Sporting KC Weekly Update: Aug. 5, 2015

SPORTING KC HITS THE ROAD TO FACE TORONTO FC ON SATURDAY
Sporting KC will kick off a stretch of five games in 15 days when they take on Toronto FC at 3 p.m. CT on Saturday at BMO Field. Sporting KC's only meeting with Toronto FC in 2015 will feature Major League Soccer's two MVP frontrunners — Benny Feilhaber and Sebastian Giovinco — along with four members of the U.S. Men's National Team in Matt Besler, Graham Zusi, Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore.

The match will air live locally on KMCI-TV 38 the Spot and across the Midwest on SKCTV affiliates with three hours of on-site coverage beginning at 2:30 p.m. CT. Additionally, 1510 AM will simulcast the match and air The Final Whistle: Sporting KC Postgame Show at 5 p.m. CT with host Dave Borchardt.

Sporting KC (9-4-7, 34 points) is currently fourth in the Western Conference standings, five points behind leaders Vancouver Whitecaps FC but with at least two games in hand on all clubs above them in the table. Peter Vermes' side has conceded 21 goals this season, fewest in MLS.

Seeking its first postseason berth in the club's nine-year history, Toronto FC (8-8-4, 28 points) sits fifth in the Eastern Conference and leads the division with 1.6 goals per game. Giovinco, a first-year Designated Player acquired from storied Italian club Juventus FC, has played a part in an MLS-best 23 goals this season (13 goals, 10 assists).

TICKETS NOW ON SALE FOR U.S. OPEN CUP SEMIFINAL MATCH ON AUG. 12 AT SPORTING PARK
Tickets for Sporting KC's semifinal match in the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Aug. 12 at Sporting Park are now on sale via Ticketmaster.com.

Sporting KC earned a 3-1 quarterfinal victory over Houston Dynamo on July 21 and will now play budding rival Real Salt Lake for the fourth time this season with a berth in the final at stake. The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. CT.

TICKETS: Click here to purchase

Sporting Park has attracted the largest crowds in each of the three previous rounds of this year's tournament with a total of 56,000 fans in attendance. The record crowd for a semifinal match in the U.S. Open Cup's modern era (1995-present) is 14,742 set by Real Salt Lake in 2013.

The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, recognized as U.S. Soccer's National Club Championship, is an annual competition open to all amateur and professional soccer teams affiliated with U.S. Soccer. The 2015 edition is headlined by the largest field in the modern era with 89 teams in contention when the first round began.

Sporting KC has twice lifted the Dewar Challenge Trophy as champions of the competition, winning the tournament title in 2004 at Arrowhead Stadium and again in 2012 at Sporting Park. Dom Dwyer currently leads all players as the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup's top scorer and his five goals are tied for the most by a KC player in U.S. Open Cup history.

DRAW DETERMINES THREE SITES IN CONTENTION FOR 2015 OPEN CUP FINAL
U.S. Soccer conducted the official draw today to determine the below hosting priorities for the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final among the four teams remaining in the competition:

  1. Chicago Fire - Hosts with win over Philadelphia on Aug. 12
  2. Real Salt Lake - Hosts with win over Sporting KC on Aug. 12 AND Philadelphia win
  3. Philadelphia Union - Hosts with win over Chicago on Aug. 12 AND Sporting KC win
  4. Sporting Kansas City - Will not host 2015 U.S. Open Cup Final

The 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final will be played on Wednesday, Sept. 30 with a $250,000 grand prize and a 2016-17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League berth at stake. The Dewar Challenge Trophy has been competed for annually since 1912 and symbolic of the U.S. Open Cup champion since 1914, making it one of the oldest nationally contested trophies in American team sports.

SPORTING KC AND HOUSTON BATTLE TO 1-1 DRAW
Sporting KC extended the club's home unbeaten streak to 14 games (10-0-4) across all competitions, tying the club record, with a 1-1 draw against the Houston Dynamo last Saturday at Sporting Park. Dom Dwyer scored in his sixth straight game against Houston on Benny Feilhaber's 11th assist of the season, second most in MLS.

