Archive for Sporting KC

Sporting KC travels to Minneapolis Sunday to face Minnesota United

With a 10-day break in the rearview mirror, Western Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City (7-2-2, 23 points) return to action Sunday against Minnesota United FC (4-7-0, 12 points) at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. with three hours of live coverage beginning at 12:30 p.m. on FOX Sports Kansas City Plus and FOX Sports Midwest Plus. The match will also stream live on FOX Sports GO for viewers in the FOX Sports Midwest television footprint and on ESPN+ for viewers elsewhere across the U.S. Local radio broadcasts will air on Sports Radio 810 WHB (English) and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM (Spanish), while the Sporting KC Uphoria mobile app will provide live updates.

Entering the weekend with a three-point lead at the top of the West, Sporting KC is coming off a statement victory against Supporters’ Shield leaders Atlanta United FC on May 9.

Manager Peter Vermes’ men dealt Atlanta their first-ever regular season defeat at Mercedes-Benz Stadium after Daniel Salloi and Gerso Fernandes struck second-half goals to pace a momentous 2-0 triumph. The result gave Sporting KC its third away win of the season, already eclipsing last year’s total of two, and ultimately led to MLS Team of the Week honors for goalkeeper Tim Melia, defender Ike Opara and holding midfielder Ilie, who assisted both goals.

Melia, Opara and Ilie played a leading role last week in helping Sporting KC to their league-leading fifth shutout of the season. After leaking nine goals across its first four matches of 2018, the club has reclaimed its vintage defensive form with just three goals allowed in its last seven games.

On the offensive end, 21-year-old Salloi has scored in two straight games and leads MLS with a combined five goals (three) and assists (two) of the game-winning variety. On Salloi’s opposite flank, Johnny Russell has enjoyed a strong start to his first MLS campaign with a team-best five goals plus two assists.

Minnesota United FC endured a patchy inaugural season in MLS last year, finishing 10 points below the playoff line while conceding a league-high 70 goals. The Loons began 2018 in encouraging manner, winning two of their first three fixtures, but head coach Adrian Heath’s side has lost six of eight since then to stunt momentum of a breakout sophomore campaign. To complicate matters, two of Heath’s most valuable attacking pieces – playmaking midfielder Kevin Molino and winger Ethan Finlay – will both miss the rest of 2018 with knee injuries.

The Loons will hope to bounce back from last Saturday’s 3-1 home defeat to the San Jose Earthquakes in which forward Christian Ramirez conjured a brilliant first-half strike. Ramirez had an excellent debut MLS season in 2017 with 14 goals, including one against Sporting KC just over a year ago.

Minnesota’s attack was further bolstered in late March when Colombian forward Darwin Quintero became the team’s first-ever designated player, having scored more than 100 professional goals across Europe, South America and Mexico in the previous dozen years. The 30-year-old forward, who arrives from Concacaf powerhouse Club America, has two goals and one assist in six MLS appearances this year.

For all of the struggles that Minnesota experienced in 2017, the club fared well against Sporting KC on home turf. Vermes’ team went 0-1-1 on their travels to TCF Bank Stadium last season, falling 2-0 in May before drawing 1-1 in October.

Ramirez and Abu Danladi paced a routine victory with first-half goals in the first meeting, while the latter contest saw defender Brent Kallman score late to deny Sporting KC a win after Diego Rubio had given the visitors a 1-0 lead on the stroke of intermission.

Sporting KC dominated the Loons on each of their visits to Children’s Mercy Park last year, prevailing 3-0 on June 3 and cruising 4-0 in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on June 14.
– Story from Sporting KC

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U.S. Women’s National Team to play July 26 in KCK in Tournament of Nations; Children’s Mercy Park also selected as host of 2019 Gold Cup

Jill Ellis, U.S. Women’s National Team head coach, was on hand at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas, today to announce that the WNT will play July 26 here in the Tournament of Nations. (Photo by William Crum)

by William Crum

Sporting Kansas City said there would be an important announcement on Wednesday, but really there were two.

First, Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas, will be the host of the U.S. Women’s National Team in the Tournament of Nations doubleheader July 26.

Second, Children’s Mercy Park will be the host of the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup doubleheader next summer, officials announced at a news conference today in Kansas City, Kansas.

U.S. Women’s National Team here July 26

The U.S. Women’s National Team will play one match of a doubleheader at Children’s Mercy Park on July 26.

The tournament will be in a round-robin format at three venues, officials said. Children’s Mercy Park will be the host for the first match, Brazil against Australia, at 3:15 p.m. July 26 in Kansas City, Kansas.

