The club leads MLS with 1.8.3 points per game and has just one defeat in their last 14 matches across all competitions, with the lone setback coming last month against Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Second-half substitute Olmes Garcia came off the bench in that game to score a 93rd-minute winner after Sebastian Jaime and Dom Dwyer exchanged goals in the opening 30 minutes.

Both sides will be without veteran players as Graham Zusi (SKC), Kyle Beckerman (RSL) and Nick Rimando (RSL) are with the United States Men’s National Team at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes is one win shy of tying Bob Gansler as the winningest coach in club history. Vermes has 85 regular season wins and 107 victories in all competitions since becoming head coach in August 2009. Both totals are one behind Gansler, who coached the team from 1999-2006.
– Story from Sporting KC