Photo via @RcHaarer on Twitter
Sporting KC and the Portland Timbers stand one game away from facing off in MLS Cup 2013, adding an extra bit of spice to the news out of Tucson, Ariz. that the two teams will meet in a pre-season friendly on Feb. 1 at North Stadium at Kino Sports Complex. USL Premier Development League side FC Tucson -- In conjunction with the stadium's inaugural event, a Fall Showcase against Chivas USA tonight -- revealed the preliminary schedule for the 11 MLS teams that will be making pre-season stops in The Old Pueblo in 2014.
After breaking ground in April, North Stadium at Kino Sports Complex officially opened last month. The development is part of Pima County’s multi-million dollar investment to make improvements at the facility, including a sixth soccer field, scoreboard, entrance, concessions and restrooms. The upcoming season will mark the fourth straight year that Sporting KC has selected Tucson as a pre-season site; the club will announce the team's full 2014 pre-season schedule next week.
Portland and Sporting KC met in Tucson in the 2013 preseason ahead of successful regular seasons for both clubs. The Timbers finished atop the Western Conference standings and, like Sporting KC, will host the decisive second leg in the Conference Championship round of the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs next weekend.
Sporting KC wrapped up the 2013 preseason on Saturday with a 1-0 victory over Toronto FC. I caught up with defenders Matt Besler and Chance Myers after the match to get their thoughts on the victory, preseason, and looking ahead to the season opener.
On the win
I thought it was a good win. We all realize that there's only a week before the season opener so it was our last chance before the games start to count. We wanted to be sharp and make sure we got a win.
On new players adjusting to the team
I think they've been coming along nicely. Any new player it takes some time. It's a learning process for them to figure out how we want to play and what our style is. They've (new players) come in with a willingness to learn and they're ready to go.
On time with USMNT and preseason
It's been a long preseason for me but its been a good one. I've really stepped my game up and tried to bring what I've learned with the National Team and bring that here to Sporting Kansas City.
On preseason and new players adjusting to team
I think we're progressing pretty well. We have a system that a lot of new players come in and gotta learn but I think Benny and Claudio have done a really good job in the past couple weeks of implementing their game and helping our system become productive.
On quad injury
It was a little tweak of my quad (earlier in preseason) but I played 60 minutes today and should be good for the opener.
On starting the regular season
Our preseason is usually pretty long and everyone is really anxious to get back and start the season. We're all pretty excited the season is starting next week. I think everyone is really pumped up and ready to go.
Sporting Kansas City's 2013 pre-season schedule came to a close on Saturday with a 1-0 victory over Toronto FC in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic. Claudio Bieler opened his account with the club, scoring in the 23rd minute, and became the seventh different player to score for Sporting KC in nine pre-season matches. Other stats of note...
- Most games played: Soony Saad and Peterson Joseph (8)
- Most games started: Oriol Rosell and Paulo Nagamura (7)
- Most minutes played: Oriol Rosell (469)
- Most goals scored: Soony Saad (4)
- Most assists: Soony Saad (3)
Check out the full stat sheet below...
The Sporting Kansas City midfield will have a new look in 2013 and SportingKC.com's pre-season video series turned the cameras toward one of the leading candidates to control the middle of the park for the club's upcoming campaign: Oriol Rosell.
The youngster, whose #20 jersey matches his age, played just 127 minutes during the regular season last year after arriving from FC Barcelona B in August, but is now poised to step into a starting role with the departures of Roger Espinoza (Wigan Athletic) and Julio Cesar (Toronto FC). Rosell's story from the famed fields of La Masia to the bright lights of Major League Soccer was featured by MLSSoccer.com last week.
Despite limited action, Rosell made the most of his opportunities throughout the second part of the 2012 season. He scored the game-winning goal in his second appearance, becoming the third youngest goal scorer in club history, and his strong showing in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against Houston saw him become the youngest KC player to start an MLS postseason match all-time. In six career MLS appearances, Sporting Kansas City is 5-0-1 and has not conceded a goal with Rosell on the field.
Should he emerge as a key contributor, he'll join the shortlist of promising young prospects to watch in Major League Soccer. In fact, MLSSoccer.com's "24 under 24" series last year featured only four players younger than Rosell:
- Omar Salgado (VAN) - No. 1 pick in 2011 SuperDraft has played at U-20 level for Mexico and U.S.
