Drive around the streets of Kansas City in the evenings or on the weekends and you will most certainly find soccer being played. Athletes of all ages and levels play the beautiful game while enjoying the benefits of teamwork, comradery and physical activity. With a new partnership between the Special Olympics and MLS WORKS, teams from around the league are partnering with local Special Olympics chapters to host exchange games in their stadiums in order to give athletes with intellectual disabilities a taste of what being a professional soccer player would be like.
On Saturday, Special Olympics Colorado traveled to Kansas City for an exchange game versus Special Olympics Kansas at Sporting Park. Both teams were given the first team experience – including a pregame meal, locker rooms complete with full team uniforms, a pre-game visit from midfielder Roger Espinoza and a special message from Manager Peter Vermes. Following the first team match, the teams were scheduled to take the field for warmups and be announced to the crowd before playing on the pitch in front of the supporters. This was before a series of thunderstorms delayed and ultimately cancelled the evening's games.
With Special Olympics Colorado traveling from Denver, both sides decided to meet on Sunday morning at the Sporting KC training facility located within Swope Soccer Village to play the much anticipated game. Both unified teams consisted of Special Olympians or “Athletes” and neuro-typical classmates or “Partners." Two 20-minute halves were played and the game was full of excitement with goals being scored throughout. Ultimately, Special Olympics Colorado traveled home with a 3-2 victory but not before both teams received commemorative medals and exchanged scarves.
In August, Special Olympics Kansas will travel to Colorado for the second half of the home-and-away series following the Sporting KC versus Colorado Rapids match on August 29. To learn more about the upcoming game or other Community events, please follow @VictoryKC on twitter or visit VictoryKC.org.
Krisztian Nemeth scores his fifth goal of the season in the 46th minute (assisted by Jacob Peterson and Benny Feilhaber) at Sporting Park against the New England Revolution.
Benny Feilhaber scores his third goal of the season in the 43rd minute at Sporting Park against the New England Revolution.
Krisztian Nemeth scores his fourth goal of the season in the 39th minute (assisted by Benny Feilhaber) at Sporting Park against the New England Revolution.
Dom Dwyer scores his fourth goal of the season (assisted by Krisztian Nemeth and Jalil Anibaba) in the 29th minute at Sporting Park against the New England Revolution.
Sporting Club Uphoria released a new update this week that is available for Sporting Kansas City fans to download on the App Store or Google Play. The new update, arriving conveniently before Wednesday's match against the New England Revolution at Sporting Park, features a variety of enhancements, including:
- A visually improved home screen feed for your news and in-game offers
- Push notification options for kickoff, final whistle, goals and fan-targeted communications (offers, contests, announcements, etc.)
- All of the club's aggregated content under the redesigned "News, Photos & Videos" tab
In addition to enjoying the app's upgrades, fans will be able to redeem another limited-time offer just in time for Memorial Day Weekend. Shortly after Wednesday's game begins, Uphoria will offer a free 2-liter Pepsi product courtesy of Kansas City area Price Chopper locations. The offer will remain valid all day Thursday, May 21, so be sure to get your free soda before the long weekend arrives.
NOTE: First-time Uphoria users must register an account through Facebook, Twitter or email. Do not skip this step, or you won't receive the offer. If you have already registered, sign in via one of these three options.
As always, Uphoria users will also have access to live stats, exclusive video content, Sporting Park seat upgrades and chances to win free prizes throughout Wednesday's match.
Uphoria's gameday content differs every home game, so keep a close eye on the app during all matches at Sporting Park this season. Whether you're in attendance at the stadium or in the comfort of your own home, Uphoria is your comprehensive mobile companion for the club.
The Sporting KC Show cast of Nate Bukaty, Andy Gruenebaum and Carter Augustine was joined by ESPN commentator Taylor Twellman for tonight's hour-long episode on Sports Radio 810 WHB. Twellman, who was once offered a contract by the Kansas City Royals as a high school shortstop, will be in the broadcast booth at Sporting Park on Wednesday night alongside Glenn Davis when Sporting Kansas City hosts 2014 MLS Cup runners-up New England Revolution at 7 p.m. CT on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.
Twellman ranks seventh on Major League Soccer's all-time goal scoring chart with 101 regular season goals, five of which came against Kansas City (e.g. this bicycle kick in 2002). His nine-year MLS career with the Revolution included MLS Best XI (2002, 2005) and MLS MVP (2005) honors, while also earning 30 appearances with the U.S. Men's National Team.
Listen to the full show embedded below and tune in every Tuesday for a new episode discussing all the latest news around Sporting Kansas City.
Last week, Sporting Kansas City and The Victory Project teamed up with Braden’s Hope for Childhood Cancer for the fourth annual calendar photo shoot at Sporting Park.
The calendar will be featuring players and "Hope Heroes" -- children who are currently battling or have survived cancer. Each “Hope Hero” not only has a month dedicated to them in the calendar, but they also posed with players including Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic, Benny Feilhaber, Dom Dwyer, Kevin Ellis, Jalil Anibaba, Chance Myers and Marcel de Jong.
