Sporting KC Weekly Update: June 10, 2015

SPORTING KC TO HOST ST. LOUIS FC IN U.S. OPEN CUP FOURTH ROUND ON TUESDAY
Sporting Kansas City will host USL expansion side St. Louis FC at 7:30 p.m. CT on Tuesday at Sporting Park in the fourth round of the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Tickets for Tuesday's match start at $14 and a limited number remain available via Ticketmaster.com for the first competitive meeting between Sporting KC and a club from St. Louis in team history. Sporting KC Season Ticket Members will use Special Game A in their season ticket package for entry to the game.

Led by head coach Dale Schilly, St. Louis FC is 3-3-4 in their inaugural USL season and sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings. The club advanced past Minnesota United FC (NASL) on May 27 in a penalty kick shootout (3-1) after a 1-1 draw through extra time.

The 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is headlined by the largest field in the modern era (1995-present) with 89 teams in contention when the first round began earlier this month. Thirty-two teams remain ahead of the fourth round to be held Tuesday and Wednesday, June 16-17.

The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup has been held annually since 1914 and is open to all amateur/professional soccer teams affiliated with U.S. Soccer. Sporting Kansas City has twice lifted the Dewar Challenge Trophy as champions of the competition in 2004 and 2012, while teams from St. Louis have won the U.S. Open Cup on 10 previous occasions. This year’s winner will earn $250,000 and a berth into the 2016-17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League.

LATE GOAL LIFTS SPORTING KC TO 1-0 WIN OVER SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
Sporting KC claimed the club's fourth straight home victory with a 1-0 win over first-place Seattle Sounders FC last Saturday in front of 21,505 fans - the largest regular season crowd in Sporting Park history. Benny Feilhaber converted a penalty kick in the 84th minute and Tim Melia set a new MLS career high with six saves in the clean sheet to become the first goalkeeper in team history to go unbeaten in his first six appearances (4-0-2).

Two weeks after shutting out the Sounders on their home turf in a scoreless draw, Sporting KC captured the full three points on Saturday to snap a nine-game winless streak against Seattle and move within two points of the conference leaders. The visitors were without all three of their Designated Players - Clint Dempsey (personal), Obafemi Martins (injured) and Osvaldo Alonso (suspended) - while Sporting KC overcame the absence of leading scorer Krisztian Nemeth.

Sporting KC enters their Week 15 bye on a seven-game unbeaten run. The club's two losses through 14 games are fewest in MLS this season and mark the second best start in the team's 20-year history.

FIVE SPORTING KC PLAYERS ON PROVISIONAL ROSTERS FOR 2015 CONCACAF GOLD CUP
CONCACAF announced on Wednesday the 35-player provisional rosters, featuring five Sporting KC players, for each of the 12 countries competing in the 2015 Gold Cup from July 7-26 across the U.S. and Canada. Designated Players Matt Besler and Graham Zusi were named to the U.S. Men's National Team's preliminary squad, while Roger Espinoza (Honduras), Marcel de Jong (Canada) and Soni Mustivar (Haiti) will also be available for selection by their respective national teams for this summer's regional championship tournament.

Each national team will submit their final 23-player roster to CONCACAF by June 23. All players on the final roster, as well as any injury and/or knockout round replacements, must come from those listed on the provisional roster. Teams are permitted to replace injured players up until 24 hours prior to their opening match and the eight nations advancing to the quarterfinals may replace up to six players within 24 hours of their final group stage match.

Sporting Park will host the Group A finales on July 13 during an international doubleheader featuring Honduras-Haiti at 6 p.m. CT and USA-Panama at 8:30 p.m. CT. Jurgen Klinsmann's squad, ranked No. 27 in the world, returns to Sporting Park for the fourth time since the state-of-the-art stadium first hosted the U.S. MNT and Panama during the 2011 Gold Cup.

TIM MELIA EARNS UNANIMOUS TEAM OF THE WEEK RECOGNITION
In a 1-0 win over first-place Seattle on Saturday, Sporting KC goalkeeper Tim Melia made a career-high six saves en route to his fourth shutout in six games since taking the starting role at the beginning of May. Pundits nationwide took notice, as Melia received unanimous Team of the Week recognition from MLSsoccer.comESPNFCSI.comBleacher Report and NBC Pro Soccer Talk.

Sporting KC is 4-0-2 when Melia starts, and his 0.50 goals against average leads MLS. With Saturday's result, he became the first goalkeeper in club history to go unbeaten in his first six league appearances.

Captain Matt Besler (ESPNFCSI.comNBC Pro Soccer Talk) and rookie left back Amadou Dia (Bleacher Report) also took Team of the Week honors. Besler anchored a defense that picked up its third straight clean sheet, leading all players with 55 successful passes and nine interceptions in the process. Dia, making his fourth consecutive start, recorded four tackles and four interceptions while limiting Seattle rookie Cristian Roldan to just 25 touches.

