Sporting KC Weekly Update: Oct. 28, 2015

SPORTING KC TO FACE PORTLAND THURSDAY IN MLS CUP PLAYOFFS

Sporting Kansas City kicks off its quest for MLS Cup against the Portland Timbers in the Western Conference Knockout Round at 9 p.m. CT Thursday at Providence Park. The single-elimination match will be televised nationally on UniMas in English and Spanish, in addition to a local broadcast on KMCI-TV 38 The Spot beginning at 8:30 p.m. CT.

Sports Radio 810 WHB will carry four hours of continuous coverage for the playoff opener. The Sporting KC Show will air from 8-9 p.m. CT, followed by a simulcast of the match and The Final Whistle postgame show. Spanish listeners can also tune into La Grande 1340 AM for live in-game commentary and analysis.

If Sporting KC advances, the club would then host FC Dallas this Sunday, Nov. 1, at Sporting Park in the first leg of the two-game Western Conference Semifinals series. Tickets for that match, if necessary, are on sale via Ticketmaster.com while supplies last.

Fresh off Sunday’s 2-1 win over the LA Galaxy, sixth-seeded Sporting KC will make their fifth straight postseason appearance against the third-seeded Timbers. The match pits two teams who have battled three times in the 2015 regular season, two of which ended in scoreless draws (March 21 and Sept. 9) and a third that was decided in the final minutes by Krisztian Nemeth's spectacular game-winner on Oct. 3.

In each of the last six games between Sporting KC and Portland in all competitions, the home side has failed to win. Furthermore, Peter Vermes' men are 3-1-1 in five all-time trips to Providence Park and have earned four consecutive clean sheets against the Timbers in MLS, a shutout streak that spans 392 minutes dating back to 2013.

SPORTING KC SEALS PLAYOFF BERTH WITH 2-1 WIN OVER LA GALAXY

Sporting KC clinched a postseason berth for the fifth straight season on Sunday with a 2-1 victory over the LA Galaxy on the final day of the MLS regular season. The club will open the playoffs at the Portland Timbers on Thursday (9 p.m. CT on UniMas and 38 the Spot) in the Western Conference Knockout Round.

Kevin Ellis opened the scoring with his fourth goal of the year, tied for the most by an MLS defender during the Opta era (2011-present). Dom Dwyer, for a second straight year, secured the team's Golden Boot — presented by the Kansas City Marriott Downtown — with his 12th goal of the regular season and 17th goal in all competitions.

In front of the 70th straight sellout at Sporting Park, the home side took a 1-0 lead in the 38th minute with all four of the team's defenders contributing to the goal on consecutive plays. Matt Besler's long throw-in was flicked by Saad Abdul-Salaam, then volleyed by Chance Myers and re-directed by Ellis. The initial attempt was again turned away by the foot of Ricketts but the Homegrown defender buried the second chance into the back of the net.

Following an LA equalizer from Robbie Keane just before halftime, the decisive goal on Decision Day came from Dwyer in the 65th minute. Benny Feilhaber, who came off the bench to start the second half, provided a pinpoint pass for his 15th assist of the regular season, second most in MLS, and 20th assist across all competitions, a single-season club record, while Dwyer slipped the shot past Ricketts to seal the victory.

Sporting KC extended the club's home unbeaten streak against the Galaxy to seven straight games dating back to 2008 and matched the team's single-season record with 14 home wins across all competitions. The team has now won 14 times at home in 2000, 2004, 2012 and 2015 — all of which are represented on the stadium's championship wall as a result of winning major trophies in those seasons.

SWOPE PARK RANGERS UNVEILED AS 30TH USL TEAM

Sporting Club announced on Thursday the launch of a new professional soccer team in Kansas City with the formation of the Swope Park Rangers, which will begin play at Swope Soccer Village in the United Soccer League (USL) for the 2016 season.

The Swope Park Rangers, a name that originated with Sporting KC’s reserve team in 2008 and the first in American professional team sports to feature a municipal park, will join the USL in its sixth season. A partner of Major League Soccer (MLS) since 2013, the USL is one of three domestic professional men’s leagues recognized by U.S. Soccer and one of the largest professional soccer leagues in the world with 30 teams across the United States and Canada, including a total of 11 teams owned and operated by MLS clubs.

Like Sporting KC, the Swope Park Rangers will feature a jersey sponsorship from Ivy Funds. The Rangers will be closely integrated within Sporting Club’s short-term and long-term strategic goals, providing a pathway to the professional level for players in the Sporting KC Academy and a proving ground for players on loan from Sporting KC.

