Photo by Gary Rohman
Sporting Kansas City captain Matt Besler was a guest on Sports Radio 810 WHB this morning, joining The Border Patrol hosts Nate Bukaty and Steven St. John to discuss Saturday's match at New York City FC (6 p.m. CT on SKCTV) and his alma mater Notre Dame taking on Wichita State in the Sweet Sixteen.
On the opportunity to play at Yankee Stadium...
"I can not wait. I think it's going to be awesome. (It's) one of the most historical stadiums in the world. We get to experience it and play there. I am really looking forward to it."
On the reduced field dimensions...
"It's a factor. Again, we're going to try to turn it and play it into a positive for us. The way that NYCFC plays right now is they keep a lot of possession. They like to keep the ball on the ground. With a smaller field though, it allows us to pressure the ball. And that's one of our strengths. When we're on our game and we're working hard and pressuring, there are not a whole lot of teams that can keep the ball against us. That's how we feel. We're going to go up there and try to use the field to our advantage to disrupt their rhythym."
On aiming for team's first win...
"There's definitely some urgency to get some points, we all realize that. In no way are we panicking. It's still so early in the season. It would be great to be sitting on nine points right now, but we're not. The great thing is we've seen improvement with our performances. Last Saturday against Portland was a great sign. If we can play like that and create the chances that we created, more times than not we're going to win games and we're going to be just fine."
On the fans support...
"Our fans are unbelievable. They show up every week and give everything they have. Last Saturday, it felt like a different atmosphere. When the ball went out of bounds for a corner kick, you could just feel the energy in the stadium pick up because everyone believed we were going to create a chance. More times than not on those set pieces, we did. For whatever reason, the ball just didn't want to go in."
On preparing to face David Villa...
"He is really shifty. He's not the biggest guy. He's probably not the fastest guy either. But his center of gravity is low. He's got unbelievable balance. And he can go either way. As a defender, that's sometimes some of the hardest people to guard...With David Villa, he's very unpredictable. Because he so's talented, he can do a lot of different things. That's what makes him difficult."
Covitz accepting the Joe McGuff Sports Journalist of the Year Award in 2011
Congratulations and well wishes to Kansas City Star sports reporter Randy Covitz on his recent retirement.
During his 34-year career at the newspaper, Covitz's byline appeared next to many of the most memorable moments in the city's modern soccer history -- from covering the Comets and Attack at Kemper Arena to writing about the Wizards at Arrowhead Stadium to stories filed on deadline from Sporting Park.
He sat in the Soldier Field press box for the opening game of the 1994 World Cup and traveled to Detroit the next day for the United States first match at the Pontiac Silverdome. He delivered the news to Star readers that Kansas City was awarded a Major League Soccer team in 1995 and his preview piece ran on the day of the team's inaugural game less than a year later.
On this day in 1996, Covitz published an in-depth look at American soccer on the cusp of Major League Soccer's first season. The article included interviews with club owner/founder Lamar Hunt, as well as Ron Newman (the first coach in MLS history), on the return of professional outdoor soccer to Kansas City for the first time since 1970 when the Kansas City Spurs played in the NASL.
"Times have changed enormously," said Hunt. "...It won't be done overnight, but it's a different time, a different era."
Click here to read the full feature.
Covitz continued to cover the sport and it's local stars in recent years, from Peter Vermes being named manager in 2009 to his induction into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2013 -- after previously reporting on the Hall of Fame elections of Preki (2010) and Bob Gansler (2011) in the years between.
Prior to joining the Kansas City Star, Covitz served as the Columbia Missourian sports editor and spent seven years on staff at the Memphis Press-Scimitar in Tennessee. He graduated from the University of Missouri's School of Journalism in 1971.
Sporting Kansas City defender Jalil Anibaba was a guest on The Sporting KC Show last night, joining hosts Nate Bukaty, Andy Gruenebaum and Carter Augustine at Jazz, A Louisiana Kitchen to discuss the team's draw against the Portland Timbers last weekend and to preview Saturday's match at New York City FC. Listen to the full podcast embedded below and available each week on 810whb.com.
