This week's Sporting Spotlight on 38 the Spot featured Amadou Dia. The first year professional was born in France and spoke no English when he arrived to the United States as a youth. Now Dia is fluent in English and loves living in the USA, but there are some things from the homeland that he'll always find hard to live without.
Catch the two-part segment below with host Crystle Lampitt to find out what Dia misses the most from his childhood:
Sporting Kansas City welcomed 13 new players to the club's roster ahead of the 2015 season. Crystle Lampitt from 38 the Spot will be getting to know a handful of these guys over the next couple of months. Krisztian Nemeth was first in the hot seat. Watch the full interview below to get to know Sporting KC's newest goalscoring threat:
Get to know Colombian midfielder Jimmy Medranda away from the field.
Outside of soccer, what do you like to do?
JM: I like to talk with my family and listen to music
What type of music?
JM: Salsa and vallenato. Vallenato is like a national symbol of Colombia and people on the coast listen to it the most. My favorite Vallenato artist is Diomedes Diaz and my favorite salsa artist is Julio Garcia.
If you were on a deserted island, what song would you bring with you?
JM: I would bring “volver a vivir” by Diomedes Diaz.
Other than the necessities, what would you take with you to a desert island?
JM: A soccer ball!
If all the Sporting KC team were on this island, who would die first and who would last the longest?
JM: Hmm I´m not sure. I would say that Jalil would last the longest because he is strong. I think Connor would go first just because he is young and hasn´t been on his own for very long.
Who is the best dancer on the team? You? I hear you like to dance.
JM: I am the worst dancer but I would say that Mateus, the fitness coach, dances very well.
If Peter Vermes were an animal, what animal would he be?
JM: Hmm I would say a dog because sometimes he is calm and at other times he is intense.
What is your favorite place to visit?
JM: My hometown Mosquera Nariño.
What is your favorite food?
JM: I really like my Mom´s Shrimp Ceviche. I also really like “Arroz Aliñado” which is yellow rice with chicken, beef, fried noodles and vegetables.
What is your favorite book?
JM: The Secret. I´m not sure who wrote it but it is about overcoming obstacles and self-improvement.
What is the most daring thing, like skydiving, that you have ever done?
JM: I don´t really like extreme activities.
Do you have a fear?
JM: I have a fear of heights but more so than that, I fear being high up in risky situations like in extreme sports.
Which country will win the Copa America?
What is the biggest lesson that your parents have taught you?
JM: Respect. They taught me that you should always respect people.
I caught up with Sporting Kansas City's first Uruguayan player to find out everything you need to know about Uruguay, why bees scare him and how Will Smith made him cry.
Jamila St. Ann: Is there anything we need to know about Uruguay that we may not already know?
Alex Martinez: One of the biggest parts of our culture is that we drink mate. It’s like tea, without the bag. You put it in this special cup, pour hot water and sugar in and you sit with your family and drink it as a group. It kind of sets us apart I guess.
JS: What about food?
AM: I’m a bit biased, but I think we have the best food. We eat a lot of meat: sausage, pork, just lots of meats.
JS: Do you have a nickname?
AM: My friends and old teammates call me Lexi. Everyone on my team when I was younger had nicknames on the team that we all just called each other, too.
JS: If you could give yourself a new nickname, what would you give yourself?
AM: I’m fine with Alex or Lexi; those work.
JS: What’s the last movie that made you cry?
AM: It was a while ago, but the Pursuit of Happyness. That was a good one.
JS: What was your first impression of this team when you got here?
AM: I first came here during the summer, and enjoyed it a lot. The coaching staff and everyone around was welcoming. The great thing about everyone here is that we have big name players who don’t act like they're big name players. They talk to everyone, whether a rookie or a veteran, they treat everyone the same, and that’s what I love about it here.
JS: Who is the funniest guy on the team?
AM: It has to be Jimmy! Jimmy Medranda, my roommate. He's the funniest, goofiest guy I know.
JS: What’s your favorite thing to do with your free time?
AM: I have a couple things. I try to have quiet time everyday with the Lord. My religion is very important to me and I try to just have quiet moments everyday in my faith. And I play a lot of FIFA. My roommates and I had a tournament yesterday. Me, Igor Juliao, Victor Munoz, and Jimmy all played. Victor won.
