Peter Vermes addresses crowd at Sporting Takeoff on Tuesday | USA Today Sports Images
Manager Peter Vermes and his Sporting Kansas City squad depart for Seattle on Thursday afternoon, 48 hours before taking the field against the Sounders on Saturday live on NBCSN. Prior to leading the team through one last training session in Kansas City at the Swope Soccer Village, Vermes joined Fescoe in the Morning on 610 Sports Radio to share his thoughts on the season opener and the 2014 campaign ahead.
"The big thing in this season is that we have a lot of variables to deal with, moreso than we did last year, when you pick and choose who are going to be the guys playing in the upcoming game. It's definitely not going to be easy from the coaching staff's perspective when you look at league play, you look at Champions League which we start next Wednesday here at home, you have U.S. Open Cup, and then we have Champions League again starting in August...and then we have World Cup with some of our guys. There are going to be so many challenges over the course of this season and there are going to be guys that are getting a lot of playing time...and they're going to have to step up and take advantage of those opportunities. They're going to have to be good. That's going to be the biggest challenge for us this year."
Throughout the 10-minute interview, Vermes continued to comment on the team's goals -- both short term and long term -- and the importance of staying "hungry and motivated" after winning MLS Cup. Listen to the full podcast below...
Sporting Kansas City supporters filled the Charles Wheeler Downtown Airport on Tuesday night as Sporting Takeoff, presented by Ivy Funds, took over Hangar 1. The team's brand new secondary jerseys were unveiled -- and are now available to buy at shop.sportingkc.com while supplies last -- and Matt Besler was introduced as the 2014 team captain.
The Victory Project held a silent auction to raise funds in its mission to help children thrive through challenges, Recycle Your Game collected gently used soccer equipment donations and a handful of fans walked away with once-in-a-lifetime prizes, including a day with the MLS Cup trophy and authentic MLS Cup champions medallions.
Check out all the sights and sounds in the photo slideshow above, as well as the video features below:
Sporting KC unveils new secondary kit
Matt Besler named captain
Peter Vermes addresses the fans
Sports Radio 810 WHB host Nate Bukaty is embedded in Sporting Kansas City's preseason training camp in Orlando, Fla. this week. Prior to Wednesday's doubleheader (Sporting KC picked up shutout victories over Eastern Florida State College and the New York Red Bulls), Bukaty sat down with Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes, central defender Ike Opara and winger Sal Zizzo in his latest round of interviews. For previous podcasts and all the latest from Sporting Kansas City's official radio partner, visit 810whb.com and download the station's free mobile app.
Photo via @CarolMassar on Twitter
One day after appearing on FOX Sports 1 alongside Omar Gonzalez and Kyle Beckerman, Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler joined U.S. MNT teammate Brad Evans on Bloomberg Television's "Taking Stock" on Tuesday. Host Carol Massar talked with Besler about the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Major League Soccer's 19th season and the players' perspective on the growth of American soccer.
"I think in the next couple years you're really going to see guys come back and (MLS will) be the choice league of top players," Besler told Massar. "Unless something drastically changes, I see myself staying here and playing my whole career."
Watch the six-minute segment below and for more video of Besler, visit the official MLS YouTube channel. Besler made a guest appearance on The Brad Evans Show and sat down to take the MLS leading goalscorer quiz while in New York City for the annual pre-season media and marketing tour.
Sports Radio 810 WHB host Nate Bukaty is on assignment in Orlando, Fla., bringing listeners all the latest news and notes from Sporting Kansas City preseason. Today, he was joined by defenders Chance Myers and Seth Sinovic during The Border Patrol to discuss their time in the U.S. Men's National Team January Camp, the outlook for 2014 as reigning MLS Cup champions, fitness and conditioning expectations and the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals among other topics.
Bukaty later joined The Program with Soren Petro to share his thoughts on the abbreviated offseason, the value of homegrown talent and the change in goalkeeper for Sporting KC this season. New starter Eric Kronberg sat down prior to the team's afternoon training and commented on lessons learned under Jimmy Nielsen.
