The Sporting Club Network, presented by Price Chopper, is very excited to host a brand new contest called #SCNskills! Starting July 6th, all members of the Sporting Club Network are invited to share videos showing off their best soccer tricks and skills via any of the SCN social media platforms. Each member that successfully submits an entry will have the chance to win exclusive Sporting KC prizes, including meet-and-greets with players and even a grand prize gameday experience at Sporting Park. Do you think you have what it takes?
For more information regarding the #SCNskills contest and how you can enter to win these exciting prizes, visit www.sportingkc.com/scnskills. And to stay up-to-date on all things Sporting Club Network, be sure to follow the SCN on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Good luck!
This week’s Sporting Spotlight shines brightly on Kansas City’s own Jon Kempin. KMCI-TV 38 the Spot host Crystle Lampitt chatted with the 22-year-old homegrown goalkeeper to learn more about his dedication to soccer.
Kempin, who turned pro in 2010, is currently enrolled at Johnson County Community College in pursuit of a business degree. Kempin also speaks about his new Christmas gift: a puppy affectionately nicknamed “Chewy."
Tune in every Monday morning for the newest Sporting Spotlight on 38 The Spot or check out their YouTube playlist to catch up on previous segments.
Every year, MLS WORKS teams up with Wells Fargo to honor individuals who have gone out of their way to make a difference in their community. This is in effort to recognize and celebrate these selfless individuals’ hard work which betters the world around them. Nominees must be leaders in their community who have used soccer as a tool for improvement.
One Community MVP is chosen from each of the 20 MLS club markets based on their efforts in social issues, health issues and community service. This year, each of the Community MVP's will be recognized nationally at the 2015 MLS All-Star Game in Denver.
Last year, Brandi Leggett was chosen to represent the Sporting KC community for her involvement in the Sporting Kansas City Active Readers Program. Leggett helped create the program in 2013, which builds enthusiasm for reading through soccer.
Do you know someone that has made a difference in their community through soccer this year? From now until July 5, fans can nominate individuals who go above and beyond to improve and inspire their community. Go to www.mlssoccer.com/communitymvp to submit a nomination.
Grand Prize voting will take place from July 10 through July 29. The winner will be announced during halftime of the 2015 MLS All-Star Game.
Chipotle is teaming up with MLS to give fans a chance to win a VIP Flyaway to enjoy MLS All-Star festivities including the Chipotle MLS Homegrown game and the AT&T 2015 MLS All-Star game in Denver, Colorado.
To enter the sweepstakes, text HOMEGROWN to 888222. The trip package for four includes airfare, ground transportation, hotel, and $5,000 spending money, along with tickets to both games.
MLS’s top young talent will clash with Mexican Side, Club América’s U-20 squad in the second-annual Chipotle Homegrown MLS game. The match will take place Tuesday, July 28 at 8 p.m. CT, 7 p.m. MT, and will serve as a prelude to the AT&T 2015 MLS All-Star game, as the best MLS has to offer take on English side Tottenham Hotspur the following night.
The contest ends July 5, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. CT with full rules available here.
For this last Kevin Gray Awards Spotlight, all eyes turn toward Nick Besler, the 2011 Kevin Gray Male Youth Player of the Year. Since receiving the honor following his record-breaking career at Blue Valley West High School, Besler has enjoyed plenty of soccer success both at the University of Notre Dame and now with the Portland Timbers. A three-year starter while at Notre Dame, Besler certainly made an impact in the midfield for the Irish, notching spots on the All-ACC First Team and NCAA All-Tournament Team in 2013. Nick also served as team captain during his senior season, which only added to his already impressive soccer résumé. Despite all of these individual accolades, though, Besler believes that there is one team achievement that stands above the rest.
“The national championship I won my junior year is what I'm most proud of," Besler said of Notre Dame's victory over Maryland in the 2013 final. "While I have won individual awards as well, there is that feeling of accomplishing something together as a team that is much more rewarding. Winning a national championship is something that I will never forget."
