Photo credit: Necessary Exposure
Sporting Kansas City's third round match in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is now set. We knew the date: Tuesday, May 28. We knew the location: Sporting Park. And now we know the opponent: Des Moines Menace.
- TICKETS: Buy now at Ticketmaster.com or Sporting Park Box Offices
But how well do you know the opponent? Find out more below as Sporting Kansas City begins their defense of the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championship.
- The Menace were founded in 1994 and are currently competing in their 20th season this year.
- The team plays in the Premier Development League, the highest level of amateur soccer in the U.S.
- The Menace are one of four PDL teams remaining in the tournament, along with Sporting KC's pre-season hosts FC Tucson.
- Des Moines defeated the Madison 56ers 1-0 in the first round of the tournament before eliminating Minnesota United FC with a 1-0 victory last night.
- Des Moines are making their fourth straight appearance in the U.S. Open Cup in 2013.
- Sporting Kansas City and Des Moines have met on two previous occasions in the U.S. Open Cup. In 2005, Kansas City recorded a 6-1 victory in the Round of 16 before meeting again a year later with KC advancing with a 2-1 win in the Round of 32. Those two games mark the team's only competitive matches against an MLS team in club history.
- Tuesday's match at Sporting Park will be the Menace's first match in an MLS venue in club history.
- Des Moines is 10-7 all-time in the U.S. Open Cup, including a 6-5 mark against professional teams and a 4-3 record in road matches.
- Head coach Mike Jeffries is in his first season with the club. Jeffries is the former manager of FC Dallas (2001-2003) and won two Open Cup titles while an assistant with the Chicago Fire (1998, 2000). Prior to joining Des Moines, Jeffries was a scout for the U.S. Men's National Team under Bob Bradley. As a player, he was the 1993 NCAA Player of the Year at Duke and made three appearances for the U.S. Men's National Team.
- Speaking about the chance for Des Moines' amateur players to take on Sporting Kansas City's professionals, Jeffries told the Des Moines Register: “They’re young, and you have some games that mean a lot and provide opportunities to do things that are new and unique for them, and this is one of those games."
- Upon taking the job, Jeffries said: "Making a run in the Open Cup and trying to get to the third round or more where we get an opportunity to play teams at higher levels is going to be very important.”
- Defender Brandon Fricke serves as the Des Moines Menace captain and is a former member of the Sporting KC Academy, playing for the U18's as recently as 2010. He scored the game-winning goal in the 86th minute of the team's second-round win on Tuesday.
- Goalkeeper Scott Angevine has earned shutouts in each of the team's first two U.S. Open Cup matches. He was an MLS League Pool Goalkeeper in 2012 based with Sporting KC and he participated in Sporting KC's 2012 and 2013 pre-seasons. He is a Kansas City native (Blue Valley Northwest alum) and former member of the Kansas City Brass.
- Twenty-four of the 32 players announced on the Menace roster have NCAA Division I experience.
- Des Moines will play at the St. Louis Lions in PDL play at 5 p.m. CT on Saturday, May 25 before coming to Kansas City for the Open Cup match-up.
Sporting KC has been one of the best defensive teams in MLS in recent seasons and Sunday's stats give an insight as to why.
The two central defenders, Matt Besler and Ike Opara, both had a higher percentage of duels won than any D.C. United field player. Opara won 9 of 11 of duels (81.8%) while Besler was successful in 10 of 13 (76.9%). Overall, Sporting KC won 60.9% of duels, second highest of the season.
The highest duels won percentage this season for Sporting KC was the first meeting between the two sides April 5th at Sporting Park (64.3%). Sporting KC has had at least 50% duels won in seven of 13 matches and averaging 52.2% per match.
The image to the right shows all of Besler and Opara's duels against D.C. United, who combined for 19 of 24 or a 79.2% success rate.
Go in-depth for Sporting Kansas City's 1-1 draw at D.C. United on Sunday afternoon at RFK Stadium with this match's Fast Facts.
- With the draw, Sporting Kansas City moves into sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference behind only the New York Red Bulls.
- Sporting KC is now 6-4-3 in 2013 and 3-2-2 on the road.
- Sporting Kansas City is 218-210-112 all-time and 74-133-64 all-time away from home.
- Sporting Kansas City's record against D.C. United moves to 19-18-10 all-time and 6-12-5 on the road in the series.
