Major League Soccer's Dan Haiek and Matt Doyle preview Sporting Kansas City's 2014 MLS regular season with great praise.
Doyle proclaims, "I would be shocked if SKC wasn't in contention for all three trophies, the Shield, MLS Cup and the U.S. Open Cup. They're that good. They're that balanced. They're that deep. This is a really really good team."
Watch the full analysis:
Sporting KC opens the 2014 MLS regular season against the Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday. Sounders play-by-play voice, Ross Fletcher breaks down the matchup between the cross conference foes in the CenturyLink scouting report below.
So things with U.S. Women's National Team goalkeeper Hope Solo and our beloved striker C.J. Sapong didn't work out. No hard feelings though, only good news for the ladies of Kansas City. With Valentine's Day on the horizon, four lucky applicants will have a chance to win a date with Sporting KC's lyrical genius. Make sure to sign up by Tuesday at 5 p.m. CT.
Maybe one day, C.J. will serenade you...
Sporting Kansas City was crowned 2013 MLS Cup champions after defeating Real Salt Lake in a penalty kick shootout at Sporting Park last weekend. View the feat from the perspective of KICKTV talent and former Kansas City midfielder Jimmy Conrad:
Thousands of Sporting Kansas City supporters filled Union Station on Monday to celebrate the club's MLS Cup championship. Sporting Kansas City's 2013 team captain Jimmy Nielsen and U.S. Men's National Team defender Matt Besler addressed the crowd along with Manager Peter Vermes.
Vermes became the only person in MLS history to have won an MLS Cup as a player and coach with the same club. Vermes led Kansas City to their first title in 2000, playing every match that season, and earning Defender of the Year. Vermes thanked the audience, elated to see how soccer has grown in the place he now calls home.
View a photo gallery from the event below:
Go in-depth behind Sporting Kansas City's MLS Cup 2013 victory over Real Salt Lake at Sporting Park on Saturday with the match's fast facts.
- Sporting Kansas City defeated Real Salt Lake in penalty kicks to secure the MLS Cup championship.
- Sporting Park has hosted championship matches each of the last two years and Sporting Kansas City have prevailed in penalty kicks on both occasions.
- Saturday marked the first time in MLS history that two former MLS players met as coaches in MLS Cup.
- Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes is the first person to win MLS Cup as a player and a manager with the same team. Vermes helped the 2000 team hoist the trophy, anchoring the Sporting KC backline and earning Defender of the Year that season.
- Peter Nowak is the only other person to have won MLS Cup as a player and manager, winning the Cup in 1998 while playing for the Chicago Fire and then leading D.C. United to the title in 2004 as manager.
- Sporting KC is 9-5-3 all-time against Real Salt Lake and has lost at home only once in the series (2009).
- Saturday was the first postseason meeting between Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City.
- Saturday marked the first time Real Salt Lake has scored at Sporting Park in three trips.
- Saturday's match (Dec. 7) was the latest in the year in MLS history.
- Saturday marked the third time that Sporting KC advanced to the MLS Cup final in team history (2000, 2004, 2013). Sporting KC has played the third most postseason games (42) among all teams in MLS history behind the Chicago Fire (43) and LA Galaxy (64).
- Since 1998, Sporting Kansas City has only one home playoff loss: a 2-0 defeat to the Houston Dynamo in the Eastern Conference Championship in 2011. The team is 13-1-2 at home over that span.
- Sporting Kansas City has played 45 games in all competition this season (MLS, MLS Cup Playoffs, U.S. Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League).
- Sporting KC has lost only one match by more than one goal across 45 games in all competition.
- Sporting KC has held opponents to a goal or fewer in 31 of the team's 39 MLS matches this season.
- Sporting Kansas City got a result for the first time when trailing at the 75th minute in 2013 MLS competition (including playoffs). The team was 0-10-0 prior to MLS Cup when trailing in the 75th minute.
- Paulo Nagamura leads all Sporting KC players with 14 postseason appearances and is only player on the team's roster to have played in two MLS Cups (2005, 2013).
- Seth Sinovic has started and played every minute in each of the team's last 21 MLS matches, the longest active games played streak on the team. Sinovic leads all Sporting KC players with 3,703 minutes played in all competition this season.
- Six Sporting KC players have started all 10 of the team's playoff matches in the last three seasons: Jimmy Nielsen, Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Chance Myers, Seth Sinovic and Graham Zusi.
- Dom Dwyer is the first player to play in the USL Pro Championship and the MLS Cup in the same season. He started and won both matches.
- Dom Dwyer led all MLS players with eight shots on goal in the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs.
- Jimmy Nielsen's 0.84 goals against average in the postseason is fourth best in MLS history among goalkeepers with 300 minutes played.
- Aurelien Collin (36) and Matt Besler (25) lead all players in the postseason in interceptions.
- Oriol Rosell exited the match in the eighth minute with a sprained left ankle.
- Lawrence Olum replaced Rosell, marking the earliest substitution in MLS history during the postseason.
- Vermes led the second youngest roster in MLS to MLS Cup.
