SPORTING KC ANNOUNCES ROSTER MOVES FOR 2015, PICKS UP OPTIONS ON FIVE PLAYERS
Sporting KC announced Tuesday that four players—Aurelien Collin, Kevin Ellis, Jacob Peterson and Soony Saad—will be out of contract with the club as of Dec. 31, 2014. The club will extend offers to each of those four individuals and contract negotiations are ongoing.
Additionally, Sporting KC and midfielder Lawrence Olum have mutually agreed to terminate his contract pending League approval. Sporting KC will retain rights to Olum within Major League Soccer, per MLS roster rules and regulations.
The club has also declined contract options for Antonio Dovale, Andy Gruenebaum, Michael Kafari, Eric Kronberg, Victor Munoz and Sal Zizzo. Kafari and Munoz will be eligible for selection in the MLS Waiver Draft on Dec. 10.
Gruenebaum, Kronberg and Zizzo will all be eligible to participate in Major League Soccer’s Re-Entry Process. Phase One of the Re-Entry Draft will take place on Dec. 12; Phase Two will occur on Dec. 18.
Head coach Peter Vermes also announced Tuesday that he has picked up contract options on five players: goalkeeper Jon Kempin, defenders Seth Sinovic and Ike Opara and forwards Dom Dwyer and C.J. Sapong.
Kempin made his MLS debut in the second half of a 2-0 loss at the Vancouver Whitecaps on Aug. 10, saving a penalty kick in the 84th minute to become the fifth youngest keeper in MLS history to save a penalty kick and the fifth keeper all-time to save a penalty in his MLS debut. The homegrown goalkeeper appeared in four matches this year and was named Most Valuable Player in the inaugural Chipotle Homegrown Game on Aug. 4 in Portland.
Sinovic was voted Sporting KC Defender of the Year after starting 31 regular season games and leading the club with 2,755 minutes played. The Leawood, Kansas native tallied two assists and contributed to nine shutouts.
Opara's season was cut short after the Wake Forest product suffered a season-ending ankle injury on March 29. The centerback played a pivotal role in Sporting KC's 2013 MLS Cup winning campaign, appearing in 18 regular season matches with three goals.
Dwyer’s breakout season in 2014 garnered Sporting KC Offensive Player of the Year and Co-Most Valuable Player recognition. In his third year with the club, he topped Kansas City’s all-time single-season scoring chart with 22 MLS goals, while his 24 goals in all competitions were also a franchise best.
Sapong, who was named the 2011 MLS Rookie of the Year with five goals and five assists in his first season, scored twice in 21 MLS appearances in 2014. He scored nine goals in 2012 and four more in 2013. Sporting KC has a 19-0-2 overall record (including postseason) when he scores.
SPORTING STYLE POP-UP STORE OPENING ON BLACK FRIDAY
Sporting Style will open a pop-up store in the Boulevard Members Club at Sporting Park for the holiday season. The store opens on Black Friday at 10 a.m. with the kitman sale, featuring exclusive game-worn and autographed items such as Matt Besler's captain's armband, Dom Dwyer's cleats, 2013 MLS Cup game balls and signed jerseys. All other items in the store will be 20 percent off.
The pop-up store will be open through Dec. 24 (Christmas Eve) and parking is available in Lot D (click here for directions). Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
STEUBLE SCORES AS PHILIPPINES CLINCHES SPOT IN 2014 AFF SUZUKI CUP SEMIFINALS
Sporting Kansas City midfielder Martin Steuble scored the second international goal of his career as the Philippines defeated Indonesia 4-0 in its second group stage match of the 2014 Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup on Tuesday. With the victory in Hanoi, Vietnam, the Philippines clinches a berth in the tournament's two-legged semifinals—beginning Saturday, Dec. 6—with one Group A contest to spare.
