Sporting KC Weekly Update: Aug. 13, 2014

All the latest news and notes from the defending MLS champions

MLS CHAMPIONS HOST TORONTO FC ON SATURDAY 
Eastern Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City will host Toronto FC at 7:30 p.m. CT on Saturday at Sporting Park. The match, sponsored by Price Chopper, will be broadcast locally on KMCI-TV 38 The Spot and across the Midwest on SKCTV with coverage beginning at 7 p.m. CT. Listeners can also follow the match on Sports Radio 810 WHB (English) and La Gran D 1340 AM (Spanish). A limited number of tickets, including standing room only tickets, are available at Ticketmaster.com.

Sporting KC (11-6-6, 39 points) fell 2-0 at the Vancouver Whitecaps on Sunday, snapping their eight-match unbeaten run and club record five-game road winning streak. An own goal from Igor Juliao in the 17th minute and a Darren Mattocks strike in the 39th minute delivered the MLS champions their first League defeat since May 31. However, Peter Vermes' men remain atop the Eastern Conference standings, two points ahead of D.C. United, and have three consecutive MLS home matches to finish the month of August.

Toronto FC (9-7-5, 32 points) earned a 3-2 road victory at the Columbus Crew on Saturday and will hope to avenge their 2-1 loss to Sporting KC at BMO Field on July 26. Sporting KC's .675 all-time winning percentage against Toronto (11-4-5) is their highest against any MLS team.

Prior to the match, Sporting Style will host the third annual Season Ticket Member Sale beginning at 5:30 p.m. CT in the Sprint Plaza at Sporting Park. Merchandise will be available exclusively to current Sporting KC Season Ticket Members at costs at least 50 percent off retail price while supplies last and those who check out between 5:30-6:30 p.m. CT will receive an additional 10 percent off.

SPORTING KC CALLS UP LEAGUE POOL GOALKEEPER TIM MELIA
Sporting KC announced on Wednesday that League pool goalkeeper Tim Melia has joined the club. A five-year veteran of MLS, Melia played two seasons with Real Salt Lake (2010-2011) before signing with Chivas USA (2012-2014). Over that span, the 28-year-old made six MLS appearances while also playing on loan for the Charleston Battery and FC New York. He led the Battery to the USL-2 title in 2010 with eight saves in the final.

Melia arrives in Kansas City due to injuries to Eric Kronberg and Andy Gruenebaum. Kronberg fractured the fourth metacarpal bone on his left hand in July and is in the midst of an eight-week recovery, while Gruenebaum strained his supraspinatus in the team's most recent match and is day-to-day. Homegrown goalkeeper Jon Kempin made his MLS debut in place of Gruenebaum on Sunday.

KEMPIN MARKS MLS DEBUT WITH PENALTY KICK SAVE
Homegrown goalkeeper Jon Kempin made his MLS debut in the second half of Sporting KC’s 2-0 loss at the Vancouver Whitecaps on Sunday. He marked his first League appearance with a penalty kick save in the 84th minute, denying Darren Mattocks and preserving his 45-minute clean sheet.

Andy Gruenebaum injured his right shoulder making a save in the 13th minute and required replacement at halftime of the match with Sporting KC down 2-0. First-string goalkeeper Eric Kronberg remained sidelined with an injured hand, prompting Kempin to step between the posts for the first time in his MLS career. His penalty kick stop earned a Save of the Week nomination. Voting for Save of the Week is available online at MLSsoccer.com through 1:59 a.m. CT on Friday.

In a rare set of circumstances, Kempin is just the third goalkeeper in MLS history to record the first save of his career on a penalty kick. Moreover, he is the fifth goalkeeper all-time to save a penalty in his MLS debut and the fifth-youngest MLS keeper to save a penalty (21 years, 125 days).

PETERSON JOSEPH AND SPORTING KC MUTUALLY AGREE TO PART WAYS
Sporting KC announced on Monday that the club has mutually agreed to part ways with midfielder Peterson Joseph. The 24-year-old appeared in 36 MLS matches (including postseason), three CONCACAF Champions League fixtures and three U.S. Open Cup victories since joining the team in September 2011. A Haiti international, Joseph has been on the Disabled List since the start of the 2014 season and made his last appearance for the club in October 2013.

BESLER, COLLIN, DWYER AND ZUSI FEATURE IN ALL-STAR GAME WIN
Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Dom Dwyer and Graham Zusi saw action in the 2014 MLS All-Star game on Aug. 6 as the MLS All-Stars defeated FC Bayern Munich 2-1 at Providence Park in Portland.

