Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler and midfielder Graham Zusi are two of 20 Major League Soccer stars in the running for this year's FIFA 15 custom cover. Fans can choose the World Cup duo to be among the four players that will appear on the downloadable MLS cover and all who cast votes will be entered to win a VIP package for two to MLS Cup 2014.
VOTE NOW: Cast your ballot
Voting is unlimited and runs through Sept. 9. The league's official FIFA 15 custom cover, as well as a Sporting Kansas City custom cover, will be unveiled on the MLS Facebook page on Sept. 19. FIFA 15 hits stores on Sept. 23 in North America and is currently available to pre-order on EASports.com.
This week, The Pitch has revealed the finalists from their Best of Kansas City 2014 ballot and Sporting KC is nominated in multiple categories.
Best Place to Watch KC Pro Sports
Best Sporting KC Player
Best Local Hero
Lazlo, 96.5 the Buzz
Best Thing That's Changed in KC in the Past Year
Additionally, Buzz Beach Ball -- which returns to Sporting Park on Friday, Sept. 5 -- is up for "Best Concert" and "Best Music Festival" in this year's awards.
Voting is open until September 17 with the winners to be revealed in their annual Best of KC issue on October 9. Users must have a registered account to complete the survey and must answer at least 20 of the 279 questions.
Photo by USA Tooday Sports Images
Since returning from Nicaragua after Tuesday night's CONCACAF Champions League opener, Sporting Kansas City has turned the team's attention to a top of the table clash with D.C. United on Saturday at Sporting Park. Two points separate the last two U.S. Open Cup champions in the Eastern Conference standings with two months remaining in the regular season.
Ahead of the 2004 MLS Cup rematch, listen to this week's interviews as heard on local sports radio.
Sporting KC Show on 810 WHB feat. Dom Dwyer and Kerry Zavagnin (Aug. 20)
The Border Patrol on Sports Radio 810 WHB feat. Peter Vermes (Aug. 21)
Fescoe in the Morning on 610 Sports Radio feat. Jon Kempin (Aug. 22)
Four years ago this month, Jon Kempin became the club's first homegrown player and the youngest signing to that point when he turned pro at age 17.
"This is a great day for our organization," Peter Vermes said at the time. "We had the opportunity to identify a talented player in the area, bring him into the (Academy) program and develop him to the point where we could sign him to a professional contract. Jon has incredible talent and now he has the opportunity to continue his development at a professional level and not have the pressure to perform on the field right away.”
Pressure to perform, like being told at halftime to warmup for your MLS debut and then facing a penalty kick for your first shot on goal faced.
Or lining up across from the League's top paid player, U.S. Men's National Team star Michael Bradley, in your first career MLS start.
Or following that with a 2,000+ mile trek to Central America three days later for a Champions League encounter in Nicaragua.
Kempin aced all three tests since being summoned back from his loan to USL PRO affiliate OKC Energy FC in the aftermath of an injury to starting goalkeeper Eric Kronberg and then stepping into the spotlight when Andy Gruenebaum was sidelined with a strained shoulder. Now 21, Kempin is the youngest goalkeeper to start an MLS match in team history and the youngest at his position to appear in MLS this season.
To quote Kempin on his first day as a professional, "Now is when the fun starts."
A week ago, it was Sporting KC captain Matt Besler. Last night, Sporting Club CEO Robb Heineman took his turn. Today, Manager Peter Vermes and four more of the MLS Cup champions joined in on the nationwide movement.
Check out the video playlist below to see Dom Dwyer, Jon Kempin, Jacob Peterson and Erik Palmer-Brown follow their coach's lead after the team's training on Thursday at the Swope Soccer Village.
In addition to raising awareness for the disease, the Ice Bucket Challenge has led to $7.6 million in donations for The ALS Association since July 29. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gehrig's Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that currently has no cure. Click here to learn more about ALS and to find out how you can support the cause.
Landon Donovan's illustrious career -- a career that has spanned 299 MLS regular season starts, the first of which came right here in Kansas City -- will come to a close at the end of the 2014 season. The LA Galaxy and U.S. Men's National Team star revealed the news on Thursday, one day after scoring the game-winning goal in the 2014 MLS All-Star Game and collecting MVP honors.
As such, today's Throwback Thursday turns back the clock to April 28, 2001. Just three days after riding the bench for the United States in a FIFA World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica at Arrowhead Stadium, a 19-year-old Donovan was in the San Jose Earthquakes starting lineup for the first time in his 14-year MLS career to face the reigning MLS Cup champions on their home field.
"I specifically remember that game because it was Landon's first (start) and there was a lot of hype coming into it," teammate Ian Russell recalled in 2005. "And we got a glimpse of Landon, seeing how dangerous he can be up front for us."
While the game ended in a scoreless draw, Donovan had no shortage of success against Kansas City over the course of his career. His 13 goals and 12 assists in the regular season versus KC make him the only player in MLS history to put up double digits in both goals and assists against Kansas City. And there's also his lone postseason strike in the series: a 117th-minute golden goal in overtime of the 2003 Western Conference Championship en route to his second of five MLS Cup championships.