NEMETH FEATURES FOR HUNGARY IN 4-0 WIN OVER LITHUANIA
Sporting KC forward Krisztian Nemeth featured for the Hungary national team in last Friday's 4-0 win over Lithuania in Debrecen, Hungary. The 45-minute second-half appearance was Nemeth's first for the Magyars since October 2013 and his 16th career cap at the senior team level.

Hungary will now play Finland at 10 a.m. CT on Saturday in a UEFA Euro 2016 qualifier. Nemeth leads all Sporting KC players with six goals in 2015, while also adding two assists and an Etihad Airways MLS Player of the Month award for May.

ERIK PALMER-BROWN STARTS FOR U.S. AT FIFA U-20 WORLD CUP
Sporting KC defender Erik Palmer-Brown made his debut at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup last Friday with a spot in the starting lineup for the United States' 3-0 loss against Ukraine. The 18-year-old Lee's Summit, Missouri native played the full 90 minutes at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand in the team's group stage finale.

Despite the loss, the U.S. finished advanced to the knockout stage with a second place finish in the group and Colombia 1-0 on Wednesday in the Round of 16. The U.S. will now face Serbia in the quarterfinals at 11:30 p.m. CT on Saturday. The match will be shown live on FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports Go, NBC Universo and Telemundo.

FAN VOTING OPEN FOR 2015 AT&T MLS ALL-STAR GAME
Major League Soccer has unveiled the fan ballot for the 2015 AT&T MLS All-Star Game featuring eight representatives—as nominated by media—from all 20 teams. Sporting KC’s eligible players for fan voting are as follows:

  • Goalkeeper (1): Tim Melia
  • Defenders (2): Jalil Anibaba and Matt Besler
  • Midfielders (3): Roger Espinoza, Benny Feilhaber and Graham Zusi
  • Forwards (2): Dom Dwyer and Krisztian Nemeth

Voting is open through 2 p.m. CT on July 3 via MLSsoccer.comsocial media and EA SPORTS FIFA 15. Eleven total players (one goalkeeper, three defenders, four midfielders and three forwards) with the highest combined votes will be named to the All-Star Fan XI.

In addition to votes cast online at MLSsoccer.com, fans can also vote through social media by mentioning an eligible player’s first and last name along with the hashtag #MLSAllStar on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Users may only vote for one player per post and votes are limited to one per account each day for up to 10 different players.

The 2015 MLS All-Stars will play Barclays Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur at 8 p.m. CT on July 29 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado. Four of Sporting Kansas City’s eight nominees are in contention for the first All-Star honors of their MLS careers, including World Cup veteran Benny Feilhaber who leads the League with a career-high seven assists this season. Besler and Zusi have each been named MLS All-Stars on three occasions while Dwyer (2014) and Espinoza (2012) have also received All-Star recognition during their respective careers.

SPORTING KC ANNOUNCES ADDITIONS TO TECHNICAL STAFF
Sporting KC announced on Friday two additions to the club’s technical staff. Mike Jacobs has been hired as the Assistant Technical Director while Jorge Alvial has been hired as the club’s Director of Scouting. Both Jacobs and Alvial will report to Sporting KC Manager and Technical Director Peter Vermes.

Jacobs is currently President of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) after a three-year stint as Vice President of the world’s largest soccer coaches organization. Prior to joining Sporting KC, Jacobs was the Executive Vice President and Technical Director of the United Soccer League (USL), providing strategic direction for the organization at all levels.

Alvial joins Sporting KC after nine years working for Chelsea FC. As Head Scout for the Americas, Alvial oversaw scouting in North, Central and South America for the five-time English Premier League champions and was vital to the recruitment of Chelsea midfielder and Brazilian national team star Oscar.

SPORTING PARK TO HOST WATCH PARTIES FOR USWNT DURING 2015 WORLD CUP
The Boulevard Members Club at Sporting Park will welcome U.S. Women’s National Team fans for 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup watch parties hosted by WIN for KC in conjunction with Sporting KC, FC Kansas City and the NSCAA.

2015 FIFA WOMEN’S WORLD CUP: REMAINING U.S. WNT SCHEDULE
Friday, June 12 at 7 p.m. CT: vs. Sweden in Winnipeg (RSVP)
Tuesday, June 16 at 7 p.m. CT: vs. Nigeria in Vancouver (RSVP)

More than 500 fans attended Sporting Park on Monday as the U.S. WNT opened the group stage with a 3-1 win over Australia. The watch parties at Sporting Park are open to fans of all ages and free to attend, with the exception of the final group stage match on June 16. In order to attend the watch party on June 16, fans must have a Members Stand ticket to Sporting KC's match in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Fourth Round that evening at Sporting Park. Food, drink and merchandise will be available to purchase at each event in addition to exclusive raffle giveaways and appearances by FC Kansas City and/or Sporting KC players. Doors open one hour prior to kickoff and parking will be available in Lot D

The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup kicked off on Saturday and will be held in six cities across Canada through the final on July 5. All games during the 24-team tournament will be nationally televised live on FOX, FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2 in the United States, in addition to live streams on FOX Sports GO and FOXSportsGO.com.

