This is a wonderful time for Sporting Kansas City. I couldn't be happier for all the amazing people I get to work with every day on something so incredible. I'm so thankful for the commitment the Patterson's, Illig's, Maday's and Curran's have made towards making Kansas City the Soccer Capital of America when it was so far from that in 2006.
I really want to thank our guys and their incredible leader, Peter. This year has been such a unique challenge with all the ups and downs, all the games missed due to call-ups, the events leading up to and culminating in the All-Star Game, plus all the things that could have prevented the boys from doing exactly what they've done: taking us for a ride I doubt many will forget.
But let's get to it...You are the most amazing fans in the country. What you've done to transform this team, this sport, this community is nothing short of epic. It's the greatest fan turnaround in the history of sports. Someone disagree? If you can show me another example where crowds of 2,000 became 24-minute 22,000 person sell-outs, I'm all ears.
And that's just it...no matter how far we’ve come, how much we’ve achieved together, how much the rest of the League admires what you’ve become – I have to ask you for one more thing. Nobody has the capability to carry a team to the end like you can. It's going to be cold. It's going to be such a tight game. It's likely going to be uncomfortable at times. But I've had players on this team tell me they've never experienced the emotion they have when Sporting Park is in full voice; players that have played in some of the greatest stadia of the world. So this is your chance to finish what we all started with a championship for this City, for this Club, for all of us.
In 20 years, we all should be able to close our eyes and remember this Saturday afternoon - still feel the emotion, relive the energy, hear again the songs that will be sung and still take joy in the experience of this one match... SKC Nation: let’s leave it all out there.
See you at the end.....
MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Sporting Kansas City players were in attendance today at the Ronald McDonald House in Kansas City, MO to unveil a major makeover as part of MLS Cup Week 2013. Major League Soccer’s community service initiative, MLS WORKS, and Sporting Kansas City through The Victory Project came together ahead of MLS Cup 2013 to renovate the lower level family rooms at the local Ronald McDonald House over the past 10 days.
The basement was transformed by local TV celebrity and season three winner of HGTV's Design Star Jennifer Bertrand to benefit children and families who will stay in the Ronald McDonald House during treatments at Kansas City area hospitals. The Sporting Kansas City-themed rooms include great items for all ages including a specially made foosball table featuring the team’s players.
Check out the video above and photos below from today's commemoration ceremony.
- First time in MLS history for two former MLS players to meet as coaches in MLS Cup.
- Both teams have won MLS Cup once before: KC (2000), RSL (2009).
- Sporting KC is 8-5-3 all-time against Real Salt Lake in the regular season (no postseason meetings) and have lost at home only once in the series (2009).
- Real Salt Lake has never scored at Sporting Park in two previous trips.
- Saturday's match (Dec. 7) will be the latest in the year in MLS history.
- Sporting KC in MLS Cup for third time in team history (2000, 2004, 2013). Sporting KC has played the third most postseason games (41) 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 12-1-2 at home over that span.
- Sporting KC has the second most regular season home wins (150) in MLS history behind only the LA Galaxy (166).
- Sporting Kansas City has played 44 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 44 games in all competition.
- Sporting KC has held opponents to a goal or fewer in 30 of the team's 38 MLS matches this season.
- Sporting KC used 30 different lineups in 38 MLS matches this season due to injuries, international duty, etc.
- Sporting KC was 15-2-3 with nine straight wins in the regular season in 2013 when scoring first and 11-1-1 with eight straight wins when leading at halftime.
- Sporting KC was 13-0-1 in the regular season in 2013 when leading at the 75th minute and 0-9-0 when trailing at the 75th minute.
- Paulo Nagamura leads all Sporting KC players with 13 postseason appearances and is only player on the team's roster to have played in an MLS Cup (2005).
- Seth Sinovic and Jimmy Nielsen have started all 19 of the team's wins in MLS competition (including playoffs) this season, earning two more victories than any other player in MLS.
- Seth Sinovic has started and played every minute in each of the team's last 20 MLS matches, the longest active games played streak on the team. Sinovic leads all Sporting KC players with 3,613 minutes played in all competition this season.
- Six Sporting KC players to have started all nine 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 has scored 26 goals across all competition, including goals in six different competitions: MLS regular season, MLS Cup playoffs, USL Pro regular season, USL Pro playoffs, U.S. Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League.
- Saturday will be Dwyer's second league final in 2013.
- Dom Dwyer leads all MLS players with six shots on goal in the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs.
- Jimmy Nielsen's 0.86 goals against average in the postseason is fourth best in MLS history among goalkeepers with 300 minutes played.
