Sporting KC beats LA Galaxy, 2-1

Sporting Kansas City extended its lead atop the Eastern Conference with a 2-1 victory over the LA Galaxy on Saturday at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.

Benny Feilhaber scored in his second straight match and Lawrence Olum netted the game-winning goal as the reigning MLS Cup champions have now won five of their past six MLS matches.

Playing in front of the largest regular season crowd in Sporting Park’s four-year history, Sporting Kansas City started strong in its third game over an eight-day stretch.

In the sixth minute, 19-year-old Brazilian Igor Juliao made a late run forward and fired the game’s first shot on target that forced a diving save by Jaime Penedo to his left.

Feilhaber then gave the reigning MLS Cup champs the early lead with his third goal of the season coming three days after scoring the game-winning goal in second-half stoppage time at Columbus.

The 29-year-old midfielder curled a free kick over the wall from 20 yards out into the upper corner for the 11th goal of his MLS career. It marked the second straight season Feilhaber scored directly from a free kick, accounting for the team’s only two free kick finishes in the past two years.

Soony Saad, who won the foul that earned the set piece, came close to doubling the advantage in the 32nd minute. The Lebanon international collected the ball along the left flank and dribbled at Galaxy defender Tommy Meyer before letting loose a right-footed shot that Penedo sprawled toward the near post to turn away.

The Galaxy were held to only two shots, neither on goal, in the first half. Nevertheless, Bruce Arena’s side nearly found an equalizer one minute into the second half when Baggio Husidic’s low drive deflected off the outside of the near post from 25 yards out.

Three minutes later, Sporting KC goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum — making his home debut in MLS play for Sporting KC — made his first save of the match in one-on-one opportunity from Gyasi Zardes. The 22-year-old Homegrown Player combined on a give-and-go with Marcelo Sarvas inside the penalty area but couldn’t slip his shot past Gruenebaum from close range.

Sporting Kansas City quickly responded with scoring chances of its own on the opposite end of the field. Penedo came well off his line to intervene after Seth Sinovic forced a turnover in the Galaxy’s defensive third and Matt Besler’s ensuing long throw-in skipped inches wide of the far post after skipping off the head of Meyer en route.

The Galaxy counter attack was in full display in the moments that followed as Juninho charged toward goal and played a pass into the path of Robbie Keane all alone in the central channel. Gruenebaum rushed off his line and the Irish international sent his shot high of the crossbar before colliding into one another at the edge of the penalty area.

On the day Graham Zusi and Matt Besler signed Designated Player contracts to extend their careers in Kansas City, it was Zusi who set up Sporting KC’s second goal in the 61st minute and put his name into the club’s all-time record books in doing so. Taking the 453rd corner of his regular season career — which surpasses Preki for most by a KC player all-time — Zusi’s delivery was punched by Penedo in traffic but his work wasn’t yet done.

Aurelien Collin, announced as an MLS All-Star on Saturday along with Besler and Zusi, put the ball back into the mix and halftime substitute Jacob Peterson directed his header toward goal. Penedo recovered to push the shot into the crossbar but Lawrence Olum was first to the rebound and directed his header into the back of the net.

Olum now has three career MLS goals, all of which have proved to be match winners, though Saturday’s was his first at home in his four years with Sporting KC.

The visitors, MLS champions in 2011 and 2012, refused to go quietly with an eight-game unbeaten streak to protect. Baggio Husidic played Keane into space with a diagonal ball from just inside midfield and the Galaxy Designated Player struck his left-footed shot off the crossbar and over the endline in the 65th minute.

LA cut its deficit in half in the 79th minute through Keane with his 10th goal of the season and 44th of his MLS regular season career. Seventeen-year-old Bradford Jamieson earned the assist with his flick header four minutes after entering the match for his MLS debut and Keane made no mistake in placing his shot past Gruenebaum despite Feilhaber’s best efforts to clear it off the line.

Unfazed, Sporting Kansas City’s defense would give up only one shot for the remainder of the match – a header well wide and high of frame from Kofi Opare in the 84th minute — to preserve the team’s third straight 2-1 victory. The only late chance would come from Dom Dwyer, who was denied his 15th goal of the season when his header in the 89th minute was saved by Penedo after a pinpoint cross from Zusi.

Sporting Kansas City will next take on reigning English Premier League winners Manchester City FC in the Champions Shield at 8 p.m. on Wednesday at Sporting Park. A limited number of tickets are available for the marquee match via Ticketmaster.com and the international friendly will be nationally broadcast live on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.
– Story from Sporting KC

Sporting KC to play LA Galaxy today in KCK

Sporting Kansas City will play cross conference foes LA Galaxy at 5 p.m. on Saturday at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.

The match will be nationally televised on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes and also available for listeners on Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Gran D 1340 AM. A limited number of tickets may still be available via Ticketmaster.com, including standing room only tickets.