The Irish won by a 2-1 scoreline and Besler assisted the goal that tied the game in the 40th minute. The following year, Notre Dame earned a #1 seed in the College Cup and advanced to the third round before falling 1-0 to eventual winners Virginia.
Although the team came up a bit short in 2014, Besler graduated from Notre Dame with his sights set on a professional soccer career—and rightly so. This past January, Nick was selected fifth overall by the Portland Timbers in the 2015 Major League Soccer SuperDraft, which made him the highest MLS draft pick in Notre Dame history. The previous owner of that distinction was Nick’s older brother, Matt -- the Sporting Kansas City team captain and World Cup veteran was selected eighth overall in 2009. Of his relationship with his brother, Nick says that “Matt has been a great role model for me…and the way he goes about his own career has been the thing that I've noticed the most.”
With regard to his time with the Timbers thus far, Nick pointed out that the main difference he has observed between college and professional soccer is the speed of play.
“Everything has to be quicker at this level,” he said, “[but] I feel like I have adjusted well to the new city and the new team.”
Looking ahead, Besler says that “my plan is to keep growing as a soccer player and continue to improve. Right now, I will continue to get minutes with [the Timbers’ USL developmental side] T2 and hopefully I will have an impact with the first team.”
Best of luck to Nick in the future! If all goes well, we at Sporting KC will look forward to potential Besler v. Besler match-ups whenever the Timbers come to town. Click here to read more about the Besler brothers’ “First Family” status within the Notre Dame men’s soccer program.
Think you know your Sporting Kansas City trivia? You may be in luck.
When the club hosts Colorado on Saturday, users of the Sporting Club Uphoria mobile app will have the opportunity to win free tickets to next Wednesday's Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 match against FC Dallas at 7:30 p.m. CT.
That's right, supporters will have three separate opportunities to win a pair of tickets on Saturday evening—so long as they have a Uphoria account registered through Facebook, Twitter or email.
Three separate Comment Cards will be deployed throughout the night, each prompting a different response from contestants. The first trivia question will revolve around the #SKCvCOL rivalry. The second will be tied to Kansas City in the Open Cup. Answer correctly on either one, and you'll be entered to win.
Trivia not your cup of tea? The third and final Comment Card will allow fans to use their imagination, and the most creative entry will take the prize. (Hint: think Peter Vermes!)
Pictured in this post are sample Comment Card trivia questions so that you know what to look for on the home screen come Saturday. Please note that only one Comment Card will be displayed on the app's home feed at any given time.
The first Comment Card will deploy at 6 p.m. CT and the second at 7:45 p.m. CT. The third will launch at 9 p.m. CT and expire at midnight. Select "Give Feedback," then type your response and click "Send" to enter.
Participants will be able to submit one single answer for all three cards, and winners will be contacted via Facebook, Twitter or email by Monday afternoon.
In addition to playing for free Open Cup tickets, Uphoria users will have access to live video, statistics, stadium seat upgrades and Sporting KC social feeds throughout Saturday's match. Whether you're in attendance at Sporting Park or in the comfort of your own home, Uphoria is your comprehensive mobile companion for every game this season.
Best of luck, #SKCNation!
Our second Kevin Gray Awards Spotlight of the week features 2012 Kevin Gray Adult Player of the Year, Adrianna “AD” Franch. Originally from Salina, Kansas and a South High School graduate, AD boasted an impressive soccer background even before moving on to college and becoming a professional not long after. During her high school career, AD was a three-year member of the Kansas Olympic Development Program and earned All-State, All-Southwest Region and All-League honors as the starting goalie for the Cougars.
Franch, who as a child used to be called the “next Bri Scurry," then went on to become one of the most decorated players in Big 12 soccer history. Starting for Oklahoma State University all four years, Franch helped the Cowgirls secure back-to-back Big 12 Championships in 2009 and 2010. On an individual level, AD was named to the All-Big 12 Conference First Team four times, was a three-time All-American and currently holds the Oklahoma State career record for shutouts with 38 -- a number that ranks sixth all time in NCAA history.
