Release: KC, Newcastle settle for 0-0 tie

Stats, recap and quotes from hard fought friendly at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park

International Friendly
Wednesday, July 20, 2011, 7:30 p.m. CT
LIVESTRONG Sporting Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Weather: Clear, 99 degrees
Attendance: 16, 131 
Video: Match Highlights

Score:                             1          2          F
Sporting Kansas City     0          0          0
Newcastle United FC       0          0          0

Sporting Kansas City: Eric Kronberg; Seth Sinovic (Kevin Ellis 62), Julio Cesar (Daneil Cyrus 46), Matt Besler, Chance Myers (Michael Harrington 46); Roger Espinoza (Peterson Joseph 46), Jéferson (Luke Sassano, Graham Zusi (Milos Stojcev); Omar Bravo (C.J. Sapong 46), Teal Bunbury (Soony Saad 62), Kei Kamara (Birahim Diop 46)

Subs not used: Jimmy Nielsen 

Newcastle United FC: Tim Krul; Jonas Gutierrez, Fabricio Coloccini ©, Steven Taylor, Ryan Taylor; Peter Lovenkrands (Alan Smith 46), Dan Gosling (Danny Simpson 63), Cheik Tiote (James Tavernier 46), Sylvain Marveaux (Mehdi Abeid 46); Hatem Ben Arfa (Shola Ameobi 35), Demba Ba (Leon Best 72)

Subs not used: Fraser Forster, Steve Harper

Stats:                   SKC NUFC
Shots                       17         8
Shots on Goal           2           1         
Saves                       1         2         
Fouls                       9           6         
Offside                     0           2
Corner Kicks             5           4         

Misconduct Summary:
SKC – Roger Espinoza (Caution, reckless tackle) 31
NUFC – Cheik Tiote (Caution, unsporting behavior) 38
SKC – Peterson Joseph (Caution, reckless tackle) 78

Scoring Summary:
None

Sporting Kansas City drew 0-0 with Newcastle United FC on Wednesday night in front of 16,131 fans in the first-ever international friendly match at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. The match was the first for the Barclays Premier League club on their preseason tour of the United States. 

Three new players were handed first team debuts for Sporting Kansas City in a match that saw plenty of chances and plenty of personnel changes throughout the 90 minutes as both managers were eager to give match action to as many players as possible.

The first chance of the match came in the ninth minute through Newcastle United’s French international forward Hatem Ben Arfa. Picking up the ball 30 yards from goal, Ben Arfa burst past a set of markers into the area, leaving himself with only the Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Eric Kronberg to beat. Ben Arfa tried to round Kronberg, but his touch took him over the endline and out for a goal kick.

Three minutes later, Sporting Kansas City earned their first chance of the match. Advancing down the left flank, fullback Seth Sinovic whipped a cross into the area for a rising Kei Kamara, but the forward failed to get enough power on the header as it flashed wide of goal.

In the 15th minute, Sinovic was once again at the center of a chance for Sporting Kansas City. With the ball on the left, Sinovic played a pass to Omar Bravo making a run towards the touchline. Bravo let the ball run through his legs for newly-acquired Designated Player Jéferson, who drove his shot inches wide of the far post.

Newcastle would earn the best chance of the half for both sides in the 22nd minute. Some quality combination play between Jonas Gutierrez and new signing Sylvain Marveaux saw the winger slipped through on goal. Marveaux put his low effort under Kronberg, but across the face of goal and out of play.

The next trip down the pitch for Sporting Kansas City saw perhaps their best chance of the half as Kamara played a low cross into the area that made its way through several sets of legs before falling for Jéferson. The Brazilian struck it first time with his left foot, but the effort fizzed over the bar.

Four minutes later, in the 26th minute, Kamara did well to turn past Gutierrez and swing a cross in for Bravo. Only a last ditch header from Steven Taylorprevented the forward from a free header in close on goalkeeper Tim Krul.

Halftime saw both sides make plenty of changes, with Sporting Kansas City in particular looking to introduce fresh legs as the home side made eight substitutions to start the second half.

