BEST TEAMS IN EAST SQUARE OFF AT SPORTING PARK ON SATURDAY
Tied for first in the Supporters' Shield race, Sporting Kansas City hosts D.C. United in a crucial Eastern Conference showdown Saturday at Sporting Park. The match, sponsored by U.S. Bank, will kick off at 7:30 p.m. CT and a limited number of tickets remain available via Ticketmaster.com.
Sporting KC (12-6-6, 42 points) and D.C. United (12-7-4, 40 points) occupy the top two spots in the Eastern Conference, making Saturday's contest the marquee matchup in MLS Week 24. Both clubs are in similar situations entering the match, having cruised to League wins last weekend before starting their CONCACAF Champions League campaigns this week. D.C. United, led by Argentine playmaker Fabian Espindola (eight goals, eight assists), features two former Kansas City players in forward Eddie Johnson (four goals) and midfielder Davy Arnaud (two goals).
Fans are encouraged to arrive to Sporting Park early because of the concurrent Throttle Fest KC at Kansas Speedway. The first 10,000 supporters into the stadium will receive a Sporting KC roller banner courtesy of US Bank.
SPORTING KC BEGINS CCL CAMPAIGN WITH 1-1 DRAW AT REAL ESTELI
Sporting KC began their 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League campaign at Nicaraguan club Real Esteli FC, battling to a 1-1 group stage draw Tuesday night at Estadio Independencia.
Having traveled more than 2,000 miles from Kansas City to reach the Central American destination, the visitors fell behind after six minutes. Daniel Da Silva’s close range shot was initially saved by Jon Kempin but ricocheted off Sporting KC midfielder Jorge Claros and into the net.
The MLS champions responded positively, however, and winger Antonio Dovale leveled the match 10 minutes later. Graham Zusi drew a foul just outside the right edge of the penalty box, prompting the 24-year-old Spaniard to curl a left footed free kick over the wall and just inside the near post. Making his CONCACAF Champions League debut, Dovale became the 18th different goal scorer for Sporting KC all-time in international competition.
The reigning champions of Nicaragua’s Primera Division outshot Sporting KC 11-5 but were unable to grab their first ever win in CONCACAF competition. Kempin made two pivotal saves – one in the 53rd minute and another in the 81st – to keep the match tied.
Real Esteli FC now leads Group 2 with two points from back-to-back home draws, while Sporting KC and Deportivo Saprissa share second place in the standings with a point each. The group winner, determined after the four-game round robin group stage, advances to the quarterfinals next year.
SPORTING KC SURGES PAST TORONTO FC 4-1
A pair of first half penalty kicks from Dom Dwyer and second half strikes from Soony Saad and C.J. Sapong lifted Sporting KC to a 4-1 victory over Toronto FC last Saturday at Sporting Park. With the win, Peter Vermes' squad jumped into a tie for first place in the Supporters' Shield standings.
Dwyer netted from the penalty spot in the 18th and 33rd minutes to give the hosts a 2-0 advantage and become the first player in club history to convert two penalties in the save game. With 16 MLS goals on the year, Dwyer needs just three more goals to surpass Preki’s single season club scoring record set in 1996. The 24-year-old Englishman takes sole possession of second place in the Golden Boot race after notching his fifth multi-goal game – and second against Toronto – of the 2014 campaign.
Toronto FC cut the deficit in half after Gilberto finished Dominic Oduro's low cross with a clever back heel on the stroke of halftime. Sporting KC reasserted control in the second half, however, and Soony Saad's terrific half volley in the 64th minute – a day before his 22nd birthday – restored the two-goal cushion. Second half substitute C.J. Sapong sealed all three points in the 77th minute, latching onto a Graham Zusi corner kick that Saad had flicked across the goalmouth.
KEMPIN, SINOVIC AND DWYER LAND TEAM OF THE WEEK SPOTS
Jon Kempin’s excellent month of August continued on Monday when the homegrown goalkeeper was named to Bleacher Report’s Team of the Week. The 21-year-old, who became Sporting KC's youngest goalkeeper to start an MLS match, conjured a Save of the Week nominee to deny Gilberto with his team up a goal in the 51st minute.
Kempin received defensive support from left back Seth Sinovic, who earned MLSsoccer.com Team of the Week recognition for the first time this season. Sinovic blanketed Toronto’s Dominic Oduro throughout the match and limited the winger to zero shots. Dom Dwyer, meanwhile, was selected to Sports Illustrated's Best XI after he dispatched a pair of penalty kicks to move his MLS goal tally to 16.
KEMPIN EARNS SECOND STRAIGHT SAVE OF THE WEEK NOMINATION
Four days after winning the MLS Save of the Week award for his penalty kick stop in Vancouver, Sporting KC goalkeeper Jon Kempin was once again named a finalist in Week 23 for denying Gilberto one-on-one in Saturday's 4-1 win over Toronto FC. Fans can vote online at MLSsoccer.com until 11:59 p.m. PT on Thursday.
SPORTING KC SHOW SET FOR TONIGHT ON SPORTS RADIO 810
A new edition of The Sporting KC Show will air at 7:40 p.m. CT on Wednesday on Sports Radio 810 WHB with hosts Callum Williams and Carter Augustine joined by MLS All-Star Dom Dwyer. Fans can listen live on 810 AM, 810whb.com or via the station's free mobile app, and can also join the discussion by calling 913-3-810-810.
JOSTENS UNVEILS SPORTING KC FAN COLLECTION
Jostens, the leading national custom jewelry designer and producer, has unveiled a fan collection to celebrate the team's 2013 MLS Cup championship. Items available in the collection are: fan ring (men's and women's), championship fan paperweight, fan pendant, key ring and a championship poster. All can be purchased online at www.jostens.com/sportingkc.
Founded in 1897, Jostens has produced championship rings for professional sports teams and athletes for more than 60 years. In addition to creating Sporting Kansas City's 2000 and 2013 MLS Cup championship rings, Jostens has worked with other Kansas City-area professional sports organizations including the Kansas City Chiefs for their NFL Super Bowl IV Championship rings.
SPORTING CLUB ANNOUNCES RELEASE OF NEW CLOTHING LINE
Sporting Club released its new fashion line for the MLS champions on Friday, providing supporters an extensive selection of new clothing and merchandise. The Sporting Club brand is available for purchase on Sporting Style's website and will be available for purchase at all Sporting KC home games, while supplies last.
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.
ZUSI AND DOVALE AT PRICE CHOPPER ON THURSDAY
Sporting Kansas City midfielders Graham Zusi and Antonio Dovale will make a special appearance at the Price Chopper (4950 Roe Blvd.) in Roeland Park from 5-6:30 p.m. CT on Thursday in conjunction with Red Bull Kansas City. Both players will be available for photo and autograph opportunities throughout the event.
Zusi is a three-time MLS All-Star and was a member of the United States Men's National Team at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Dovale has two goals and two assists in all competition during his first season with Sporting KC, including the game-tying goal in last night's 1-1 draw at Real Esteli in Nicaragua.
SPORTING KC AND UMKC KICK OFF FAN SWEEPSTAKES
Sporting KC and the University of Missouri-Kansas City continue 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 SUNDAY
The first ever concert to benefit The Victory Project will be held this Sunday 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.
ZAC BROWN BAND HITS SPORTING PARK ON SEPT. 11
Three-time GRAMMY winners and multi-platinum artists Zac Brown Band will visit Sporting Park on Sept. 11 as part of The Great American Road Trip Tour 2014. Tickets are available online at Ticketmaster.com or by phone at 800-745-3000.
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.