JS: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
AM: In Uruguayan culture, there’s not much to do. You either play soccer or you go off and work. So as a little boy I wanted to play the game, make it my profession, and play it at the highest level I can. I also wanted, and still do want, to play for the National Team of Uruguay.
JS: What’s something that scares you?
AM: Oh! I’m scared of spiders, snakes. Bugs as a whole don’t really bother me, but bees do. Those are the big things I try to stay away from.
JS: If you were king for a day, what would your first three laws be?
AM: I’d probably say that everyone has to play soccer, everyone has to be active and healthy, and that everyone has to respect everyone else.
JS: You’re lost in the city without your phone or a map, what do you do?
AM: I would probably stop and ask for help. And I would definitely write it down too, because if they just tell me, I’ll forget.
JS: What’s your favorite thing about Kansas City?
AM: Definitely the atmosphere around soccer. The reason I’m here is for soccer. Being out at the games, the atmosphere is the best that I’ve been to here in the US.
Midfielder Sal Zizzo is Sporting Kansas City’s newest acquisition and I caught up with him to hear how he plans to stand out in the team, the time he pulled gum out of a stranger’s hair, and why Kansas City might be the perfect place for a food cart. Check it out!
Jamila St. Ann: Someone told me you had a food truck, Zizzo’s FC, in Portland? Tell everyone a little bit more about it.
Sal Zizzo: Yeah yeah, it was an Italian food cart. My extended family owns, maybe, six or seven restaurants in San Diego and sometimes they have fairs in Little Italy with different Italian foods and we saw the food cart scene in Portland, at the time, so a friend and I decided to test it out. My friend and I got ourselves a food cart, opened it up, and it did well. Eventually, he moved back down to San Diego and with playing, I didn’t really have time to deal with the upkeep, so I had to get rid of it.
JS: Would you consider opening up a food cart here in Kansas City?
SZ: Yeah, I would consider it. Once I get a little more settled in, you never know!
JS: Are you excited to be in Kansas City?
SZ: Yeah! Definitely, I checked out places the last few days I’ve been in town. It all looks pretty cool.
JS: Did you know anything about Kansas City before you got here?
SZ: I did. I was actually the most diehard Kansas City Chiefs fan growing up. I had a big, puffy KC Chiefs coat out in San Diego and I’d wear it to school and whatnot. Obviously I knew about the barbecue, but not much more about the city other than the Chiefs.
JS: And before you got here, you played with our own Chance Myers at UCLA. Do you remember that time together well?
SZ: Yeah. Chance is a good guy. We were at UCLA together when I was a sophomore and he was a freshman, just coming in, so I kind of showed him the ropes. And then I left when Benny [Feilhaber] came in, but I remember him pretty well from playing in Germany, too.
JS: Do you have any embarrassing stories or secrets about either of them from then?
SZ: Um, not really anything I can say publicly. *laughs*
JS: Do you have any embarrassing moments about yourself you’d like to share?
SZ: One time, I was in an airport and I was trying to spit out my gum. It got stuck on my hand and I was trying to fling it off and it flew backwards and landed in a girl’s hair. I didn’t know her and I was trying to pull it out and she was like “Ahh!” and it was kind of ripping at her hair and then it just kind of ended and we just walked away like nothing happened. It was really awkward and it was kind of funny too. It’s a funny story to tell.
JS: I saw a video you did with KICKTV Gaming, where you played a Portland super fan in FIFA 14. You’re not very good…
SZ: No, wait! *laughs* So, I’ve since then improved greatly.
JS: Good, because I was going to say that this team prides itself on its FIFA 14 gaming skills.
SZ: You’d be surprised now with my abilities. This past offseason, I was playing a lot of FIFA 14. I can pretty much guarantee if I got a rematch of that game, I would win.
JS: We’ll check back later in the season when you play some of the other guys here then.
SZ: Okay, we’ll see then!
JS: I also heard you were a big baseball fan?
SZ: Yeah. More of a football fan, but I played baseball growing up and through high school.
JS: Then if you could pro in anything else, what would it be?
SZ: If I had to choose, if I were very good at it, I would say golf.
JS: Not baseball or football? That’s a wildcard answer!