Thanks to these remarkable statistics, AD immediately began getting looks from the U.S. Women’s National Team coaches. In 2010, her sophomore year, she was called up to the U-20 squad to compete at the World Cup in Germany and in 2012, she played on the U-23 team that won the Three Nations Tournament in Norway. Later that same year, Franch was invited to train with the senior U.S. WNT in preparation for the 2012 Olympics in London. Balancing national team duties with her responsibilities as a leader on the Oklahoma State women’s team was not easy, AD remarked, but all of her efforts proved to be worthwhile as Franch was drafted into the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in January 2013 by the Western New York Flash. She was the sixth pick overall and the first goalkeeper selected by any team.
“Knowing that I achieved one of my biggest dreams and being able to say that I am professional soccer player was [one of] my proudest accomplishments,” AD said of the moment.
Just a few short months later, Franch made her professional debut for the Flash, making eight saves in the game and earning Player of the Week honors from Equalizer Soccer. After the match, Western New York head coach Aaran Lines said, “I see the future national team goalkeeper of the U.S.”
From there, AD’s success only continued. At the end of her rookie season, Franch was both a regular season titleholder and had also been named to the NWSL Second XI. Unfortunately, in March 2014, Franch suffered a torn right ACL during the first week of preseason and was forced to miss the entire 2014 season.
Following an 18-month recovery period and break from competition, Franch has recently signed with Norwegian Toppserien club Avaldsnes IL, officially leaving the Western New York Flash. According to AD, many emotions accompanied her long-awaited return to professional play.
“I was excited to get back, proud of the work put in to come back, and had a sense of relief to finally be back,” she told us.
Long term, Franch intends to continue pursuing further soccer success and says that “watching the World Cup makes me excited and motivated to keep making strides for the next one [in 2019].”
Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for our last Kevin Gray Awards Spotlight on Notre Dame grad and Portland Timbers rookie Nick Besler! To stay up to date on all things Sporting Club Network, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram!
This past Tuesday, June 23, the Sporting Club Network and FC Kansas City teamed up to host an All Girls Mini Clinic at the Swope Soccer Village, the home training grounds of Sporting Kansas City and FC Kansas City. The event was a tremendous success as close to 100 girls, ages 6 to 13, attended the clinic, which was free of charge to both SCN members as well as players for clubs in partnership with FCKC.
After splitting into smaller groups based on age and skill level, the players rotated through six different stations during the hour-and-a-half session. Activities included drills focused on passing, dribbling, shooting, and foot skills, followed by a question-and-answer session that afforded the girls an opportunity to ask professional players whatever questions may have come to mind, soccer-related or otherwise.
On field, the Sporting Club Network coaches were joined by Sporting KC players Servando Carrasco and Jalil Anibaba, and FC Kansas City stars Erika Tymrak and Leigh Ann Robinson, each of whom did a great job imparting beneficial instruction and advice whenever possible. Lastly, once the rotation through each station was completed, participants lined up for autographs from and photos with Carrasco, Anibaba, Tymrak, and Robinson.
On a basic level, the host organizations—SCN and FCKC—planned this exclusive clinic with the intention of its coinciding with a much larger celebration of women’s sports. More specifically, it was no coincidence that the date of the mini clinic fell on the 43rd anniversary of Title IX, the law passed in 1972 that prohibits financial discrimination based on gender in education activities that receive Federal financial assistance. In other words, Title IX ensures that women are given the same, equal opportunities as men when it comes to college sports and scholarships.
What’s also interesting about the timing of this event is that it overlaps with the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada. The US Women’s National Team, complete with 4 FC Kansas City players on its roster, has advanced to the quarterfinals of the tournament and takes on China at 6:30pm on Friday night in Ottawa. Plenty of Tuesday’s mini clinic participants indicated their interest in this year’s World Cup, so we’re glad we were able to supplement that fandom with some real soccer instruction.
Thank you to all who helped make the All Girls Mini Clinic a great success! Click here to check out the photo album. The Sporting Club Network looks forward to putting on more events like this one in the future, so be sure to stay tuned on Facebook and on our website for the links to register.
If your club or organization is interested in joining the Sporting Club Network to gain access to these exclusive events, please contact Alex Firchau at afirchau@SportingKC.com.
Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes joined The Program with Soren Petro on Sports Radio 810 WHB today to discuss the team's late 2-1 loss at Real Salt Lake last weekend, as well a variety of other timely topics that included the play of goalkeeper Tim Melia, the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup and the use of instant replay in professional soccer. Listen to the ful 25-minutel interview embedded below.
Vermes is one win shy of tying Thomas Rongen (83) for ninth on the list of winningest coaches in MLS history. His next opportunity comes at 7:30 p.m. CT on Saturday at Sporting Park when Sporting KC hosts the Colorado Rapids.
Vermes played three seasons for each team (1997-1999 in Colorado, 2000-2002 in KC) during a seven-year MLS career. Now in his seventh season as Sporting KC's head coach, Vermes is 5-0-5 in MLS competition against the Rapids.
Twenty-five years ago this month, Vermes represented the United States at the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy and appeared in all three group stage matches. He also played for the U.S. at the Summer Olympics (1988), FIFA Futsal World Cup (1989) and Confederations Cup (1992). He was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2013.
The annual Kevin Gray Awards, presented by Pepsi and co-sponsored by Sporting Kansas City and Global Sports International, recognize the achievements of soccer players and coaches in the Kansas City area. Each year, as the event quickly approaches, we at Sporting Kansas City enjoy catching up with a few of the past winners and featuring them in blog posts that are released in the days leading up to the show. Welcome to this year’s first Kevin Gray Awards Spotlight! Today, we highlight the 2011 Kevin Gray Female Youth Player of the Year, Caroline Gray.
Gray, a St. Teresa’s Academy alumna and recent 2015 University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate, had no difficulty continuing her soccer success in college after receiving the award following her last season at STA. During her freshman year at UNL, Gray started all 18 games for the Huskers and scored her first career goal at Penn State on October 14, 2011. In her sophomore season, she, again, played in every single match and added two goals and six assists to her increasingly impressive stat sheet. Gray’s third year at UNL proved to be, arguably, the most eventful. Maintaining the trend established by her performance in the two years prior, Gray started all 24 games for the Huskers in 2013 and provided leadership en route to Nebraska’s first-ever Big 10 Tournament Championship. According to Gray, that year’s regular season and postseason titles serve as two of the proudest achievements of her entire soccer career. Finally, in Gray’s senior season, she started all 19 matches, averaged 87 minutes per match, and earned Big 10 Player of the Week honors in November 2014 for scoring the game-winning goal against Iowa in the final game of the season. After adding this recognition to the long list of individual honors she had managed to collect throughout her college soccer career, Gray went on to graduate as a 2-time member of the Tom Osborne Citizenship Team, with an Academic All-Big Ten award and 5 appearances on the Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll—effectively leaving her mark on the Nebraska women’s soccer program for years and years to come.
Reflecting upon her time at Nebraska, Caroline says she will miss most “the friendships [she] made with the girls on the team” as well as the opportunity she had to play in one of the best conferences in the country, an experience that she says “took her game to a whole other level.”
As the daughter of the late Kevin Gray—of whom these annual awards are held in honor—Caroline articulated how appreciative she feels not only because the awards were and are instituted in remembrance of her father, but also to have won the award for Female Youth Player of the Year in 2011 just a month after her dad’s passing. “It was the most amazing award I could have gotten,” Gray said, “and I just knew how proud he would have been.” Regarding Kevin Gray’s monumental impact on sports in the Kansas City area, Caroline recalls “his incredible drive to improve every aspect of sports in Kansas City, especially women’s sports” through his creation of the Women’s Intersport Network (WIN for KC). As for soccer, “he wasn’t the most knowledgeable,” Gray said, “but he loved to watch, regardless.”
This summer, Caroline is excited to have moved back to Kansas City full-time and plans to stay heavily involved in the growing sport of soccer while working at GSI Sports, one of the co-sponsors for the Kevin Gray Awards.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for our next Kevin Gray Awards Spotlight on Salina, Kansas native and USWNT prospect, AD Franch! And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter & Instagram, and like us on Facebook for all things Sporting Club Network!