- Saturday marked the second time Real Salt Lake appeared in MLS Cup in team history (2009, 2013).
- Seven current members of Real Salt Lake were on the 2009 MLS Cup winning squad, with six in the starting lineup (Nick Rimando, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert, Robbie Findley, Kyle Beckerman and Javier Morales).
- Sporting Kansas City conceded the first goal in the match on Saturday in the 52nd minute.
- Aurelien Collin equalized for Sporting KC in the 76th minute. Collin's goal was a header that converted Graham Zusi's corner kick.
- Zusi becomes Sporting KC's all-time leader with five postseason assists.
- Collin has scored three goals during the 2013 MLS Cup playoffs, most among any other player in Major League soccer this season.
- Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando have played every minute of all 19 playoff games in Real Salt Lake team history.
- Nick Rimando led MLS with two penalty kicks saved in the 2013 regular season. Rimando only made one save on Saturday during the penalty kick shootout.
- Saturday marks the first time MLS Cup was held in Kansas City. Sporting Park is the first stadium to host the MLS All-Star Game, U.S. Men's National Team and MLS Cup in the same year.
- Saturday's match was the 36th consecutive MLS sell out at Sporting Park dating back to 2012.
- Attendance on Saturday was 21,650, tying the venue record set in the Eastern Conference Championship.
- Real Salt Lake had the most penalty kick goals (6) among all MLS teams in the 2013 regular season, but missed four of the team's 10 penalty kicks in Saturday's shootout.
- Since 2011, Sporting KC led MLS with 214 successful corners into the penalty area in the regular season and Sporting KC also led MLS with a 29.94% accuracy rate on crosses/corners in the 2013 regular season. Sporting Kansas City's lone goal in MLS Cup 2013 came on a successful corner into the penalty area.
- Sporting KC led MLS with 450 chances created (incl. assists) in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Sporting KC led MLS with 101 chances created from set play in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Since 2011, Sporting KC leads MLS with 33 goal assists from set play in MLS competition (including playoffs).
- Sporting KC leads MLS with 599 shots in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Sporting KC leads MLS with 4,737 duels and 2,395 duels won in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Sporting KC leads MLS with 1,498 aerials and 826 aerials won in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Sporting KC leads MLS with 840 tackles and 647 tackles won in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Sporting KC leads MLS with 1,294 clearances (incl. punches) and 819 headed clearances in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- MLS Cup 2013 was C.J. Sapong's 100th game played in MLS competition (including playoffs).
- Chance Myers celebrated his 26th birthday on Saturday.
- Real Salt Lake had no shots on goal in the first half on Saturday.
- Sporting KC leads MLS with 946 interceptions in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Sporting KC led MLS with 92 headed shots and 14 headed goals during the regular season. Sporting KC leads MLS with 41 headed shots on goal in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Sporting KC leads MLS with 584 fouls conceded and 508 fouls won in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Sporting KC leads MLS with 73 cautions in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Aurelien Collin leads MLS with 15 cautions in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Saturday was the longest penalty kick shootout in MLS history requiring 10 shooters.
- Aurelien Collin's 347 clearances, 297 duels won, 258 headed clearances and 165 aerials won are most in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Aurelien Collin's 153 interceptions are most in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013. Oriol Rosell ranks second with 149.
- Graham Zusi's 154 corners in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013 are most in MLS, including a league high 55 successful corners into the penalty area.
- His 99 successful crosses/corners in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013 also lead the league.
- Graham Zusi leads MLS with 60 chances created from set play in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Sporting KC had 56 percent of the possession on Saturday to Real Salt Lake's 44 percent.
- Sporting Kansas City was second in possession with 55.25% in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013, trailing only Real Salt Lake (55.26%).
- Since 2011, RSL (54.64%) and Sporting KC (53.08%) rank first and second in possession in MLS competition (including playoffs).
- Sporting KC (21) and Real Salt Lake (17) led all playoff teams in headed shots in the postseason. No other team had more than 10.
- Since 2011, Sporting KC led MLS with 229 chances created from set play in the regular season. Real Salt Lake ranked second with 185.
- Since 2011, Real Salt Lake leads MLS with 183 cautions in MLS competition (including playoffs). Sporting KC trails with 182.
- Since 2011, Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City have had the two best defenses in Major League Soccer among teams that competed all three seasons. Sporting Kansas City (106) and Real Salt Lake (122) have allowed the fewest goals in MLS competition (including playoffs). Sporting KC (1,028) and Real Salt Lake (1,150) also had the fewest shots faced in the regular season.
- Sporting KC has won the most MLS matches (including playoffs) of all teams in 2013 with 19 victories.
- Sporting Kansas City lead all 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs teams with 98 shots in the postseason. Real Salt Lake finished in second with 67.
- Saturday marked the first time Kansas City had to take penalty kicks to determine a match winner during playoffs since 1996.
- Three Pearl Harbor survivors were honored on the field before the match.
- Saturday was the coldest day on record in MLS history at 20 degrees.