- Aurelien Collin (24) and Matt Besler (23) lead all players in the postseason in interceptions.
- Oriol Rosell has won 19 of 20 tackles in the postseason, a success rate of 95%. His 20 tackles rank second most by any player in the postseason.
- Graham Zusi has completed the most dribbles (9) of any player in the postseason.
- Sporting KC is 17-0-2 when C.J. Sapong scores in MLS competition (including playoffs).
- Peter Vermes became the second coach in MLS history to win 17 or more regular season games in back-to-back seasons in non-shootout era.
- Vermes led the second youngest roster in MLS to a postseason berth for third consecutive season and within one point of Supporters' Shield.
- Among the top six teams in 2013, Sporting KC was only team with a single Designated Player.
REAL SALT LAKE
- Real Salt Lake is in MLS Cup for second time in team history (2009).
- 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).
- Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando have played every minute of all 18 playoff games in Real Salt Lake team history.
- Real Salt Lake is 7-8-4 (.474) on the road in 2013 in MLS competition (including playoffs).
- Jason Kreis' three wins and .750 winning percentage are best among coaches in the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs.
- Robbie Findley has scored in back-to-back postseason matches for Real Salt Lake. He is RSL's all-time leading scorer in the postseason with six goals.
- Real Salt Lake is the top scoring team in the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs with 1.75 goals per game and the top defensive team in the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs with a 0.69 goals against average.
- Real Salt Lake has won each of their last three MLS Cup Playoffs games this postseason. Their road win on Nov. 24 snapped a seven-game road winless streak in the postseason dating back to 2009.
- Javier Morales' nine postseason assists ranks him eighth on the MLS all-time chart. His four game-winning assists in the postseason are fourth most in MLS history, one shy of the all-time record held by Marco Etcheverry, Cobi Jones and Brian Mullan.
- Javier Morales has created 21 chances in the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs, the most by a player in the postseason in the last three years.
- Nick Rimando's 0.69 goals against average is best among all goalkeepers in the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs.
- Nick Rimando's 30 postseason games played, 106 saves, 13 wins and 12 shutouts are third most in MLS history. His next shutout will tie Zach Thornton for second most on the MLS all-time chart.
- Kyle Beckerman's nine postseason cautions ranks him fourth on the MLS all-time chart.
- Nick Rimando led MLS with two penalty kicks saved in the 2013 regular season.
- Sporting KC is 11-5-3 (.658) at home in 2013 and 32-11-13 (0.688) at Sporting Park since the stadium opened in 2011 in MLS competition (including playoffs).
- MLS Cup is being held in Kansas City for the first time. 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.
- Sporting Park is the only venue to host the U.S. Men's National Team each of the last three years.
- Saturday's match will be the 36th consecutive MLS sell out at Sporting Park dating back to 2012.
- Sporting Kansas City set a new club attendance record of 335,058 (19,709 per match) for the 2013 Major League Soccer regular season. The number improves on last season’s record attendance average of 19,404.
Real Salt Lake
- Real Salt Lake leads MLS with 64 goals in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013, including a league best 58 goals from inside the penalty area and 37 right footed goals.
- Real Salt Lake leads MLS with 187 shots on goal in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Real Salt Lake leads MLS with 16,855 passes and 13,442 successful passes in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013. RSL led MLS with 9,925 passes in their opponent's half in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Real Salt Lake leads MLS with 25,221 touches in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Since 2011, Real Salt Lake leads MLS with 43 clean sheets in MLS competition (including playoffs).
- Since 2011, Real Salt Lake leads MLS with 19 penalties conceded in MLS competition (including playoffs).
- Since 2011, Real Salt Lake leads MLS with 19 goal assists from dead ball in MLS competition (including playoffs).
- Since 2011, Real Salt Lake leads MLS with a 71.94% passing accuracy in their opponent's half in MLS competition (including playoffs).
- The club's 79.75% passing accuracy was also best in MLS, including a 91.08% passing accuracy in their own half, in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Additionally, the team's 66.55% passing accuracy in the final third was best in MLS during the 2013 regular season.
- Real Salt Lake had the highest save percentage (93.02%) in MLS for shots from outside the penalty area in 2013.
- Since 2011, Real Salt Lake has the highest save percentage (72.62%) in MLS competition (including playoffs).
- Real Salt Lake had the most penalty kick goals (6) among all MLS teams in the 2013 regular season.
- Javier Morales' 118 chances created (incl. assists) in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013 are most in MLS. Graham Zusi ranks third with 94.
