Sporting Kansas City's midfielder Graham Zusi's eighth minute goal vs Chicago on July 7th has been nominated for MLS Goal of the Year.
Zusi's strike won Goal of the Week honors for Week 19 which was one of his two game-winning goals in the 2013 MLS regular season. It was a perfectly hit curling shot from Zusi who beat the goalkeeper and extended Sporting KC's lead to 2-0 over the Chicago Fire. The other nominees in Group A are Portland's Diego Valeri, Real Salt Lake's Javier Morales, and New England's Ryan Guy.
Voting is open until Thursday evening with the winner advancing into the next round of the competition. The full list of nominees for Goal of the Year are available on MLSsoccer.com.
You can watch each of the nominess in the video below.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images
Sporting Kansas City forward Claudio Bieler is a candidate for FutbolMLS.com's Latino del Año 2013. Earlier today, El Taca was revealed as a Group F nominee alongside Osvaldo Alonso (SEA), Michel (DAL) and Hendry Thomas (COL).
A total of 32 MLS players will compete for the fourth annual Latino del Año award. Voting begins on November 4, with the group stage winners announced on Nov. 7.
Bieler, 29, led all MLS newcomers with 10 goals this season and also added four assists in 28 appearances. He became the fourth player in team history to score 10 goals in his debut season (Takawira, Preki, Molnar) and first since the 2000 season. His 10 goals are also most by a Designated Player in team history, one more than Omar Bravo scored in 2011 when he won the Latino del Año.
Sporting Kansas City's quest for MLS Cup, presented by Ivy Funds, begins Saturday at the New England Revolution and as such, The Sporting KC Show is in postseason form. This week's episode aired last night on Sports Radio 810 WHB with hosts Callum Williams, Andy Edwards and Carter Augustine discussing the Eastern Conference Semifinals match-up as well as all the latest news around Major League Soccer, including chatter surrounding clubs in the midst of coaching changes.
Two players likely to play large roles for their clubs in the semifinals series -- Sporting KC midfielder Graham Zusi and New England Revolution defender Andrew Farrell -- joined the show to share their perspectives heading into Saturday's opening leg. Farrell, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2013 out of Lousville, will get his first taste of the MLS Cup Playoffs after an oustanding rookie season.
"We have some good veterans and a good core of young guys. And I think it's a positive for us," Farrell said. "The young guys want to prove themselves at one of the bigger stages of their pro careers so far. I know -- I speak for myself -- I can't wait to be playing at Kansas City. The atmosphere there is great. We'll be playing a great team with a lot on the line."
Listen to the full show, embedded below...
Sporting Kansas City closed out the 2013 MLS regular season on a high note with a dramatic 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union. The match was tied late in the second half until Sporting KC midfielder Lawrence Olum scored his first career goal to secure the three points.
Man of the Match
Olum had one of his best performances of the season with his first career goal and assisted on Graham Zusi's 47th minute header. It was a complete match for Olum who had 49 passes, won all four of his aerial duels, and had four interceptions. Olum's late game heroics are another perfect example of the depth shown by Sporting KC this season and that has been a necessity when playing in multiple competitions (MLS, Open Cup, CCL).
Zusi's early second half goal was a major turning point. It forced Philadelphia to take even more chances and allowed Sporting KC to be in prime position to get the three points. The Union did end up finding an equalizer but were caught on the counterattack while trying to find a second goal.
A few stats
- Matt Besler led all players with 17 clearances
- Dom Dwyer and Graham Zusi led all players with three chances created
- Graham Zusi led all players with six fouls suffered
- Sporting KC has earned an MLS best 28 points on the road (8-5-4)
On Wednesday, Sporting KC hosted the club’s first ladies night – Pumps on the Pitch. The special ticket package included entry into a pre-game party where women of all ages were invited to enjoy food, refreshments and participate in several activities, including painting lessons, mini makeovers and massages. A photo booth with Sporting KC players was also set up so participants could take home a souvenir and each ticket holder received a goodie bag courtesy of Hallmark Sinceramente. Wine tasting was sponsored by Barefoot Wine and chocolate donated by Andres Chocolate was provided for all the women who attended. A post game autograph session with Sporting KC’s Aurelien Collin capped off the evening.
Proceeds from the night’s silent auction, which included a pair of hand painted Sporting KC pumps autographed by the team, and a percentage of ticket sales will be donated to The Victory Project – the charitable arm of Sporting Club which has a mission to help children in Kansas City who are battling cancer.