Besler, Collin and Zusi started and played 45 minutes before exiting at halftime, while Dwyer entered the fray in the 71st minute. The reigning German Bundesliga and FIFA Club World Cup champions went ahead early through Robert Lewandowski’s impressive half volley, but New York Red Bulls striker Bradley Wright Phillips equalized with a spectacular long range effort shortly after the break. Fourteen-time MLS All-Star Landon Donovan struck the 70th-minute game-winner and earned match MVP honors.

There were also two members of Sporting KC's youth development Academy representing the MLS Cup champions in Portland. Under-16 players Absalom Solorio (Oak Park H.S.) and Steve Tekesky (Raymore Peculiar H.S.) were part of the Central All-Stars squad that participated in a four-team, round robin tournament featuring FC Bayern Munich's U16 Academy Team.

DESMOND ARMSTRONG JOINS SPORTING CLUB NETWORK
Former U.S. Men’s National Team defender Desmond Armstrong has been named Sporting KC’s Academy Affiliate Technical Director, the organization announced on Monday.

Armstrong joins the Sporting Club Network with abundant experience at soccer's highest levels. He debuted for the U.S. Men’s National team in 1987 and represented his country at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. Armstrong’s strong performances earned him a spot on the 1990 World Cup squad, where he played alongside Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes. In 2012, Armstrong was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame alongside Sporting Legend and former U.S. Men’s National Team goalkeeper Tony Meola.

As Academy Affiliate Technical Director, Armstrong will perform a wide array of roles for the eleven Academy Affiliate clubs. In addition to conducting Coaches Education and Chalk Talks, Armstrong will visit each Academy Affiliate to run training sessions and identify potential players for the Sporting KC Academy.

TICKETS ON SALE FOR CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUP STAGE MATCHES
Single-game tickets for Sporting KC’s two group stage matches at Sporting Park in the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League are available to purchase through Ticketmaster.com. The MLS Cup champions will host Costa Rica's Deportivo Saprissa on Sept. 18 before a meeting with Nicaraguan club Real Esteli five days later on Sept. 23. Both matches will kick off at 7 p.m. CT and are included in Sporting KC Season Ticket Member packages.

SPORTING KC PLAYERS TO APPEAR AT AREA SUBWAY RESTAURANTS
Subway and Sporting KC are teaming up during the month of August with several player appearances at various Subway locations in Kansas City and surrounding areas. The player appearances resume today as forward Soony Saad visits Grandview, Missouri (6250 Missouri 150). All player appearances will be from 3:30-5 p.m. CT and one Sporting KC player will be in attendance to meet fans and sign autographs. The first 100 fans at each location will receive a free t-shirt.

Click here for a full schedule of all upcoming player appearances at local Subway locations.

SPORTING KC AND UMKC KICK OFF FAN SWEEPSTAKES
Sporting KC 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 KC tickets with all-inclusive food and beverage, one parking pass, two Rally with the Roos T-shirts and one team-signed soccer ball. Fans can enter to win online until Aug. 31 at 11:59 p.m. CT.

UMKC Night at Sporting Park will be on Sept. 26 as Sporting KC hosts the New England Revolution at 7 p.m. Visit UMKC.edu/SportingKC for more information.

VICTORY PROJECT BENEFIT CONCERT SLATED FOR AUG. 24
The first ever concert to benefit The Victory Project will be held on Sunday, Aug. 24 at The recordBar in Westport. The concert will feature music from country artist Gary Kirkland and classic country western band The Starhaven Rounders.

Concert guests will have the opportunity to bid on live and silent auction items, including tickets to a Sporting KC game in the Victory Suite, Crossroads Music Fest and Buzz Beachball. Tickets for the event are $20 and all of the proceeds from ticket and auction sales will benefit The Victory Project. Fans can purchase tickets online.

BUZZ BEACH BALL TICKETS NOW ON SALE
Tickets are now on sale for Buzz Beach Ball, presented by 96.5 The Buzz and Sporting KC. The concert is set for Sept. 5 at Sporting Park with tickets starting as low as $30 on Ticketmaster.com. Buzz Beach Ball acts include Arctic Monkeys, Weezer and The 1975. For more information, visit BeachBallKC.com.

FOLLOW SPORTING KC ONLINE
Sporting KC fans looking to keep up with the club online 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.