Defender Ike Opara heads in a Matt Besler long throw-in in the 12th minute to make give Sporting Kansas City a 1-0 lead vs New York City FC.
This weekend, Sporting Kansas City will head north to take on New York City FC at Yankee Stadium. It will be Sporting KC's first match against the expansion side and lone meeting between the two clubs this season. Saturday's match will kick off at 6 p.m. CT and can be seen locally on 38 the Spot and across the midwest on SKCTV.
For those looking for other soccer matches to watch this weekend, here are a few nationally televised games to keep an eye on.
Chicago Fire vs. Philadelphia Union - Sunday - 4pm CT | ESPN2
Not the marquee matchup ESPN is accustomed to, but the first game of the Soccer Sunday doubleheader has its fair share of shorelines. Both teams are looking for their first win of 2015 after a combined 0-4-2 start. The Fire will be out two of their Designated Players - Shaun Maloney and David Accam - who are with Scotland's and Ghana's National Teams, respectively, but homegrown midfielder Harry Shipp is worth the price of admission. The 23-year-old has eight goals in 36 games in his young career. For the Union, U.S. Men's National Team midfielder Maurice Edu is already a household name, but Venezuelan striker Fernando Aristeguieta is on his way to joining Edu. The DP striker has two goals in his first three games in Major League Soccer.
Real Salt Lake vs. Toronto FC - Sunday - 6pm CT | FOX Sports 1
The second game of the Sunday Soccer doubleheader features a pair of teams with MLS Cup aspirations. Although Nick Rimando, Luis Gil, Alvaro Saborio, Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore will not feature due to national team commitments, these teams don't lack for firepower. Real Salt Lake is lead by Argentine maestro Javier Morales and welcomed back familiar face Jamison Olave in the offseason. Italian striker Giovinco will pull the strings for The Reds on Sunday as they continue their eight-game road trip to open the season.
As a reminder, all out of market matches can be viewed each week through MLS Live. Click here for details.
Photo by Gary Rohman
Sporting Kansas City captain Matt Besler was a guest on Sports Radio 810 WHB this morning, joining The Border Patrol hosts Nate Bukaty and Steven St. John to discuss Saturday's match at New York City FC (6 p.m. CT on SKCTV) and his alma mater Notre Dame taking on Wichita State in the Sweet Sixteen.
On the opportunity to play at Yankee Stadium...
"I can not wait. I think it's going to be awesome. (It's) one of the most historical stadiums in the world. We get to experience it and play there. I am really looking forward to it."
On the reduced field dimensions...
"It's a factor. Again, we're going to try to turn it and play it into a positive for us. The way that NYCFC plays right now is they keep a lot of possession. They like to keep the ball on the ground. With a smaller field though, it allows us to pressure the ball. And that's one of our strengths. When we're on our game and we're working hard and pressuring, there are not a whole lot of teams that can keep the ball against us. That's how we feel. We're going to go up there and try to use the field to our advantage to disrupt their rhythym."
On aiming for team's first win...
"There's definitely some urgency to get some points, we all realize that. In no way are we panicking. It's still so early in the season. It would be great to be sitting on nine points right now, but we're not. The great thing is we've seen improvement with our performances. Last Saturday against Portland was a great sign. If we can play like that and create the chances that we created, more times than not we're going to win games and we're going to be just fine."
On the fans support...
"Our fans are unbelievable. They show up every week and give everything they have. Last Saturday, it felt like a different atmosphere. When the ball went out of bounds for a corner kick, you could just feel the energy in the stadium pick up because everyone believed we were going to create a chance. More times than not on those set pieces, we did. For whatever reason, the ball just didn't want to go in."
On preparing to face David Villa...
"He is really shifty. He's not the biggest guy. He's probably not the fastest guy either. But his center of gravity is low. He's got unbelievable balance. And he can go either way. As a defender, that's sometimes some of the hardest people to guard...With David Villa, he's very unpredictable. Because he so's talented, he can do a lot of different things. That's what makes him difficult."
Covitz accepting the Joe McGuff Sports Journalist of the Year Award in 2011
Congratulations and well wishes to Kansas City Star sports reporter Randy Covitz on his recent retirement.
During his 34-year career at the newspaper, Covitz's byline appeared next to many of the most memorable moments in the city's modern soccer history -- from covering the Comets and Attack at Kemper Arena to writing about the Wizards at Arrowhead Stadium to stories filed on deadline from Sporting Park.
He sat in the Soldier Field press box for the opening game of the 1994 World Cup and traveled to Detroit the next day for the United States first match at the Pontiac Silverdome. He delivered the news to Star readers that Kansas City was awarded a Major League Soccer team in 1995 and his preview piece ran on the day of the team's inaugural game less than a year later.
On this day in 1996, Covitz published an in-depth look at American soccer on the cusp of Major League Soccer's first season. The article included interviews with club owner/founder Lamar Hunt, as well as Ron Newman (the first coach in MLS history), on the return of professional outdoor soccer to Kansas City for the first time since 1970 when the Kansas City Spurs played in the NASL.
"Times have changed enormously," said Hunt. "...It won't be done overnight, but it's a different time, a different era."
Click here to read the full feature.
Covitz continued to cover the sport and it's local stars in recent years, from Peter Vermes being named manager in 2009 to his induction into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2013 -- after previously reporting on the Hall of Fame elections of Preki (2010) and Bob Gansler (2011) in the years between.