SZ: Yeah, it’s so much more relaxing other sports. And you still get to travel and see cool places. If we were talking most realistic for me to maybe make it pro in, then I’d probably say baseball. But my dream would probably be golf.
JS: Is there anything important that SKC Nation needs to know about you?
SZ: Not really, let me think… I am 100% Sicilian. Both of my parents were born in Sicily. And I’m just a really cool guy.
Jonathan Kaplan from the background: And clearly modest too! *both laugh*
SZ: Nothing else, really, other than that.
JS: Then describe your personal style for everyone.
SZ: As far as clothing or…
JS: Answer however you like!
SZ: I’m pretty laid back, pretty relaxed. I like to have fun, but I get down to business when I need to.
JS: So how will you stand out in this team full of big personalities?
SZ: I’ll make friends with everyone, so that’ll make me the “nice guy that everyone likes.” *laughs* Maybe [I’ll stand out] with my sense of humor. I’ll be pretty sarcastic at times and make a lot of jokes.
JS: What are you most excited about, being with this team now?
SZ: I’m excited to meet a lot of the guys. Excited to be apart of a winning culture, a team that’s won the Open Cup and the MLS Cup in back to back seasons. It’s a very deep squad and I’m looking forward to playing with these talented players everyday.
I sat down with our newest addition, goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum to talk about what he's looking forward to this season, important things SKC Nation needs to know about him, and why you should call him the "Hebrew Hammer."
Jamila St. Ann: Are you excited to have SKC Nation on your side now, rather than against you?
Andy Gruenebaum: Yeah, it’s one of those things where I remember coming back to play where they really don’t care where you’re from, if you’re not on their team, so it’s great to be on the other side of that. Here now, helping this team win another championship.
JS: Speaking of SKC Nation, give them, the proper pronunciation of your last name, because there are some disagreements.
AG: Well I’m in the school of thought that it’s pronounced “Green-a-baum”, but I know other people in my family even that say “Gru-ne-baum”. But for years, my friends have justcalled me G-baum, just cut out the middle man, and it’s just easier that way.
JS: You roomed with our own Eric Kronberg at the MLS Combine together nine years ago, and last year our GKs roomed together on the road, are you looking forward to sharing a space with Krony again?
AG: If that happens, I’m sure it’ll be fun. It all depends on our sleep schedules. I’m kind of an early riser and I make a big production out of breakfast, it’s my favorite meal of the day. Whoever I room with, I hope is on the same time schedule, so we’ll see.
JS: Our goalkeepers have been given nicknames by SKC nation. Jimmy Nielsen was the ‘White Puma’, Eric Kronberg has been dubbed ‘Krony’ or ‘Kronic’, and Jon Kempin gets referred to as ‘Big Kempin’. Do you have any suggestions for what they should call you?
AG: This nickname stuck with me from college all the way to the Crew, so everyone has called me the “Hebrew Hammer”. My roommates in college started calling me that after they saw this movie called ‘The Hebrew Hammer’, and so that’s how it got started. So that’s what I’ve got going right now.
JS: Last year I asked Eric to give himself a team title and he said, “Eric Kronberg: Team Badass.” Give yourself a Sporting KC team title. “Andy Gruenebaum: Team _________.”
AG: That’s putting me on the spot…*laughs* Just, uh, Team Glad to Be Here.
JS: Describe your personal style. We have a lot of big personalities here, what style does Andy Gruenebaum bring to Sporting KC?
AG: I think I’ll bring a good team presence. I’m all about doing whatever is best for the team and whatever it takes to win. I kind of put my head down and work and whatever role I’m given, I take that on. I’ll try and push other guys as well as myself. That’s always been my mentality and that’s what I hope to bring to this squad.
JS: What’s an embarrassing moment you’d be willing to share with SKC Nation?
AG: *laughs* Go on YouTube and type in ‘Danny Cepero’. I’m most known for being the first goalkeeper to get scored on by another goalkeeper, in MLS history. You can see me do the backstroke, a little bit. That moment, as embarrassing it was, made me mentally stronger. But yeah, it was definitely my most embarrassing moment.
JS: Is there anything else these SKC fans should know about you?
