Weekly Update: June 4, 2014

All the latest news and notes from the club

Benny Feilhaber - Sporting KC at DC United - May 31, 2014

Photo Credit: 
USA Today Sports Images

EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP REMATCH SET FOR FRIDAY
Sporting Kansas City visits the Houston Dynamo on Friday night in a rematch of the 2013 Eastern Conference Championship. The match is set to kick off at 7:30 p.m. CT and will be televised on KMCI 38 The Spot and SKCTV with additional coverage available on Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Gran D 1340 AM.

The club's official watch parties will be held at the Johnny's Tavern locations in the Kansas City Power & Light District (1310 Grand Boulevard) and Overland Park (11316 W. 135th St.). All fans are encouraged to attend and select Boulevard draft specials, as well as the Blue Believer signature cocktail, will be available for Sporting KC supporters.

Both teams will be looking to reverse recent fortunes. Sporting KC (5-5-4, 19 points) is winless in five matches and has dropped to third place in the Eastern Conference after beginning the month of May in first. The Houston Dynamo (5-8-2, 17 points) have lost three straight games by a combined 8-0 scoreline and sit fourth in the East. Friday is Sporting KC’s final League match until June 27, as MLS takes a two-week break during the 2014 FIFA World Cup group stage.

Sporting KC was unbeaten in five meetings against Houston during the 2013 season, including the postseason when they eliminated the Dynamo in the Eastern Conference Championship. The 2013 season was the third straight year the clubs have met in the MLS Cup playoffs, as Houston eliminated Sporting KC in 2011 (Eastern Conference Championship) and 2012 (Eastern Conference Semifinals).

MIDFIELDER CHRISTIAN DUKE RETURNS TO SPORTING KC
Midfielder Christian Duke was recalled to Sporting KC today from USL PRO affiliate OKC Energy FC. Duke went on loan to Energy FC on March 17 with homegrown goalkeeper Jon Kempin. He contributed two assists in eight USL PRO appearances and had started the previous six matches for manager Jimmy Nielsen’s club across all competitions.

The Overland Park, Kansas native, who joined the Sporting KC Academy in 2007 and played high school soccer at Shawnee Mission South, leaves Energy FC on a high note: he assisted former Sporting KC midfielder Michael Thomas’ game-winning goal on Saturday as Energy FC snapped a six-game losing streak.

MIDFIELDER MIKEY LOPEZ JOINS OKC ENERGY FC FROM ORLANDO
On Wednesday, Sporting Kansas City also announced that midfielder Mikey Lopez has been recalled from Orlando City SC and loaned to OKC Energy FC pending MLS and USL PRO approval. The 21-year-old transitions between the team's two USL PRO affiliates after two and a half months with Orlando City SC.

Lopez was loaned to Orlando City on March 17 and contributed one assist in eight games played. Orlando City remains unbeaten (9-0-3) and has a six-point lead atop the USL PRO standings. He now joins Kempin at Energy FC (3-7-0), who jumped from 13th to 11th in the USL Pro standings after picking up their first home win last Saturday.

SPORTING KC TRANSFERS ORIOL ROSELL TO SPORTING CP
Sporting KC announced on Tuesday that the club has agreed to transfer midfielder Oriol Rosell to Sporting CP in Lisbon, Portugal.

Rosell, 21, joined Sporting KC in August 2012 from Barcelona B. He contributed two goals and two assists in 49 MLS appearances (including postseason) and led all MLS players with 130 interceptions during the 2013 season. Rosell was voted No. 14 on MLSsoccer.com’s top 24 players under the age of 24 last year and made his international debut for Catalonia in 2013.

Rosell becomes the third Sporting KC player in the last 18 months to move to Europe. In 2013, Honduran midfielder Roger Espinoza joined Wigan Athletic (England) and Sierra Leone striker Kei Kamara moved to Middlesbrough FC (England). Rosell’s transfer will open a Salary Budget Player spot and international slot on Sporting KC’s roster.