Steuble's goal came on the heels of a 90-minute performance in the Azkals' first group stage match against Laos last Saturday. The Philippines won 4-1 as Steuble recorded two shots, two chances created and 90 percent passing accuracy on the right side of midfield.
Ranked No. 129 in the latest FIFA rankings, the Philippines now has a perfect 2-0-0 record and concludes Group A action Friday against co-hosts Vietnam in Hanoi. The Azkals are two points ahead of Vietnam (1-0-1, 4 points) and would clinch first place in Group A with a win or draw.
Steuble joined Sporting KC on July 16 from Swiss club FC Wil 1900. He featured in the club's international friendly against Manchester City on July 23 before making his MLS debut against the Philadelphia Union on Aug. 1 for the first of three league appearances.
The midfielder, who now has 14 career caps, previously spent his entire club career in Switzerland, featuring for FC Wil 1900, Grasshopper Zurich, Lausanne Sport, FC Wohlen, and Neuchâtel Xamax. Steuble committed to the Philippines Men's National Team in 2013, made his international debut this March and scored his first Azkal goal in April. He competed in the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup in May, helping the Philippines to a second place finish.
Steuble is one of seven Sporting KC players to feature in international matches in 2014 along with Matt Besler (USA), Graham Zusi (USA), Lawrence Olum (Kenya), Jorge Claros (Honduras), Soony Saad (Lebanon) and Erik Palmer Brown (USA U-20).
SETH SINOVIC TO HEADLINE MAYOR'S CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING CEREMONY ON FRIDAY
Sporting KC defender Seth Sinovic will join Kansas City Mayor Sly James at the annual Mayor's Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at 5:30 p.m. CT on Friday at Crown Center Square.
Sinovic is this year's featured celebrity after being named Sporting KC's Defender of the Year for 2014. The Leawood, Kansas native started 31 regular season games, tallying two assists and contributing to nine shutouts.
The Mayor's Christmas Tree lighting ceremony—highlighted by Christmas carols, live entertainment and a fireworks display—will also include the Marine Color Guard, the Coterie Theater group and the Heartland Men's Chorus. The free event supports the Mayor's Christmas Tree Fund (donate here), which helps as many as 7,000 local families each year. For more information, visit CrownCenter.com.
FOUR ACADEMY ALUMS FEATURE IN NCAA TOURNAMENT
Four Sporting Kansas City Academy alums saw action in the first two rounds of the NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Tournament, which kicked off on Nov. 20 with 48 teams competing in the single-elimination competition. Eric DeJulio (Creighton), Zach Wright (UNC) and Andy Lopez (UNC) remain in contention for a berth in the 2014 College Cup as the field reaches the Round of 16, to be played this Sunday, Nov. 30.
Visit NCAA.com for the full bracket and live coverage throughout the tournament. Additional Sporting KC Academy news can be found via the Academy news section, Academy blog or by following @SKCAcademy on Twitter and Instagram.
SPORTING PARK RANKED NO. 1 OVERALL STADIUM EXPERIENCE IN MLS
Sporting Park landed the top spot in Stadium Journey magazine's evaluation of the best stadium experiences in Major League Soccer.
Released last Friday, the rankings are based on the following factors: food/beverage, atmosphere, location, fans, access and overall return on investment. Stadium Journey correspondent Cory Sims reviewed the state-of-the-art stadium earlier this year, writing that it is "one of the best venues to watch a sporting event of any kind."
Sporting Kansas City's home field earned the No. 1 spot over a trio of Pacific Northwest clubs. Providence Park (Portland Timbers), CenturyLink Field (Seattle Sounders) and BC Place (Vancouver Whitecaps) rounded out the top four.
SWOPE SOCCER VILLAGE TO HOST NCAA DIVISION III MEN'S AND WOMEN'S FINAL FOURS ON DECEMBER 5-6
The Final Four is set for the NCAA Division III Men's and Women's Soccer Championships on Dec. 5 and 6 at Swope Soccer Village in Kansas City, Missouri. Tickets are available by calling 816-389-4193.