— Nate Bukaty (@nate_bukaty) February 17, 2014
MLS Cup 2013 has been the talk of sports radio in Kansas City leading up to tomorrow's championship match at Sporting Park between Sporting KC and Real Salt Lake. Sports Radio 810 WHB -- the team's official radio partner -- aired a two-hour special edition of The Sporting KC Show on Tuesday and will continue their extensive coverage today as The Program with Soren Petro goes live at the Boulevard Members Club from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. CT during Road to Brazil. Immediately afterward, The Program with Kevin Kietzman will air from 2-6 p.m. CT live at Johnny's Tavern in the KC Power & Light District leading up to MLS Cup Last Night Out featuring Portugal. The Man.
Check out the audio clips below from interviews throughout the week on local sports radio...
Peter Vermes on Between the Lines (Sports Radio 810 WHB)
Jimmy Nielsen on The Drive (610 Sport Radio)
Matt Besler on The Border Patrol (Sports Radio 810 WHB)
Seth Sinovic on Fescoe in the Morning (610 Sports Radio)
Adrian Healey on The Border Patrol (Sports Radio 810 WHB)
When MLS Cup 2013 kicks off at 3 p.m. CT on Saturday at Sporting Park, ESPN will nationally televise Major League Soccer's championship match for the fifth straight year. Today, the worldwide leader in sports unveiled the network's extensive programming plans ahead of the marquee match, which will also air on Watch ESPN, ESPN Deportes Radio and ESPN International. Check out the highlights below:
Commentator Adrian Healey, analyst Taylor Twellman and reporter Mónica Gónzalez will call the action with host Max Bretos, Alexi Lalas, Kasey Keller and Alejandro Moreno providing studio coverage from site.
MLS commissioner Don Garber will be interviewed on the ESPN set at halftime.
Kenneth Garay (play-by-play), Elmer Polanco (analyst) and Diego Cora (sideline) will be the commentary team for ESPN Deportes Radio, whose coverage starts with a one-hour pre-game show at 2 p.m CT.
ESPN International will televise MLS Cup 2013 on ESPN networks in 59 countries and territories covering more than 22 million television homes. Richard Mendez and Giovanni Savarese will call the game for ESPN International networks in Spanish.
ESPN FC previews MLS Cup on Wednesday with Omar Gonzalez, on Thursday with Twellman joining from KC and on Friday with Twellman/Keller reporting from Kansas City. All episodes air at 4:30 p.m. CT on ESPN2.
Beginning Friday at 5 p.m. CT through kickoff on Saturday, all editions of ESPN’s flagship news program SportsCenter (ESPN and ESPNEWS) will feature MLS Cup 2013 segments including reports and analysis from Kansas City.
Jeff Carlisle will report from Kansas City beginning Wednesday. His work for ESPNFC.com will include an interview with Garber, player-focused pieces and a preview of the match.
ESPNFC.com will host a Boot Room chat during the match and a Boot Room Extra post-game show.
MLS Cup week kicked off on Monday as Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes and forward Dom Dwyer participated in Major League Soccer's media conference call to preview the match. The duo touched on a wide variety of topics as they responded to questions from the likes of Michael Lewis (Newsday), Kyle McCarthy (FOX Soccer), Arch Bell (Marca), Adam Jardy (Columbus Dispatch), Liviu Bard (Soccer Wire) and Steve Brisendine (MLSSoccer.com). Check out the transcript below...
Manager Peter Vermes
Thoughts on the match-up with Real Salt Lake…
They're a very good team. We have the utmost respect for them. They're good in all three phases of the game. They're very good with the ball, they have a lot of movement off the ball when they have it. When they don't have it, they are very competitive. Their guys are committed to winning the ball back quickly. And finally, they're a team that is very dangerous on set pieces and have a strong commitment to making sure they don't give up goals on those, as well. Just a very good team, always prepared and ready to play. It will be a huge challenge for us this weekend.
