It's a tradition that's been going on since the 1980s and it's one that will continue Wednesday afternoon when President Barack Obama honors the MLS Cup champions Sporting KC in a ceremony at the White House.
Sporting KC is the first Kansas City team to be honored at the White House since President Ronald Reagan (pictured, right) honored the Kansas City Royals in 1986 following their 1985 World Series championship. And although we'll be more than 1,000 miles away from our beloved SKC Nation, that won't stop us from bringing you as close as possible to all of the action.
Be sure to follow Sporting Kansas City on all of our social accounts as we'll be posting updates of our trip throughout the day. There are also a few player social media takeovers that you'll want to keep an eye on. Sporting KC forward C.J. Sapong will be giving you the lowdown on the trip to D.C. on Sporting KC's official Instagram account. Sporting KC captain Matt Besler will be doing the same on Major League Soccer's official Instagram account and striker Dom Dwyer will be giving you a behind-the-scenes look on Major League Soccer's Snapchat account (mls).
Besler and Dwyer will continue their takeovers through Friday, as Sporting KC remains in the nation's capital to take on D.C. United Friday night at RFK Stadium (7pm CT, NBC Sports Network).
Wednesday's visit with President Obama will be followed by a soccer clinic on the south lawn featuring Sporting KC players and 40 children from the DC Scores organization. The children will learn various soccer skills, as members of the championship team emphasize the importance for children to eat well and stay active as part of living a healthy lifestyle.
I don't care about your politics...when you make one of these it simply means you are the Champions!!! pic.twitter.com/3NQnF926kP
— Michael Flaherty (@KitManSKC) September 29, 2014
Last Friday, The Victory Project and TeamSmile partnered to provide 300 local elementary school children with free dental screenings and care at Sporting Park.
The TeamSmile program was created in Kansas City to provide underserved children with preventative care and education on the significance of good dental hygiene. The organization has partnered with nearly 25 professional sports teams around the country to host TeamSmile programs. Sporting KC is the first MLS team to join the initiative. Each full-day program brings together 100 volunteers including dentists, hygienists, dental assistants and more.
“If you start them early with a fun and good experience, it pays off for a lifetime,” said volunteer dentist Dr. Nevin Waters.
Check out this video below to learn more about the program:
Sporting Kansas City had a bye last weekend, but will return to MLS play Friday night when they host the New England Revolution in an important Eastern Conference matchup. Sporting KC is currently in second place in the Eastern Conference, three points behind conference leaders D.C. United and three points ahead of third place New England. Friday's match will kick off at 7 p.m. CT and can be seen nationally on NBCSN with local radio coverage on Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Gran D 1340. Limited tickets are available and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com or by calling 888-4KC-GOAL.
It's also a busy week for MLS teams as four teams have/had CONCACAF Champions League matches - including Sporting KC Tuesday night - and there are 10 MLS regular season games on the docket over the course of four nights.
Here are a few nationally-televised games that we'll be keeping an eye on this week.
1. D.C. United vs. Philadelphia Union | Saturday, Sept. 27, 2pm CT | NBCSN
This a big one. Games in hand are a thing of the past, as the top six teams in the Eastern Conference enter the weekend with 29 games played. If Sporting KC wins Friday night and D.C. loses Saturday night, the two teams will be level on points and the first tiebreaker (wins) with four games to play including an Oct. 3 showdown at RFK Stadium. Philadelphia is currently two points back of Columbus for the fifth, and final, Eastern Conference playoff spot. Jim Curtin's team can ill-afford to fall further behind in the standings, especially with Toronto FC only a point behind them and with one less game played.
2. Houston Dynamo vs. Chicago Fire | Sunday, Sept. 28, 2pm CT | UniMas
Both teams are mathematically still in the standings, but their playoff hopes are getting smaller and smaller. Houston Dynamo are seven points back of the final playoff spot in the East, while the Fire are nine points back. The Dynamo's final six games are against conference foes, so if they were going to make one of their patented late-season runs, Sunday is the time to start. Four of Chicago's final six games are on the road, so Frank Yallop's side will have their work cut out of them if they want to secure a coveted playoff spot.
