Sporting KC defender named to U.S. Under-20 National Team roster

Sporting Kansas City defender Erik Palmer-Brown was named to the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team roster on Wednesday for the 2014 Dallas Cup.

The Lee’s Summit, Mo., native is one of 21 players selected by U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach Tab Ramos for the prestigious international tournament and joins his first full camp at the under-20 level.

“It’s a great feeling to go back and play with the national team,” Palmer-Brown said. “I know I am playing up an age group, but I feel like I can continue to contribute at a high level. I’m just going there to learn everything I can from the U-20 coaching staff and continue my development as a player.”   ”

He has proven that he can rise to the challenge for whatever level he is playing at the moment,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said. “Even though he could still be with the U-18’s, it’s great that he has the chance to go with the U-20’s. Those experiences are going to help him further down the road in the long term with us.”

The 2014 Dallas Cup will be played from April 13 to 20 with the United States in Bracket C of the Gordon Jago Super Group alongside the U-19 sides from Argentina’s River Plate, Germany’s Eintracht Frankfurt and Mexico’s Tigres UANL.

Each of the three bracket champions, along with the best second-place finisher, will advance to the semifinals on April 18 to play for a berth in the final on April 20.

U.S. Under-20 National Team Schedule

vs. River Plate (ARG) at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 13, at Cotton Bowl Stadium

vs. Eintracht Frankfurt (GER) at 4 p.m. on Monday, April 14 at Richland College

vs. Tigres UANL (MEX) on Wednesday, April 16 (time/location to be determined)

Palmer-Brown, the youngest active player in Major League Soccer and the youngest player on the U.S. U-20 roster at age 16, signed a professional contract with Sporting KC in August 2013.

As a homegrown player, he remains eligible to play in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy for the Sporting KC Under-18 Academy team and has played in 12 games since the start of the 2013-14 USSDA season in September.

He attended the prestigious U.S. Soccer Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla. last year and featured extensively in international competition for the United States Under-15, Under-17 and Under-18 youth national teams in 2013.

One of five finalists for U.S. Soccer’s 2013 Young Male Athlete of the Year, Palmer-Brown most recently represented the U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team in February’s Copa del Atlantico in Spain.

– Story from Sporting KC 

Youth futsal courts proposed throughout Wyandotte County

Futsal courts at Wyandotte High School were dedicated July 30, 2013, before the MLS All-Star game in Kansas City, Kan. Tonight, the Unified Government heard a proposal from Sporting Kansas City to build eight more futsal courts in Wyandotte County. (File photo by Mary Rupert)

Sporting Kansas City tonight presented a proposal for futsal courts all over Wyandotte County.

Instead of building three youth soccer fields as called for in an earlier agreement with the Unified Government, the MLS soccer team in Kansas City, Kan., has proposed converting eight existing tennis courts into futsal courts.

Futsal is a form of soccer played on a smaller hard-surfaced court, and is very popular as a youth sport in other countries.

When the project is completed, it would bring the number of futsal courts here to 10, including the two courts at Wyandotte High School that went on display during the MLS All-Star week here last summer.

The proposal from Sporting Kansas City was worked out in negotiations between the soccer team and the Unified Government Parks and Recreation Department, according to information presented at the UG Economic Development Standing Committee meeting tonight.

Greg Cotton, chief of staff for Sporting Kansas City, said this futsal project not only fits in with the Healthy Communities goal, it also gives Sporting and its partners in this project the chance to join together in the project.

The partners in the project, besides Sporting KC, include the U.S. Soccer Federation, U.S. Youth Futsal, Heartland Soccer Association, and Padrino Premier Soccer League.

The partners will come together to offer programs with the futsal courts, including league play, district tournaments and a championship tournament to be held here, he said.

There are Saturday instructional youth clinics planned. Also planned is the U.S. Youth Futsal Youth Academy, an invitation-only group for high-performing youth in the community. There also will be free play time on the courts.

“The goal is to encourage a healthy lifestyle for our youth in safe community parks so that the kids can play after school,” said David Ficklin, vice president of development at Sporting KC. Many children won’t need a ride to the fields complex to play soccer.

Some proposed locations are on the bus line, while others are in the middle of neighborhoods.

“The greatest soccer players grew up playing futsal,” Ficklin said. “In Spain and Brazil, futsal is predominant sport kids play when they are growing up.”

Sporting KC introduced futsal courts to Wyandotte County last July just before the MLS All-Star game in Kansas City, Kan. The new futsal courts at Wyandotte County were an MLS community service project.

“We had no idea the neighborhood would love it so much,” Ficklin said. “We would paint the surface, go home, and the kids would hop over the fence and start playing on it.”

The kids in the neighborhood have really taken good care of the courts, he added.

Kelli Mather, chief financial officer for the Kansas City, Kan., Public Schools, said the Wyandotte High futsal courts are used constantly by the physical education class, the soccer team, and the community children. There have been no problems at the courts, she added.

“This has been a really positive thing for our kids,” she said. “Our kids and Wyandotte County deserve this kind of opportunity.”

