Archive for Sporting KC

MLS expansion draft expected to make changes throughout soccer

The MLS Expansion Draft is coming up next month, and is expected to be a significant event with the addition of the Los Angeles Football Club.

According to information from Sporting Kansas City, the MLS Expansion Draft is set for 1 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 12.

It will be the first significant league-wide event for the new Los Angeles team to add players around Mexican star forward Carlos Vela.

Current MLS clubs may protect 11 players prior to the Expansion Draft, according to officials. Los Angeles may select five players from the eligible player pool. Only a single player can be drafted from any one club. The Generation Adidas and Homegrown Players are exempt from selection.

After all 22 current MLS clubs submit a protected player list, the complete list of players eligible for selection in the expansion draft will be released on Dec. 10.

Besides the expansion draft, there are many other opportunities for trading during the off season. One is the re-entry draft, starting Dec. 15.


Melia, Opara named finalists for MLS End of Year Awards

Tim Melia

Ike Opara

Two Sporting Kansas City players were named finalists for 2017 MLS awards on Tuesday.

Tim Melia is a finalist for Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year, while center back Ike Opara is a finalist for Defender of the Year.

Major League Soccer has announced the three finalists for each of the 2017 End of Year Awards, honoring the league’s top performers during the 2017 regular season. The finalists earned the most votes in polling of three voting groups: current MLS players, MLS club staff and media members who consistently covered the league in 2017.

The MLS Defender of the Year will be announced on Thursday, Nov. 9, while the Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year will be named on Thursday, Nov. 16.

Melia, 31, enjoyed his strongest season as a professional in 2017, leading MLS with a 0.78 goals against average and 78.4 save percentage among goalkeepers with at least 15 appearances.

The eight-year MLS veteran ranked second with 10 shutouts while also saving three penalty kicks, one shy of the single-season league record. Among goalkeepers with at least 30 games played in a single season, Melia’s 0.78 goals against average is the lowest in league history.

In his third year with Sporting KC, Melia boasted a 16-7-12 record as a starter in all competitions with a 0.76 goals against average. He finished the year with 13 clean sheets, including three in Sporting KC’s run to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title.
Melia also made two saves in a penalty shootout victory over the San Jose Earthquakes in the Open Cup semifinals on Aug. 9.

Melia is in contention to become the third Kansas City player to be named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, following Tony Meola in 2000 and Jimmy Nielsen in 2012.

Like Melia, Opara pieced together a career year throughout 2017 while anchoring a stingy Sporting KC defense. He set or equaled regular-season career-highs in starts (30), minutes (2,700) and goals (three) while posting a 12-6-12 record as a starter and contributing to 11 shutouts.

As a team, Sporting KC finished the 2017 regular season with 29 goals conceded and a 0.85 goals against average, the fifth-lowest mark in league history.

In all competitions, Opara tallied five goals – including two en route to Sporting KC’s Open Cup championship – and helped the club keep 14 clean sheets. Sporting KC allowed just 0.71 goals per game in the 36 matches Opara played.

An eight-year MLS veteran and a member of Sporting KC since 2013, Opara is in contention to become the fourth Kansas City player to receive MLS Defender of the Year honors, following Peter Vermes (2000), Jimmy Conrad (2005) and Matt Besler (2012).

Melia and Opara are also nominees for MLS Save of the Year and Goal of the Year.

Melia’s fingertip stop to deny Darlington Nagbe in a 1-0 win over the Portland Timbers on April 15 is one of 16 Save of the Year finalists, while Opara’s stunning bicycle kick in a 2-1 win over the LA Galaxy on June 24 is one of 16 Goal of the Year finalists. Voting for Save of the Year and Goal of the Year is open at until Nov. 14.

– Story from Sporting KC


Sporting KC drops Knockout Round match to Houston 1-0 in extra time

Sporting Kansas City fell victim to postseason heartbreak on Thursday night at BBVA Compass Stadium, suffering a 1-0 extra-time defeat to the Houston Dynamo in the Western Conference Knockout Round of the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs.

Houston forward Alberth Elis struck the decisive goal in the 94th minute as Sporting KC’s season ended away from home in the single-elimination Knockout Round for the fourth consecutive year.

Thursday’s contest marked Sporting KC’s seventh straight playoff appearance as well as the seventh postseason meeting all-time between the Western Conference rivals.

And while manager Peter Vermes’ men ousted Houston four months ago at BBVA Compass Stadium en route to lifting the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title, Sporting KC was unable to replicate such success in the third battle between the clubs in 16 days.

Vermes made two changes to the Sporting KC lineup from Sunday’s regular-season finale at Real Salt Lake, with Benny Feilhaber joining Ilie and Roger Espinoza in midfield and Gerso thrust into attack alongside playoff debutants Latif Blessing and Diego Rubio.

Jimmy Medranda replaced the injured Seth Sinovic at left back, forming part of a backline that included Matt Besler, Graham Zusi and Ike Opara, who earned his 100th appearance for the club in all competitions.

Goalkeeper Tim Melia missed his fourth straight game with a hamstring ailment, paving the way for Andrew Dykstra’s maiden postseason start.

A cagey first half produced a scarcity of scoring chances on both ends. The visitors threatened twice in quick succession shortly before the 20-minute mark, as Opara’s header off a looping Besler throw-in and long-range bullet from Gerso both skipped narrowly wide of frame.

Houston’s best foray saw Zusi repel Albert Elis’ teasing cross to the top of the penalty area, where Tomas Martinez’s rebound effort was blocked by Besler.

Gerso almost fired Sporting KC ahead in the 39th minute, racing onto a delightful diagonal pass from Espinoza and pulling the trigger from the left side of the box, prompting Houston goalkeeper Tyler Deric to produce a save as Philippe Senderos headed safely behind for a corner kick.

The hosts spurned an opportunity on the hour mark when Alex’s delivery from the left wing found an unmarked Erick “Cubo” Torres near the penalty spot, but the Torres’s header was straight at Dykstra.

Opara thought he had nodded Sporting KC in front shortly thereafter, but the center back was offside by the slimmest of margins prior to cushioning Zusi’s free kick low into the corner past Deric.

Drama amplified as regulation ended scoreless, though it didn’t take long for the Dynamo to break through in the extra session.

Three minutes after spurning a clear chance off an Alex through ball, Elis found the back of the net to ignite celebrations inside the stadium.

Substitute Vicente Sanchez did well down the right endline and cut the ball back for the 21-year-old Honduran, who tucked home for his 11th goal of the year in all competitions.

Sporting KC committed numbers forward in search of an equalizer, and Salloi was first to test Deric in the 97th minute only to see his right-footed attempt saved.

Ten minutes later, Zusi’s 25-yard drive was pushed aside by Deric before Cristian Lobato’s curler lacked the placement and pace to beat the Dynamo gloveman.

Referee Mark Geiger awarded Houston a penalty in the 123rd minute when Dykstra clipped Sanchez on the breakaway, but the Sporting KC goalkeeper atoned by saving Sanchez’s ensuing spot kick to keep the deficit at 1-0.

– Story from Sporting KC