Prior to joining the Kansas City Star, Covitz served as the Columbia Missourian sports editor and spent seven years on staff at the Memphis Press-Scimitar in Tennessee. He graduated from the University of Missouri's School of Journalism in 1971.
Sporting Kansas City defender Jalil Anibaba was a guest on The Sporting KC Show last night, joining hosts Nate Bukaty, Andy Gruenebaum and Carter Augustine at Jazz, A Louisiana Kitchen to discuss the team's draw against the Portland Timbers last weekend and to preview Saturday's match at New York City FC. Listen to the full podcast embedded below and available each week on 810whb.com.
Anibaba -- acquired in the offseason from the Seattle Sounders -- was one of three players to make their Sporting KC debuts in the scoreless draw along with Servando Carrasco and Soni Mustivar.
On the defensive end, he contributed to the club's first shutout of the season by winning seven of his nine duels (including all four aerials) with three clearances, two interceptions, two recoveries and one tackle won. Offensively, he led all players with three shots while also logging 66 touches, 29 successful passes and two dribbles completed.
His performance earned the praise of Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes and fellow defender Ike Opara.
Photos by Jamila St. Ann
Sporting Kansas City continued preparation today for the team's first-ever trip to Yankee Stadium, where they will take on Eastern Conference leaders New York City FC at 6 p.m. CT on Saturday live on SKCTV. Check out the slideshow above -- courtesy of Jamila St. Ann -- with images from today's training session at Swope Soccer Village.
Saturday's match will be the focus of tonight's Sporting KC Show from 7-8 p.m. CT on Sports Radio 810 WHB. Hosts Nate Bukaty, Andy Gruenebaum and Carter Augustine will be joined by Sporting KC defender Jalil Anibaba during the show, which will air live from Jazz, A Louisiana Kitchen at the Legends (1859 Village West Parkway) in Kansas City, Kansas. Tune in on 810 AM, 810whb.com or via the station's free mobile app and join the discussion by calling 913-3-810-810.
Major League Soccer enters its third week of the season with another exciting slate of games scheduled. Aside from Sporting KC's match against the Portland Timbers Saturday night at Sporting Park (Tickets), there are three nationally-televised matches that we'll be watching this weekend:
Philadelphia Union vs. FC Dallas - Saturday, March 21 - 3pm CT | Univision Deportes Network
The only perfect team in Major League Soccer opens week three with a road test in Chester, Pennsylvania, against the Philadelphia Union. FC Dallas is coming off a 3-1 win over Sporting KC after their season-opening 1-0 win against the San Jose Earthquakes. Philadelphia earned a heartbreaking 3-3 tie last week against Real Salt Lake after a questionable call gave RSL a game-tying penalty kick in the final minutes of the game.
New York Red Bulls v. D.C. United - Sunday, March 22 - 4pm CT | ESPN2
This week's edition of the I-95 series features two of Major League Soccer's original clubs. The New York Red Bulls will play their first home game of 2015 this weekend against D.C. United. The Red Bulls tied Sporting KC 1-1 in the team's first match of the year, while D.C. United opened the year with a 1-0 win over the Montreal Impact.
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Chicago Fire - Sunday, March 22 - 6pm CT | FOX Sports 1
The second match of Sunday's MLS doubleheader is a long-time coming for Major League Soccer. After not securing a stadium for the San Jose Earthquakes in the mid 2000s, the club left the city for Houston prior to the 2006 campaign. Two years later, San Jose was awarded a new club and on Sunday it will play its first game at Avaya Stadium (pictured, right), the latest soccer-specific-stadium in the United States. San Jose is coming off an impressive 3-2 win at Seattle, while the Chicago Fire are looking for their first point of the year after back-to-back losses in the season's first two weeks.
Since it opened on June 9, 2011, Sporting Park has hosted its share of major events. From MLS Cup to the MLS All-Star Game, to World Cup qualifiers for both the United States Men's and Women's National Teams, Kansas City has proven to be a hotbed for American / International soccer with Sporting Park at the epicenter.
For today's TBT, we're throwing it back to the beginning. After Sporting KC opened Sporting Park with a scoreless draw against the Chicago Fire, the newest soccer-specific stadium in the United States faced a quick turnaround before a Gold Cup doubleheader only five days later.
The first match of the doubleheader pitted Canada against Panama. That match finished 1-1 with seven-time MLS All-Star striker Dwayne De Rosario scoring the lone goal for Canada. As the Canada match came to a close, the Sporting Park stands quickly filled for the much-anticipated night-cap as the USMNT made their first trip to Kansas City since 2001.
The USMNT controlled the run of play against the overmatched Guadeloupe, but could only muster one Jozy Altidore goal in a 1-0 victory. The USMNT finished second in the group stage and defeated Jamaica and Panama in the knockout round before falling to Mexico 4-2 in the championship match in head coach Bob Bradley's final match in charge.
Four years later, the Gold Cup returns to Kansas City and the United States will square off against Panama in the headline match. The first match of the doubleheader features Haiti against the winner of the Honduras / French Guiana play-in series. On Thursday, Sporting KC midfielder Roger Espinoza was named to Honduras' squad for the two-match play-in series against French Guiana.
Tickets for the Gold Cup doubleheader went on sale to the general public Thursday morning. They can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com.
Do you think the United States will successfully defend its Gold Cup title and clinch a berth in the 2017 Confederations Cup? Comment below!