The Sporting Kansas City Academy U16's opened "Event 2" of the 2014-15 Generation adidas Cup with a 3-1 win over the Columbus Crew on Friday at the Houston Sports Park. The victory keeps Sporting KC atop the Central Region standings with a perfect 3-0-0 record and a +7 goal difference (nine goals scored, two goals conceded).
The 2014-15 GA Cup features 18 academy teams affiiliated with MLS teams, divided into three regions (East, Central and West). The top two teams from each group will qualify for the "GA" bracket at the national event in April, while the remaining teams will qualify to the "ESP" bracket.
Sporting Kansas City added four match times -- all originally announced as TBD -- to the team's 2015 schedule this week. The below matches will kick off at the following times based on local, regional and national television broadcast agreements:
- March 28 at New York City FC: 6 p.m. CT
- May 23 at Seattle Sounders FC: 9 p.m. CT
- July 12 at Vancouver Whitecaps FC: 8 p.m. CT
- Aug. 8 at Toronto FC: 3 p.m. CT
In addition, a change was made last month to move the start time for Sporting Kansas City's home match on Aug. 15 against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC to an 8 p.m. CT kick off -- 30 minutes later than previously scheduled, in order to accomodate TSN and RDS (Major League Soccer's national broadcast partners in Canada).
Match times are now set for all 34 regular season matches (subject to change) during Sporting Kansas City's 2015 MLS season. Visit SportingKC.com/schedule for additional information and click here to download the team's matches to your personal calendar(s).
The first 10,000 fans at Sporting Kansas City's home opener on March 8 will receive the team's 2015 schedule magnet courtesy of Dairy Farmers of America. A limited number of tickets remain available via Ticketmaster.com.
The United States Under-14 Boys' National Team made it back-to-back days with victories in Spain with a 4-0 victory over an Academy side from Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday. Thirteen-year-old Sporting Kansas City Academy defender/midfielder Cameron Duke was again in the lineup for the United States, who defeated Real Madrid's youth side 2-0 on Tuesday behind a brace from Ulysses Llanez.
Duke, the younger brother of Christian Duke, has become a regular as of late with the youngest U.S. youth national team. Duke travelled from his home in Olathe, Kansas to California for a U.S. U14 BNT training camp in October and most recently joined the squad in Florida last month.
He has now made the most of his time in Madrid as one of 20 players on head coach Brian Johnson's roster. The U.S. will close out the camp with a friendly against Extremadura on Saturday.
Follow @ussoccer_ynt on Twitter for updates.
Andy Gruenebaum -- recently introduced as the color commentator for SKCTV broadcasts in 2015 -- was a guest on Sports Radio 810 WHB earlier this morning, joining SKCTV play-by-play announcer Nate Bukaty along with Border Patrol voices Steven St. John and Jake Gutierrez live in studio. Gruenebaum discussed his decision to retire after a nine-year MLS career and the opportunity to move into the broadcast booth for his hometown team.
Listen to the full 22-minute segment below and for more on the 2015 season ahead, listen to SKCTV sideline reporter Jake Yadrich on Primetime with Jim Grundy earlier this week.
Cameron Duke pictured on far right, wearing No. 4 jersey for US U14 BNT
The Sporting KC Academy's Cameron Duke featured for the U.S. Under-14 Boys' National Team on Tuesday in a 2-0 victory over Real Madrid. Duke -- an Olathe, Kansas native -- is one of 20 players in Spain for the 11-day training camp that began Feb. 6 and will continue through Feb. 16.
The U.S. squad is led by head coach Brian Johnson and will play two additional Academy sides before returning home. The team will first face Rayo Vallecano tomorrow before taking on Extremadura on Feb. 14. Follow @ussoccer_ynt on Twitter for updates.
A year ago this time, Graham Zusi was coming off a Man of the Match performance for the U.S. Men's National Team in their 2014 opener...the first of 10 international appearances on the year, including all four U.S. MNT matches at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, to go along with 31 games across all competition for Sporting Kansas City.
Fast forward to present day and Zusi has been sidelined with a stress reaction in his foot since the team's elimination from the MLS Cup Playoffs in October -- missing two U.S. Men's National Team camps and reduced to limited participation through Sporting Kansas City's first two weeks of preseason activity. His injury-forced hiatus is nearing its end, however, and the three-time MLS All-Star is ready for a return to the field for the first time more than 14 weeks.