- Javier Morales' 77 chances created from open play in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013 are most in MLS.
- Javier Morales' 1,462 passes in the opponent's half and 941 passes in the final third in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013 are most in MLS. His 1,153 successful passes in the opponent's half in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013 also lead the league.
- Javier Morales' 2,677 touches are the most in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Kyle Beckerman's 2,068 passes in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013 are most in MLS, followed by Javier Morales with 1,946. Beckerman's 1,700 successful passes in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013 also lead the league.
Sporting Kansas City
- Sporting KC led MLS with a 29.94% accuracy rate on crosses/corners in the 2013 regular season.
- Since 2011, Sporting KC led MLS with 622 crosses/corners in the regular season.
- Since 2011, Sporting KC led MLS with 214 successful corners into the penalty area in the regular season.
- Sporting KC leads MLS with 431 chances created (incl. assists) in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Sporting KC leads MLS with 98 chances created from set play in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Since 2011, Sporting KC leads MLS with 32 goal assists from set play in MLS competition (including playoffs).
- Since 2011, Sporting KC led MLS with 896 chances created from open play in the regular season.
- Sporting KC leads MLS with 575 shots in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Sporting KC leads MLS with 4,573 duels and 2,315 duels won in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Sporting KC leads MLS with 1,441 aerials and 798 aerials won in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Sporting KC leads MLS with 814 tackles and 626 tackles won in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Sporting KC leads MLS with 1,272 clearances (incl. punches) and 808 headed clearances in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Sporting KC leads MLS with 917 interceptions in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Sporting KC led MLS with the fewest corners conceded (134) in the 2013 regular season.
- Sporting KC led MLS with fewest goals conceded (30) in the 2013 regular season, including a league low 25 from inside the penalty area.
- Sporting KC led MLS with the fewest shots conceded (301) and shots on goal conceded (100) in the 2013 regular season.
- Sporting KC led MLS with 92 headed shots and 14 headed goals during the regular season. Sporting KC leads MLS with 38 headed shots on goal in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Sporting KC leads MLS with 565 fouls conceded and 488 fouls won in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Sporting KC leads MLS with 71 cautions in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Aurelien Collin leads MLS with 14 cautions in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013. Oriol Rosell ranked second with 10.
- Since 2011, Sporting KC has the fewest goalkeeper drops (4) in MLS competition (including playoffs).
- Aurelien Collin's 342 clearances, 284 duels won, 256 headed clearances and 159 aerials won are most in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Oriol Rosell's 149 interceptions are most in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013. Aurelien Collin ranks second with 141.
- Graham Zusi's 145 corners in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013 are most in MLS, including a league high 53 successful corners into the penalty area.
- His 90 successful crosses/corners in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013 also lead the league.
- Graham Zusi leads MLS with 57 chances created from set play in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013.
- Sporting Kansas City was second in possession with 55.22% in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013, trailing only Real Salt Lake (55.59%).
- Since 2011, RSL (54.75%) and Sporting KC (53.05%) rank first and second in possession in MLS competition (including playoffs).
- Sporting KC (17) and Real Salt Lake (16) lead all playoff teams in headed shots in the postseason. No other team had more than 10.
- Real Salt Lake had the second most road wins (7) in MLS competition (including playoffs) in 2013, behind only Sporting KC (8).
- 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 and Sporting KC are tied for the MLS lead with 180 cautions in MLS competition (including playoffs).
- 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 (105) and Real Salt Lake (121) 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 and Real Salt Lake have won the most MLS matches (including playoffs) of all teams in 2013 with 19 victories each.
- Sporting Kansas City leads all 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs teams with 74 shots in the postseason. Real Salt Lake is second with 55.
- Benny Feilhaber's 13 chances created in the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs are second most behind Javier Morales (21).
- Javier Morales leads all players with three assists in the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs. Sporting Kansas City's Benny Feilhaber is second with two.
- Peter Vermes could become the second individual in league history to win MLS Cup as player (2000, KC) and coach.
- MLS Cup 2013 could be C.J. Sapong's 100th game played in MLS competition (including playoffs).
- Chance Myers will celebrate his 26th birthday on the day of MLS Cup (Dec. 7).
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.
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.
The Professional Referee Organization (PRO) announced today the referee assignments for the second legs of both Conference Championships in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Baldomero Toledo will man the middle when Sporting Kansas City takes the field against the Houston Dynamo at Sporting Park on Nov. 23.
