22 cities. 24 teams. 61 games. 5,490 minutes played. 175 goals.
CONCACAF released the video above prior to last night's 2012-2013 CONCACAF Champions League finale as C.F. Monterrey defeated fellow Liga MX finalists Santos Laguna 4-2 on aggregate. Monterrey lifted the tournament trophy for a third consecutive year and in doing so secured a berth in the 2013 FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco at year's end.
Sporting Kansas City, winners of the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, will be one of five MLS clubs participating in the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League (tentatively scheduled to begin group play in August) to compete for the region's club championship crown. The tournament has roots dating back to 1962 and has been won by an American team twice: D.C. United (1998) and the LA Galaxy (2000). Last year, Real Salt Lake became the first MLS side to reach the final since LA's victorious 2000 campaign.
KC has twice played in the CONCACAF Champions' Cup, reaching the semifinals in 2002 with triumphs over Trinidad & Tobago's W Connection and Mexico's Santos Laguna. Head Coach Bob Gansler returned his team to the tournament in 2005 but fell to eventual champions Deportivo Saprissa (Costa Rica) in extra time during the quarterfinal round.
Matt Besler and Graham Zusi are back in KC, returning on Wednesday after helping the U.S. Men's National Team secure their first four points in 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying. The Sporting Kansas City duo are garnering considerable media attention after their strong performances for both club and country in 2013. Below are a few of our favorite clips...
- USA Today's Kelly Whiteside tells the story of their rise from being drafted in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft and living with Besler's parents as rookies to now starring for the U.S. MNT.
- Tod Palmer was among the first to talk to Besler and Zusi upon their return for a feature in today's Kansas City Star.
- ESPN the Magazine (get your copy on newsstands now) highlights Zusi's status as one of Major League Soccer's elite playmakers on their Playbook page.
- Speaking of ESPN, Zusi was complemented for his defensive workrate (and hairstyle) on SportsCenter, while Besler got a shoutout on Around the Horn.
Need Sporting KC audio coverage above and beyond your daily dose of Snippets of Sporting? The hour-long Sporting KC Show airs weekly on Sports Radio 810 WHB with hosts Callum Williams and Andy Edwards. They took to the airwaves last night to discuss all the latest developments around Sporting Kansas City, including a preview of Saturday's home match against the first place Montreal Impact and interviews with Davy Arnaud (MTL) and Ike Opara (SKC). Click here to listen to the podcast from last night's show and put 913-3-810-810 on your speed dial to call into next week's show.
You can also join Callum tonight for a special taping of Off the Pitch with Sporting KC at Hooters (1712 Village West Pkwy, Kansas City, KS) from 6:30-7:30 p.m. CT. Special guests Jimmy Nielsen and Soony Saad will be in attendance and the episode -- featuring Sporting Kansas City supporters in the background -- will air at 7 p.m. CT on Thursday on KSMO-TV.
Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler and Graham Zusi started for the U.S. Men's National Team on Tuesday in a historic 0-0 draw against Mexico at Estadio Azteca in FIFA World Cup Qualifying. Both players -- former MLS All-Stars and members of the 2012 MLS Best XI -- received high ratings in the responses compiled below from media members following the match. And for good measure, check out the front page of today's Récord daily newspaper in Mexico (shown on right).
Besler and Zusi will re-join Sporting Kansas City today following their flight from Mexico City.
"Tackled and won balls in the air confidently. Cut out an amazing number of through balls and angled passes off the feet of Giovanni dos Santos and Javier Aquino, and confidently cleared most of the high balls launched in his direction. The absence of a true second forward to partner Chicharito eased his task, yet he timed his interventions impeccably to repel Mexico’s dinking passes and darting runs as they edged into the penalty area." - Ridge Mahoney (Soccer America)
"For the U.S., the heroes were many. The raw center back pairing of Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler more than held its own…As Mexico created chance after chance, it was the physicality of Gonzalez and the anticipation of Besler that snuffed the opportunities." - Thomas Floyd (Soccer by Ives)
"Matt Besler, Gonzalez's partner in central defense, was just as impressive considering the circumstances…The cerebral, left-footed Besler, who had just one U.S. cap coming in (with the B-squad, no less), showed that he's a viable center back option going forward, and a perfect partner for the tall, tough, right-footed Gonzalez." - Doug McIntyre (ESPN.com)
"It marked a coming of age for the young central defensive duo of Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez. Besler, making just his second appearance for the U.S., delivered a composed performance…Gonzalez and Besler repelled most everything Mexico threw their way…For a player experiencing just his second cap, he didn't look overawed at all. Took one for the team in the first half, getting booked for a tactical foul on Dos Santos, but otherwise performed well, especially in the air." - Jeff Carlisle (ESPN.com)
"Perhaps the biggest worry on the starting XI was it’s most complimentary contributor. In only his second international appearance ever, the Sporting KC man has shown he belongs. To have a performance like he did while carrying a yellow card for most of the match? That is talent." - Dave Martinez (Empire of Soccer)
