Sporting KC takes on Manchester City Wednesday

The defending MLS Cup champions Sporting Kansas City will play host to the defending English Premier League champions Manchester City at 8 p.m. Wednesday night at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.

The match will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes with radio coverage in Kansas City on Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Gran D 1340. A limited number of tickets may still remain for Wednesday’s match and may be available at Ticketmaster.com.

The international friendly will consist of two 45-minute halves. If the match is tied at the conclusion of regulation, the two teams will go directly to a penalty kick shootout. The winner of Wednesday’s friendly will take home the Champions Shield.

Sporting KC hoisted the MLS Cup on Dec. 7 defeating Real Salt Lake at Sporting Park. At the end of regulation and two 15-minute overtime periods, the match was tied 1-1 before eventually being decided by the longest penalty kick shootout in MLS history. Sporting KC defender Aurelien Collin was named MLS Cup MVP for his equalizer in regulation and game-winning penalty kick.

Sporting KC currently sits atop the Eastern Conference with 32 points and a 10-5-5 record that includes five victories in the club’s last six MLS matches. Midfielders Benny Feilhaber and Lawrence Olum each netted a goal in Sporting KC’s 2-1 victory last Saturday over the LA Galaxy. Feilhaber’s goal was his second in as many matches earning him MLS Player of the Week honors for Week 19.

Manchester City enters the midweek match as part of a preseason tour in the United States to prepare for the 2014-15 English Premier League season.

Sporting Kansas City will be the first of Manchester City’s four scheduled matches in the United States. The marquee match between reigning champions is part of Summer in the Soccer Capital, presented by the Sprint Framily Plan. Following the match against Sporting KC, Manchester City will participate in the inaugural International Champions Cup against Liverpool FC, Olympiacos and AC Milan.

Manchester City finished the 2013-14 season in first place, winning their final match of the season against West Ham United to clinch the Premier League title.

Under first year manager Manuel Pellegrini, Manchester City finished with a 27-5-6 record and scored a club record 102 goals. The league title was Manchester City’s second in the previous three seasons. Manchester City also hoisted the Capital One Cup earlier this year and advanced out of the UEFA Champions League group stage.

– Story from Sporting KC

Feilhaber voted MLS Player of Week

Benny Feilhaber

Sporting Kansas City midfielder Benny Feilhaber was announced as Major League Soccer’s Player of the Week on Monday, receiving the most votes from the North American Soccer Reporters for week 19 of the 2014 MLS season.

Feilhaber, 29, contributed to both goals in the team’s 2-1 victory at Columbus last Wednesday and scored in his second straight match as the reigning MLS Cup champions defeated the LA Galaxy on Saturday at Sporting Park.

“It is exciting, because the recipients of the award usually means their team won that week,” Feilhaber said. “Obviously it is more important that almost all of our players are back and healthy. We are in good form and it feels great to contribute to the team.”

Feilhaber gave Sporting KC a 1-0 lead at Crew Stadium when his corner kick was headed home by C.J. Sapong in the 42nd minute. The assist was his team-leading fifth of the season and 20th of his MLS career (including postseason). Three of his five assists in 2014 have come from set pieces, second most in MLS behind Brad Davis (4).

In the game’s final minute, Feilhaber’s first-time shot from outside the penalty area beat Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark and struck the underside of the crossbar to move the team back atop the Eastern Conference standings. The goal is Sporting Kansas City’s latest game-winning goal of the season and is one of five nominees up for MLS Goal of the Week.

The road win — the team’s fourth straight, a new single-season club record — marked the second time in Feilhaber’s four-year MLS career in which he recorded a goal and an assist in the same match.

On Saturday, Feilhaber followed the mid-week performance with his third goal of the season, second most among Sporting KC players, with a free kick from 20 yards out. The right-footed strike curled beyond the reach of LA Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo and 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 and leaving him one behind Camilo for most by an MLS player since the start of 2012.

In 2014, Feilhaber has started the most MLS matches (19) of any Sporting KC player and has suffered the second most fouls in MLS (48). He is among the top five MLS midfielders in the following statistical categories: passes (1050, No. 5), passes in opponents half (654, No. 5), successful passes in opponents half (510, No. 5), passes into final third (196, No. 2), touches (1399, No. 5), duels (232, No. 4), duels won (127, No. 5) and recoveries (153, No. 4).

Today’s honor is Feilhaber’s first career MLS Player of the Week recognition, finishing ahead of Robbie Keane (LA) and Bernardo Anor (CLB), and second by a Sporting KC player this season (Graham Zusi, Week 4). The team has also won each of the last two MLS Player of the Month votes with Dom Dwyer (May) and Eric Kronberg (June) receiving the accolades.
– Story from Sporting KC

Sporting KC re-signs Besler, Zusi to designated player contracts

Sporting Kansas City has signed defender Matt Besler and midfielder Graham Zusi to long-term Designated Player contracts, the team announced.

“Getting these deals completed is extremely beneficial for the organization and the two players,” said Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes. “Graham (Zusi) and Matt (Besler) have both proven over the past almost six seasons that they are core players within this club. They have had a tremendous impact on creating a winning culture and these agreements keep us on the path of attaining our goals and expectations. I want to thank the ownership group for their continued vision and commitment to securing both players for the long term.”

An Overland Park native, Besler became the first player from the state of Kansas to play in a FIFA World Cup when he started all four matches for the United States in Brazil this summer. The 27-year-old centerback debuted for the U.S. in January 2013 and has 21 career international appearances, including all three knockout round games en route to the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup title.

Besler has twice collected MLS Best XI (2012, 2013) honors and is a three-time MLS All-Star (2011, 2013, 2014). He was awarded MLS Defender of the Year in 2012 before being named a finalist again in 2013 and collected Sporting Kansas City’s Defensive Player of the Year each of the past three seasons.

He was named captain of the reigning MLS Cup champions prior to the 2014 season and was recognized as the Kansas City Sports Commission Sportsman of the Year in April. Besler 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.