Sporting KC Weekly Update: July 9, 2014

SPORTING KC FACES MONTREAL IMPACT ON SATURDAY
Sporting Kansas City continues their pursuit of the MLS Supporters’ Shield with a trip to the Montreal Impact on Saturday. The Eastern Conference tilt at Stade Saputo will kick off at 6:30 p.m. CT live on KCMI 38 The Spot and across the Midwest on SKCTV, with radio coverage available on Sports Radio 810 WHB (English) and La Gran D 1340 AM (Spanish).

Johnny’s Tavern locations in the Kansas City Power & Light District (1310 Grand Blvd.) and Shawnee (13410 W. 62nd Terr.) will host the club’s official watch parties. All supporters are encouraged to attend the events, which will feature select Boulevard draft specials and the Blue Believer signature cocktail.

Sporting KC (7-5-5, 26 points) is second in the Eastern Conference, two points behind D.C. United, while Montreal (3-8-5, 14 points) sits at the bottom of the standings. Peter Vermes’ men have fared well at Montreal in the past (2-1-1 all-time), as they are one of two teams with multiple victories at Stade Saputo since the Impact entered MLS in 2012. Sporting KC has dominated each of the previous two matches against the Canadian club this season, winning 4-0 at Sporting Park on April 19 and 3-0 at Stade Saputo on May 10. Sporting KC’s four away wins in 2014 are second most in MLS.

ERIC KRONBERG FRACTURES FOURTH METACARPAL, OUT EIGHT WEEKS
Sporting KC goalkeeper Eric Kronberg fractured the fourth metacarpal bone on his left hand during training on Wednesday at the Swope Soccer Village. Surgery is not required and Kronberg is expected to miss approximately eight weeks due to the injury. The club also announced on Wednesday that goalkeeper Jon Kempin has been recalled from his loan to USL PRO affiliate OKC Energy FC. The Leawood, Kansas native has five shutouts and 37 saves with a 1.38 goals against average in 13 games played during OKC Energy FC's inaugural season.

Kempin joins Andy Gruenebaum as the two available goalkeepers for Manager Peter Vermes during Kronberg's absence. Gruenebaum played his first eight professional seasons with the Columbus Crew before joining Sporting Kansas City prior to the 2014 season. The Overland Park, Kansas native started both matches for Sporting Kansas City in the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

MLS ALL-STAR FAN VOTING CONCLUDES FRIDAY
On Monday, Major League Soccer released the latest results from fan voting for the 2014 MLS All-Star Game in Portland, Oregon. Seven Sporting KC players are among the leaders at their respective positions. Captain Matt Besler is the leading vote getter among defenders, while his centerback partner Aurelien Collin is fourth and left back Seth Sinovic is sixth. Graham Zusi and Benny Feilhaber are the third and fifth-ranked midfielders, and goalkeeper Eric Kronberg ranks third. Dom Dwyer is sixth among forwards.

Fans can vote online at MLSsoccer.com until this Friday at 2 p.m. CT. The All-Star Fan XI—one goalkeeper, three defenders, four midfielders and three forwards—will be revealed on July 16. The 2014 MLS All-Star Game is set for Aug. 6 featuring German champions Bayern Munich at Portland’s Providence Park.

SPORTING KC AND CHICAGO FIRE BATTLE TO 1-1 DRAW
Sporting KC relinquished first place in the Eastern Conference with a 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire at Sporting Park on Sunday. Forward Dom Dwyer scored his 12th goal of the season in the 33rd minute before Mike Magee equalized for Chicago seven minutes later to split the points. A season-high of 20,858 were in attendance as Sporting Park’s sellout streak reached 45 games dating back to March 2012.

With the draw, Sporting KC is two points behind Eastern Conference leaders D.C. United after 17 of 34 regular season matches. Prior to Sunday's nationally televised contest on ESPN, the club welcomed back Matt Besler and Graham Zusi following their participation in the 2014 FIFA World Cup with the U.S. Men's National Team. Besler was rested and Zusi played 28 minutes as a second-half substitute.

DWYER ON PACE FOR A RECORD-BREAKING CAMPAIGN
Sporting KC forward Dom Dwyer registered his 12th League goal of the season on Sunday, lifting him into second place tie in the MLS Golden Boot race. The goal also tied him for fourth on Sporting KC’s single-season goal scoring chart at the halfway point of the 2014 campaign. Dwyer needs seven goals in the remaining 17 games to break Preki’s long-standing record of 18 goals in 1996.

Dwyer’s nine left-footed strikes are three more than any other player in MLS and his four goals from the penalty spot are tied for second-most in the League. His 63 shots and 26 shots on target rank first and second, respectively. Sporting KC’s next match at the Montreal Impact this Saturday will be a welcome trip for Dwyer, who has scored a brace in each of the teams’ previous two meetings this season.