Tucson's ABC affiliate KGUN9 caught up with him on Thursday at the Kino Sports Complex to talk about the recent rest and recovery. Check out the video below...
Sporting Kansas City captain Matt Besler joined The Border Patrol on Sports Radio 810 WHB this morning to chat with hosts Nate Bukaty and Steven St. John from the U.S. Men's National Team training camp in Santiago, Chile. The Overland Park, Kansas native previewed tomorrow's friendly at Estadio El Teniente among other topics that included the inclusion of Olympic-age players in the annual January Camp, Sporting KC teammate Jon Kempin's first call-up to the senior team and how he came to know local 11-year-old Dominic Vargas during his fight with cancer.
On Jon Kempin's first U.S. MNT camp...
He's putting in the work. I'm telling you guys, he looks really good. It's a credit to him because he's come in and played with confidence. He acts like he has been a part of this team and that he belongs here. I've been really impressed with his ability to hang with us because when you look at him, he still is very young for a goalkeeper. I'm going to tell Peter the same thing when we get back to Kansas City. I think he's really developing here at camp and I think everyone can be really excited about his potential and his future here.
Listen to the 10-minute interview embedded below...
The United States - No. 27 in the latest FIFA rankings - will open their 2015 schedule against No. 14 ranked Chile on Wednesday at 5 p.m. CT on FOX Sports 1, UniMas and UDN. Both teams participated in the 2014 FIFA World Cup last summer and will also take part in the Copa America Centenario USA 2016. The U.S. is unbeaten in their last four games against Chile dating back to 1995 (3-4-2 all-time).
The offseason is officially over. Sporting KC players report to Kansas City today in time for entrance physicals at Swope Soccer Village on Saturday and a flight to Tucson, Arizona on Sunday for the first of two training camps (Jan. 25 - Feb. 10 and Feb. 15 - March 1) in The Old Pueblo.
And while we'll keep #SKCNation updated with all the latest preseason news and notes right here on SportingKC.com, social media is the must-follow source for banter and behind-the-scenes access as we count down the days until the team's season opener on March 8.
STAFF TWITTER ACCOUNTS
|Robb Heineman (CEO)||Follow @RobbHeinaman|
|Ashley Wallace (performance analyst)||Follow @AshWallace12|
|Mike Flaherty (equipment manager)||Follow @KitManSKC|
|Brian Ubert (massage therapist)||Follow @ubiewon|
|Jonathan Kaplan (communications/digital manager)||Follow @happykappy7|
|Kurt Austin (communications/digital manager)||Follow @kaustin01|
PLAYER TWITTER & INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS
|Saad Abdul-Salaam||Follow @Saad_Abdul||saad_abdul3|
|Jalil Anibaba||Follow @jalil_anibaba4||jalil_anibaba4|
|Bernardo Anor||Follow @BernardoAnor||bernardoanor|
|Matt Besler||Follow @MattBesler||mattbesler|
|Amadou Dia||Follow @Amadou_iT11||amadou_it11|
|Dom Dwyer||Follow @Ddwyer14||ddwyer14|
|Benny Feilhaber||Follow @b_feilhaber22|
|Connor Hallisey||Follow @c_hallisey||c_hallisey|
|Jon Kempin||Follow @JonKempin21||jonkempin21|
|Mikey Lopez||Follow @MLopez12_5||mlopez12_5|
|Luis Marin||Follow @luis1marin|
|Jimmy Medranda||Follow @jimmymedranda||jimao7|
|Tim Melia||Follow @TimMelia28|
|Chance Myers||Follow @CR_Myers||cr_myers|
|Paulo Nagamura||Follow @paulinhonag|
|Ike Opara||Follow @ikeopara||ikennaopara|
|Erik Palmer-Brown||Follow @ErikBrown14||erikbrown44|
|Jacob Peterson||Follow @jacob__peterson||jacobpeterson23|
|Tony Rocha||Follow @TonyRocha16|
|Seth Sinovic||Follow @ssinovic||ssinovic|
|Graham Zusi||Follow @gzusi||gzusi|
In the summer of 2006, the United States Soccer Federation invited 120 players to Middlesex School -- 20 miles outside of Boston -- to join a seven-day identification camp for the U.S. Under-14 Boys' National Team. The camp was run by Technical Director Manny Schellscheidt, a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame who had coached the U.S. Men's National Team in 1975 and led the United States at the 1984 Olympics before beginning a 13-year tenure at the bottom rung of the U.S. youth national team ladder.