Sporting KC enters Saturday’s match in first place in the Eastern Confernce (9-5-5, 32 pts.) after a thrilling 2-1 road victory at Columbus on Wednesday, which featured late game heroics from midfielder Benny Feilhaber.

Sporting KC forward C.J. Sapong notched his first goal of the 2014 season to open the scoring and Feilhaber struck a one-time shot just under the cross bar in the game’s final minute to secure the team’s fourth straight away victory.

Sporting KC played 34 minutes of the match down a man after Aurelien Collin was shown a straight red card for a challenge on Adam Bedell. Friday, Major League Soccer announced that Collin’s one-game suspension has been rescinded by the Independent Review Panel and the two-time All-Star centerback will now be available for selection by manager Peter Vermes on Saturday.

The LA Galaxy are also coming off a mid-week victory after defeating the New England Revolution 5-1 at StubHub Center. The game finished 10v10 after New England’s A.J. Soares was ejected in the 29th minute and Galaxy defender Dan Gargan was shown a straight red card seven minutes later, forcing the 10th-year professional to miss Saturday’s match while serving his suspension.

The Galaxy, MLS champions in 2011 and 2012, sit in third place in the Western Conference with a 7-3-6 record and 27 points. Bruce Arena’s side is led by Designated Players Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, who has a team-high nine goals and six assists as the team’s captain in 2014.

Sporting KC holds a five-game home unbeaten streak against the Galaxy heading into this weekend’s contest, including a 1-0 victory the last time LA was in Kansas City in 2012.

The first 5,000 fans to enter the stadium will receive a cooler bag courtesy of Providence Medical Center.

– Story from Sporting KC

Besler, Zusi named to Fan XI for MLS All-Star game

Matt Besler

Graham Zusi

Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler and midfielder Graham Zusi are members of the Fan XI for the 2014 MLS All-Star Game, Major League Soccer announced.

The U.S. Men’s National Team duo were among the top players at their positions during fan voting and each receive MLS All-Star recognition for the third time in their professional careers.

Besler (21 career caps) and Zusi (27 career caps) have each earned nine international appearances for the U.S. Men’s National Team this year, more than any other players in 2014.

The Sporting Kansas City teammates both played in all four matches for the United States at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil as the U.S. finished runners-up in Group G behind eventual champions Germany and advanced to the Round of 16.

An Overland Park native, Besler became the first player from the state of Kansas to play in a FIFA World Cup. The 2012 MLS Defender of the Year made his debut for the United States in January 2013 and helped lead the United States to the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup title.

Besler twice collected MLS Best XI (2012, 2013) and MLS All-Star (2011, 2013) honors prior to being named captain of the reigning MLS Cup champions for the 2014 season. The 27-year-old has made 147 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.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by the fans,” Besler said. “As always, I’m looking forward to representing my Sporting Kansas City teammates and showcasing MLS. I’m excited to travel to Portland and play against Bayern Munich.”

Zusi earns All-Star accolades for a third straight year on the heels of a strong performance at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He appeared in all four games for head coach Jurgen Klinsmann and contributed assists in back-to-back group stage games against Ghana and Portugal.

Taken in the second round of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft as a two-time national champion at the University of Maryland, Zusi has recorded 18 goals and 40 assists in 144 MLS matches (including postseason) over six professional seasons with Sporting KC.

He 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 in the regular season.

“It is always nice to be recognized by the fans,” Zusi said. “With the tremendous support we get in Kansas City, the great crowds we see on the road in MLS and the number of Americans who cheered from home or travelled to Brazil for the World Cup, this is truly a great time for soccer in this country. We look forward to playing in the All-Star Game and I am honored to be included with the players who were selected.”

The 2014 MLS All-Star Game will be held at 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 6 at Providence Park in Portland, Ore. The MLS All-Stars, led by Portland Timbers head coach Caleb Porter, will take on 23-time German Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich in a nationally televised match-up live on ESPN2 and UniMas in the United States.

The 20 players chosen to participate in the 2014 MLS All-Star Game, along with MLS Commissioner Don Garber’s two All-Star selections, will be announced when the game day roster is revealed live on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes at halftime of Saturday’s match between Sporting Kansas City and the LA Galaxy at Sporting Park. Kick off is at 5 p.m. and a limited number of tickets are available to purchase via Ticketmaster.com.

A total of 32 All-Stars (four goalkeepers, eight defenders, 13 midfielders and seven forwards) will be named per the collective bargaining agreement. MLS player voting will determine the inactive roster announced on Aug. 6.

As part of the 2014 MLS All-Star festivities at Providence Park, the Chipotle MLS Homegrown Game will debut on Aug. 4. Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jon Kempin and defender Erik Palmer-Brown were chosen to the 20-player roster last week to join the League’s top Homegrown players in a showcase against the Portland Timbers U-23s.

– Story from Sporting KC