- Sporting Kansas City is unbeaten in their last six matches against D.C. United. Prior to Sunday’s draw, Sporting Kansas City had won their last five matches in the series.
- D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen earned his first point against Sporting KC and is now 0-5-1 all-time against the club.
- D.C. United (1-8-1) is winless since their home opener on March 9. With the draw, D.C. United breaks a seven-game losing streak, the longest in team history and seventh longest in MLS history.
- Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes made two changes to the starting lineup from last Sunday’s 1-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium. Benny Feilhaber started the match in place of Oriol Rosell and Matt Besler was on for Aurelien Collin.
- Rosell and Collin missed the match due to yellow card accumulation. Sunday marked the first time that Rosell and Collin have not started during the 2013 season.
- Matt Besler and Ike Opara played their first competitive minutes together in central defense on Sunday.
- D.C. United made three changes to their starting XI from last weekend’s 2-1 loss at FC Dallas Stadium, including Bill Hamid returning in net to replace Joe Willis. Daniel Woolard started for James Riley and Taylor Kemp started in place of Raphael Augusto.
- Taylor Kemp made his professional debut on Sunday, playing the first 45 minutes of the match before being replaced by Chris Pontius for D.C. United.
- Chris Korb and Perry Kitchen have started all 11 games for D.C. United this season.
- Sporting Kansas City took the 1-0 lead on an own goal by D.C. United in the 60th minute of the match. It was the first own goal in a Sporting KC match in 2013.
- The goal came from a Graham Zusi corner kick and is the second goal Sporting KC has scored this season off a corner kick.
- All 15 of Sporting Kansas City’s goals in 2013 have come from inside the penalty area.
- D.C. United earned their first point of the season when conceding the first goal. Prior to Sunday, the team was 0-8-0 when allowing the game’s opening goal.
- D.C. United have given up 20 goals this season, most in MLS. Twelve of the 20 goals conceded have come at home, which is also a League high.
- D.C. United equalized five minute later on a goal from Kyle Porter assisted by Chris Pontius.
- The goal was the latest D.C. United has scored in a match this season. Five of the team’s six goals in 2013 have come at RFK Stadium.
- Sporting KC is 5-2-2 when wearing Sporting Blue and 5-1-3 versus the Eastern Conference in 2013.
- Jimmy Nielsen has appeared in 74 straight MLS matches, including postseason, for Sporting Kansas City, dating back to June 12, 2011. The streak covers a span of 6,660 straight minutes of MLS action.
- Jimmy Nielsen surpassed 10,000 minutes played with the club on Sunday (including playoffs). Nielsen becomes the second player on the active roster to surpass this milestone in a KC uniform.
- Seth Sinovic surpassed 7,000 regular season minutes played in his MLS career on Sunday.
- Sporting Kansas City outshot D.C. United 14-7. Sporting KC is 5-3-3 when outshooting an opponent this season.
- Sporting KC controlled 59% of the possession on Sunday and won 60% of the duels.
- Sporting Kansas City earned 12 corner kicks on Sunday, most in a single-match this season for the club.
- Graham Zusi took 11 of the 12 corner kicks. Zusi leads the League in corner kicks with 60.
- Zusi made 18 total crosses in the match, more than any other player on the field.
- Sporting Kansas City leads MLS in fouls suffered this season, but suffered a season-low nine fouls on Sunday.
- Sporting KC leads MLS all-time in shots with 7,374 and ranks first in MLS this season with 182 shots.
- Sporting Kansas City has allowed the fewest shots among all MLS teams this year with 109 shots against.
- Matt Besler returned to the starting lineup for the first time since April 27, 2013 after suffering a knee injury at training.
- Besler made 16 clearances in the match, more than any other player on the field and won seven of his nine aerial duels, also more than any other player in Sunday’s match.
- Besler and Seth Sinovic each had 76 touches in tonight’s match, tied for most of all players.
- D.C. United was without Young Designated Player Rafael due to concussion symptoms.
- The Boulevard Members Club at Sporting Park hosted a Watch Party for Sunday’s match. Sporting KC striker Soony Saad was in attendance to meet supporters.
Sporting KC wrapped a two match road trip with a 1-1 draw at D.C. United. It was a frustrating match at times (mostly due a disallowed first half goal) but still a positive result to get four points from two away matches.