3. LA Galaxy vs. New York Red Bulls | Sunday, Sept. 28, 7:30pm CT | ESPN2
Every LA Galaxy is must-see TV, as Landon Donovan closes out his career as the most accomplished player in MLS history. But Sunday's match has more than sentiment, as it also features two of the most explosive attacks in the League with the Galaxy's Donovan, Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes going up against the New York Red Bulls triumvirate of Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill and Bradley Wright-Phillips.
The Galaxy are currently tied with the Seattle Sounders atop the Supporters' Shield standings with 54 points through 28 games. New York is unbeaten in four straight league matches are sits in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of fifth place Columbus Crew.
On Tuesday, defender Matt Besler was named the best soccer player of all-time from the state of Kansas by TopDrawerSoccer.com and it's that type of national notoriety that earned the Sporting Kansas City captain a spot on the "20 in their twenties" list in this month's edition of Ingram's magazine. The business publication annually features the next generation of prominent personalities in the Kansas City area and selected Besler as one of two professional athletes for this year's recognition along with Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Chase Daniel.
"In some ways, 27-year-old Matt Besler is the personification of soccer's growth in Kansas City over the past decade. He graduated from Blue Valley West High School in 2005, where his senior season ended with a Class 5A state championship. That was a year before the current owners of Sporting Kansas City bought the pro soccer team from founder Lamar Hunt. Before those two dots could be connected, Besler went on to become an All-American defender at Notre Dame, as well as Academic All-American -- the first player in Notre Dame's history to earn both accolades. The hometown boy came full circle when Sporting, then known as the Wizards, drafted Besler with the eighth pick in 2008. Since then, he's become a household name in Kansas City soccer circles, winning the team's Defender of the Year honors three times and playing on the U.S. team in the FIFA World Cup earlier this year."
In 2012, Sporting Kansas City's Chief Revenue Officer Jake Reid was amongst those honored in the "20 in their twenties" series. Readers can recommend candidates for next year's class (those younger than 30 as of Sept. 1, 2015 are eligible) by submitting a nomination to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cast your vote below for Sporting Kansas City's Man of the Match from Tuesday night's 3-0 win over Real Esteli in the CONCACAF Champions League. Voting is open through Thursday.
The #RoadToKC continued over the weekend as three cities played host to the qualifying round of USSSA’s Juggle, Dribble, Shoot competition. Players from all over the country made the trip to Memphis, Tenn., Belton, Mo., and Richmond, Miss. to show off their skills in the organization’s first competition of its kind.
The United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) and the Sporting Club Network have joined together to host the finals of the new JDS competition in Kansas City. After challenging their skills in a wide range of activities -- including maximum-count juggling, timed dribbling through cones and precision shooting -- the top five finalists from each gender's age group will advance to the national finals to be held at Swope Soccer Village on Saturday, Oct. 25. Finalists will then be invited to attend Sporting KC’s match on Sunday, Oct. 26 where they’ll be recognized on field at Sporting Park for their accomplishments.
Sporting KC and Frito Lay are kicking off a month-long contest, sponsored by Frito Lay. Sporting KC fans will have the opportunity to share their funniest photos including their favorite bag of Frito Lay chips and Sporting KC apparel. Enter to win online by posting your funniest photos on Twitter or Instagram including the hashtag #SKCFritoFan. Contestants must follow the official Sporting KC Twitter account and/or the official Sporting KC Instagram account.
The contest will continue through Monday, Oct. 20th. Four (4) winners will be randomly selected at the end of each of week of the contest. Two winners will receive a pair of tickets to Pitch Black on Oct. 11th and one autographed soccer ball. Two winners will receive a pair of tickets to a Sporting KC home game and one autographed soccer ball.
For official rules, click here.
The U.S. Women's National Team will bring an 87-game home unbeaten streak to Sporting Park on Oct. 15 in the 2014 CONCACAF Women's Championship. The No. 1 ranked U.S. WNT earned a 4-0 victory over Mexico on Thursday in the team's final tune-up match with goals from Amy Rodriguez, Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath and Alex Morgan, while goalkeeper Hope Solo recorded her 73rd career international shutout.