Dwyer opened the scoring in the sixth minute, winning a foul along the right sideline and then heading home the ensuing free kick from Feilhaber. The Englishman held off Ricardo Clark and directed a glancing header inside the far post from eight yards out to move into a share of the team lead with seven regular season goals on the season.

Houston scored the game-tying goal in the 78th minute, canceling out the Sporting KC lead through a set piece of their own. Davis whipped a free kick to the top of the six-yard box where Clark rose high to snap his header between Melia and Soni Mustivar. Davis, Major League Soccer's active assists leader with 118, collected the 100th regular season assist of his Houston career.

TIM MELIA EARNS TEAM OF THE WEEK HONORS FOR FOURTH TIME IN 2015
For the fourth time in 2015, Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia was named to the MLSsoccer.com Team of the Week. The 29-year-old goalkeeper tallied four saves in last Saturday's 1-1 draw against the Houston Dynamo, his ninth start of 2015 allowing one goal or fewer.

Sporting KC improved their home unbeaten streak to 14 games on Saturday with the draw against Houston. Melia played a pivotal role in the result, deflecting a Brad Davis long-range strike in the 32nd minute and stopping a Will Bruin breakaway early in the first half. The keeper is in the midst of his best season as a professional with six shutouts through 12 games. He is three behind League-leader David Ousted in total shutouts but leads all goalkeepers with 0.5 shutouts per game.

Melia's nine goals allowed are fewest among MLS goalkeepers with at least 10 appearances and his 0.75 goals against average is tied with D.C. United's Bill Hamid for best in MLS.

MLS DISCIPLINARY COMMITTEE ANNOUNCES ACTIONS FROM #SKCvHOU
Major League Soccer announced on Wednesday that the MLS Disciplinary Committee has taken three actions following Sporting Kansas City's 1-1 draw against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday:

  • Fined Sporting KC forward Dom Dwyer an undisclosed amount for embellishment in the 44th minute
  • Fined Sporting KC midfielder Roger Espinoza an undisclosed amount in addition to issuing a one-game suspension for endangering the safety of an opponent in the 67th minute
  • Found Sporting KC and the Houston Dynamo to be in violation of the Mass Confrontation Policy

Dwyer will also miss Sporting Kansas City's match on Saturday at Toronto FC (3 p.m. CT on SKCTV) while serving a mandatory one-game suspension for caution accumulation.

The MLS Disciplinary Committee, which reviews all incidents that occur during regular season and MLS Cup Playoff games, exists to preserve the integrity and reputation of the game and Major League Soccer, and to assist in ensuring player safety. For more information, visit MLSsoccer.com.

Sporting KC has the fewest disciplinary points of all MLS teams in 2015, according to the most updated table on MLSsoccer.com, and are four-time winners of Major League Soccer's annual Fair Play Award.

BESLER, FEILHABER AND ZUSI FEATURE IN MLS ALL-STAR GAME
Matt Besler, Benny Feilhaber and Graham Zusi each played 45 minutes in the AT&T MLS All-Star Game against Tottenham Hotspur last Wednesday at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado. First-half strikes from Kaka and David Villa lifted the All-Stars to a 2-1 win over the Premier League side, who received a goal from Harry Kane before the break.

Besler and Zusi started and played the first half, while Feilhaber featured in the final 45 minutes to mark his All-Star debut. With the win, the All-Stars improved to 9-3-1 all-time against international competition in the annual showcase.

MATT BESLER AND SPRINT KICK OFF 12-DAY INTERACTIVE SCAVENGER HUNT
Captain Matt Besler and Sprint kicked off a 12-day #AllinforSKC Scavenger Hunt on Monday. In addition to daily prizes ranging from match tickets to an autographed scarf to a Sporting Style gift card, the grand prize pack features a personal soccer clinic led by Besler at Swope Soccer Village, a custom training kit, an Apple iPad Air 2 and one year of free Sprint service.

Follow @MattBesler on Twitter for clues at 11 a.m. CT each day and be the first to tweet a photo of the hidden soccer ball to @Sprint with the hashtags #AllinforSKC and #contest to claim that day's prize. The next 10 fans to arrive at the location each day will be entered in a drawing to win one of five consolation prizes. 

