Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images
Top of the list. That's where Sporting Park lands in Stadium Journey magazine's evaluation of the best stadium experiences in Major League Soccer.
Released earlier today, the rankings are based on the following factors: food/beverage, atmosphere, location, fans, access and overall return on investment. Stadium Journey correspondent Cory Sims reviewed the state-of-the-art stadium earlier this year, writing that it is "one of the best venues to watch a sporting event of any kind."
Sporting Kansas City's home field earned the No. 1 spot over a trio of Cascadia challengers. Providence Park (Portland Timbers), CenturyLink Field (Seattle Sounders) and BC Place (Vancouver Whitecaps) rounded out the top four.
The road to College Cup officially kicks off later today as 32 of the 48 teams in the 2014 NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championship begin play. But the journey for seven Sporting Kansas City Academy alums has been years in the making since their days on the Swope Soccer Village fields.
Take, for example, University of Denver freshman forward Cole Stevenson. The Leawood, Kansas native and Rockhurst High School graduate has one goal and two assists in 18 appearances this season for the Pioneers, who won their second straight Summit League championship. Stevenson can be seen below as a member of the Kansas City Wizards Juniors during the 2009/10 season - the first in which the club's U16 and U18 squads competed in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.
In fact, tomorrow will mark the five-year anniversary of the club's inaugural Development Academy matches. The U16's (1-0) and U18's (3-2) won both games of a doubleheader against Texas Rush at Bear Branch Soccer Complex in Woodlands, Texas.
Games to watch in the NCAA tournament (updated with scores):
- Saint Louis University (Raymond Lee) 2, University of Tulsa 0 | FINAL
- University of North Carolina (Zach Wright, Andy Lopez) 6, James Madison University 0 | FINAL
- Wake Forest University (Heath Honold) 0, University of Maryland, Baltimore County 0 (UMBC advances 3-2 on PK's) | FINAL
- University of Denver (Cole Stevenson) 0, Oregon State University 1 | FINAL
- Fordham University (Matt Lewis) 1, Dartmouth College 2 | FINAL
- Creighton University (Eric DeJulio) vs. Oregon State University | 12:30 p.m. CT on Sunday
On this day dedicated to those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, we celebrate the many military members and their families who have been honored at Sporting Park in 2014. These 18 individuals -- each with local ties and longstanding duty -- represent all branches and ranks as a small fraction of the millions of Americans who who have enlisted to protect their country.
Click on the photos below to read more about each honoree, recognized through Salute To Troops presented by Park University.
Thank you to all of those who truly #DefendTogether. A closing message from Sporting Kansas City homegrown defender Kevin Ellis, who hosted a barbecue and soccer clinic for military families earlier this year...
— Kevin Ellis (@Kev_Ellis4) November 11, 2014
Sporting Kansas City midfielder Martin Steuble started and played the full 90 minutes for the Philippines on Sunday in a 3-0 loss at Thailand. The international friendly was played in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand as both teams prepare for the 2014 Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup later this month. Thailand received goals from Mongkol Thosakrai (30'), Prakit Deeprom (54') and Kroekrit Thawikan (74').
Steuble also started in the Philippines last match -- a 3-0 win versus Nepal on Oct. 31 -- and now has 11 caps since making his international debut earlier this year. The Philippines are led by former U.S. Men's National Team defender Thomas Dooley and are No. 129 in the latest FIFA rankings.
The 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup begins Nov. 22 with Philippines in Group A, which also includes Vietnam, Indonesia and Laos. The eight-team tournament is co-hosted by Singapore and Vietnam.
Steuble, 26, is one of seven Sporting KC players to feature in international matches in 2014 along with Matt Besler (USA), Graham Zusi (USA), Lawrence Olum (Kenya), Jorge Claros (Honduras), Soony Saad (Lebanon) and Erik Palmer Brown (USA U-20).
The final Sporting KC Show of 2014 aired last night on Sports Radio 810 WHB with hosts Callum Williams and Carter Augustine wrapping up a season that stretched 43 games from March thru October. The 45-minute podcast is embedded below and features interviews with Sporting Kansas City defender Seth Sinovic and assistant coach John Pascarella.
Pascarella, who joined the club's technical staff prior to the 2009 season, shared his thoughts on the busy offseason ahead and the experience Sporting KC gained from the adversity faced in 2014.
On how he will spend the coming weeks...
A lot of combines, a lot of watching videos, a lot of preparing for the different drafts that are coming up. Whether it's the dispersal draft with the players from Chivas USA coming out or the different re-entry drafts with the free agents and especially, one of my big areas of focus, is the college draft. We have two first round picks this year, so we're hoping to make those count and continue to get some good players through the MLS draft. And then it's evaluating what happened over this past year. Every year brings obstacles. Every year brings its adversity. We had some adversity over the last few years. But it's a little bit different than the type of adversity that we encountered this year.