- Luis Gil (RSL) - Bradenton product is with U.S. U-20's at the CONCACAF Championship
- Juan Agudelo (CHV) - Striker has 17 appearances for USMNT since debuting at age 17 in 2010
- Andy Najar -- 2010 Rookie of the Year recently transferred to Belgian champs Anderlecht
Be sure to follow Uri on Twitter and Instagram as Rosell begins his first full season in MLS. Currently in his first pre-season with the club, it appears he's taken in several of the sights that Orlando has to offer:
Sporting Kansas City could finish anywhere from first to fourth in Group B depending on the results of Saturday's matches. They will face the Tampa Bay Rowdies at 7 p.m. CT while D.C. United plays Montreal Impact at 12 p.m. CT. The basics are that Sporting KC need D.C. to beat Montreal to have a chance of finishing first place and a draw or better would guarantee at least third place or better. The full details of possible outcomes are below.
Group B Standings (through two matches)
|Sporting Kansas City||2||1||1||0||3||2||1||3|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||2||0||2||0||1||8||-7||0|
Sporting KC will finish first place if
- They defeat Tampa Bay, D.C. United beats Montreal, and Sporting KC has advantage in tiebreakers
Sporting KC will finish second place if
- They defeat Tampa Bay and Montreal beats D.C. United
- They defeat Tampa Bay, D.C. United beats Montreal and has advantage in tiebreakers (see below)
- They draw with Tampa Bay and Montreal beats D.C. United
Sporting KC will finish third place if
- They draw with Tampa Bay and D.C. United beats Montreal
- They defeat Tampa Bay, D.C. United beats Montreal, and don't have advantage in tiebreakers (see below)
Sporting KC will finish fourth place if
- They lose to Tampa Bay and D.C. United draws with Montreal
- They lose to Tampa Bay and D.C. United defeats Montreal
- They lose to Tampa Bay, Montreal beats D.C. United, and don't have advantage in tiebreakers (see below)
If Two Teams Tie:
Starts with tie breaker number 1 and proceed through each level, as needed to determine a winner.
- Head to head result
- Net goal differential
- Most goals scored
- Least goals allowed
- Minus 1 game point for each red card/send-off
- Coin toss. The team whose home city, is first alphabetically will call the coin toss.
- If more than two teams are involved in a tie, tie breaker number 2 will be used first to rank the teams.
- If teams are still tied, tie breaker number 3 will be used to rank the teams, and so on until a tie is broken.
- Once a team has been ranked higher or lower, the tie breaking procedure begins for the remaining tied teams with number 1.
- If more than two teams are still tied after tie breaker number 5 a coin toss will be held with the odd team being eliminated.
- The tie breaking procedure begins for the remaining tied teams with number 1.
Dreams do come true at Walt Disney World, just ask Sporting Kansas City Season Ticket Members Brian Bechtold and Mollie Black. The pair of Overland Park, Kan. natives joined the team in Orlando this week and returned home on Wednesday with quite the story to share with their friends and family: we're engaged!
Brian popped the question on Sunday in front of the iconic Spaceship Earth at Epcot and Mollie was proudly showing off the ring when I caught up with them at the team's training session on Tuesday morning. Hear from both of them below and be sure to congratulate the Cauldron lovebirds when you see them in the Members Stand on March 16.
Sporting Kansas City defeated D.C. United 2-0 on Wednesday night to get their first win of the 2013 Disney Pro Soccer Classic. SportingKC.com caught up with goalkeeper Eric Kronberg and forward Soony Saad after the match to get their thoughts. A full recap of the match is available here.
On the match
I think we played very well tonight. We played very well out of the back and created some chances up front as well. I was fortunate to get the start and I'm definitely happy with the result.
On preseason and team getting ready for start of season
I think we're definitely getting close. Tonight we put in a great performance against a good team. Everything's coming together. The new players that have come into the team are all playing really well and starting to click and understand our system. I think we'll be set for the beginning of the season.
On scoring 84th minute goal
It was good pressure from us. We ended up winning the ball in their half and I was anticipating it. They stepped up the line and I kind of ran along the line and Peterson Joseph sent me through. Sometimes that's onside, sometimes its off, and I was fortunate to be onside. I just knew to be calm around goal and slip it past the goalkeeper and we were up 2-0.
I feel like it's a different year. This is my third year in and I feel confident in any front three position I play whether it's the right, left, or center. I feel like I can score some goals this year and I will. I'll work as hard I can and fight and be aggressive and really go for it and push for some time.
On the match
This game we really moved the ball around. We really played how we play, keeping the ball, and looking to make them tired. We ended up getting two goals and it was a convincing victory. We didn't let up a goal.
Major League Soccer generated considerable buzz throughout the global soccer scene in July 2012 with the announcement that MLS would become the first "smart league" in the world with the integration of the adidas micoach Elite System for all 19 clubs during the 2013 season. Now on the cusp of opening day, SportingKC.com sat down with the team's fitness coach Mateus Manoel to discuss the data-tracking technology and the benefits it offers by providing coaches, trainers and players with real-time performance metrics such as heart rate, speed, acceleration, distance, field position and power.