On Saturday afternoon, several Sporting KC players joined NAPA KC and The National Guard to host a barbecue and soccer clinic for local military families affected by injuries obtained during service for our country.
The idea for the gathering was originally proposed by Sporting KC defender Kevin Ellis, who has strong family ties to the United States military. Ellis was joined by teammates Matt Besler, Mikey Lopez, Andy Gruenebaum and Graham Zusi for a pick-up game of soccer with the families before enjoying barbecue and ice cream at the Swope Soccer Village. At the end of the event, each of the families received a signed soccer ball from the players.
"It takes a special person to do what they do and I can't put into words the respect I have for these guys," said Ellis, a Kansas City native who has made 14 MLS appearances for the club this season.
Without a few of the team's top players on the eve of the 2014 MLS All-Star Game, Sporting Kansas City welcomed a star from another sport to their training session on Tuesday at the Swope Soccer Village. NASCAR driver Joey Logano paid a visit to the MLS Cup champions while in Kansas City for a media tour to promote the Hollywood Casino 400 race weekend at Kansas Speedway from Oct. 3-5.
Logano led the first 30 laps and finished third on Sunday in the GoBowling.com 400. His eighth top-five finish of the year moved the 24-year-old up to eighth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver standings and he is one of only seven drivers to have clinched a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with five races remaining until the field is set.
For all the sights and sounds from Tuesday's training, check out the video above and photo slideshow below. Plus, click here to see the social media chatter captured from the festivities.
After a light training session at Providence Park this morning, each player went their separate ways for various appearances around the city.
Sporting KC captain Matt Besler participated in the MLS All-Star press conference alongside Portland Timbers head coach Caleb Porter, New York Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry and Seattle Sounders forward Clint Dempsey. Besler answered a variety of questions ranging from "Is Wednesday a revenge game for the World Cup loss to Germany?" to "How do you defend in an MLS All-Star Game?" to "What impact has Landon Donovan had on American soccer?" Watch the video above for the full archive of the press conference, including the first portion with Bayern Munich Manager Pep Guardiola as well as Julian Green, Robert Lewandowski and Franck Ribery.
Monday night is also an exciting one for fans who want to see the future of MLS, as a team comprised of MLS homegrown players - including Sporting KC's Jon Kempin and Erik Palmer-Brown - will square off against the Portland Timbers U-23s at Providence Park. That match will kick off at 9 p.m. CT and can be seen on MLSsoccer.com or on ESPN3.com.
Cast your vote below for the Man of the Match from Sporting Kansas City's 1-1 draw against the Philadelphia Union on Friday at Sporting Park. Voting is open through Monday.
Sporting Kansas City and the University of Missouri-Kansas City are kicking off Rally with the Roos month in August with a fan sweepstakes, sponsored by UMKC. Ten winners will receive two Sporting Kansas City tickets with all inclusive food and beverage, one parking pass, two Rally with the Roos t-shirts and one team-signed soccer ball! Enter to win online at SportingKC.com/RallyWithTheRoos from August 1st at 10:00 a.m. through August 31st at 11:59 p.m. CT.
You might know him as one of the most decorated defenders in Major League Soccer history. Or you might know him as the face of KickTV.
And now, after Tuesday's announcement, Jimmy Conrad can also add "Sporting Legend" to his resume. The six-time MLS All-Star and 2005 MLS Defender of the Year will be inducted as a Sporting Legend on Friday alongside current Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes and the original owner of the Kansas City Wizards, the late Lamar Hunt.
Conrad flew to Kansas City on Wednesday for a series of media / community appearances and has carved out time from his busy schedule to take questions from you, the fans who voted for him as a member of Sporting KC's Wall of Honor.
On Friday, at 11am CT, Conrad will host a Facebook Q&A on SportingKC's official Facebook page.
The Sporting Legends induction ceremony will take place at halftime of Sporting KC's match against the Philadelphia Union. Kickoff set for 7 p.m. and the match will be broadcast nationally on the NBC Sports Network. Limited tickets are available and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com or by calling 888-4KC-GOAL.
On Thursday, Graham Zusi joined The Program with Soren Petro on Sports Radio 810 WHB to discuss an eventful month for the Sporting KC midfielder that included a knockout round match in the World Cup (July 1), an MLS match five days later, an All-Star selection, a Designated Player contract and a goal in Toronto to move Sporting KC atop the Supporters' Shield standings.
Next up? Tomorrow's Eastern Conference encounter with the Philadelphia Union (7 p.m. CT on NBC Sports, 810 AM & 1340 AM) at Sporting Park before departing for the 2014 MLS All-Star Game on August 6.
Zusi touched on a number of topics throughout the 16-minute interview. Listen to the full podcast embedded below for the following excerpts, as well as his timeline for the United States Men's National Team to win their first World Cup and the mystery surrounding how a postgame jersey exchange led to a hotel room theft.