FRIDAY, DEC. 5
Men's Semifinal #1: SUNY, Oneonta vs. Wheaton College at 11 a.m. CT
Men's Semifinal #2: Tufts University vs. Ohio Wesleyan University at 1:30 p.m. CT
Women's Semifinal #1: Lynchburg College vs. Illinois Wesleyan University at 5 p.m. CT
Women's Semifinal #2: Johns Hopkins University vs. Williams College at 7:30 p.m. CT
SATURDAY, DEC. 6
Men's NCAA Division III National Championship at 1:30 p.m. CT
Women's NCAA Division III National Championship at 5:30 p.m. CT
On the women's side, a first-time champion will be crowned in a Final Four that features three at-large bids looking to knock off No. 1 ranked Lynchburg College. The men's Final Four features a pair of two-time national champions in Ohio Wesleyan University (1998, 2011) and Wheaton College (1984, 1997) along with No. 3 ranked SUNY, Oneonta and unranked Tufts University.
The 2014 NCAA Division III Men's and Women's Soccer Championships at Swope Soccer Village will be co-hosted by the Kansas City Sports Commission and Fontbonne University. This year's final four is the first of four consecutive years in which NCAA men's and women's soccer championships will be competed at the state-of-the-art complex (Division III in 2014 and 2015; Division II in 2016 and 2017).
The 2015 NCAA Division I Men's Soccer College Cup will be held at Sporting Park from Dec. 11-13, 2015. For more information, visit NCAA.com/championships.
SPORTING CLUB AND WWI MUSEUM TO CO-HOST SECOND ANNUAL TRUCE TOURNAMENT
Sporting Club and the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial will host the second annual Truce Tournament on Dec. 26. The Kansas City soccer community is invited to participate in the 3v3 tournament that will be played on Liberty Hill and attend an English Premier League Watch Party inside the WWI Museum.
Following a tradition that began last year, the 2014 Truce Tournament comes on the 100th Anniversary of World War I and pays homage to the time-honored story of the Christmas Truce. According to legend, WWI battles temporarily ceased around Christmas 1914 as members of both warring armies ventured into No Man’s Land to exchange gifts, sing carols and play soccer.
SPORTING CLUB PRESENTS NEW CLOTHING LINE
Sporting Club has released its new fashion line for Sporting KC, offering fans an extensive selection of new clothing and merchandise. The Sporting Club brand -- featuring recently released men's and women's items -- is available for purchase on Sporting Style’s website while supplies last. Fans are encouraged to follow @SportingStyle on Twitter throughout the holiday season for all the latest news.
KANSAS CITY STEAK COMPANY HOSTS SPORTING KC FAN SWEEPSTEAKS
Sporting KC fans can visit SportingKC.com/meatandgreet to enter for a chance to win The Meat and Greet Sweepsteaks presented by Kansas City Steak Company. The winner, selected at random on Dec. 3, will receive a year’s supply of meat from Kansas City Steak Company and a dinner with a Sporting KC player.
TICKETS ON SALE FOR NCAA D-II FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP AT SPORTING PARK
Tickets are on sale to the general public for the NCAA Division II Football Championship to be played at Sporting Park on Dec. 20. Hosted by the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Associations and the Kansas City Sports Commission, the championship game will be held inside the state-of-the-art stadium for the next four years. Tickets are available via Ticketmaster.com while supplies last.
Pittsburg State University (Pittsburg, Kansas) is one of 16 teams still alive in the tournament after defeating Harding University (Searcy, Arkansas) 59-42 last Saturday. The Gorillas visit Minnesota State-Mankato Saturday at 2 p.m. CT in the second round. Northwest Missouri State University (Maryville, Missouri) was eliminated in Saturday's first round, falling 25-21 to Minnesota-Duluth.
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 and several staff members. Fans may also take advantage of the Media Recap page for all the latest independent news coverage.