On overcoming the loss of Kei Kamara…
We spent most of the year, based on the fact that he went out on loan early on, with Kei not being here. Obviously the sale was a permanent thing. It was probably more closure for everyone. I would say for him, to figure out where he was going to land; whether he was going to stay here or go abroad. And then for us, to know whether he was going to stay here or go abroad. It was important for the team to know as well. Since that transpired, I think many different guys have filled in and done a very good job over the course of the season. Obviously, Kei brought a set of qualities to our team, just as the other guys that have played in that position whether it's C.J. Sapong or Soony Saad or Jacob Peterson. They all bring something different. Over the course of the season, they've all had an impact one way or another and have definitely helped us accomplish results in many different matches. We've lost quite a few guys from a year ago, realistically, in Roger Espinoza, Julio Cesar and also Kei. But there's a strong belief from our staff in that we have a group of guys that are very committed to the philosophy of our team. When there's one man's absence is another man's opportunity. A lot of guys have stepped up this year. We've had a lot of rotation of our roster with the multiple competitions we've been in. Most guys have had a real positive contribution to the team.
On how his time in Spain influenced him as a head coach…
A tremendous amount. Actually, last year at this time, I was in Spain looking at some players and doing some education, if you will, for myself. I met up with my old coach. He was a major influence on me. He had an incredible attention to detail in all phases, whether it was edification of players, the breaking down of the opponent to the preparation of your team. He was very, very good. The biggest thing I take away from it is the passion for the game was second to none. It was a great experience for me there and it's definitely had an influence on me as a coach.
On juggling roles as technical director and head coach…
For me, when I first became the interim head coach and I was still doing the technical director responsibilities, I have to say that it was a very difficult time for me. Trying to figure out how to manage both and how to prioritize the important aspects of each of the positions was very difficult for me in the beginning. I would say that as I got half way through the next season is when I started to really get a foothold on being able to deal with both positions. That was really only accomplished because I have such a great staff here. The other coaches on my staff, Kerry Zavagnin and Zoran Savic, were instrumental and they have been ever since for me being able to delegate responsibilities to them that ultimately help us in all aspects of the team whether it's preparing for the next game or whether that's looking at the next player that may become a Sporting player in the future. Obviously, it's much easier today because I've got a pretty good handle on it and we have a great staff. In the beginning it was a monumental task, for sure. My philosophy in that respect has always been to hire people that are better and smarter than myself. I think you have to surround yourself with the best people you can. When you do that, you just have better minds in the room. You make better decisions ultimately at the end. That's always been my philosophy and it's something I would always stick with for sure.
On the club's transition with re-brand and new stadium...
It's obviously been a tremendous experience to live through, for sure. You've seen a club go from 19th on the list in most categories and I don't mean just on the field type things but I mean off the field, as well, whether it's merchandise or what have you. We've made a significant turnaround in all aspects of the club. So from that point of view, it's been a great experience no doubt. So much of it has to do with the ownership group and their vision and commitment, and not just commitment from a financial aspect but it's also their influence and their participation within the community of Kansas City. That's been a major impact into our team. The one thing I take away from this is that there are soccer fans in every city. It's really about finding out how, number one, to tap into them. Number two is providing them with a product on the field that they themselves, one, can be proud of. A couple years ago our stadium won stadium of the year in the world. That's great and there's a lot of people that want to come to our stadium to see a game there. But that doesn't necessarily mean that they're going to come back. I think what keeps bringing them back is when they see the players on the field and the way they play. Their commitment to the team, to the game and trying to entertain. I think, because of that, it's really changed our place in the sports community here in Kansas City which obviously has been massive.
On where MLS Cup 2013 ranks in Kansas City's soccer history…
The significant thing I think about this game is that it's the first time MLS Cup will be held here in Kansas City. I think that gives it some more importance, even then the prior championship in 2000 just because it was at a neutral site away from home. I think that brings a little more significance to it.