"Centerbacks Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler turned in star performances despite the fact both still have single-digit appearances totals for the national team...Besler was equally impressive, showing well in his very first qualifier...Played every bit like a veteran rather than a novice playing just his second U.S. Men’s National Team match. He was strong in the air, confident on the ball and did his best to keep tabs on Chicharito." - Ives Galarcep (Soccer by Ives)
"Besler got EVERYONE'S attention. Big player. Big game. On a big stage." - Brad Porter (Metro Sports)
"Biggest result of the Klinsmann era. Besler and Gonzalez were massive. Not sure how any other CBs can start going forward." - Seth Vertelney (Goal.com)
"Gonzalez and Besler looked like they have played together all their lives. Fact is, they played together once -- in the 0-0 tie with Canada in January, which also happened to be Besler's only previous cap." - Paul Kennedy (Soccer America)
"Showed polish and confidence in the attacking third and played clever touches on several sequences...His defensive contributions were vital. He tracked back to topple Giovanni Dos Santos with a sharp tackle at a critical moment, and got his head to a dangerous back-post cross. Throughout the match he helped shield Cameron from the runs of Guardado and Torres Nilo." - Ridge Mahoney (Soccer America)
"Besler and Omar Gonzalez were ball-clearing beasts…Graham Zusi’s tremendous tracking in the 72nd minute, a 30-yard dash to heroically head away a ball and prevent a point blank header from Angel Reyna." - Steve Davis (NBC Sports)
"The defensive contributions of Graham Zusi and Herculez Gomez can’t be overstated...Known more as a creative finess player in MLS, Zusi showed on Tuesday that he is more than capable of doing the necessary dirty work as a two-way winger. He made some lung-busting runs to help cover for Cameron on the right flank and tried testing Mexico’s defense when he could." - Ives Galarcep (Soccer By Ives)
"Play of the game for me was that 40yd run to make that defensive play #huge #Zusi." - Taylor Twellman (ESPN)
"I thought a big take away for the #usmnt was the defensive play of Graham Zusi. It won't be talked about a lot but it was huge." - Brian Sciaretta (Yanks Abroad)
"I see you @mbesler. The whole world sees you, too. And @gzusi continues to solidify his place as an indispensable piece for #USMNT...After tonight, one has to think @mbesler and @gzusi are a few more steps along the #RoadtoBrazil." - Tod Palmer (KC Star)
"The right-sider again saw the ball too infrequently, but he made sure to contribute with a few excellent plays on the backtrack. One in particular, a mad hustle to disrupt a potential back post shooter in the waning moments, was big." - Greg Seltzer (MLSSoccer.com)
"With two plays alone — his backtracking tackle deep down left wing on Andres Guardado in the first half and his 30-yard run to nick an open header off the head of Angel Reyna in the 72nd — Zusi made a case for man of the match honors." - Andrew Das (New York Times)
Sporting KC's Matt Besler and Graham Zusi, two of three MLS players in the starting lineup for the U.S. Men's National Team on Tuesday, returned to Estadio Azteca last night seven months after taking part in the United States first-ever victory on Mexico's home soil in a 1-0 win in an international friendly last August.
That upset lifted the United States all-time record in Mexico to 1-23-1 entering Tuesday's showdown in FIFA World Cup Qualifying on Matchday 3 of 10 on the road to Brazil. And with the stakes raised and odds against them -- Mexico was 68-1-6 all-time at home in World Cup qualifying, including a 13-0-1 record against the Americans -- Besler and Zusi helped the U.S. MNT produce another historic road result in a 0-0 draw in front of nearly 100,000 fans in Mexico City on Tuesday.
Besler, earning his first World Cup Qualifying appearance and second career cap, partnered with LA Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez to anchor the United States backline in a strong showing that limited Mexico to only three shots on goal; just one of those attempts came from inside 25 yards and none came from Manchester United striker Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez.
Zusi, in his 10th international appearance, played 82 minutes on the right side of midfield for Jurgen Klinsmann, four days after starting in the United States 1-0 victory over Costa Rica. Zusi has now appeared in all four of the United States' matches in 2013 and each of the Yanks last six FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. The U.S. is 6-0-2 all-time with Zusi in the starting 11.
The U.S. MNT is now 1-1-1 (4 points) in the six-team Hexagonal and sit in a three-way tie for 2nd place. Click to see the stats/standings/results on CONCACAF.com and check out match highlights below...
Sporting Kansas City rookie midfielder Mikey Lopez made his fourth appearance in five games for the United States Under-20 Men's National Team as they took on Mexico in the final of the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship on Sunday in Puebla, Mexico. Lopez started and the played the full 120 minutes for Tab Ramos' squad as the U.S. fell to the hosts 3-1 in extra time and were crowned regional runners-up after winning their previous four matches.
The U.S. -- one of four teams to secure a berth in the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup this summer in Turkey -- advanced to the finals of the CONCACAF U-20 qualifying tournament for the fourth time in team history, but were beaten in extra time on a game-winning goal from Julio Gomez, who led Mexico to the FIFA U-17 World Cup crown two years ago as the tournament's top scorer.