On how 2014 differed from previous seasons...
The adversity we faced a couple of years ago was one in which we were climbing and we were almost there but we didn't quite reach the summit. So we got knocked down a peg. And then we had to do it again and we got knocked down a peg. Then we had to do it again, so we were a team that were fairly experienced at that type of adversity. But then we turn around and we won it last year and the adversity we faced this year -- we had injuries in the other years, we had fixture congestion the other years -- but the adversity that I think was difficult for us to handle was being able to deal with being champions and everybody giving you their best game. Are you going to be competitive enough in every single match? Are you going to be able to deal with that type of adversity as the champion? In that respect, we weren't experienced at it. We are now because we've gone through a year of having been champions and gotten knocked off of our throne. But I think it's something from which we'll all learn from. The coaches will learn from it. I think the players will learn from it. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. From that perspective, I think it's going to be a great offseason and I think it's going to be a great preseason. I look forward to watching the team play next year.
The Sporting KC Show season finale will air from 7-8 p.m. CT tonight on Sports Radio 810 WHB with hosts Callum Williams and Carter Augustine joined by Sporting Kansas City outside back Seth Sinovic and assistant coach John Pascarella. Sinovic -- a Leawood, Kansas native -- was named the team's Defensive Player of the Year after leading the team in both minutes played (2,755) and interceptions (76) during the regular season, while ranking third among MLS defenders with 2,083 touches in 2014. Since 2011, no player in Major League Soccer has contributed to more shutouts than Sinovic (43) in MLS play.
Pascarella is a six-year veteran of Sporting Kansas City's technical staff since being hired in January 2009. In addition to training the first team and Academy goalkeepers, Pascarella is heavily involved in the team's domestic scouting network to identify and evaluate players at the collegiate and professional levels in the United States.
Fans can listen to tonight's Sporting KC Show on 810 AM, at 810whb.com or via the station's free mobile app. To join the discussion, call 913-3-810-810.
Sporting KC captain Matt Besler joined The Border Patrol on Sports Radio 810 WHB this morning from Boca Raton, Florida, where the United States Men's National Team will take on Honduras in an international friendly tonight at 7 p.m. CT on ESPN, WatchESPN, UniMas and ESPN Deportes Radio. The Overland Park, Kansas native -- who was added to the U.S. roster on Saturday along with teammate Graham Zusi -- discussed the match-up with a CONCACAF rival while also giving his thoughts on the Royals postseason run and Sporting KC securing a playoff berth of their own with Friday's 2-0 win over Chicago.
Listen to the 10-minute interview below and visit USsoccer.com for a full match preview...
Sporting Kansas City homegrown defender Erik Palmer-Brown is among the world's top 40 players at his age, acording to The Guardian's "Next Generation 2014" list released earlier today. The 17-year-old is the only American included in the compilation and one of two from CONCACAF along with Mexico's Erick Aguirre.
A Lee's Summit, Missouri native, Palmer-Brown appeared in six matches for Sporting Kansas City across all competition in 2014. He made his professional debut in May, becoming the youngest player in MLS history to start a regular season match as a defender and the youngest player to appear in a Major League Soccer match this season, for the first of three MLS games played. Palmer-Brown also started each of the team's two matches in the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and he most recently started in the team's 3-0 victory over Real Esteli FC in the 2014/15 CONCACAF Champions League.
Palmer-Brown is a member of the United States Under-20 Men's National Team, participating in an international training camp in Buenos Aires, Argentina last month. He attended the prestigious U.S. Soccer Residency Program in Bradenton, Florida in 2013 before being named one of five finalists for U.S. Soccer's Young Male Athlete of the Year.
Palmer-Brown is a product of the Sporting Kansas City Academy. He became the club's third homegrown player upon signing a professional contract in August 2013.
The U.S. Women's National Team -- ranked No. 1 in the world and in the midst of an 87-game home unbeaten streak -- arrived in Kansas City on Sunday, 10 days before the start of the 2014 CONCACAF Women's Championship at Sporting Park on Oct. 15. Head coach Jill Ellis named her 20-player roster earlier today for the World Cup qualifying tournament, featuring Lauren Holiday, Becky Sauerbrunn and Amy Rodriguez from reigning NWSL champions FC Kansas City.
Follow @ussoccer_wnt on Twitter for updates throughout their stay in Kansas City and secure your tickets online at Ticketmaster.com for the international doubleheaders on back-to-back nights at Sporting Park.