To get everyone prepared for Saturday's MLS Cup, I'll be taking an in-depth look at Real Salt Lake with some help from broadcaster Brian Dunseth. In our third part of Scouting RSL, we look at the club's goalkeepers.
Nick Rimando (82 saves, 14 wins, nine shutouts) - Runner-up for MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and consistently one of the top goalkeepers in MLS each season.
"I think arguably he's (Rimando) in the top 5 goalkeepers in the history fo the league. I think every single year his positioning as gotten better. I think he's minimized his mistakes. No one ever talks about his size (5'10") like they did in the beginning of his career. He's won multiple MLS Cups. He's now cemented himself as the third goalkeeper for the U.S. Men's National Team. Year after year we always talk about him as one of two or three goalkeepers that are potentially up for Goalkeeper of the Year. He comes up with huge saves. He's a very good goalkeeper all around and he's a leader in the locker room."
- Nick Rimando leads MLS with a 73.95 save percentage
- Nick Rimando has allowed less than 40 goals in every season with Real Salt Lake (started at least 26 matches each year)
- Nick Rimando has at least 10 wins in six of seven season with Real Salt Lake
- Nick Rimando won the 2004 MLS Cup as goalkeeper for D.C. United (defeated Kansas City 3-2)
On Tuesday night, Calllum Williams, Andy Edwards, and Carter Augustine hosted a special two-hour edition of the Sporting KC Show in Sports Radio 810 WHB. The show featured several guests to preview Saturday's MLS Cup against Real Salt Lake.
In the opening hour, the guys discussed the latest Major League Soccer news and spoke with Sporting KC defender Seth Sinovic and Real Salt Lake broadcaster Brian Dunseth. Next, the discussion turned towards Saturday's match vs Real Salt Lake and were joined by former Kansas City manager Bob Gansler.
The full podcast of last night's show is available below.
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.
In the latest episode of Between the Lines, MLSsoccer.com's Matt Doyle looks at the impact of Sporting KC's and Real Salt Lake's fullbacks on the success of each team and the role those players could play in determining Saturday's MLS Cup Final.
To get everyone prepared for Saturday's MLS Cup, I'll be taking an in-depth look at Real Salt Lake with some help from broadcaster Brian Dunseth. In our second part of Scouting RSL, we look at the club's defenders.
Nat Borchers (1 goals, 2 assists) - An experience player that's started 20 matches in postseason play including the team's 2009 MLS Cup title.
Chris Schuler (2 goals in playoffs) - A talented young central defender who has emerged this season as a player to watch
"It's been a rotating cast of characters this season for RSL. It started with Nat Borchers coming in recovering from quad surgery. At the beginning of the year it was Chris Schuler and Kwame Watson-Siriboe. Kwame ends up going down after about 10 game. Schuler had a little bit of an issue with a metatarsal that kept him out for pretty much the entire summer. One of the positives we saw was the development of Carlos Salcedo, a 19 year-old centerback, really come along and out of nowhere give Real Salt Lake a glimpse into the future. It was going to be an interesting year no matter what primarily because Jamison Olave departed and I think a lot of people focused on Chris Schuler being the centerback partner to Nat Borchers. That's what ended up happening but it took a lot longer than people were expecting. As always, it's a solid four with Rimando behind. Usually you're thinking Chris Wingert on the left, Tony Beltran on the right, Nat Borchers sitting, and Kyle Beckerman holding in front. To replace Jamison, you lose the strength and the speed but at the same time you still have a core group of players who have played significant minutes in years together. It was interesting at first and I think there was some mistakes made that we're not used to seeing Real Salt Lake teams make but that being said they really came around quickly and it really turned into a very strong unit."
- Real Salt Lake has won 82.39% of tackles this season
- Nat Borchers has won 23 of 36 (63%) aerial duels in postseason play
- Real Salt Lake leads all MLS playoff teams with 199 clearances
- Tony Beltran has won 31 of 48 (65%) duels in postseason play
- Real Salt Lake had no defender start more than 28 matches in the regular season (Sporting KC had two)
Leading up MLS Cup 2013 at Sporting Park on December 7, we'll be counting down Sporting KC's Top 10 moments on the Quest for MLS Cup this season. Today, we look at No. 4 which features a save in overtime in the MLS Cup Playoffs..