"I thought it was best to start with the little guys because it’s definitely important that we get the first step right," Schellscheidt told USSoccer.com. "I felt that if we can get a good introduction at the bottom with the most talented kids that we could find in the country that would be a good thing."
Among those in attendance nearly a decade ago? Sporting Kansas City homegrown goalkeeper Jon Kempin -- making the trip from his hometown in Leawood, Kansas -- and at least three other future members of the U.S. Men's National Team: Will Packwood, Wil Trapp and DeAndre Yedlin.
Kempin, now 21, and Trapp are each currently in Carson, California with the full U.S. Men's National Team for the first time in their professional careers after steadily progressing through the ranks. In fact, Kempin has now joined eight different levels of U.S. Soccer's national team program (U14, U15, U17, U18, U20, U21, U23, USMNT) and has been named to a U.S. Soccer roster during nine of the past 10 years.
10-YEAR RISE: U14 TO USMNT
2015: USMNT (Training Camp in California, January)
2014: U21 (Training Camp in California, April)
2013: U20 (Training Camp in Mexico, January)
2012: N/A (sidelined due to fractured ankle)
2011: U23 (Training Camp in Germany, November); U18 (Northern Ireland Milk Cup, July); U18 (Lisbon International Tournament in Portugal, May); U18 (Training Camp in Oregon, April)
2010: U18 (Traditional Winter Tournament in Israel, December); U20 (Torneo de las Americas in Georgia, November); U18 (Training Camp in California, April)
2009: U18 (Training Camp in California, December); U18 (Training Camp in California, October); U17 (Residency in Florida, Spring)
2008: U17 (Residency in Florida, Fall); U17 (Training Camp in Florida, August); U15 (Training Camp in Missouri, June); U15 (Training Camp in California, February)
2007: U15 (Development Academy Nike Friendlies in Florida, December)
2006: U14 (Identification Camp in Massachusetts, July)
Unlike Kempin's first weeklong experience in 2006, the U.S. Men's National Team January Camp is a 28-day gauntlet highlighted by a pair of international friendlies on the horizon: away to Chile on Jan. 28 and home versus Panama on Feb. 8. Kempin is one of four goalkeepers on head coach Jurgen Klinsmann's roster and one of 12 Olympic-age players included with an eye toward qualifying for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.
"I think it's going very smooth because the older guys help them to feel comfortable, to feel at ease and to enjoy it," said Klinsmann. 'I think this is a big plus for this team and has always been a big plus for the American team that they make it easy for new players to come in and feel welcome and to feel part of the group right after a couple of days. I think that's what happens now with these younger players. They feel accepted, they feel respected and they spend a lot of time together. Therefore, I think it's a nice thing to do with this January camp to help this younger group to grow into the next level."
In the build up to MLS Cup on Sunday (2 p.m. CT on ESPN), end-of-the-year awards are being handed out by American soccer scribes and several of Sporting Kansas City's top performers earned high honors for their play in 2014.
Goal USA editor Thomas Floyd ranked the Top 10 players at all 11 positions from Major League Soccer's regular season for Backheel.com, with five Sporting Kansas City starters securing top-four recognition at their respective spots on the field:
- Seth Sinovic: No. 1 left back
- Benny Feilhaber: No. 1 attacking midfielder
- Matt Besler: No. 2 left centerback
- Graham Zusi: No. 3 right winger
- Dom Dwyer: No. 4 striker
Dwyer, who set a single-season team record and finished second on the MLS scoring chart with 22 goals, was also named Major League Soccer's Most Improved Player on SBIsoccer.com.
Dom Dwyer’s first full season as a starter for Sporting Kansas City saw him break out and become one of the league’s top goal scorers. The English forward bagged 22 goals and one assist, the second most in MLS, making him the runaway choice for SBI MLS Most Improved Player of the Year. Dwyer also finished the 2014 regular season with the fourth-most shots, third most shots on goal, and third most game winning goals. In addition, Dwyer’s 10 goals on the road was tied for the most in the league with Obafemi Martins, showing that Dwyer’s dogged and determined style was the same no matter which stadium he played in.