Braden’s Hope for Childhood Cancer is named after Braden Hofen, a courageous boy who has recently beaten a relapse from a rare form of cancer called neuroblastoma. His mother, who was battling stage 2 breast cancer during the time of his relapse, started the non-profit organization to raise awareness and funds to help find treatments and cures for childhood cancers.
The 2016 Braden’s Hope Calendar will be available in the fall and proceeds will go toward The Victory Project and Braden’s Hope. To learn more about The Victory Project please visit VictoryKC.org or follow @VictoryKC on Twitter.
Photo via @DorseyRocky on Twitter
Sporting KC's 100th match at Sporting Park will have to wait until Wednesday after inclement weather forced the postponement of last night's game against the Colorado Rapids. It was the first such ocurrance in the stadium's four years of operation, though by no means the first time Mother Nature impacted the outcome of a matchday.
In fact, Kansas City played a part in the first abbreviated ending in MLS history in what is now one of five games for the club all-time that failed to be played in its entirety on the originally scheduled date:
- June 20, 1998: KC vs. D.C. United was cancelled in the 53rd minute due to severe weather at Arrowhead Stadium and was later replayed on Aug. 26.
- June 10, 2000: KC at D.C. United was suspended at halftime due to the lights failing at RFK Stadium. The 0-0 scoreline stood and Kansas City returned to RFK for MLS Cup 2000.
- September 16, 2001: The team's regular season finale against Colorado at Arrowhead Stadium was amongst 10 games cancelled league-wide in the aftermath of 9/11.
- Aug. 2, 2006: Thunderstorms postponed this fourth round U.S. Open Cup match between KC and the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois until Aug. 14.
- May 16, 2015: Severe weather prevented kickoff between Sporting KC and the Colorado Rapids with a rescheduled date to be determined for later in 2015.
While Saturday's match ultimately succumbed to a storm system which delivered flash flooding, tornado warnings and heavy lightning throughout the Kansas City area (resulting in more than 10,000 homes losing power), the initial weather delay was the fourth interruption at home since 2011:
- July 12, 2011: An 81-minute delay spelled trouble for Sporting KC in the team's first-ever loss at Sporting Park, a 2-0 defeat to the Richmond Kickers (USL) in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals.
- Aug. 8, 2012: Just over a year later, Sporting KC withstood a 43-minute delay en route to the team's U.S. Open Cup championship over the Seattle Sounders FC in a penalty shootout.
- Aug. 29, 2014: Sporting KC lost back-to-back matches at Sporting Park for the first time after dropping a 3-1 decision to Houston in a match that featured a 75-minute delay.
- May 16, 2015: After delaying kick off for nearly 75 minutes, MLS determined in its discretion to postpone the match after considering all relevant factors and circumstances.
In the end -- which came close to 8:45 p.m. CT in a break between two patches of storms -- Sporting Club CEO Robb Heineman took to Twitter to look ahead to the rescheduled fixture with all options open.
Hey...I'm sorry that happened. We'll make it up 2 u. Any ideas how? #winning obviously...but any others welcome
— Robb Heineman (@RobbHeineman) May 17, 2015
— Robb Heineman (@RobbHeineman) May 17, 2015
It is the dream of many children to grow up and be a professional athlete. Some get the chance to live out their dream but many don't. The Special Olympics organization gives athletes facing intellectual disabilities the same opportunities in sports that their peers have. One way in which the organization does this is through Unified Sports.
Special Olympics Unified Sports® is a program that brings together athletes with intellectual disabilities and their peers without intellectual disabilities (called partners) on the same team for training and competition. Age and ability matching of athletes and partners is defined on a sport-by-sport basis.
On Sunday, a Unified Team from Special Olympics Kansas and a Unified Team from Special Olympics Colorado will play each other in an exchange game at Swope Soccer Village (6310 Lewis Rd., Kansas City, Missouri). MLS WORKS, the league’s Community Relations arm, started this new initiative in 2013 and has many MLS teams participating around the league. Each exchange game features Unified Teams from the local Special Olympics chapters.
Each team will exchange gifts and good luck cards, which is a Special Olympics tradition to encourage good sportsmanship. They will also get a full pre-game ritual of warm-ups on the field, lineup announcements and a national anthem, also reflecting a professional atmosphere. Once the game has ended, the players will each receive a commemorative medal during an on-field ceremony.
Last year, the Unified Team from Special Olympics Kansas (a Sporting Club Network member) traveled to New York to play an exchange game vs Special Olympics New Jersey at Red Bull Arena. They arrived a day early and had a couple of surprises in store, including a baseball game in Yankee Stadium to watch the Kansas City Royals take on the New York Yankees. This year both the Unified Teams were out at The K on Friday night to watch the Royals take on the Yankees again.