AG: I have a pet rabbit, Roo. People got a kick out of that in Columbus. I know my rabbit loves Sporting Blue already, so I’ll be tweeting out a picture of that soon. She’s a blast.
JS: What are you looking forward to most this season?
AG: Just getting to know these guys, and being apart of a really good team that has the chance to win a championship, year in, year out. Being back home, also. My wife and I are both from here, and we’ve felt like vagabonds up until now.
Uri Rosell is a busy man these days, what with CONCACAF Champions League and MLS Cup playoffs on the brain. I caught up with him to get the easy answers: His favorite foods, his favorite musicians, and why Peter Vermes could easily take on a bear. Check it out!
Jamila St. Ann: When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up, outside of sports?
Uri Rosell: I wanted to have my own business, my own company. That’s why I’m learning English and I speak it well. Next year I will start at the university to learn more. Football, soccer, is my life but you have to have other plans because you never know what will happen.
JS: So you like music. If you were a performer, what would stage or band name be?
UR: That’s tough. It depends who would be in the band with me.
JS: In your video series “Uri Rosell: Music Critic”, people were surprised that you like Phil Collins. What other artists would they be surprised you liked?
UR: Bon Jovi maybe because of my age, maybe. I’m a little young for this kind of music. I like Bon Jovi and I like jazz. I like the kind of music that, maybe in Europe, isn’t popular.
JS: What scares you?
UR: A lot animals! Snakes scare me. Big spiders. It’d scare me if I found one where it wasn’t supposed to be. I don’t want to see those. And sometimes food! Weird foods, foods I’ve never seen before, I stay away from those things too.
JS: If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
UR: Ham. Spanish ham. I would pick that. You can’t find it anywhere except in Spain. It’s delicious.
JS: What do you like most about Kansas City?
UR: A lot of things! Parks, good places to go, but I like most the people. They are so sweet and have a lot of patience with me. When I arrived, I couldn’t speak English and they helped me. They were all nice. It’s like a family.
JS: When you go on a trip, what do you make sure you always have with you?
UR: I’d like to make sure that my family comes. That’s the most important part. The material things I bring are my phone and headphones. I always bring ideas too! To have things to do there.
JS: If you could be any animal, what animal would you be?
UR: Hmmm. (Fitness Coach Mateus Manoel enters). Mate, ¿puedo ser un animal, qué animal sería?
Mateus Manoel: ¿Yo?
UR: Sí, si yo fuera un animal…
MM: Well, I would be a lion. He’d be a squirrel. *both laugh*
MM: He’d need to be an animal that gets surprised often.
UR: Pequeño pero efectivo.
MM: Small but effective.
UR: No! Something more fierce.
MM: What animal hides, then attacks?
MM: A fox. I like a fox for him. Fast, agile.
JS: Red hair, like Uri.
UR: Okay, a fox.
JS: Last question: who would win in a wrestling match between Peter Vermes and a grizzly bear?
UR: *laughs* I don’t know! Peter is a very strong guy. It depends. Maybe if Peter is angry, then he would definitely win.
Our very own Matt Besler recently returned to Kansas City after National team duty. I sat down with him to talk about the now infamous "Beslering", his love for Notre Dame, and Aurelien Collin...on the flute? Check it out!
Jamila St. Ann: Are you upset that “Beslering” never caught on?
Matt Besler: Not really. It was kind of an embarrassing picture of me and all the guys were giving me a hard time. That it looked like I was…ya know, I was squatting down…it wasn’t the best picture of me.
JS: Scenario: You’re being crowned “King of the World”. What is your first ‘royal decree’?
MB: That there are free iPhone 5 chargers, everywhere you go because I always forget mine and I always need one.
JS: You’re a big golf fan. Name your dream golf foursome.
MB: Hmmm…Michael Jordan. He was, and still is, my favorite athlete. And he’s a big golfer, a big gambler. So I’d like to take his money; that’d be cool. I’d probably golf with Phil Mickelson, too. He’s a professional golfer and he’s my favorite golfer. He’d be there to have somebody who’s really good at golf. And then my fourth would be…Steve Carrell, the comedian. Every golf foursome needs a funny guy in it and his character in The Office is one of my favorite tv characters.