Forward Dom Dwyer
On his 2013 season…
It's been a crazy season. Very up and down but definitely on the up right now. It's going good. I enjoyed my time down in Orlando. I learned a lot and got some consistent playing time. Now being back in Kansas, obviously it's been going well. I've been getting lots of opportunities and I've been taking them okay. Obviously scored the winner last game, but more importantly I helped the team win. I haven't been pushing myself to have to score. It's been more as long as we win, then the goals will come. It's been going good.
On his confidence gained…
I've always been a very confident player. The biggest thing going down to Orlando was just to get me regular playing time. I had to go down there and do well consistently. That was one of the main things, just kind of getting used to playing week in and week out, and getting back into the flow of things. It worked out perfectly and it benefited both sides.
On his time at Tyler Junior College…
It was a fun experience.Obviously it was very different being from England and then coming to Texas. There was a company called Soccer Icon in England. I went for a trial there, not really a serious thing -- more of a kickabout. Someone saw me and a couple of my friends and said I can get you guys out to America in a month and a half to Texas. We kind of floated around the idea and weren't real sure. We just jumped at it and it went from there on. It was kind of a leap of faith. It came to work out pretty well.
On the significance of MLS Cup at Sporting Park...
It's huge for the city. I've only been here two years but I've already seen it grow in that short space of time I've been here. It's grown so much. There's more and more hype, there's more and more attention about it. I'm starting to get noticed out around the city a lot more which just shows how much it's grown. A lot of people are talking about it, too. It's not just the Chiefs or the Royals. It's Sporting, too. It's very cool.
On playing in two league championships…
It's exciting. I've been lucky enough to have two opportunities now. I didn't do too well in the first one in Orlando - I'm just kidding. It was good to have that opportunity in the final in Orlando. It's nice to get another one and obviously this is a bigger stage now. I'm really looking forward to it. Two quality teams. It's a big match-up. This is what we've been working for since January or before January since we started offseason training in December. We've been working hard up to this moment and ready to finish it off the right way. I think I'm more excited about experiencing this with everyone else. That's the nicest thing about being on a team. You get to celebrate with everyone else. If you do something good, you get to see everyone else happy. That's the most rewarding feeling. It was nice after the Orlando game, I sat back and watched those guys celebrate. I knew I had a bigger job to do. I knew I had to come back to KC and finish this season off right. It was nice to see all of them happy. It was a big buzz around here two weekends ago when we beat Houston. That was really nice. Now I'm looking forward to more of that feeling. Whenever you feel that taste of something good, you want more of it. I want more.
The Tuesday night trio of Callum Williams, Andy Edwards and Carter Augustine will be back in the Sports Radio 810 WHB studios tonight for The Sporting KC Show from 7-8 p.m. CT. On the agenda for this week's episode are interviews with Sporting KC assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin and Real Salt Lake general manager Garth Lagerway to look ahead to MLS Cup 2013 at Sporting Park, along with a wrap-up of Saturday's Eastern Conference Championship victory over the Houston Dynamo.
Join the conversation by calling 913-3-810-810 and listen live locally on 810 AM, online at 810WHB.com or via the station's free mobile app. You can also tweet your questions to @CalWilliamsSKC, @AndyEdMLS and @ElJefeAugustine.
And there's plenty more audio coverage of Sporting Kansas City availalble. Check out the following interviews:
Psst, we're almost 24 hours away from the game we've all been waiting for...a postseason rematch with the Houston Dynamo, on our home field, with an MLS Cup berth awaiting the winner. It all kicks off at 6:30 p.m. CT on Saturday night at a sold out Sporting Park. Check out the videos below to get ready for leg two in the Eastern Conference Championship.
Start it off with the hype: One Game. 90 Minutes.
And a :15 teaser for NBC Sports national TV broadcast...
Molly Dreska serves up gameday info in our Matchday series...
And a little MLSsoccer.com love for All-Star Graham Zusi...
Still need more? Check out videos from Thursday's press conferences with Manager Peter Vermes and Matt Besler. And keep an eye out on the video page at MLSsoccer.com for four more videos coming to preview #SKCvHOU through the eyes of Besler, Benny Feilhaber, Kerry Zavagnin and Kyle Martino.