DOM DWYER NOMINATED FOR MLS PLAYER OF THE MONTH
Forward Dom Dwyer has been nominated for MLS Player of the Month in May. The 23-year-old forward scored six goals in seven games last month, tied for most in MLS with New York Red Bulls striker Bradley Wright-Phillips. Voting is currently open at MLSsoccer.com.

Dwyer was the only player in MLS to record two multi-goal games in May. The Englishman scored twice in Sporting KC's 3-0 win over the Montreal Impact on May 10 and repeated the feat against Toronto FC in a 2-2 tie on May 23. He sandwiched those performances with goals against the Philadelphia Union and Chicago Fire.

Dwyer's four-game scoring streak was the second longest all-time in club history behind Preki, who scored in five straight during the club's inaugural 1996 season. Voting for MLS Player of the Month is open until 1:59 a.m. CT, Thursday, June 5. The winner will be revealed later that day.

SPORTING KC SUFFERS 1-0 LOSS AT D.C. UNITED
Sporting KC lost 1-0 at D.C. United on Saturday as Fabian Espindola's 28th-minute goal snapped his club's seven-game winless streak in the series dating back to 2010. Sporting KC outshot the home side 16-7, but D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid matched his season-high with five saves to earn the shutout.

Sporting KC played without three players due to international duty (Matt Besler, Graham Zusi and Lawrence Olum), two other defenders with season-ending injuries (Chance Myers and Ike Opara), and saw MLS All-Star Aurelien Collin exit the match in the ninth minute with a hamstring strain. Homegrown player Erik Palmer-Brown replaced Collin and partnered Kevin Ellis in central defense. This marked the first time in team history that Sporting KC's lineup featured two Homegrown Players on the field together in an MLS match.

BESLER AND ZUSI START AGAIN

Defender Matt Besler and midfielder Graham Zusi earned two more starts for the U.S. Men’s National Team in a 2-1 win over Turkey Sunday afternoon. The friendly match in Harrison, New Jersey was the second of three pre-World Cup warm-ups for the Americans. Besler played 45 minutes at center back and Zusi played 69 minutes on the right side of a midfield diamond.

Up next for the U.S. is a friendly match against Nigeria on Saturday (5 p.m. CT, ESPN) in Jacksonville, Florida. The United States will then travel to Brazil on June 9 for their seventh straight FIFA World Cup appearance.

BESLER AND ZUSI AMONG TOP 15 IN MLS JERSEY SALES
Major League Soccer today revealed the 15 top-selling jerseys in the league so far this season. Based on sales results from MLSGear.com and MLSGearCanada.ca, Sporting KC has two players on the list with Zusi ranked 9th and Besler 12th. Sporting KC is one of five clubs to have multiple players on the list.

OLUM HELPS KENYA ADVANCE IN AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS
Midfielder Lawrence Olum played 64 minutes as Kenya tied Comoros 1-1 last Friday in Mitsamiouli, Comoros. Kenya’s 2-1 aggregate victory sent the Harambee Stars to the second round of 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying.

Olum, who made his competitive debut for Kenya in their 1-0 first leg win on May 18, started in defense and helped keep Comoros goalless before his exit midway through the second half. Olum has returned to Sporting KC and will be available to play against the Houston Dynamo this Friday.

U.S. OPEN CUP COMES TO THE FOREFRONT
U.S. Soccer announced the potential pairings and match locations for all fifth round scenarios in the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The fourth round winner between Sporting KC and Minnesota United (NASL) on June 18 will advance to host the winner between the Portland Timbers (MLS) and Orlando City U23's (PDL) in the tournament's round of 16.

Sporting KC will host Minnesota United FC at 7:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday, June 18 at Sporting Park as the two-time U.S. Open Cup champions enter the competition in the fourth round. Tickets, starting as low as $14, are available for the match online at Ticketmaster.com or by calling 888-4KC-GOAL.