Lopez, a Generation adidas signee taken in the first round of the 2013 MLS SuperDraft out of the University of North Carolina, returns to Kansas City tomorrow to re-join his Sporting KC teammates. Visit USSoccer.com and follow @USSoccer_YNT on Twitter for postgame reaction and coverage from Sunday's championship.
Mario Rodriguez scored the game-winning goal for the US U20's on Friday
Sporting Kansas City midfielder Mikey Lopez started and played the full 90 minutes on Friday in the United States Under-20 Men's National Team's 2-0 victory over Cuba in the semifinals of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship. The U.S. struck twice in the opening 11 minutes with goals from Mario Rodriguez and Daniel Cuevas, and advances to face hosts Mexico in the championship at 6 p.m. CT on Sunday, live on FOX Soccer and Galavision.
Lopez, selected in the first round of the 2013 MLS SuperDraft out of UNC, has now appeared in three of the United States' four games at the tournament to help the U.S. secure its berth at the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup this summer in Turkey. He will re-join Sporting KC on Monday in Kansas City.
UPDATE: The U.S. will represent CONCACAF at the FIFA U-20 World Cup courtesy of a 4-2 victory on Monday. Luis Gil, Jose Villarreal (x2) and Will Trapp provided goals for the U20's.
The United States Under-20 Men's National Team has it all to play for tonight in Puebla, Mexico when they take on regional rivals Canada at 5 p.m. CT live on FOX Soccer and Univision Deportes in the quarterfinals of the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship. The winner will qualify for the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey this summer and will advance to the tournament's semifinals to take on the winner between Cuba and Costa Rica on Friday.
Sporting Kansas City midfielder Mikey Lopez will serve a one-match suspension for caution accumulation after picking up yellow cards in each of the team's two group stage games, but will be eligible to play in the semifinals, championship and/or third place matches should the United States move on tonight.
Since being named head coach of the United States Under-20 Men's National Team in October 2011, Tab Ramos has had ample opportunity to evaluate Sporting Kansas City midfielder Mikey Lopez in training and competitive matches. No player on his 18-man roster for the upcoming CONCACAF U20 Championship has made more career appearances at the under-20 level than Lopez with 19 caps and Ramos revealed yesterday what it is he likes most about the 19-year-old rookie out of North Carolina.
In a conference call with media members, Ramos praised the versatilty and work ethic of Sporting Kansas City's first round pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft...
“Mikey has done well because he is one of those guys who can play any position in midfield. He works extremely hard every day, works hard in the games, and everywhere you throw him in you’re making your team a little bit better. He brings that intensity that’s contagious to the other guys and I think that Mikey is certainly one of those guys that, when we put the final 20 players together, was one of those guys that we put toward the top of our list because of his work ethic.”
Ramos, who himself played in Mexico in the FIFA World Youth Championship 1983, currently has his squad in Toluca, where they will train in advance of the tournament opener against Haiti on Feb. 18 in Puebla. Click here to read the full quote sheet from yesterday's teleconference and follow @MLopez5_12 on Twitter for updates throughout the trip.
Finally in Mexico. Ready to get back to work tomorrow. It's time for qualifiers! USA ALL THE WAY!!! #USAu20
— Mikey Lopez (@MLopez5_12) February 8, 2013
Sporting Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi made his eighth appearance for the U.S. Men's National Team on Wednesday in their 2-1 loss at Honduras in FIFA World Cup qualifying. Out of the Blue takes a closer look at the cap By the Numbers...
23: Minutes that Zusi played after entering for Jermaine Jones in the 67th minute as the third and final sub for the USMNT. It marked the fewest minutes logged by Zusi in his eight U.S. Men's National Team appearances to date and was the first United States loss in his eight appearances. The U.S. is now 6-1-1 with Zusi playing.
19: Zusi wore the No. 19 uniform for the fourth time with the USMNT. All four of his World Cup qualifying appearances have come in the No. 19 kit. It is the fourth different number he has worn for the US, along with No. 7 (twice), No. 8 and No. 10.
6: He became one of six KC players in team history to appear for the USMNT in the final round of FIFA World Cup qualifying and the first since 2005. The others: Preki (1997), Chris Klein (2001), Jimmy Conrad (2005), Josh Wolff (2005) and Kerry Zavagnin (2005).
3: Fouls Zusi committed in Wednesday's match, tied for second most on the team behind only Jones. Together, they accounted for seven of 12 fouls committed by the U.S. in the match.
3: Goals allowed with Zusi on the field for the U.S. Men's National Team in eight appearances. Oscar Boniek Garcia's game-winning goal in the 79th minute raised his goals against average to 0.56 in 485 minutes while on the field for the Yanks.
1: Corner kick taken by Zusi on Wednesday. It came on the final play of the game and resulted in a header by Omar Gonzalez that went high of goal. Out of the United States' seven corners on Wednesday, Zusi's service was one of only two that directly resulted in a shot.
Zusi's touches were limited while the USMNT chased the equalizer late in the match, but the Opta data does show he successfully completed all four of his passes and his succesful cross (the last gasp corner) saw him finish tied for second most on the team on a day in which he was one of only three players to record a successful cross in the match.