In the 65th minute, substitute Soony Saad tallied the first shot on target for either side. Following a blocked shot, Birahim Diop’s pressure forced a loose ball to Saad. Collecting with his back to goal, Saad wasted no time testing Krul, who collapsed to his left to hold Saad’s right-footed effort.

Just a minute later, Milos Stojcev was denied brilliantly by Krul. A cross in from the right from midfielder Luke Sassano found Stojcev unmarked from eight yards out. The midfielder put his header downward towards goal, but Krul was able to get across and push Stojcev’s effort around the post.

After pushing forward into a midfield position, Gutierrez nearly created the winner for Newcastle United in the 84th minute when his left-footed cross was met in the area by substitute Danny Simpson. Simpson latched onto the cross, hitting it first time out of the air, but his effort was straight at Kronberg who smothered the shot on his goal line.

In the 90th minute, C.J. Sapong put an effort on target that nearly beat Krul to the far post. With his back to goal, Sapong turned in the area and curled an effortthat Krul stretched for and was able to hold. The final whistle sounded shortly after to cap an entertaining spectacle for the 16,131 in attendance.

Sporting Kansas City will resume MLS action on Saturday, when the team hosts Toronto FC at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park at 7:30 p.m. CT. The match will be broadcast live on KSMO. 

Fast Facts

-- Newly-acquired Designated Player Jéferson made his debut for Sporting Kansas City, starting the match and playing the first 45 minutes.

-- Also making debuts with the first team were defender Daneil Cyrus and forward Soony Saad. Both Cyrus and Saad featured in Sporting Kansas City’s reserve match against the Chicago Fire on Tuesday.

-- The match against Newcastle United was the second in as many seasons for Sporting Kansas City against Barclays Premier League opposition after defeating Manchester United by a 2-1 scoreline at Arrowhead Stadium on July 25th, 2010.  

-- Players of 15 different nationalities featured in the international friendly.

-- New forward signing Demba Ba started and played 72 minutes in his debut for Newcastle United.

-- Sylvain Marveaux also made his debut for Newcastle United, playing 45 minutes and tallying two shots in the first half.

-- The match against Newcastle marks a run of 10 straight matches at home for Sporting Kansas City. Sporting Kansas City will not travel again until a trip to Real Salt Lake on September 17th.

-- The shutout for Sporting Kansas City is the team’s fourth at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in a total of eight matches at the new stadium.

Quotes

Newcastle United FC Manager Alan Pardew

On LIVESTRONG Sporting Park…
The stadium is absolutely top-drawer. Coming from our league, I can attest that this would easily be in the top amongst stadiums in our league.

On the team’s first leg of their U.S. tour in Kansas City…
Overall, I’m very pleased. Thank you to Kansas City, both the city and the club.

On the play of Designated Player Jeferson…
Jeferson definitely caused a lot of problems for us while he was in, he was definitely the catalyst for most of what Sporting Kansas City did well during that period.

Newcastle United FC defender Ryan Taylor

On LIVESTRONG Sporting Park…
I thought the facilities and everything were fantastic. We thought we had good stadiums in England, and you know we went into the home team dressing room and we thought it was unbelievable, it took us by surprise. Just give full credit to the investors, they’ve done really well.

On playing their first game of their U.S. tour…
I’m sure 95 percent of our lads might never have played in heat like this before. It’s just not football weather being close to 100 degrees. No matter how fit you are, it’s something you can’t adapt to, it’s obviously really different where we play, where it rains a lot. Overall, I thought the performance was good at times, you could see the second half the pace was slowed down but you know that’s going to happen. Overall it was a great match, it wasn’t a nasty, ill-tempered game, it was nice.

On preparing in the U.S. for the English Premier League…
It’s a great test, I mean, Sporting KC beat Man United last year and we knew it was going to be a tough game coming in and we got a tough game. It’s just a stepping stone, it’s going to be a tough season for us, and it was a good way to start out the pre-season with a game against Sporting Kansas City at their new stadium. It was fantastic.

Newcastle United midfielder Jonas Gutierrez

On the team’s performance…
I think it was a good game, they have a good team. It was difficult for us, a little different than it normally is for us, like our opponent we played against and the weather. 