Then Kansas City Star sports writer Joe Posnanski penned a column dedicated to Donovan back in April 2001 amidst the interest surrounding Donovan's first visit to KC for the dose of club and country double duty. Under the headline "Donovan May Be The Man," he wrote…
What U.S. men's soccer needs is a hero. A goal scorer…Maybe it's Landon Donovan.
Delaware North Companies (DNC) is hiring for all food and beverage positions during a job fair from 2-6 p.m. CT on Thursday at Sporting Park (1 Sporting Way, Kansas City, KS). Available positions include beer vendors, stand attendants, utility workers, porters/barbacks, cooks, bartenders and concession supervisors.
Interested candidates must be at least 18 years of age to apply and must be 21 years of age to sell alcoholic beverages. Parking for Thursday's job fair is available in Lot D (click here for map/directions) and all attending should enter through the security entrance on the east side of the stadium across from Best Western. Those unable to attend the job fair are encouraged to apply online.
DNC is a global leader in hospitality and food service with 55,000 associates across the United States and around the world. For more information, contact Brianna Loy at (913) 912-7578 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Without a few of the team's top players on the eve of the 2014 MLS All-Star Game, Sporting Kansas City welcomed a star from another sport to their training session on Tuesday at the Swope Soccer Village. NASCAR driver Joey Logano paid a visit to the MLS Cup champions while in Kansas City for a media tour to promote the Hollywood Casino 400 race weekend at Kansas Speedway from Oct. 3-5.
Logano led the first 30 laps and finished third on Sunday in the GoBowling.com 400. His eighth top-five finish of the year moved the 24-year-old up to eighth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver standings and he is one of only seven drivers to have clinched a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with five races remaining until the field is set.
For all the sights and sounds from Tuesday's training, check out the video above and photo slideshow below. Plus, click here to see the social media chatter captured from the festivities.
On Thursday, Graham Zusi joined The Program with Soren Petro on Sports Radio 810 WHB to discuss an eventful month for the Sporting KC midfielder that included a knockout round match in the World Cup (July 1), an MLS match five days later, an All-Star selection, a Designated Player contract and a goal in Toronto to move Sporting KC atop the Supporters' Shield standings.
Next up? Tomorrow's Eastern Conference encounter with the Philadelphia Union (7 p.m. CT on NBC Sports, 810 AM & 1340 AM) at Sporting Park before departing for the 2014 MLS All-Star Game on August 6.
Zusi touched on a number of topics throughout the 16-minute interview. Listen to the full podcast embedded below for the following excerpts, as well as his timeline for the United States Men's National Team to win their first World Cup and the mystery surrounding how a postgame jersey exchange led to a hotel room theft.
On his decision to re-sign with Sporting KC...
"It's the direction this club is headed. You've seen over the past four years now what it's done for the city and the vision hasn't stopped there. Our ownership group is probably the best in sports. Their vision is incredible. They have stuff planned out in the next couple years that I want to be part of."
On his experience in Brazil...
"The experience itself was an incredible one for me. To be matched up against the best players in the world, especially against Germany as the eventual winners, it really gives you a bar that you can set and something you can really work towards. You have to be honest with yourself at the end of the day. I was able to do that and know that I'm not there yet. It really gives me something to work towards on that front."
On the United States progress at the international level...
"I think we're well on the way and definitely headed in the right direction. I think Jurgen has done a great job so far with implementing what we need to do to get to that level. He's been very honest with the U.S. fans along with the players, telling us what we need to do to one day be competing against the Germany's and the Brazil's. What we saw from this tournament is we're certainly capable of it. We can hang with some of the best teams in the world on a given day. What we want to do now is do that on a consistent basis every time we're up against them."
On Sporting KC's remaining schedule...
"The second half of the season is always a grind. There's jostling for the playoff positions. We have a team tomorrow in Philly who has always played us well and especially at home. We definitely owe them one. They came in and kind of took it to us last time they were here in Kansas City; definitely not a team to take lightly...At this point of the season, we're sitting in a great spot at the top of the table. Every time we can put another three points up there and distance ourselves, especially from the people in our own conference, that's what it is all about."
Sporting Kansas City winger Jacob Peterson -- the game-winning goal scorer in last weekend's 2-1 win at Toronto FC -- and Philadelphia Union midfielder Maurice Edu joined this week's episode of The Sporting KC Show, which aired last night on Sports Radio 810 WHB and is embedded in its entirety below. Hosts Callum Williams and Carter Augustine interviewed both players in advance of Friday's Eastern Conference clash.
The Union have just one loss in their last 10 games across all competition and have proven to be a thorn in SKC's side at Sporting Park. The reigning MLS Cup champions have suffered only two losses in their last 21 MLS and CCL home matches dating back to last year, both of which came against Philadelphia.
Riding a seven-game unbeaten streak, Sporting KC will aim for sole possession of first place in the Supporters' Shield standings with a result on Friday. A limited number of tickets are still available on Ticketmaster.com and the first 10,000 fans inside the gates will receive a pair of Sporting KC spirit sleeves courtesy of UMB Bank. Not able to attend? The match will be televised nationally on NBC Sports, with additional radio coverage on Sports Radio 810 WHB (English) and La Gran D 1340 AM (Spanish).