The next match here at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas, will be at 6 p.m. July 26, USA vs. Japan.

Other games in the Tournament of Nations will be played on July 29 in East Hartford, Connecticut, and Aug. 2 in Bridgeview, Illinois.

“We are thrilled to be hosting four of the best women’s teams in the world at Children’s Mercy Park,” Sporting KC President and CEO Jake Reid said. “The U.S. Women’s National Team has played a tremendous role in growing and advancing the sport in this country, and Kansas City is proud to welcome them again in a premier international tournament alongside Australia, Brazil and Japan.”

The U.S. Women’s National Team is ranked first in the FIFA rankings. The three other teams playing in the Tournament of Nations are Australia, ranked No. 6; Brazil, ranked No. 8; and Japan, ranked No. 11.

Japan and the U.S. Women’s National Team previously met in the 2011 and 2015 FIFA World Cup Finals, as well as the gold medal match at the 2012 Olympics. Japan won a penalty shootout to win its first World Cup title in 2011, and the U.S. came back to win the gold medal at the Olympics in 2012. The U.S. also took the 2015 World Cup title.

The U.S. Women’s National Team, under the direction of head coach Jill Ellis, has a 5-0-1 record this year. Haley Hanson, an Overland Park, Kansas, native, made her senior international debut as a midfielder in the Women’s National Team’s match on April 8.

The U.S. Women’s National Team last played at Children’s Mercy Park in July of 2016, when they won a contest with Costa Rica 4-0. Overall, the WNT has won four and drawn three in Kansas City over the years. The WNT played at Arrowhead Stadium from 1999 to 2004, and then played at Children’s Mercy Park since 2011.

The WNT match here will be broadcast by FS1.

U.S. Soccer will put the tickets for the doubleheader on sale to the public at 10 a.m. Friday, June 1, through ussoccer.com, or through 1-800-745-3000. Sporting KC season ticket holders will have an exclusive pre-sale, on a date to be announced. U.S. Soccer is also offering Tournament of Nations VIP packages at its website.

U.S. Soccer will offer a four-day Girls Fantasy Camp around the matches in Kansas City, running from July 24 to 27. The camp is open to girls born in 2004, 2005 and 2006. Space is limited. For more information and to register, visit ussoccer.com/fantasycamp.

KCK selected for 2019 Gold Cup match

Jake Reid, Sporting KC president and CEO, announced that Children’s Mercy Park has been selected as host of the 2019 Gold Cup. (Photo by William Crum)

Children’s Mercy Park was selected along with 14 other venues in 13 U.S. cities for the expanded 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup, officials said today. Sixteen nations, from North America, Central America and the Caribbean region, will compete June 14 to July 7, 2019, in the tournament.

The tournament will help determine Concacaf’s representative at the 2021 FIFA Confederations Cup.

“The Concacaf Gold Cup is the region’s biggest soccer event, and we are excited to host matches for the 2019 tournament next summer,” Sporting KC President and CEO Jake Reid said. “Children’s Mercy Park has a proud history of welcoming festive crowds for high-profile matches at the club and international level, and we look forward to being a part of the Gold Cup for the third time since 2011.”

For the first time, some Gold Cup matches will be held in Central America and the Caribbean, according to officials.

Ticket sale dates will be announced in the future. A pre-sale offer is at GoldCup.org.

Among the other high-profile competitions held at Children’s Mercy Park have been the 2013 MLS Cup, 2013 MLS All-Star Game, 2014 Concacaf Women’s Championship, 2015 Men’s College Cup, Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying in 2012 and 2015, and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup finals in 2012 and 2017.

From the 13 host markets for the 2019 Gold Cup, Kansas City was one of eight host markets selected in the United Bid as a potential host city for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, according to today’s announcement.

The U.S. Men’s National Team, with Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago have automatically qualified for the 2019 Gold Cup, as participants in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Hexagonal. Ten other nations in the tournament will be determined through qualification matches from September 2018 through March 2019.

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Sporting KC beats Atlanta 2-0 to take first

Daniel Salloi and Gerso Fernandes struck in the second half as Sporting Kansas City (7-2-2, 23 points) earned a 2-0 victory over Atlanta United FC (7-2-1, 22 points) on Wednesday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium to leapfrog their opponents for first place in the MLS Supporters’ Shield standings.

Salloi opened the scoring with a curling effort in the 67th minute, tallying his second goal in as many games, before Fernandes came off the bench to seal the result against an Atlanta side that was reduced to 10 men following a first-half red card to goalkeeper Brad Guzan.