Alec Lemmon, a coach of a youth soccer team called Toca City, said that the team trains at the Wyandotte High School futsal courts every week, including the winter, and it’s busy every night.

“Soccer is the one thing in this community that is a common activity, it’s a shared thing across the diversity of the community,” he said.

The proposed locations of the eight futsal courts, which are subject to change, are Bethany Park, Clopper Field, Highland Park, Klamm Park, Stony Point Park, Welborn Park, Westheight Park and Wyandotte County Lake Park.

UG officials noted that there had been some difficulty in the past in deciding where to put three soccer fields in Wyandotte County.

While the proposal was for one futsal court in each commission district, Commissioner Jim Walters asked that the exact locations of the futsal courts not be set in stone yet, but continue to be discussed between the UG and Sporting KC. He said that some commissioners believed that most of the fields should be in the more urban portions of the county.

UG Administrator Doug Bach said that six of the eight courts would probably fall within the geographic boundary of being close to or east of I-635 in the urban area.

David Alvey, a Board of Public Utilities member who is also a member of the Standing Committee, pointed out that there are pockets of low-income areas throughout the county, not just east of I-635.

Commissioner Gayle Townsend said some of her constituents were concerned about the tennis courts at Klamm Park.

However, Bob Roddy, director of public works, said that in Klamm Park, there are six tennis courts, and one is proposed to be converted to futsal, leaving five for tennis.

He said the UG staff examined the parks to find where there were underutilized tennis courts.

Townsend suggested having some meetings for the public to attend, hear the proposal and express their opinions.

Cotton said they would be willing to work with each commissioner to select the best park location in each district. However, because of the cost of $100,000 or more to build a new futsal court, they are looking at converting existing paved areas such as tennis courts.

After it comes back to the Standing Committee with more details set, the futsal proposal will go to a Unified Government Commission meeting at a later date for final approval.

Rematch between Sporting KC, Real Salt Lake ends in draw

Sporting Kansas City was held to a scoreless draw on Saturday in an MLS Cup rematch with Real Salt Lake at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.

Jeff Attinella, making his fifth MLS start in place of the injured Nick Rimando, made a career-high eight saves as Sporting Kansas City outshot Real Salt Lake 20-5 with a 9-1 advantage in shots on goal.

Chance Myers returned to the lineup for Sporting Kansas City, making his 2014 debut following his recovery from a groin strain, and the Sporting KC defense lowered their season goals against average to 0.80 — tied for best in Major League Soccer with Real Salt Lake.

Also making his debut was Spanish midfielder Antonio Dovale, a second-half substitute, and Sporting KC has now used 22 different players through five weeks of the regular season.

Real Salt Lake attempted the first (2nd minute) and last (95th minute) shots of Saturday’s match, but was limited to only three other opportunities throughout the run of play.

Second-year striker Olmes Garcia sent his effort high of the crossbar from 20 yards out in the game’s opening moments while central defender Chris Schuler led the visitors with two shots on Saturday. His left-footed attempt in the 24th minute was smothered by Eric Kronberg, as was his header on the game’s final play.

The lone shot on goal of the game for Real Salt Lake came from the foot of captain Kyle Beckerman on a 45-yard strike that was on target and into the arms of Kronberg, who recorded his second clean sheet of the season and third of his MLS career.

The majority of Saturday’s action came in front of Attinella, beginning in the eighth minute with his save on Graham Zusi and then three minutes later when he did well to deny Dom Dwyer on a breakaway. Attinella added a superb stop to his highlight reel in the 27th minute, pushing Seth Sinovic’s dipping shot from outside the penalty area over the bar.

Sporting KC midfielder Benny Feilhaber forced another reaction save seven minutes later as Attinella dove to his right to keep out the well-struck volley. His final save of the first half came in the 42nd minute, darting 15 yards off his line to make a sliding stop on Paulo Nagamura near the right edge of the penalty area.

The second half started with signs of the same frustration for Sporting KC when Aurelien Collin’s header was straight at Attinella and easily held. Zusi then came close to putting Sporting KC ahead in the 51st minute, however his left-footed strike carried inches beyond the far post.

Sporting Kansas City finally found a way past Attinella in the 63rd minute only to see Dwyer’s tightly-angled attempt hit the post and the follow-up from Sal Zizzo blocked in front of the goalline by Nat Borchers.

The reigning MLS Cup champions were reduced to 10 men in the 83rd minute as referee Armando Villarreal sent off Oriol Rosell for his late challenge on Devon Sandoval. Sporting KC had one last chance to claim the full three points in stoppage time as Zusi unleashed a skipping shot from 25 yards out that earned Attinella his eighth save of the match, third most by a goalkeeper in MLS this season.

With the draw, Sporting Kansas City moves within one point of first place in the Eastern Conference while Real Salt Lake keeps its unbeaten record (2-0-3) under new head coach Jeff Cassar intact.

After five straight matches against Western Conference opponents to open the 2014 season, Sporting Kansas City will enjoy a bye in MLS Week 6 before playing host to the Montreal Impact on Saturday, April 19, at Sporting Park.