After a 2-1 score through 90 minutes in the second leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals vs New England, overtime would be required for Sporting Kansas City to advance in the playoffs. In the 109th minute, the Revolution's Juan Agudelo had a great opportunity in front of goal but goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen was up to the task. The White Puma quickly came off his line and made the key save to keep it tied at 3-3 on aggregate. Four minutes later, Claudio Bieler would score a 113th minute goal that sent the club into the Eastern Conference Championship.
Here's No. 4 in our countdown, Nielsen's clutch save at Sporting Park on November 6.
To get everyone prepared for Saturday's MLS Cup, I'll be taking an in-depth look at Real Salt Lake with some help from broadcaster Brian Dunseth. In our first part of Scouting RSL, we look at the club's forwards.
Alvaro Saborio (12 goals, 2 assists) - One of the league's best strikers who has scored 12 goals in 16 matches this season. He has struggled with injuries in the postseason but is expected to be available for MLS Cup.
Robbie Findley (6 goals, 2 assists) - A forward with great speed who scored in RSL's only MLS Cup title (2009).
Devon Sandoval (3 goals) - A second round draft pick (29th overall) who has impressed during the postseason while filling in for the injured Saborio.
"I think the difference this year (compared to the last few years) is that if Fabian Espindola or Alvaro Saborio weren't scoring then Real Salt Lake wasn't necessarily scoring. I think this year having five different strikers (Saborio, Findley, Sandoval, Plata, Garcia) that can play in a variety of positions as well as affording to Jason Kreis different physical skills and talents. Sabo's the big post-up point striker. Sandoval can mimic what Sabo does but doesn't play the same way. Olmes Garcia has just strength and athleticism along with speed to burn. Jaoa Plata's small and diminuitive but yet at the same time can go up against any defender in the league and skin'em. And then Robbie Findley, who's a very very solid player pretty much all the way around. A lot of different options. A lot of different looks and in particular this year I think all five players afforded Jason Kreis the opportunity to get away from the diamond formation and play in a 4-4-3 or play in a 4-5-1 and allow Jason to change the look and complexion of the team depending on who they went up against."
- Real Salt Lake scored 57 goals in the regular season, second only to New York
- 51 of those 57 goals were scored inside the 18 yard box
- Real Salt Lake scored 26 goals in away matches, the most of any team this season
- Seven of Real Salt Lake's seven postseason goals have been scored on headers
- Real Salt Lake has not scored a goal outside the 18 yard box this postseason
- Real Salt Lake has hit the woodwork (post) two times this postseason
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.
Leading up MLS Cup 2013 at Sporting Park on December 7, we'll be counting down Sporting KC's Top 10 moments on the Quest for MLS Cup this season. Today, we look at No. 5 which features late game heroics from an unlikely source.
Heading into the final match of the regular season at Philadelphia, Sporting KC still had an opportunity to win the Supporters' Shield and guarantee they'd host MLS Cup. After a Graham Zusi goal, the Union fought back to level the match late in the second half but still needed another goal to keep their playoff hopes alive. Sporting KC responded in stoppage time with a Lawrence Olum goal, the midfielders' first ever in MLS play. The win was vital in that it meant if Sporting KC reached MLS cup, it would be played at Sporting Park.
Here's No. 5 in our countdown, Olum's game-winning goal at PPL Park on October 26.
Leading up MLS Cup 2013 at Sporting Park on December 7, we'll be counting down Sporting KC's Top 10 moments on the Quest for MLS Cup this season. Today, we look at No. 6 which features a clinical finish from Graham Zusi.
The goal was the difference in a 2-1 victory which was crucial in keeping pace in the Eastern Conference and Supporters' Shield races and improved the club's record to an impressive 12-0-1 record all-time when Zusi scores.
Here's No. 6 in our countdown, Zusi's 88th minute goal at Sporting Park on August 31.