CHICAGO FIRE VISIT SPORTING KC ON SUNDAY
Sporting Kansas City hosts their first MLS match in over a month as the Chicago Fire visit Sporting Park on Sunday. The match, presented by NAPA Auto Parts, is set to kick off at 2 p.m. CT and will be televised nationally on ESPN, with additional radio broadcasts on Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Gran D 1340 AM. A limited number of tickets are still available at Ticketmaster.com, including standing room only tickets for $20.
Sporting KC (7-5-4, 25 points) has reclaimed first place in the Eastern Conference after two consecutive road shutout wins in the month of June. Sporting KC’s 14 goals conceded are second fewest in MLS.
The Chicago Fire (2-4-8, 14 points) are 10th in the Eastern Conference and enter tonight's midweek match against Toronto FC (7:30 p.m. CT, MLS LIVE) looking for their first MLS win since a 2-1 home victory over Sporting KC on May 18. The Fire are led by rookie Harry Shipp (five goals, four assists), Quincy Amarikwa (five goals, three assists) and Mike Magee, who has been nominated for Best MLS Player at the 2014 ESPY Awards on July 16.
WORLD CUP RUN COMES TO AN END FOR BESLER AND ZUSI
Sporting KC defender Matt Besler and midfielder Graham Zusi have concluded their first FIFA World Cup campaign with the United States. Belgium defeated the U.S. 2-1 on Tuesday as the Americans bowed out in the Round of 16 for the second straight World Cup.
Led by Tom Howard’s 16 saves—the most in recorded World Cup history—the U.S. held Belgium to a scoreless stalemate in regulation before Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku struck for the Red Devils in the first half of extra time. Late-game substitute Julian Green pulled one back with a terrific volley in the 107th minute, but Belgium withstood a late surge from the Americans to advance.
Besler and Zusi made significant impacts throughout the tournament. In a 2-1 win over Ghana on June 16, Besler started and Zusi provided the game-winning assist with an 86th-minute corner kick. Against Portugal on June 22, Besler led all players with 12 clearances and five interceptions and Zusi assisted another goal as the U.S. battled to a 2-2 draw. It marked the first time since 2002 that two players from the same MLS club started together for the U.S. in a World Cup game.
The Sporting KC duo started against Germany in the third and final group stage encounter, and despite a 1-0 loss, the U.S. progressed to the Round of 16 with a superior goal difference over Portugal.
Besler and Zusi started in the Round of 16 loss to Belgium, becoming the first two players to see action in a World Cup knockout stage contest while playing club soccer in Kansas City. Besler played all 120 minutes and Zusi was replaced in the 72nd minute.
SPORTING KC NOTCHES GUTSY ROAD WIN OVER PORTLAND TIMBERS
Sporting KC earned a valiant 1-0 win over Portland Timbers FC last Friday night at Providence Park. Lawrence Olum scored his first goal of the year as Sporting KC avenged their U.S. Open Cup loss to the Timbers on June 24 and moved into a tie for first place in the Eastern Conference with D.C. United.
Coming on the heels of a 2-0 win at the Houston Dynamo on June 6, the clean sheet victory over Portland was historic. For just the third time in club history, Sporting KC registered consecutive shutout road wins in MLS competition (including postseason). The team has won at least two straight away games 13 times since 1996, but never posted consecutive clean sheets during those runs until 2011.
Sporting KC now has four away victories in 2014, second-most in MLS behind the Seattle Sounders’ five. Since the beginning of 2011, no team has more regular season road wins (24) or shutout road wins (13) than Sporting KC.
ERIC KRONBERG NOMINATED FOR MLS PLAYER OF THE MONTH
Sporting KC goalkeeper Eric Kronberg is one of five nominees for MLS Player of the Month for June after posting clean sheets and recording road wins in each of Sporting KC’s only two MLS matches during the month. Kronberg, 31, leads all MLS goalkeepers with a 0.88 goals against average and seven shutouts in 2014. The ninth-year professional is the team’s longest-tenured player.
Voting for MLS Player of the Month will be open until 1:59 a.m. CT on Thursday, July 3 with the winner to be announced later that day. Sporting KC forward Dom Dwyer was voted MLS Player of the Month in May with six goals scored.
KEVIN ELLIS LANDS SPOT ON MLS TEAM OF THE WEEK
Sporting KC defender Kevin Ellis was named to MLSsoccer.com’s Team of the Week on Monday, the second time the homegrown player has received such honors in the last month. In the 1-0 win over Portland, Ellis picked up his first career assist on Lawrence Olum’s game-winning goal and helped a resolute defense set single-game season highs with 43 clearances and 24 tackles won.
The right back has started the last five MLS matches in central defense as Sporting KC continues to cope with injuries and international duty. Ellis earned MLSsoccer.com Team of the Week recognition for the first time in his career after Sporting KC beat the Houston Dynamo 2-0 on June 6.
MLS ALL-STAR VOTING CONTINUES ONLINE, BEGINS TODAY ON TWITTER
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 third and left back Seth Sinovic is sixth. Graham Zusi and Benny Feilhaber are the fourth and sixth-ranked midfielders, and goalkeeper Eric Kronberg ranks third. MLS joint-leading scorer Dom Dwyer is sixth among forwards.
Online voting will continue through July 11. Votes will also be tallied through Twitter starting today and lasting until Sunday, July 6. An eligible vote consists of the hashtag #MLSAllStar and the player’s full name or twitter handle. Users may only vote for players on the All-Star ballot. 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.
MIKEY LOPEZ RECALLED TO SPORTING KC
Sporting KC has recalled midfielder Mikey Lopez from his loan to OKC Energy FC, the club announced Monday. Lopez returns to the club after scoring his first goal in Energy FC's 2-0 win over Sacramento Republic last Saturday and being named to the USL PRO's Team of the Week. The 2013 MLS SuperDraft first round pick appeared in 14 matches while on loan with USL PRO affiliates Orlando City SC and Energy FC, scoring one goal and one assist.
SPORTING KC RELEASES ALEX MARTINEZ
Sporting KC announced on Monday that the club has released midfielder Alex Martinez. The club drafted Martinez with the No. 57 overall pick (third round) in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft. The rookie started three regular season matches and scored his first professional goal in a 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup fourth round win over NASL club Minnesota United FC.
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, Sporting KC announced last Wednesday that the winner of the game will receive the Champions' Shield. Full details on the design of the Shield will be released at a later date.
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. Manchester City's full roster for the friendly will be announced in early July. 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.