Man of the Match
Matt Besler helped to lead a solid defensive effort for Sporting KC in his first match since April 27th. The central defender led all players with 16 clearances and seven aerial duels won. Besler played his first minutes of the season with Ike Opara (filling in for the suspended Aurelien Colin) and the two limited chances for D.C. United's attacking players, most notably Dwayne De Rosario.
The Opara goal that was ruled offside changed the rest of the match. If allowed, it would have put an emphasis on D.C. United to attack for the final 60 minutes and probably given Sporting KC more opportunities on counterattacks. Credit to Opara who had a major role in the 60th minute own goal (his header deflected off D.C. United player before going into the back of the net) and continues to perform well in central defense. There's no knowing how the match would have changed if the goal was allowed, but it certainly was a major turning point.
A few stats
- Graham Zusi had five key passes, no D.C. United player had more than one
- Matt Besler won 83.3% of duels, the highest of any field player (non GK) in the match
- Jacob Peterson completed 20 of 22 passes (90.9%)
- Sporting KC are unbeaten in their last six matches (5-0-1) versus D.C. United
- 12 corner kicks is a season high for Sporting KC
What's been the cause/reason for D.C. United's slow start?
"There's no one reason why this team has been so bad this year. It's really a collection of reasons. Partly in that last year's late season success was a product of to some extend overachievement and everything going their way, credit to them for it. Were they the third best team in MLS last year? Probably not. That was an issue. They rely heavily on Dwayne De Rosario, who's turning 35. They haven't gotten the production from a MLS Best XI player Chris Pontius this year so that's hurt them a lot. There's been no balance with their performances either. When the defense has played well, the attack has offered nothing. On those occasions when the defense has broken down, the offense has been ok but it's all of these little things that have gone wrong for them."
What do you expect to see on Sunday at RFK Stadium?
"My hunch is that it's going to be a tie and that D.C. will find a way to get a result. But are they good enough right now to beat a high quality opponent like Kansas City? I don't know. Can Nick DeLeon go more than 45 minutes? Can Pontius play at all after sitting out several games? There's a lot of questions out there and my hunch is that it will be a 1-1 tie."
What's been the cause for D.C. United's losing streak and is there any sense of panic with the team?
"I think it's enough of a slide that there's real concern that they don't get too far behind. There's been some subtle changes with certain people not coming back whether it's Branko Boskovic or Hamdi Salihi so it's not exactly the same team as last year. The reality is that they've just had some gaffes on defense that have been costly in this recent losing streak. They just have not found a way to really consistently threaten on offense. That's both sides of the game right there. Not much has been going well of late for them to point to. That's why they're in the position they're in right now."
What do you expect to see from Sunday's match?
"If D.C. United are going to have any success it's going to have to show discipline and focus on defense for 90 minutes. I'm not saying that means they are going to sit back. I just think that if you look at how FC Dallas' goal is scored (game-winning goal), it was on a corner kick. Showing better focus and attention to details on set pieces. Beyond that, it's hard to say what to expect because I think there are some open questions about who will be in or out of the D.C. lineup right now. There were changes last week that weren't necessarily precipitated by injury but precipitated by the need to find a better result. There's still questions about who will be in the starting 11 for D.C. United. I think that will also dictate how the game goes. I don't think that it's clear yet how the midfield will be constructed. I don't think it's clear yet who will be up top. In the state D.C. United is it, it's hard to say with any certainty what to expect. I think it's clear what needs to happen for D.C. United but it remains a lot of questions with this team right now."
Sporting KC will face Eastern Conference opponents D.C. United for the second time in as many months on Sunday afternoon. Let's take a closer look at D.C. ahead of the match.
Lewis Neal and Marcelo Saragosa are listed as out for Sunday while Chris Pontius, Carlos Ruiz, and John Thorrington are all questionable. Pontius has not played in the last three matches but could be in line to return, at least as a second half sub. Goalkeeper Bill Hamid did not play at Dallas due to a coach's decision but is expected to be available.
D.C. United are currently on a seven match losing streak (which includes SKC's 1-0 win on April 5) and only scored four goals in that stretch. The team has struggled but were projected by many to make the playoffs in 2013 and still a side with plenty of talent. MLS is a league where it's always tough to get results on the road and Sunday should be no different at RFK Stadium.
Dwayne De Rosario - One of the best attacking players in MLS who will be the main focus for the Sporting KC defense.