The 43-year-old is a 10-year veteran of Major League Soccer, making his MLS debut in Kansas City in 2004 (sending off Jose Burciaga, Jr. in the 45th minute of a 2-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids). He's worked two MLS Cups (2008 and 2010) and also officiated the MLS All-Star Game in 2007 and 2012.
In 2013, Toledo has refereed 22 MLS matches and leads all MLS referees with 72 yellow cards and 12 red cards shown. He's whistled 592 fouls (an average of 26.9 per game) and nine penalty kicks.
Of those 22 games, four featured Sporting Kansas City:
- May 5: 4-0 win vs. Chivas USA that saw Dan Kennedy sent off and Claudio Bieler convert a PK
- July 7: 1-1 draw at Chicago in which Daniel Paladini was ejected
- August 10: 3-0 win vs. New England, who ended with nine men following the dismissals of Dimitry Imbongo and Andy Dorman
- October 26: 2-1 win at Philadelphia in the team's regular season finale
Toledo -- who was the fourth official for last year's Eastern Conference Semifinal second leg between Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo at Sporting Park -- has worked two matches in this year's MLS Cup Playoffs on the Western Conference side of the bracket, highlighted by a controversial call to disallow a series-winner for Real Salt Lake against the reigning champions LA Galaxy.
He'll be joined on the referee crew by Kermit Quisenberry (AR1), Frank Anderson (AR2) and Edvin Jurisevic (4TH). Quisenberry was the MLS Assistant Referee of the Year in 2008 and has worked 17 games as an AR in 2013. Anderson ran the sideline 19 times this year in MLS matches.
The Sporting KC Show will air from 6-7 p.m. CT tonight on Sports Radio 810 WHB with hosts Callum Williams, Andy Edwards and Carter Augustine. They'll be taking listeners' calls at 913-3-810-810 and discussing all the latest around the world of soccer, including Major League Soccer's postseason and the upcoming FIFA fixtures.
Sporting Kansas City midfielder Paulo Nagamura will join the show for a live interview. Nagamura has recovered from an ankle strain to start each of the club's last two playoff matches. On Saturday, he surpassed 17,000 minutes played in his MLS career (including postseason). Sound like a lot? No other active Sporting KC player has more than 10,000 minutes played in their MLS career.
Leg one in the two-game Eastern Conference Championship series between Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo kicks off at 1:30 p.m. CT tomorrow on NBC/UDN (watch party in Boulevard Members Club at Sporting Park) and two MLSsoccer.com staffers share their tips on what to watch for in the match-up. The recent playoff history between these two sides may be grabbing the headlines, but Andrew Wiebe and Greg Lalas tell viewers there's plenty more storylines beneath the surface.
Such as? Two goalkeepers that played every minute in net this season for their respective clubs and lead defenses that combined to allow just three goals in the three games in the season series in 2013. Playmakers primed to perform? Graham Zusi for Sporting KC and Brad Davis for Houston. Key man-to-man match-up? Seth Sinovic's ability to slow down Boniek Garcia on the flank.
Check out those topics and much more in the preview package below. For more tactical talk, read the Opta Spotlight posted on MLSSoccer.com this afternoon.
Photo by USA Today Sports Images
The buzz is getting #Louder for Sporting Kansas City's home playoff match at 8 p.m. CT on Wednesday at Sporting Park and that includes plenty of soccer chatter on the local radio. U.S. Men's National Team players Matt Besler and Graham Zusi were guests during the morning drive time while the afternoon airwaves awaited Sporting Club CEO Robb Heineman.
Heineman joined The Day Shift with Henry Lake and Jay Binkley on 610 Sports Radio to discuss the MLS Cup Playoffs format, the team's support both home and away, as well as the prospect of bringing the National Soccer Hall of Fame to Kansas City.
Besler was a guest on The Border Patrol with Steven St. John and Nate Bukaty on Sports Radio 810 WHB to talk about tomorrow's decisive second leg, the controversial offside call in Saturday's match and the team's approach to the aggregate goal series.
Afentra's Big Fat Morning Buzz welcomed Zusi on 96.5 the Buzz to discuss the team's postseason run, rivalries between fan bases and the atmosphere at Sporting Park from the recently announced Sporting KC studios presented by Boulevard.
For more Sporting KC talk on the radio dial, tune in to The Sporting KC Show from 7-8 p.m. CT tonight on Sports Radio 810 WHB with hosts Callum Williams, Andy Edwards and Carter Augustine. Tonight's show includes an interview with New England Revolution defender Jose Goncalves and fans are encouraged to join the discussion by calling 913-3-810-810.