SPORTING KC SIGNS MIDFIELDER MICHAEL KAFARI
Sporting KC announced the signing of 22-year-old Michael Kafari on Tuesday. The native of Accra, Ghana moved to the United States in 2001 and helped lead the University of New Mexico to a 58-16-12 record during his collegiate career from 2010-13. New Mexico became one of only three college programs to reach the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet Sixteen each of the last three seasons, beginning in 2011 when Kafari and the Lobos were eliminated by Dom Dwyer and the University of South Florida in a penalty shootout.

The Vancouver Whitecaps selected Kafari in the third round of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft (No. 51 overall). The defensive midfielder signed with their USL PRO affiliate Charleston Battery in mid-March after spending preseason with the Canadian club and made his competitive debut for Charleston on May 28 in the U.S. Open Cup third round.

MIDFIELDER JIMMY MEDRANDA JOINS OKC ENERGY FC ON LOAN
Sporting KC has loaned midfielder Jimmy Medranda to USL PRO affiliate OKC Energy FC, the club announced on Wednesday. The 20-year-old has made five career MLS appearances since joining Sporting KC from Deportivo Pereira (Colombia) last August.

Medranda became the youngest player to appear in a match for the club during the 2013 MLS Cup championship campaign upon his MLS debut in September and started the team’s 2014 home opener for the first of four games played this season. He most recently came off the bench in a 1-0 loss at D.C. United on May 31.

KEMPIN AND PALMER-BROWN EARN SPOTS ON MLS HOMEGROWN GAME ROSTER
Sporting KC goalkeeper Jon Kempin and defender Erik Palmer-Brown were named to the inaugural Chipotle MLS Homegrown Game roster today. Twenty of MLS’s top homegrown players will compete against the Portland Timbers U-23s at Providence Park in Portland, Oregon as part of the festivivities leading up to the 2014 AT&T MLS All-Star Game on Aug. 6. The Homegrown Game will kickoff at 9 p.m. CT on Monday, Aug. 4 and will be streamed live on WatchESPN and MLSsoccer.com.

Currently on loan with OKC Energy FC, Kempin signed with Sporting KC in 2010 and was named to the USL PRO Team of the Week on June 10. The 21-year-old has represented the United States at the U-17, U-18, U-20, U-21 and U-23 level. Palmer-Brown, 17, became the youngest player in MLS history to start a regular season match as a defender on May 18 and has appeared in three games this season, including two starts. He signed for the club in 2013 and has featured for the United States at the U-15, U-17, U-18 and U-20 levels.

2014-15 CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUP STAGE SCHEDULE RELEASED
CONCACAF announced on Friday the dates and times for the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League group stage. Sporting KC is paired with Nicaraguan club Real Esteli and Costa Rican club Deportivo Saprissa in Group 2.

For the second straight year, Sporting KC will open the tournament at Real Esteli on Tuesday, Aug. 19 at 9 p.m. CT. Sporting KC defeated Real Esteli 2-0 in their CCL opener in August 2013 and drew Esteli a month later 1-1 at Sporting Park. The team will then return home for back-to-back matches at Sporting Park, hosting Saprissa on Thursday, Sept. 18 and Esteli on Tuesday, Sept. 23. Both matches will kick off at 7 p.m. CT. Sporting KC will conclude the group stage on Thursday, Oct. 23 against Saprissa.

The team with the most points at the conclusion of the CCL group stage will advance to the quarterfinal round. Peter Vermes’ men advanced to the 2013-14 quarterfinals in March against Mexican club and eventual champion Cruz Azul, losing 5-2 on aggregate.

WORLD CUP WATCH PARTIES CONCLUDE AT POWER & LIGHT
Soccer supporters from across the region are invited to KC Live! in the Kansas City Power & Light District for Sporting KC’s official FIFA World Cup watch parties, which are free and open to all ages. More than 50,000 fans have attended the watch parties to date as part of Summer in the Soccer Capital, presented by The Sprint Framily Plan. The tournament's final two matches are slated for this weekend, with the Third Place game on Saturday (3 p.m. CT, ESPN) and the World Cup Final on Sunday (2 p.m. CT, ABC).

SPORTING KC AND MANCHESTER CITY TO BATTLE FOR CHAMPIONS SHIELD
On July 23, Sporting KC will host defending English Premier League winner Manchester City FC at Sporting Park in a highly anticipated summer friendly. To commemorate the match between the reigning MLS and EPL champions, the winner of the game will receive the Champions' Shield.

Manchester City boasts a talented roster from top to bottom, including three players—Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko—who finished in the top six of the EPL’s goal-scoring charts during the 2013-14 season. Eleven players on the club’s current roster were named to the final 23-man rosters for their respective countries at the World Cup. Limited tickets are available for the match and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com or by calling 888-4KC-GOAL.

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 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.

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