The U.S. Open Cup, recognized as U.S. Soccer’s national championship, is an annual competition open to all amateur and professional teams affiliated with U.S. soccer. The oldest annual team tournament in American sports history has its origins in 1914 and is named after Sporting KC’s original founder Lamar Hunt. The single-elimination tournament will continue through the championship match on Sept. 30 or Oct. 1 with the winner receiving $250,000 in prize money and a berth in the 2015-16 CONCACAF Champions League. Sporting KC are two-time champions in the competition, winning the title in 2004 and 2012.

MLS ALL-STAR VOTING
Major League Soccer released the fan ballot for the 2014 AT&T MLS All-Star Game on May 28. The ballot features players from each of the 19 clubs as voted on by media. Sporting KC’s nominees eligible for selection are goalkeeper Erik Kronberg, defenders Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin and Seth Sinovic, midfielders Benny Feilhaer and Graham Zusi, and forward Dom Dwyer. Fans can vote online at MLSsoccer.com through July 11. Votes will also be tallied via Twitter from July 2-6.

WESTPORT BEER FESTIVAL THIS SATURDAY
On Saturday, Sporting KC and BeerKC will host the Third Annual Westport Beer Festival from 5-9 p.m. CT on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of McCoy's Public House. The tribute to seasonal craft beers will feature more than 80 beers from nearly 35 breweries while benefiting AIDS Walk Kansas City. Tickets are on sale at beerkc.com ($30 in advance, $35 at gate) and include a tasting glass along with unlimited pours from participating breweries, while supplies last. Sporting KC's Eric Kronberg, Andy Gruenebaum and Seth Sinovic will be in attendance.

COLLIN TO VISIT BURGERFI IN LEAWOOD
On Sunday, two-time MLS All-Star Aurelien Collin will make a special appearance at BurgerFi (11635 Ash St.) in Leawood, Kansas from 1:30-3 p.m. CT. The MLS Cup trophy will also be in attendance and all fans are encouraged to attend for photo and autograph opportunities.

WORLD CUP WATCH PARTIES FAST APPROACHING
Summer in the Soccer Capital, presented by The Sprint Framily Plan, will kick off with Kansas City’s official 2014 FIFA World Cup watch parties hosted at KC Live! in the Power & Light District. Beginning with the opening match on June 12 and continuing through the World Cup final on July 13, all 64 matches will be shown live on Kansas City’s largest outdoor video screen in the center of the KC Live! Block, as well as screens in surrounding bars.

Admission to the KC Power & Light District for Summer in the Soccer Capital will be free for all ages. Food and drink specials will be available for supporters, as well as limited edition “For Club and Country” merchandise. Additional programming, including VIP opportunities, will be provided for all U.S. Men’s National Team matches at the 2014 FIFA World Cup:

Monday, June 16: United States vs. Ghana at 5 p.m. CT
Sunday, June 22: United States vs. Portugal at 5 p.m. CT
Thursday, June 26: United States vs. Germany at 11 a.m. CT

The Mosaic Lounge (1331 Walnut St.) in the Kansas City Power and Light District will host World Cup watch parties for all three U.S. Men's National Team matches. Guests to the private VIP venue will have access to four domestic beers, a private cash bar, indoor/outdoor viewing spaces with televisions and projectors and a viewing area overlooking the KC Live! Block. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online. Doors open to Mosaic one hour prior to each game and close one hour after.

ZAC BROWN BAND HITS SPORTING PARK IN SEPTEMBER
Three-time GRAMMY winners and multi-platinum artists Zac Brown Band are coming to Sporting Park Sept. 11 on The Great American Road Trip Tour 2014, Sporting Club announced last Friday. Tickets will go on sale to the general public beginning at 10 a.m. CT on Friday via Ticketmaster outlets, online at Ticketmaster.com or charge by phone at 800-745-3000. Sporting KC Season Ticket Members will have access to an exclusive pre-sale.

FOLLOW SPORTING KC ONLINE
Sporting KC fans looking to keep up with the club on the worldwide web now have a place to go. The social media page on SportingKC.com features Twitter account information for the club, its players as well as many staff members. Additionally, fans may take advantage of the Media Recap page for all the latest independent news coverage available online.