Sporting KC goalkeeper Tim Melia delivered a sterling performance between the posts, finishing with eight saves as his team became the first in MLS history to shut out Atlanta United FC in a regular season match at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The Five Stripes had scored at least twice in each of their first 13 home matches at the venue, but a resolute defensive display gave Sporting KC its fifth clean sheet in seven games and its third road triumph of the season.

Manager Peter Vermes, who on Monday signed a contract extension with Sporting KC through 2023, made one change to his starting lineup from Saturday’s 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids.

Midfielder Yohan Croizet entered the fray in place of left back Cristian Lobato, with the versatile Jimmy Medranda dropping into defense for his seventh straight start.

Two players reached notable milestones, as midfielder Ilie – who assisted both goals Wednesday night – played his 50th match for the club in all competitions and Melia logged his 100th career MLS appearance (including playoffs).

The visitors weathered a turbulent storm in the early stages as Atlanta nearly took the lead on multiple occasions.

Josef Martinez entered the night as the league’s top scorer with seven goals, and the forward thought he had bagged his eighth after slotting low into the corner past Melia in the sixth minute. Referee Mark Geiger initially awarded the goal, but a review of the play prompted by Video Assistant Referee Edvin Jurisevic showed Martinez to be in an offside position when he received Ezequiel Barco’s deflected through ball.

Melia was then forced to make three saves in as many minutes, first sprawling low to smother a Leandro Gonzalez Pirez header off Miguel Almiron’s corner kick.

Former Sporting KC defender Sal Zizzo created Atlanta’s next chance with a pinpoint cross to the near post, but Melia corralled Martinez’s close-range flick-on effort. The keeper’s best stop during the frantic interval came in the 15th minute when he fisted Hector Villalba’s volley over the bar.

Sporting KC gradually gained a foothold before the raucous crowd of 44,696 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium – the fourth-largest crowd for a regular season match in Kansas City history.

A defensive header from Gonzalez Pirez steered Graham Zusi’s free kick marginally wide of goal, then Ilie was afforded space to send a long-range blast a yard over the crossbar. Sporting KC threatened again in the 33rd minute as Roger Espinoza’s cross from the right wing was nodded off target by Khiry Shelton.

The game’s complexion changed drastically in the 34th minute when Atlanta’s keeper was sent off.

Yohan Croizet slipped a through ball in behind the Five Stripes backline to Shelton, who was chopped to the turf by Guzan just outside the penalty area. Geiger showed no hesitation in brandishing a red card for the denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity, giving Sporting KC a numerical advantage for the rest of the night.

Guzan was replaced by rookie and League Pool goalkeeper Paul Christensen, who was rooted to the spot when Zusi smacked the ensuing free kick inches wide of the post.

The second stanza unfolded in equally compelling fashion, bursting to life in the 50th minute when Christensen raced off his line to thwart Johnny Russell after the Scot had run onto a diagonal pass from Medranda. Ten minutes later, Espinoza cut the ball onto his left boot at the top of the box and flashed a shot less than a yard wide of frame.

Sporting KC’s 21-year-old homegrown forward provided the match-winner halfway through the second period. Settling a pass from Ilie, Salloi dribbled centrally from the left edge of the box and curled a strike just inside the far corner for his third goal of the season and the sixth of his MLS career.

The hosts were stretched thin in their search for an equalizer, allowing Sporting KC to break on the counter in the 75th minute. Salloi skipped down the left flank and whipped a low cross into the penalty area for Espinoza, who hammered high from seven yards.

Melia was heroic in the dying embers of the match, producing near-identical saves to deny free kick specialist Kevin Kratz in the 83rd and 86th minutes. Kratz bent a pair of free kick attempts over the Sporting KC wall, but Melia dove right on both occasions to parry the ball away and keep Atlanta off the scoresheet.

Sporting KC effectively sealed all three points with three minutes left. Ilie floated a long ball over the top to Fernandes, who had entered the fray just five minutes earlier as a substitute. The winger dashed into the box, rounded Christensen and finished for his first goal of the campaign.

Atlanta was already condemned to defeat deep in second-half stoppage time, but it didn’t prevent Melia from making a save on one of the final plays of the game. Almiron’s 20-yard attempt was destined for the upper corner, but the in-form gloveman leapt at full extension to touch the ball onto the crossbar and compound the home side’s frustration.

With a third of the MLS regular season in the books, Sporting KC won’t return to action until Sunday, May 20, when the side visits Minnesota United FC at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. on FOX Sports Kansas City Plus and FOX Sports Midwest Plus.
– Story from Sporting KC

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