Reigning NWSL champions FC Kansas City are represented by four players on the United States’ World Cup roster: defender Becky Sauerbrunn, midfielder Lauren Holiday, midfielder Heather O’Reilly and forward Amy Rodriguez. 

TICKETS ON SALE FOR CONCACAF GOLD CUP DOUBLEHEADER ON JULY 13
Tickets are now on sale via Ticketmaster.com for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup doubleheader to be played at Sporting Park on July 13. The United States Men's National Team will face Panama at 8:30 pm. CT in the Group A finale after Haiti takes on either Honduras or French Guiana at 6 p.m. CT. CONCACAF announced the group stage matchups for the 12-team tournament in March.

All tickets provide entry to both matches with prices starting at $35 for general admission seating in the South Stand or Members Stand. Sporting KC could feature players on three of the teams competing at Sporting Park that evening—Matt Besler and Graham Zusi of the U.S., Haitian midfielder Soni Mustivar and Honduran midfielder Roger Espinoza.

The Gold Cup is the region’s marquee national team tournament and the headline competition for the United States Men’s National Team in 2015. This year’s tournament carries additional significance as it will determine CONCACAF's representatives at the Centennial Cup America in 2016 and the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2017.

MIKEY LOPEZ RETURNS FROM INJURY AS ENERGY FC MOVES INTO FIRST PLACE
After missing four matches due to a leg injury, Mikey Lopez has returned to the field for OKC Energy FC with back-to-back appearances off the bench in the USL. The 22-year-old midfielder logged 57 minutes of action in a pair of victories against MLS-operated clubs from the Pacific Northwest over the past week.

On Friday, Lopez entered in the 65th minute and sent a shot off the post in a 2-0 victory over Portland Timbers 2 (4-5-2, 8th place). He was the first of four substitutions for OKC Energy FC on Tuesday, coming into the match in the 58th minute for their 2-0 win versus Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 (3-6-4, 10th place).

Head Coach Jimmy Nielsen has led the club to a six-game winning streak -- four in USL and two in the U.S. Open Cup -- and into first place in the Western Conference with 21 points (6-2-3).OKC Energy FC will now conclude a five-game homestand in USL play at 7 p.m. CT on Saturday when they host in-state rivals Tulsa Roughnecks FC at Taft Stadium.

ACADEMY DEFENDER JAYLIN LINDSEY WITH U.S. U-15 BOYS' NATIONAL TEAM
Sporting KC Academy U16 defender Jaylin Lindsey is currently with the United States Under-15 Boys' National Team in Buenos Aires, Argentina for an 11-day training camp. The U.S. U15's have played two of three international friendlies this week against South American opponents. The U.S. drew Uruguay 0-0 on Monday before playing to another scoreless draw today against Argentina. The training camp concludes with Friday's match against Paraguay. Follow @ussoccer_ynt on Twitter for all the latest updates from U.S. youth national teams.

FOUR SPORTING KC PLAYERS TO ATTEND WESTPORT BEER FESTIVAL ON SATURDAY
Four Sporting KC players -- Roger Espinoza, Dom Dwyer, Benny Feilhaber and Graham Zusi -- will attend the fifth annual Westport Beer Festival, to be held from 5-9 p.m. CT on Saturday on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of McCoy's Public House. The event is a benefit for AIDS Walk Kansas City and will feature more than 80 beers from nearly 35 breweries. Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the gate, with each ticket including a tasting glass and unlimited pours while supplies last. In addition, new co-branded Sporting KC and Boulevard Brewing Company merchandise will be available to purchase at the event.

SPORTING KC AND BOULEVARD BREWING CO. ANNOUNCE NEW COLLABORATIONS
Sporting KC and Boulevard announced on Friday a new line of co-branded apparel that is now available for purchase on Shop.SportingKC.com. The apparel will also be available at the Westport Beer Festival on Saturday and throughout Boulevardia from June 19-21. Boulevard will carry the merchandise in its Dry Goods store at the brewery later this month and the apparel will be available for purchase.

SINGLE-GAME TICKETS ON SALE FOR SECOND HALF OF SPORTING KC'S SEASON 
Single-game tickets for Sporting KC home matches from July through October are now on sale via Ticketmaster.com. Tickets will be available for the first time for the following matches:

  • Sat., July 18: Sporting KC vs. Montreal
  • Sat., Aug. 1: Sporting KC vs. Houston
  • Sat., Aug. 15: Sporting KC vs. Vancouver
  • Wed., Aug. 19: Sporting KC vs. San Jose
  • Fri., Sept. 18: Sporting KC vs. FC Dallas
  • Sun., Sept. 27: Sporting KC vs. Seattle
  • Sun., Oct. 25: Sporting KC vs. LA Galaxy

FOLLOW SPORTING KC ONLINE
Sporting KC fans looking to keep up with the club online have a place to go. The Social Media page on SportingKC.com features Twitter account information for the team, its players and several staff members. Supporters may also take advantage of the Media Recap page for all the latest independent news coverage.

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