Anibaba -- acquired in the offseason from the Seattle Sounders -- was one of three players to make their Sporting KC debuts in the scoreless draw along with Servando Carrasco and Soni Mustivar.
On the defensive end, he contributed to the club's first shutout of the season by winning seven of his nine duels (including all four aerials) with three clearances, two interceptions, two recoveries and one tackle won. Offensively, he led all players with three shots while also logging 66 touches, 29 successful passes and two dribbles completed.
His performance earned the praise of Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes and fellow defender Ike Opara.
Photos by Jamila St. Ann
Sporting Kansas City continued preparation today for the team's first-ever trip to Yankee Stadium, where they will take on Eastern Conference leaders New York City FC at 6 p.m. CT on Saturday live on SKCTV. Check out the slideshow above -- courtesy of Jamila St. Ann -- with images from today's training session at Swope Soccer Village.
Saturday's match will be the focus of tonight's Sporting KC Show from 7-8 p.m. CT on Sports Radio 810 WHB. Hosts Nate Bukaty, Andy Gruenebaum and Carter Augustine will be joined by Sporting KC defender Jalil Anibaba during the show, which will air live from Jazz, A Louisiana Kitchen at the Legends (1859 Village West Parkway) in Kansas City, Kansas. Tune in on 810 AM, 810whb.com or via the station's free mobile app and join the discussion by calling 913-3-810-810.
Major League Soccer enters its third week of the season with another exciting slate of games scheduled. Aside from Sporting KC's match against the Portland Timbers Saturday night at Sporting Park (Tickets), there are three nationally-televised matches that we'll be watching this weekend:
Philadelphia Union vs. FC Dallas - Saturday, March 21 - 3pm CT | Univision Deportes Network
The only perfect team in Major League Soccer opens week three with a road test in Chester, Pennsylvania, against the Philadelphia Union. FC Dallas is coming off a 3-1 win over Sporting KC after their season-opening 1-0 win against the San Jose Earthquakes. Philadelphia earned a heartbreaking 3-3 tie last week against Real Salt Lake after a questionable call gave RSL a game-tying penalty kick in the final minutes of the game.
New York Red Bulls v. D.C. United - Sunday, March 22 - 4pm CT | ESPN2
This week's edition of the I-95 series features two of Major League Soccer's original clubs. The New York Red Bulls will play their first home game of 2015 this weekend against D.C. United. The Red Bulls tied Sporting KC 1-1 in the team's first match of the year, while D.C. United opened the year with a 1-0 win over the Montreal Impact.
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Chicago Fire - Sunday, March 22 - 6pm CT | FOX Sports 1
The second match of Sunday's MLS doubleheader is a long-time coming for Major League Soccer. After not securing a stadium for the San Jose Earthquakes in the mid 2000s, the club left the city for Houston prior to the 2006 campaign. Two years later, San Jose was awarded a new club and on Sunday it will play its first game at Avaya Stadium (pictured, right), the latest soccer-specific-stadium in the United States. San Jose is coming off an impressive 3-2 win at Seattle, while the Chicago Fire are looking for their first point of the year after back-to-back losses in the season's first two weeks.
Since it opened on June 9, 2011, Sporting Park has hosted its share of major events. From MLS Cup to the MLS All-Star Game, to World Cup qualifiers for both the United States Men's and Women's National Teams, Kansas City has proven to be a hotbed for American / International soccer with Sporting Park at the epicenter.
For today's TBT, we're throwing it back to the beginning. After Sporting KC opened Sporting Park with a scoreless draw against the Chicago Fire, the newest soccer-specific stadium in the United States faced a quick turnaround before a Gold Cup doubleheader only five days later.
The first match of the doubleheader pitted Canada against Panama. That match finished 1-1 with seven-time MLS All-Star striker Dwayne De Rosario scoring the lone goal for Canada. As the Canada match came to a close, the Sporting Park stands quickly filled for the much-anticipated night-cap as the USMNT made their first trip to Kansas City since 2001.
The USMNT controlled the run of play against the overmatched Guadeloupe, but could only muster one Jozy Altidore goal in a 1-0 victory. The USMNT finished second in the group stage and defeated Jamaica and Panama in the knockout round before falling to Mexico 4-2 in the championship match in head coach Bob Bradley's final match in charge.