JS: So you said that Michael Jordan is your favorite athlete. Do you have any other sports idols?
MB: I grew up with Michael Jordan being my number one, hands down, by far. I liked Mario Lemieux, the Pittsburgh Penguin hockey player. He was one of my favorite athletes. And I grew up watching Marcus Allen and Joe Montana play for the Chiefs.
JS: Is there any significance behind the number 5?
MB: To be honest, no. It was the number that was assigned to me. But I say that I wear for George Brett. And the legend Kerry Zavagnin, our assistant coach.
JS: Construct a band out of your teammates.
MB: Let’s go…Aurelien Collin on the flute. Just because I would pay money to see him with a flute, playing a very elegant instrument. Dom Dwyer on the drums, I don’t know why. I don’t know, Jimmy Nielsen on guitar. And on bass, C.J. Sapong is on bass.
JS: And on lead vocals?
MB: Trying to think of who sings a lot… I’ll put C.J. on lead vocals, because he sings the most, but he’s horrible. A terrible singer. He’ll be bass and vocals.
JS: Guilty pleasure tv show.
MB: I’m a huge fan of Friday Night Lights. It’s my all time favorite tv show. Huge fan of Tim Riggins, he’s the man.
JS: Any TV shows you don’t want to admit being a fan of?
MB: No, not really. I mean, I’ve seen episodes of the Bachelor, but I’ve never watched it.
JS: Did you cry when Notre Dame lost in the national championship last year?
MB: No, I was very hopeful that they would win, but I knew it wouldn’t be quite likely. Alabama is basically an NFL team.
JS: Give me a prediction for the Notre Dame football team this year.
MB: Uh...three losses, and we sneak into a BCS bowl game.
JS: Your brother plays for Notre Dame’s soccer team. Since he’s a midfielder, give me a prediction for how many assists he’ll have.
MB: I’m going to give him a low number. I’m going to go with five. Because he broke my All-Time goals record in high school, his senior year, so he always gives me a hard time. But I always have to remind him that I have more assists than him, so I’m more of a team player.
Soony Saad has started to become a regular on our big screens in our living rooms, but very few know what goes on outside of Sporting Park and in his daily life. Continue reading to learn more about Saad’s close friendship with Dom Dwyer, his hidden talent(s), and his love for his new home, Kansas City.
KQ: You have lived the majority of your life in Michigan, what do you feel is the biggest difference between Michigan and Kansas City?
SS: I think the biggest difference is being independent, ever since I have moved to Kansas City I haven’t had to completely depend on my family. Instead of living with my family, I am living by myself; it’s very cool to be able to experience the city for myself. It is nice to experience something for myself and be very independent. The first year or two it took some adjusting, but now I am really enjoying it. Kansas City is awesome.
KQ: If you had to pick a famous duo to represent yours and Dom’s relationship, who would it be and why?
SS: Simba and Mufasa; I would be Mufusa and Dom would be Simba.
KQ: How do you react to fans that consider you a huge heartthrob?
SS: I feel honored. I appreciate every single fan that comes out to the game and especially the ones who consider me a heartthrob. I cannot wait to keep reaching out to them whether through social media or through the game by scoring some more goals. I hope to continue to gain more fans, because I really appreciate each and every one.
KQ: If you were picked for The Hunger Games, how do you think you would compete?
SS: [Laughs] I, I think I would probably hide under a rock or something. Just, be hidden and just wait until everyone kills themselves. If I had Peta’s skills of disguise I think I probably could survive until the end. I am a big fan of The Hunger Games.
KQ: Who do you think who would be out first amongst your teammates?
SS: Dom! Dom would definitely die first. He would just be out in the open with his headphones blaring, just not really caring.
KQ: What is your favorite TV show?
SS: I appreciate Game of Thrones. I LOVE Game of Thrones…that and How I Met Your Mother.
KQ: What is the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to you?
SS: Oh, this is a good one. I was walking in the airport, and I happen to be friends with Nicole Vermes, the COACH’S DAUGHTER, and I heard someone call my name. I looked into the distance and walked over to Nicole, but there was this pillar right next to her and as soon as I got close enough to really see her, I find her father standing next to her. I just made a complete 90-degree angle in the other direction and walked towards security, away from them both. It was really awkward, but then, after I had finally gotten through security, coach came up to me and said, “Why did you just turn away from my daughter?” My face turned really red, and it was incredibly embarrassing.