KCP&L TO HOST "THE ART OF SAVING ENERGY" ON FRIDAY
On Friday, KCP&L will be hosting "The Art of Saving Energy" during a First Friday event at 6 p.m. CT in the Missouri Bank parking lot (125 Southwest Boulevard) in the Crossroads Arts District. Three local artists will participate in a live competition, to be decided by audience voting, in addition to live music from KC band Monark, games and giveaways including Sporting KC tickets.

SPORTING PARK TO HOST PART-TIME JOB FAIR ON SATURDAY
Sporting Park will be hosting a job fair for part-time event staff ages 18 and up from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. CT on Saturday in the Ameritas Shield Club. Various part-time positions are needed during the remainder of the 2015 season, including concierge, fan hosts, gate ambassadors and others. Parking is available on the Sprint Plaza and all in attendance should enter through the Premium Entry.

AMERICAN FAMILY INSURANCE OFFERING FREE ROAD TRIP TO SPORTING KC ROAD GAME
A partnership between Sporting KC and American Family Insurance now allows fans to register for a free road trip to see Sporting KC face the San Jose Earthquakes on Oct. 16. The match will be played at Avaya Stadium, San Jose’s new state-of-the-art venue that opened in March.

The contest is open to all Sporting KC fans 21 years of age and older who live in Kansas or Missouri and will run through Sept. 13. Supporters can register by visiting https://contests.amfam.com/sportingkc and filling out the entry form or by visiting the American Family Insurance booth at Sporting KC'S home matches on Aug. 15 and Aug. 19.

One contest will reward one grand prize winner who will receive free airfare, four game tickets, a $1,000 bank card and more. Visit SportingKC.com for additional information.

SPORTING KC'S NEW DIGITAL MAGAZINE "ELEVEN" NOW AVAILABLE
SportingKC.com's new monthly digital magazine was released on Saturday.

The inaugural issue of "Eleven" — 26 pages filled with stories, photos and sponsors of interest to Sporting KC supporters — launched Saturday in a fully interactive format. New editions will be available during each month of the season courtesy of David Barr (writer), Walfri Rodas (photographer), Matthew Kimbrough (designer) and special guest contributors. Follow @ElevenTheMag on Twitter and Facebook to stay up-to-date with all the latest from the publication.

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

  • Saturday, Aug. 15: Sporting KC vs. Vancouver
  • Wednesday, Aug. 19: Sporting KC vs. San Jose
  • Friday, Sept. 18: Sporting KC vs. FC Dallas
  • Sunday, Sept. 27: Sporting KC vs. Seattle
  • Sunday, Oct. 25: Sporting KC vs. LA Galaxy

TICKETS NOW ON SALE FOR 2015 NCAA MEN'S COLLEGE CUP AT SPORTING PARK
Tickets are now on sale for the 2015 NCAA Men's College Cup at Sporting Park via a Ticketmaster.com pre-sale that started Tuesday for Sporting KC's Season Ticket Members and supporters with the promo code 15CCUP. Ticket packages start as low as $27 for admission to the semifinal doubleheader on Friday, Dec. 11 and the national championship match on Sunday, Dec. 13 with passes also available for access to the Ameritas Shield Club and Boulevard Members Club

The pre-sale opportunity ends on Thursday, Aug. 20, one week before the college soccer season kicks off on Aug. 28. On Monday, the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) released their 2015 preseason poll with last year's College Cup finalists UCLA and Virginia atop the rankings.

SPORTING KC OFFERS MOBILE CONCESSIONS ORDERING IN BOULEVARD MEMBERS CLUB
Sporting KC has announced a new service designed to enhance the fan experience at Sporting Park. Fans with tickets in the Boulevard Members Club now have the ability to order and pay for concessions on their smartphones and then pick up their orders via a fast lane.

The new service, created in partnership with Kansas City-based Lantern Software, is simple. Fans download the Gameday™ app from the App Store or Google Play, choose the items they want and pay with a credit card or PayPal. The app provides an alert when the concessions staff has begun working on the order as well as another once the order is ready. Users will then pick up their order from a separate fast lane to expedite the concession process.

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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