- Sporting Kansas City won their second MLS Cup, the club's first since 2000. It was their third appearance in the MLS championship game.
- Sporting Kansas City is now tied for the third most league titles among MLS teams behind LA Galaxy and D.C. United.
- MLS Cup was decided by a penalty shootout for a third time (also: 2006, 2009). Real Salt Lake are the only team to have been involved in two MLS Cup shootouts.
- At 10 rounds (20 penalty kicks), it was the longest penalty shootout in MLS Cup history, and the longest penalty shootout ever in any MLS match.
- MLS Cup went into extra time for an eighth time, the first time since 2010.
- Aurelien Collin was named the Volkswagen MLS Cup 2013 MVP. It was the second consecutive year a defender was named MLS Cup MVP (Omar Gonzalez, LA); they are the only two defenders to win the honor in the 18 MLS Cups.
- Vermes became the fifth former player to win MLS Cup as a head coach [also: Jason Kreis (2009); Dominic Kinnear (2006, '07); Peter Nowak (2004); Frank Yallop (2001, '03)].
- RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando was in his fourth penalty shootout in an MLS game in his career. In penalty shootouts, 12 of 30 attempts have not scored (8 saved, 2 high, 1 wide, 1 crossbar).
- Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen was in his first shootout in an MLS match. Sporting won the 2012 U.S. Open Cup in a penalty shootout vs. Seattle Sounders FC, who converted two of five penalties vs. Nielsen (2 high, 1 saved).
- Real Salt Lake hit the woodwork three times (Findley, 29', R post; Beckerman, 62', R post; Morales, 73', L post) - the most of any team ever in an MLS Cup Final.
- Real Salt Lake became the first team to lose both MLS Cup and the U.S. Open Cup final in the same season. RSL was the 11th team to play in both finals in the same year.
- MLS Cup was scoreless at halftime for the fifth time (previously: '02, '05, '06, '11).
- For the ninth time in 18 finals, and the sixth time in the last eight finals, the team that scored first did not win MLS Cup.
- Game time temperature was 20 degrees Fahrenheit. It was the coldest MLS Cup Final in history, and the coldest recorded temperature at kickoff of any game in MLS history.
Major League Soccer held a press conference at Three Points Club on Thursday featuring Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes, team captain Jimmy Nielsen and U.S. Men's National Team winger Graham Zusi in advance of Saturday's MLS Cup final.
Sporting Kansas City Manager, Peter Vermes
On the growth of soccer in Kansas City...
"A couple years back when we built the stadium, it won stadium of the year, of the world. And there’s no doubt it’s the nicest stadium. And again, I don’t say that with any disrespect to anyone else, but it is. A lot of people have come to our stadium, to see a game at our stadium, to see our stadium. The amazing part is that this is the 36th game in a row that we’re selling out. Those people aren’t coming back because they want to see the stadium again. The people are coming to watch our games because of these guys next to me. The way they play, the things they do, their commitment to the fan base. From that perspective they come because of great play, off the field contributions, and I think that’s why there’s such a closeness."
On hosting the MLS Cup in Kansas City...
"It’s a great reward for the consistent performance by our team over the course of the regular season and now having the chance to host the MLS Cup here in Kansas City. I think that’s the significance of this MLS Cup. Kansas City has never had it here before, and now we have the opportunity of hosting and more importantly participating at the same time. From that perspective, it’s tremendous. But I would agree with Jimmy [Nielsen], and even Graham [Zusi] from his statement earlier, that as much as it’s nice to be here, we still have unfinished business and one more game. That’s what truly is our focus and these guys have been tremendous from that point of view the last two weeks in preparing for Saturday."
Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper, Jimmy Nielsen
On playing Real Salt Lake in the final given what they’ve achieved in the last few years…
"Personally, I didn’t think that far ahead when we started the playoffs. The first hurdle was New England and then Houston. When I was watching Real Salt Lake and Portland, I didn’t care. I haven’t thought about it being awesome to play LA Galaxy or Portland. All I cared about is that Sporting KC are in the final."
On the exciting...
"Of course it’s a very exciting moment. But we have to keep it as normal as possible. Whatever we’ve done the whole year, to prepare ourselves for each game, week after week, has taken us to where we are today. It’s awesome that there’s so much attention on the MLS Cup. It’s just a signal to how soccer is growing in America. We have to keep our emotions calm, but we are super excited."
Sporting Kansas City midfielder, Graham Zusi
On the team's expectations at the start of the season..
"Before the season starts, you set goals as a team. We knew we had a group of guys that could make it to the final, and win it as well. So I think we knew before the season started, and this was certainly the goal from the beginning."
On Real Salt Lake as Saturday's opponent…
"Having come back from a deficit in New England, and we were extremely focused on Houston as well. It wasn’t until we were through that and able to watch that second leg of Salt Lake and Portland that those thoughts kind of creep in your head, but I’m the same way as Jimmy. It’s two quality teams and both would have made a good final. Salt Lake came out on top and I think it’s going to be a great match."