Perry Kitchen - A steady presence in central midfield who has started every match this season for D.C. United.
|May 8th vs Houston||May 11th at Dallas|
Sporting Kansas City will face D.C. United for the 47th time MLS (regular season) on Sunday afternoon. It's the second of three meetings between the two sides in the 2013 regular season. The first match of 2013 was on April 5th at Sporting Park in which Sporting KC won 1-0 on an 89th minute winner from Claudio Bieler.
Sporting KC have won the last five consecutive matches in the head-to-head series including handing D.C. United their only regular season home loss in 2012.
MLS regular season Head To Head
Home Matches: 13-6-5 (46 goals scored, 28 goals conceded)
Away Matches: 6-12-4 (25 goals scored, 33 goals conceded)
|Sporting KC||Stat||D.C. United|
|Claudio Bieler 6||GOALS||Lionard Pajoy 2|
|Graham Zusi 4||ASSISTS||Six players tied 1|
|Claudio Bieler 32||SHOTS||Dwayne De Rosario 21|
|Aurelien Collin 26||FOULS||Lionard Pajoy 16|
|Jimmy Nielsen 22||SAVES||Bill Hamid 25|
|Jimmy Nielsen 0.75||GAA||Bill Hamid 1.89|
|Sporting KC||D.C. United|
|Shots (on goal)||168 (49)||106 (34)|
|Fouls Committed (Suffered)||186 (172)||108 (137)|
|Duels Won (Avg)||51.5%||50.3%|
|Completed Passes (Avg)||428||399|
|Passing Accuracy (Avg)||76.1%||75.7%|
Last 10 MLS regular season matches
Sporting Kansas City will face D.C. United for the second time this season as the two teams meet on Sunday afternoon at RFK Stadium. What matchups and players will be crucial for each team to get a result from Sunday's match? Check out the video below to find out featuring MLSSoccer.com's Greg Lalas and Matt Doyle.
Ever wonder what it would be like to hang out with your favorite team or kick around with your favorite player? One young Sporting KC fan doesn’t have to wonder anymore thanks to EA SPORTS Game Time.
EA SPORTS Game Time gives youth reporters an all-access pass to their favorite professional athletes. These reporters take the cameras on the field and into the locker room as they get to play with the pros. Game Time is a weekly sports/education television program on a mission to inspire the next generation of professional athletes. So who better to host Game Time then the future pros themselves?
Oliver Bihuniak,14, was the lucky youth reporter selected for the shoot. EA SPORTS’ cameras focused in as Oliver talked and trained with Sporting KC players Soony Saad, Uri Rosell, Chance Myers, C.J. Sapong, Ike Opara, Mikey Lopez, Matt Besler, and Jimmy Nielsen. With his knowledge and familiarity of his hometown team, Oliver knew how to talk to the players as he interviewed several of the guys. Oliver’s soccer skills didn’t let him down in training either, as he was able to keep up with the pros as best as any 14-year-old could.
Training wrapped up with a huddle led by Besler, who then took Oliver into the locker room where he was presented with his own official #9 team jersey and shown what his locker would look like at Sporting Park.
Several times throughout the shoot, Oliver was asked how it felt and the only answer the youth reporter had for the day, “This is awesome.”
As the 14-year-old played with the pros at Sporting Park, he showed why he very well could be leading the charge of the next generation of professional athletes, impressing the coaching staff. “This kid’s good” was echoed by a couple of coaches on the day.
So if you ever wonder what it would be like to hang out with Sporting KC or kick around with your favorite Sporting player - take it from Oliver, it's awesome. Oliver's episode will air later this month.
The Sporting KC Show will air on Sports Radio 810 WHB from 7-8 p.m. CT on Tuesday, live from Em Chamas Brazilian Grill (6101 NW 63rd Terrace, Kansas City, MO). Hosts Callum Williams and Andy Edwards will be joined by Sporting KC midfielder Benny Feilhaber to catch up listeners on all the latest discussion around Sporting Kansas City and Major League Soccer, including analysis from the team's 1-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo last night and thoughts on their next match at D.C. United on Sunday.
Earlier today, Callum was a guest on The Program with Soren Petro, while Andy Edwards joined Between the Lines with Kevin Kietzman later in the afternoon. Click the links for their full interviews and follow both hosts on Twitter at @AndyEdSKC and @CalWilliamsSKC. They'll take your questions on Tuesday night via Twitter or through the phone at 913-3-810-810.