Series tickets to see all four games during the 2014 CONCACAF Women's Championship at Sporting Park -- played via doubleheaders on back-to-back nights -- are available through Ticketmaster.com, by phone at 1-800-745-3000 and at all Ticketmaster ticket centers in the Kansas City area. Please note: tickets will not be sold at the Sporting Park ticket office.
2014 CONCACAF Women's Championship matches at Sporting Park
Game 1: Guatemala vs. Haiti on Oct. 15 at 5 p.m. CT
Game 2: USA vs. Trinidad and Tobago on Oct. 15 at 7:30 p.m. CT
Game 3: Jamaica vs. Martinique on Oct. 16 at 5 p.m. CT
Game 4: Costa Rica vs. Mexico on Oct. 16 at 7:30 p.m. CT
The tournament’s top three teams will directly qualify for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup from June 6-July 5 in Canada, while the fourth-place team enters a playoff with a team from South America for the final World Cup slot.
Cast your vote below for the Man of the Match from Sporting Kansas City's 3-1 win over Saprissa on Thursday night. Voting is open through Sunday night.
Although Sporting Kansas City has off from MLS play this weekend, they will be in action Thursday night when they host Deportivo Saprissa in their second CONCACAF Champions League group stage match. That match will kick off at 7 p.m. CT and can be seen on FOX Sports 1 and Univision Deportes Network. Limited tickets are available and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com or by calling 888-4KC-GOAL.
Across the MLS spectrum, it's a busy week for teams in the League. The first of three separate competitions kicks off tonight when the Philadelphia Union host the Seattle Sounders in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final.
Here are a few nationally-televised games that we'll be keeping an eye on this week.
1. Philadelphia Union vs. Seattle Sounders FC | Tuesday, Sept. 16, 6:30pm CT | GolTV
The Union are searching for their first major trophy since joining MLS. The Sounders are searching for their fourth Open Cup title. Aside from the chance to watch an exciting match between two MLS teams, Sporting KC fans should pay special attention to this match for one particular reason: the 2015-16 CONCACAF Champions League.
There are four ways for American MLS teams to get into the CONCACAF Champions League: win the Open Cup, win MLS Cup or finish in first place in the regular season in either conference. If the Sounders, who currently lead MLS with 54 points, were to win the Open Cup and the Supporters' Shield, the second spot would go to the team in MLS with the second most points in the regular season. If they won the Open Cup, Supporters' Shield AND MLS Cup, then the two additional spots would go to the teams that finished second and third in the Shield standings. Sporting KC is nine points behind Seattle in the Shield standings, but six points behind the LA Galaxy who are in second place. There is still a lot of soccer to be played, but there are a few teams that will be paying special attention to tonight's match. Click here for complete MLS standings.
2. Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids | Friday, Sept. 19, 9pm CT | NBCSN
The Rapids have struggled of late - their last win came on July 25 - and it doesn't get any easier with a trip to Salt Lake to take on RSL. Jeff Cassar's team is in third place in the Western Conference with 46 points. Sporting KC is currently tied for fifth place in the Shield standings, one point back of RSL.
3. Portland Timbers vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC | Saturday, Sept. 20, 4pm CT | NBCSN
This game has little impact on Sporting KC, but who doesn't love a Cascadia showdown? The two teams are separated by one point in the Western Conference standings, with the Timbers just below the red line in sixth place, so Saturday's match has added importance for the two squads. In addition, Portland and Vancouver have combined for 10 goals in their previous two meetings this season so expect to see plenty of attacking soccer on display at Providence Park on Saturday.
4. New York Red Bulls vs. Seattle Sounders FC | Saturday, Sept. 20, 6:30pm CT | NBCSN
The Red Bulls are fighting for their playoff lives while the Sounders are looking to claim their first MLS Supporters' Shield. With Thierry Henry, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Clinty Dempsey and Obafemi Martins on the pitch together, this match is "Must See TV" for any soccer fan.
5. Toronto FC vs. Chivas USA | Sunday, Sept. 21, 2pm CT | UniMas
The final MLS game of the week features two teams who are looking to regain their footing in the League. Chivas USA is winless in 10 while Toronto FC is winless in six. Three points on Sunday is a must for Greg Vanney's side if they wish to keep pace in the Eastern Conference playoff race.