On the LIVESTRONG Sporting Park experience…
It was very good. I came here a few years ago, and over the last years the soccer has improved a lot. The league has improved in getting more players, and it’s improving in all areas. It is good for American people because I believe soccer is the best sport in the world. 

Goals for their current tour…
We are looking forward to the season, but now we have games here to prepare. 

Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes

Overall thoughts on the match…
When we get the opportunity to play these exhibitions against clubs like Newcastle, it’s tremendous for our team. It’s too bad we didn’t score any goals; I think it would have been great for the crowd. I thought there was some good soccer out there. It was great thing for us to get some young guys out there.

Kevin Ellis, getting the chance to play 30 minutes, and Soony Saad, those types of guys getting experience playing games is tremendous for us. All-in-all it was a great match for us, especially mid-week. It’s great competition, and another game for us to measure ourselves.

On the opportunity to showcase MLS and Sporting Kansas City…
We hope to make this a strong club, not only in the MLS, but also internationally.

On the heat’s effect on the match…
I thought the stadium atmosphere was good. Sometimes you have to take into consideration that MLS is different because you play through the summer months. The heat becomes such a major factor in the game, and both teams have to deal with it no matter what. It really doesn’t matter how fit you are, it has to do with how well you manage the game, how well you manage the ball and the possession of it. We’re continuing to grow as a team, and I think we’re getting better.

Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler

On the difference between the pace of this game and MLS games…
Yeah, those were two of the bigger guys I’ve ever faced. Compared to the MLS, if you give these guys any time, you’re probably going to get picked apart. We learned that during a fifteen-minute period where we gave them about five yards of space, and that was too much. We had to get right up on them and not give them any time. The second half, we dropped off a little bit more, just due to the heat and the pace of the game. But, I think we did a good job with drawing our line and not giving up much once they penetrated our area. I think it was a good exercise for us, and we’re going to build off it for this weekend.

Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Eric Kronberg

On his performance…
It was a pretty easy game. I probably had one or two easy saves, but that was about it. I anticipated it more, but I had confidence in our defense too, we’ve been playing really well. It’s nice to not have a whole lot to do, but I thought our team played really well.

On playing a storied team like Newcastle United…
It was awesome, unbelievable to play with a team like Newcastle United. Growing up watching them, it’s just a dream come true really.

Sporting Kansas City striker Soony Saad

Thoughts on the match…
For me it was good to get in. Anytime you make a debut it’s very important and I feel privileged that the coach was able to let this be my debut, against a great team like Newcastle United. I want to thank the coach for that. I thought overall we did well as a team holding them to no goals and we created chances. In the first half we were able to penetrate them a few times and if we were on the end of a couple balls, we could have scored. In the second half we picked up the pressure. I like to bring a little zap to the game whether it’s shooting or passing and I thought we played well as a team.

On his debut…
I feel privileged. To make your debut is something really big for a player and to make it against Newcastle United, one of the most prestigious clubs in the English Premier League, it’s just a dream come true.

On the heat affecting both teams’ chances…
To be honest the heat was a big factor for all of us.  For the other team, they don’t see that kind of weather in England at all. Even in the summer, it’s pretty cold. For them it was a factor and for us it’s even a factor. Acclimating is something that you constantly do. The heat was a big factor, but I thought we did a good job limiting their chances.

On areas for improvement…
It’s hard to say because I’ve not even been here for two weeks, but I feel as I grow with the team and get some more time then I’ll see the bigger picture of that. For me, I just need to learn to play with the team and play under the coaches formation and the sooner I do that, the sooner I can tell what we need to work on and all that.

Sporting Kansas City Designated Player Jeferson

On making his debut…
The tactical formation is obviously a little bit different than what I’m used to playing. I’m more used to the 4-4-2  scheme but I’ve already gotten a taste of the tendencies of especially the wide players. They like the ball at their feet as opposed to played into space. It’s just a matter of me working with my teammates and feeling it out more and more. 

On his performance tonight…
For me it was a good start. I just wish I could have scored one of those chances, but I was mobile, I got the ball where I wanted to get it and I played my game which is trying to set up my teammates. It’s just going to get better from now on.