To see pictures from Wednesday’s event, view the slideshow below, and to stay up to date on The Victory Project, be sure to follow us on Twitter.
To preview Sporting KC's final match of the 2013 MLS regular season, I spoke with NBC Sports broadcaster John Strong.
Do you see any carryover from the previous meeting on September 27 (Union won 1-0 at Sporting Park) for Saturday's match?
"There's definitely a lot of similarities. When we came into that game, Kansas City was the team that was rolling. It was three straight wins for them and Philadelphia was winless in five with their hope fading. Zac MacMath had one of his best games of the year and they got the victory. You would have thought at that point it would have started a roll. The next week they beat Toronto with a very late goal but then they were held to a point by D.C. and lost at Montreal. All of a sudden they are back in the same position where they have to win.
"This is the most obvious must-win you can have in this situation and they need help on top of that. I think Philadelphia will take confidence into the game because they beat Kansas City away in a similar situation. I think for Kansas City, though, they know what to expect now. They know the way Philadelphia will play and the challenges they will present. They won't be surprised at all with what they find.
"I think the interesting thing is going to be, we know the urgency the Union have, what kind of urgency will Kansas City display? They have the good position of not having to win to get in the playoffs. They obviously want to get a result for positioning and Supporters' Shield. I think certainly we're expecting, what probably all the games will be this weekend. An increased pace, increased intensity, and a real kind of do-or-die mentality from Philadelphia to be sure and hopefully to an extent from Kansas City as well."
With a lot at stake for both teams, do you expect both teams to be aggressive?
"I mean obviously Philadelphia because they have to. We'll find out from Kansas City. The only thing that I wonder with Sporting KC is the fact that they had the midweek game and a number of regulars played. That was the kind of lineup we could absolutely see tomorrow so you wonder if maybe there is that sense that [Peter] Vermes is kind of wanting to be a little bit careful; Wanting to manage his team a little bit.
"I like the fact that Vermes played a mostly regular group on Wednesday. It shows the dual importance of getting into the CONCACAF Champions League knockout round, which is a competition I'm a big fan of and I like to see MLS teams really go at it.
"The one thing I think from Philadelphia's standpoint is as much as they want to make sure they win and they want to go all guns blazing, I think you want to be careful about having it too wide open of a game. One of the players we talked to compared it to the end of the San Jose/LA game where at a certain point if you are just bombing up and down the field because everyone is focused in attack and there's really no midfield and it turns into a track meet. That can be dicey as well. Kansas City has some very dangerous players and the last thing you want to do if you are Philadelphia is be giving up goals on the other end. You can't afford to have anything other than a win. I think it's going to be in some ways a controlled aggression."
What do you expect and hope to see from Saturday's match?
"I'm hoping to see two teams playing with urgency; Two teams really going at it. I'm hoping to see a good example of the chaos that we've been seeing the last couple of weeks in MLS. I try to intentionally not have expectations going into any game but I think for this weekend anyone who has any predictions of what's going to happen is on a fool's errand. I think this is just setting up to such a sensational final weekend of the season. I love the fact we have the first game of the day both on Saturday and on Sunday (Houston at D.C. United) and the opportunity to kind of kick off a chain reaction of craziness throughout the day as everyone else is watching. I know we are going to have a big crowd at PPL Park. They are going to be loud. They are going to be up for it. We got a sense from Philadelphia that they know what's at stake and they're ready for it. I'm very hopeful for something special, both on Saturday and for the weekend overall."
Sporting Kansas City travels to face the Philadelphia Union on Saturday afternoon in the final home regular season match of the 2013 season. It's an important match for both teams with Sporting KC fighting for the Supporters' Shield and Philadelphia Union battling to earn a playoff spot.
Philadelphia have two players out for Saturday's match due to injuries. Don Anding and Greg Jordan are unavailable while Danny Cruz, Keon Daniel, Michael Lahoud, and Sebastien Le Toux are all questionable. There will likely be a few adjustments to the starting lineup, especially in midfield, on Saturday at PPL Park.
The Union were in a tailslide recently but have turned things around since earning a 1-0 win at Sporting Park in late September. Philadelphia are unbeaten in three of their last four matches and need a win to have a realistic shot at making the playoffs. It's a team that hasn't been great at home and hasn't score more than one goal in a match since August 10.