KQ: What is your pre-game ritual?
SS: Dom and I, the day before the game, go out to watch a movie that just came out and then afterwards we get sushi. The next morning, we go get breakfast at Hotel Raphiel and eat a really good breakfast; typically the power breakfast. Then, we play FIFA all day before the game and hydrate until game time.
KQ: If you could be invisible, where would you go and what would you do?
SS: [Laughs] I’d probably go to soccer fields and just mess around with a soccer ball. Like, moving the ball right before someone is about to kick it or score a goal. I think that would be really entertaining.
KQ: What’s you favorite childhood memory?
SS: Probably, playing on the same team as my sibling and having my dad as our coach. Every game my dad would buy a toy for the best player, the MVP, and give it away at the end of the game. I would get so mad because I would go out and score a bunch of goals and I would never get MVP. But, just the experience of playing with my family and my father as the coach was well worth it.
KQ: Do you have a hidden talent?
SS: Uh, no, none what so ever! I play golf? Oh, and I’m a cat whisperer.
KQ: If you could choose to be a super-hero or a villain, which side would you choose and why?
SS: Definitely a super-hero; I would be Batman. Batman is my favorite, and I have a good Batman voice. BUT, if I were to be a super-villain I would be Bane because he has a cool voice and he is just, well, cool.
KQ: Lastly, what is it like to play for Sporting Kansas City?
SS: It is incredible. This is my first professional team and I feel at home here, and this is my third year, and I’m just beginning to adapt to the city. I am starting to get a feel for the team and just trying to become a regular. I enjoy Kansas City and I love the fans, and I feel like this is the place to be for up-and-coming soccer.
Goalkeeper Eric Kronberg is fresh off a shutout victory over Real Esteli in the CONCACAF Champions League. The longest tenured Sporting KC player spoke with me about his love for Kansas City, nicknames and Twitter.
JS: Give your life a movie title.
EK: For my life? Castaway.
JS: And who would play you in that movie?
EK: Sean Connery
JS: If Jimmy Nielsen is the “White Puma” and Jon Kempin is “Big Kempin," who is Eric Kronberg?
EK: I can’t give myself a nickname, who does that?!
JS: Ok then, what would the fans say?
EK: The fans have given me many nicknames. Kroney, which is popular. Kronic, which is also popular. Those are the two big ones. I just can’t give myself a nickname, that’s not cool.
JS: Fans love your tweets. Give these three tweeters the bronze, silver, and gold medal: You, Kei Kamara and Dom Dwyer.
EK: That’s tough. I like Kei’s tweets. Dom used to tweet too much, but he’s gotten better about that. I’ll give Kei the gold, me the silver and Dom will take the bronze.
JS: Scenario: You’re getting your own Ben & Jerry’s flavor of ice cream. What’s it called and what’s in it?
EK: Wow, okay. It’s called…the Kronk Block. And it’s got blueberries and it’s vanilla. So it’s kind of got that Sporting KC color.
JS: Okay, it’s almost back to school season. What kind of student were you?
EK: I was a decent student. I feel like now that I’m out of school, I like learning more. I was a pretty hard worker, but also a pretty hard player.
JS: Following that, if you could be the teacher of any course, that you know the most about, what would it be?
EK: Ancient aliens. *laughs*
JS: Last year, we did this Q&A with Jimmy Nielsen and he said he used his goalkeeper gloves to pick up dog poop. What else are those good for?
EK: Washing dishes, yard work like pulling weeds, and other stuff like that.
JS: You are the longest tenured player on the team, what about Kansas City do you love so much?
EK: The people. Number one answer.
JS: What is something you’re embarrassed you know too much about?
EK: Real Housewives. It’s my wife’s fault.
JS: Mizzou or Kansas?
EK: K-State. My wife went there, so I’ve got to support the Wildcats.
JS: Finally, give yourself supreme responsibility over something involving the team. As in, Eric Kronberg, Team __________.
EK: Well last year, I was the team travel agent. I gave out pamphlets of each city we went to because I was injured and couldn’t do much else. This year…Team Badass.