On his decision to re-sign with Sporting KC...
"It's the direction this club is headed. You've seen over the past four years now what it's done for the city and the vision hasn't stopped there. Our ownership group is probably the best in sports. Their vision is incredible. They have stuff planned out in the next couple years that I want to be part of."
On his experience in Brazil...
"The experience itself was an incredible one for me. To be matched up against the best players in the world, especially against Germany as the eventual winners, it really gives you a bar that you can set and something you can really work towards. You have to be honest with yourself at the end of the day. I was able to do that and know that I'm not there yet. It really gives me something to work towards on that front."
On the United States progress at the international level...
"I think we're well on the way and definitely headed in the right direction. I think Jurgen has done a great job so far with implementing what we need to do to get to that level. He's been very honest with the U.S. fans along with the players, telling us what we need to do to one day be competing against the Germany's and the Brazil's. What we saw from this tournament is we're certainly capable of it. We can hang with some of the best teams in the world on a given day. What we want to do now is do that on a consistent basis every time we're up against them."
On Sporting KC's remaining schedule...
"The second half of the season is always a grind. There's jostling for the playoff positions. We have a team tomorrow in Philly who has always played us well and especially at home. We definitely owe them one. They came in and kind of took it to us last time they were here in Kansas City; definitely not a team to take lightly...At this point of the season, we're sitting in a great spot at the top of the table. Every time we can put another three points up there and distance ourselves, especially from the people in our own conference, that's what it is all about."
Dom Dwyer's story has been well-chronicled.
Sporting Kansas City drafted Dwyer in the first round of the 2012 MLS SuperDraft before loaning him to USL Pro affiliate Orlando City at the start of the 2013 season. Dwyer excelled with Orlando City, broke the League's scoring record in only half a season and scored four goals in the USL Pro championship match. He then broke into Sporting KC's starting XI, scored the game-winning goal in the 2013 Eastern Conference Championship series with the Houston Dynamo and never looked back.
The Major League Soccer Player of the Month for May has 14 goals in 2014, second most in the League, and assisted on Jacob Peterson's game-winning goal against Toronto FC on July 26.
But Dwyer's stats tell only half the story. The British striker is one of the most gregarious players in Major League Soccer, with his selfie goal celebration exemplifying fun-loving personality.
MLS Insider, a collaboration between Major League Soccer and the emmy-award winning Hock Films, took a deep dive into Dwyer's story, to find out how the former Norwich City academy product has blossomed into one of the premier stars in MLS.
Sporting Kansas City winger Jacob Peterson -- the game-winning goal scorer in last weekend's 2-1 win at Toronto FC -- and Philadelphia Union midfielder Maurice Edu joined this week's episode of The Sporting KC Show, which aired last night on Sports Radio 810 WHB and is embedded in its entirety below. Hosts Callum Williams and Carter Augustine interviewed both players in advance of Friday's Eastern Conference clash.
The Union have just one loss in their last 10 games across all competition and have proven to be a thorn in SKC's side at Sporting Park. The reigning MLS Cup champions have suffered only two losses in their last 21 MLS and CCL home matches dating back to last year, both of which came against Philadelphia.
Riding a seven-game unbeaten streak, Sporting KC will aim for sole possession of first place in the Supporters' Shield standings with a result on Friday. A limited number of tickets are still available on Ticketmaster.com and the first 10,000 fans inside the gates will receive a pair of Sporting KC spirit sleeves courtesy of UMB Bank. Not able to attend? The match will be televised nationally on NBC Sports, with additional radio coverage on Sports Radio 810 WHB (English) and La Gran D 1340 AM (Spanish).
2013 was a banner year for Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler.
After earning an invite to the U.S. Men's National Team January camp, Besler quickly excelled on the national stage became a fixture for Jurgen Klinsmann's squad during the successful World Cup qualifying campaign. In July, Besler started alongside teammate Aurelien Collin for the MLS All-Stars against AS Roma at Sporting Park. In December, Besler was named MLS Best XI, won the MLS Cup and capped off the year by marrying his long-time girlfriend.
Fast forward to 2014 and the 27-year-old defender was named captain of his hometown club, started all four matches for the USMNT at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and subsequently signed a Designated Player contract to keep him with Sporting Kansas City through 2018.
Besler's accomplishments have not gone unnoticed on a national scale. Goal.com, one of the leading soccer-specific websites in the world, announced on Monday that the Sporting Kansas City center back came in at No. 46 on their Goal 50, an annual award that recognizes and ranks the world's 50 best players from the past season.
Besler is one of two MLS players on the list, alongside New York Red Bulls forward Tim Cahill who came in at No. 50 after scoring seven goals in 22 appearances for the New York Red Bulls as well as six goals in eight apperances for Australia. The Sporting KC captain is also the only USMNT player to feature on the list.
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo tops the list with Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich) and Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich) rounding out the top 5.