Photo by USA Tooday Sports Images
Since returning from Nicaragua after Tuesday night's CONCACAF Champions League opener, Sporting Kansas City has turned the team's attention to a top of the table clash with D.C. United on Saturday at Sporting Park. Two points separate the last two U.S. Open Cup champions in the Eastern Conference standings with two months remaining in the regular season.
Ahead of the 2004 MLS Cup rematch, listen to this week's interviews as heard on local sports radio.
Sporting KC Show on 810 WHB feat. Dom Dwyer and Kerry Zavagnin (Aug. 20)
The Border Patrol on Sports Radio 810 WHB feat. Peter Vermes (Aug. 21)
Fescoe in the Morning on 610 Sports Radio feat. Jon Kempin (Aug. 22)
Four years ago this month, Jon Kempin became the club's first homegrown player and the youngest signing to that point when he turned pro at age 17.
"This is a great day for our organization," Peter Vermes said at the time. "We had the opportunity to identify a talented player in the area, bring him into the (Academy) program and develop him to the point where we could sign him to a professional contract. Jon has incredible talent and now he has the opportunity to continue his development at a professional level and not have the pressure to perform on the field right away.”
Pressure to perform, like being told at halftime to warmup for your MLS debut and then facing a penalty kick for your first shot on goal faced.
Or lining up across from the League's top paid player, U.S. Men's National Team star Michael Bradley, in your first career MLS start.
Or following that with a 2,000+ mile trek to Central America three days later for a Champions League encounter in Nicaragua.
Kempin aced all three tests since being summoned back from his loan to USL PRO affiliate OKC Energy FC in the aftermath of an injury to starting goalkeeper Eric Kronberg and then stepping into the spotlight when Andy Gruenebaum was sidelined with a strained shoulder. Now 21, Kempin is the youngest goalkeeper to start an MLS match in team history and the youngest at his position to appear in MLS this season.
To quote Kempin on his first day as a professional, "Now is when the fun starts."
Cast your vote below for the Man of the Match from Sporting Kansas City's 1-1 draw against Real Esteli on Tuesday night at Nicaragua. Voting is open through Wednesday evening.
Update: Congratulations to Ryan McDonald for submitting the winning caption. Please contact email@example.com to claim your prize.
Sporting Kansas City moved into first place in the race for the Supporters' Shield after defeating Eastern Conference foes Toronto FC 4-1 at Sporting Park last weekend. Needless to say, the boys brought nothing but smiles during postgame interviews with SKCTV commentator Jake Yadrich - especially two of the three goalscorers (Dom Dwyer and C.J. Sapong) and man of the match himself (Jon Kempin) pictured above.
Dwyer opened the scoring on Saturday by converting two first half penalty kicks to move his goal scoring total to 16, second most in MLS this season. Sapong's second half strike moves the Virginia native into a tie for ninth on KC's all-time chart for career goals scored during the regular season with 20 and Sporting KC's record when Sapong scores is now 19-0-2 including the postseason.
Saturday was the first career MLS start for Kempin, who has been nominated for MLS Save of the Week honors for Week 23 after his crucial stop against Gilberto to preserve his team's lead. Kempin already earned the accolade in Week 22 on his MLS debut after stopping a penalty kick attempt by Darren Mattocks.
Submit your best caption to the photo above by 6 p.m. CT on Thursday, August 21 and you'll be entered to win two tickets to Saturday's match against D.C. United and $20 worth of Kansas Lottery instant scratch tickets. Entries for this week's caption contest, brough to you by Kansas Lottery, can be submitted via the comments section below. You must be 18 years of age or older to be eligible for the prize. Good luck!
Congratulations to Emily Michaels! The sophomore soccer player at the University of Nebraska Omaha has won Sporting KC's inaugural "Oh Say Can You Sing" National Anthem Contest.
With hundreds of submissions, 10 finalists were selected by a collection of Sporting Kansas City players and front office staff. The 10 YouTube videos were posted to SportingKC.com for a fan vote. In a close contest, Emily edged out the competition and will now perform the National Anthem on Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd at Sporting Park prior to Sporting KC's match against D.C. United.
A limited number of tickets are available for the match-up between the top two teams in the Eastern Conference. Secure your seat online at Ticketmaster.com.
Cast your vote below for Sporting Kansas City's Man of the Match in Saturday's 4-1 win over Toronto FC at Sporting Park on Saturday night. Voting is open through Monday.
Does your son or daughter need a new wardrobe for their first week of school? You're in luck!
Sporting Kansas City will be hosting a Back to School sale for Sporting KC Season Ticket Members prior to Saturday's match at Sporting Park. Season Ticket Member cards MUST be shown to enter the sale which will take place next to the Sporting Style store on the north end of the Sprint Plaza.
The sale will run from 5:30pm - 7pm CT (while supplies last) but fans can receive an additional 10% off items from 5:30pm - 6:30pm CT.
Sporting KC's match against Toronto FC will kick off at 7:30pm CT. Limited tickets are available and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com or at the Sporting Park Box Office on Saturday.
A week ago, it was Sporting KC captain Matt Besler. Last night, Sporting Club CEO Robb Heineman took his turn. Today, Manager Peter Vermes and four more of the MLS Cup champions joined in on the nationwide movement.
Check out the video playlist below to see Dom Dwyer, Jon Kempin, Jacob Peterson and Erik Palmer-Brown follow their coach's lead after the team's training on Thursday at the Swope Soccer Village.
In addition to raising awareness for the disease, the Ice Bucket Challenge has led to $7.6 million in donations for The ALS Association since July 29. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gehrig's Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that currently has no cure. Click here to learn more about ALS and to find out how you can support the cause.
Sporting Kansas City players Graham Zusi, Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Dom Dwyer and Soony Saad used their hands to help the Kansas City affiliate of Habitat for Humanity build a home for a local family in need. The home has been in the process of being rebuilt over the past few weeks and the players helped further that progress on Tuesday afternoon.
The Kansas City affiliate of Habitat for Humanity is celebrating its 35th year providing affordable homes to qualified families in the KC area. The organization aims to work on 35 houses over the course of the year, with six of those being complete rebuilds. The house that was worked on during Tuesday’s community effort is one of those six being rebuilt. But it wasn’t just Sporting KC players working. They were joined by people from Fat Brain Toys, Jose Pepper’s and the Legoland Discovery Center.
“I am just overjoyed,” said homeowner Crystal Stewart. “The fact that this many people are willing to donate their time and energy to help me is huge for me. It’s a big day.”
There was a great deal of joy felt outside the home, where people from different organizations were able to come together to help. Putting in the work for a project like this may not be easy, but the players recognized their hard work will pay great dividends.
“I love these kinds of opportunities to give back to the community and help out any way I can,” said Zusi. “It’s even more special when you can see how much the work impacts that person, like it does for Crystal.”
To learn more about the Kansas City affiliate of Habitat for Humanity and how to get involved, visit habitatkc.org.
If you've been on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc., you may have seen a new trend that's taken over the internet. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is the latest craze that has people of all ages pouring ice cold water on their head to raise money for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gehrig's Disease.
Click here to learn more about ALS or to donate to the cause.
UPDATE: Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid completes his challenge from Heineman on the final day of the team's training camp at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, MO (video here).
— Johnny Kane KMBC-TV (@johnnykaneKMBC) August 14, 2014