Conor Casey (Forward) - A veteran striker who scored the game-wininng goal at Sporting Park last month
Amobi Okugo (Defender) - A very talented and versatile player who as recently #8 on MLSsoccer.com's 24 under 24
|at D.C. (1-1 draw)||at Montreal (2-1 loss)|
Sporting Kansas City closes out the 2013 MLS regular season on Saturday afternoon against the Philadelpha Union. The two teams have met twice this season with both teams earning road victories. What will be the keys and important matchups for the match?
Check out the video below featuring MLSsoccer.com's Dan Haiek and Matt Doyle to find out.
Sporting Kansas City were held to a scoreless draw at Sporting Park against CD Olimpia on Wednesday night at Sporting Park. The draw clinches a spot in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League, which will take place in March 2014.
Man of the Match
Graham Zusi was active all over the pitch and had a workrate second to none. Zusi appeared to have scored the game-winning goal in the second half but it was unfortunately disallowed by the referee. Even when he doesn't score or notch an assist, the midfielder is consistently having a positive impact on matches.
A great save from Olimpia goalkeeper Noel Valladares in the first half was crucial. Sporting KC forward Jacob Peterson headed in a Seth Sinovic cross but was denied by Valladares. If that save isn't made, then the match changes drastically and forced Olimpia to take more chances. Credit to the Honduran goalkeeper who was up to the challenge throughout the 90 minutes and the main reason his team was able to earn a draw.
A few stats
- Eric Kronberg's goals against average in the group stage is 0.25
- Lawrence Olum led all players with 86 passes
- Uri Rosell won 8 of 10 (80%) duels
- Matt Besler led all players with 11 clearances
To preview Wednesday's CONCACAF Champions League match I spoke with JP Dellacamera, who will be calling the match on Fox Soccer Plus.
What are your general thoughts on Wednesday's match?
"Tomorrow's a big game for the two teams involved. It means a lot to both clubs to get to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals. I know in talking to Peter Vermes a year ago that was one of the goals of this team. They didn't just want to qualify just to get in. That was one of the goals they had. I know how important this is to Peter and to advance. I'm sure Peter would like nothing better to be the first MLS team to win the tournament because the Mexican teams have really dominated. I think Peter's team, if they go that far are well equipped for that because they are very deep, very balanced, and very competitive. I think he's built this team with that in mind. They weren't just thinking of a team to play in MLS. They were picking a team that could compete in a bunch of different competitions. Having said that, Peter and Sporting KC have a big game on the weekend against Philadelphia. It's a bit of a revenge game but I don't think they thinking about revenge as much as the potential of winning a Supporters' Shield. They can't get caught looking ahead to that game and I don't think that they will where Olimpia have to feel that they have a shot at this. They are a very good club. The most successful club team in Honduras but losing at home the way they did to Sporting KC and now having to play in that stadium (Sporting Park) with those fans and the kind of atmosphere that's created there, I think it's going to be tough for Olimpia."
Which are your thoughts on Olimpia and their chances in this match?
"The biggest danger for Sporting KC would be to take this game lightly because Olimpia are a good club. They do have some gamebreakers. Roger Rojas is a player I'd be most afraid of because he's an impact player for them. He can score goals and in CONCACAF Champions League it may be only a one goal game and you end up losing it 1-0. I remember the game Sporting KC played against Real Esteli and if Jacob Peterson doesn't score late, they lose that game. You can't take these teams lightly. We don't know who's going to be starting for Olimpia but Rojas is a quality player and in goal is Noel Valladares. This is a guy that's played for the Honduran National Team. He's played in World Cups, he's played in Gold Cups. He's very experienced. To me, they are solid in goal. I think they are sound defensively. They have a few gamebreakers on the squad as well but i think if Sporting KC play their game, play up to their level, and don't look ahead to Saturday's match, I think Sporting KC will advance."
What do you expect to see from Wednesdays match?
"I think Sporting KC will play the way they normally play with high pressure and look to dispossess and break up Olimpia closer to their goal where they can take advantage of quick passes and maybe get a quick goal early. What I don't know is how Olimpia will play. They have to win the game so do they come in with an aggressive attitude and try to get that first goal and try and see if that's enough or do they sit back, wait, and counter hoping they can win it by a 1-0 score. I think the fact they know they have a chance to advance is most definitely in their favor so it's not a throwaway game. I think you're going to see the best of Olimpia but also the best of Sporting KC. If we see the best of both, then I would expect Sporting KC to advance."