Four years later, the Gold Cup returns to Kansas City and the United States will square off against Panama in the headline match. The first match of the doubleheader features Haiti against the winner of the Honduras / French Guiana play-in series. On Thursday, Sporting KC midfielder Roger Espinoza was named to Honduras' squad for the two-match play-in series against French Guiana.
Tickets for the Gold Cup doubleheader went on sale to the general public Thursday morning. They can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com.
Do you think the United States will successfully defend its Gold Cup title and clinch a berth in the 2017 Confederations Cup? Comment below!
Sporting Kansas City was off on Wednesday and so were students across the Midwest. The KCMO school district is in the midst of Spring Break, but World Cup veteran and Notre Dame pre-med graduate Matt Besler knows that every day counts in the quest to get better. Besler hosted a STEM in Sports clinic in conjunction with Time Warner Cable for children from the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kansas City. The students learned about science and math while having fun on the soccer field.
After Besler demonstrated the Magnus effect with throw-ins and corner kicks, Sporting KC head fitness coach Mateus Manoel spoke to the group about how the team incorporates technology into the players' training, treatment, hydration and diet. To end the fun-filled day of activities, the students received a guided tour of Sporting Park to learn about the engineering entailed in designing a soccer-specific stadium.
Wednesday wasn't the last time they'll be able to see the unique infastructure inside the start-of-the-art stadium. Each student received a prize pack that included a pair of tickets to Sporting Kansas City's home match against the Philadelphia Union on April 5.
Listen to the latest edition of The Sporting KC Show embedded below as hosts Dave Borchardt, Andy Gruenebaum and Carter Augustine were joined by Portland Timbers midfielder Jack Jewsbury and Sporting KC assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin for last night's episode on Sports Radio 810 WHB. Once teammates in Kansas City, Jewsbury and Zavagnin previewed this Saturday's match-up at Sporting Park.
Jewsbury -- a Missouri native -- played his first eight professional seasons in KC after being drafted in the fifth round of the 2003 MLS SuperDraft. He is one of only six active MLS players to appear in more than 300 regular season matches and has been a member of the Timbers since their inaugural MLS season in 2011. Only Diego Chara and Darlington Nagbe have more MLS appearances for the club.
A limited number of tickets remain available, including standing room only tickets, via Ticketmaster.com for Saturday and the first 10,000 fans inside the gates will receive Sporting KC flags courtesy of H&R Block.
The Sporting Club Network (SCN), presented by Price Chopper, is excited to announce the #1Crest1Club contest, presented by Chipotle, has started up for the spring season! Starting today, SCN members have the ability to participate in this online contest giving them the chance to win Chipotle gift cards or tickets to a Sporting KC match.
At Sporting KC -- and within SCN -- we believe that we are all a part of one big club, from the professionals playing at Sporting Park to the recreational teams playing across the Midwest. Network members and Sporting KC players both wear the Sporting Club patch on their jerseys to signify how we are all represented by the same crest.
Here is where the fun comes in, and we are looking for some real creativity this year. All you have to do is snap a picture that clearly includes the SCN Price Chopper patch on your jersey. This can be a group shot after a game, at the beach on vacation or even a selfie in the stands at Sporting Park! We want to see where you enjoy representing the Sporting Club crest.
Once you get the perfect picture, send it into the SCN on Twitter or Instagram by tagging @SportingKC_SCN and using the #1Crest1Club hashtag. Each day (Monday-Friday), Sporting KC staff members will choose a daily winner at 6 p.m. CT. These winners will receive a Chipotle gift card.
Once the contest ends on April 10, the 20 daily winners will be narrowed down to the top three. The contest will then move to a vote via SCN social media accounts for the grand prize. The grand prize voting will run from April 10-12 and the winner will be announced on April 13! This grand prize winner will receive a tour of Sporting Park before the game and two tickets in the Victory Suite for the Sporting KC match on May 3rd against Chicago Fire.
After conceding an early goal to FC Dallas, Sporting KC midfielder Roger Espinoza levels the match at 1-1 with a left-footed strike from just outside the 18 yard box.