Home matches will be played on the Championship Field at Swope Soccer VillageFans can place $25 deposits to reserve season tickets for the Rangers’ debut in 2016 by calling 888-4KC-GOAL. Additionally, Swope Park Rangers merchandise is available online at Shop.SportingKC.com or at Sporting Style locations inside Sporting Park.

Open tryouts for the Swope Park Rangers will be held at Swope Soccer Village on Nov. 21-22 for prospective players ages 18 and up. The team’s head coach, as well as roster signings, jersey designs and inaugural schedule, will be announced in the coming months.

For more information, visit the FAQ section of SportingKC.com/Rangers and follow the team on social media with TwitterFacebook and Instagram accounts.

NEW EPISODE OF THE SPORTING KC SHOW TO AIR THURSDAY

In the lead-up to Sporting KC's playoff match against the Portland Timbers, a new episode of The Sporting KC Show will air live on Sports Radio 810 WHB from 8-9 p.m. CT on Thursday with hosts Nate Bukaty, Andy Gruenebaum and Carter Augustine. The trio will recap Sporting KC's 2-1 win over the LA Galaxy on Decision Day and preview Thursday's postseason clash at Providence Park.

DOM DWYER, GRAHAM ZUSI AMONG BEST-SELLING JERSEYS IN MLS

Major League Soccer announced on Thursday the list of the top-20 best-selling adidas MLS jerseys. Sporting KC winger Graham Zusi made the list with the 13th best-selling jersey in Major League Soccer, while forward Dom Dwyer came in at No. 14. For the second consecutive year, Seattle Sounders FC and U.S. Men's National Team forward Clint Dempsey topped the list.

NEMETH AND HUNGARY TO FACE NORWAY IN EURO 2016 PLAYOFF

Sporting KC forward Krisztian Nemeth and the Hungary Men's National team will meet Norway in a two-game, aggregate goal playoff to be held Nov. 12 (Oslo, Norway) and Nov. 15 (Budapest, Hungary) with only one of the two teams booking a berth for the 24-team field at UEFA Euro 2016 next summer in France.

Hungary's quest for their first UEFA European Championship since 1972 will likely see Nemeth return to his national team next month after the 26-year-old appeared in each of their final five qualifiers. He is one of three MLS players in contention for a role in the Euro 2016 playoffs along with the Irish duo of Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy) and Kevin Doyle (Colorado Rapids).

The games will be played during the FIFA fixture window from Nov. 9-17, during which time CONCACAF's World Cup qualifying campaign will resume with both the United States (Matt Besler, Graham Zusi) and Canada (Marcel de Jong) in action on Nov. 13 and Nov. 17. The Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs accomodates the international break with the conference semifinals concluding on Nov. 8 and the conference championships kicking off on Nov. 22.

Nemeth has contributed 15 goals, including the game-tying goal in the U.S. Open Cup Final, to go along with seven assists across all competitions in 2015. His 22 combined goals and assists are the most by a KC newcomer since the team's inaugural 1996 season.

SPORTING KC U-18S BEAT FC DALLAS WHILE U-16S SUFFER FIRST LOSS OF SEASON

The Sporting KC Academy U-18s and U-16s continued the 2015-16 U.S. Soccer Development Academy season with a pair of matches against FC Dallas in Claremore, Oklahoma, on Saturday.

The Sporting KC U-18s (4-2-0) kicked off the doubleheader with a 3-1 victory, receiving two goals from Nansel Selbol and a third from will Little to knock off an FC Dallas side (4-1-1) that was previously unbeaten in the Frontier Division.

The second match featured a pair of unbeaten teams as The Sporting KC U-16s (5-1-0) took their first loss of the U.S. Development Academy campaign with a 4-3 defeat to FC Dallas, who extended their perfect start to 6-0-0. Max Rugova scored in the first half before Johnny Klein netted twice in the final 10 minutes.

The U-18s and U-16s return to league play Saturday with a doubleheader against Real Colorado at Fort Hays State University Soccer Stadium in Fort Hays, Kansas. Follow @SKCAcademy on Twitter and Instagram for updates this weekend and throughout the season.

TICKETS ON SALE FOR BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP AT SWOPE SOCCER VILLAGE

Tickets for the 2015 Big 12 Soccer Championship are now available at Big12Sports.com/buytickets or by calling 888-4KC-GOAL. The Championship will take place Nov. 4, 6 and 8 at Swope Soccer Village in Kansas City.

Single day passes are on sale for $10 with three-day championship passes available for $15. A 15-ticket team pack is also available for $120.

Sporting Club and the University of Kansas will again co-host this year's championship, which will feature the Big 12's top eight teams competing for the Conference's postseason title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Division I Women's Soccer Championship.

In conjunction with the Championship, the Kansas City Sports Commission will be hosting a free soccer clinic for boys and girls ages 6-12 on Saturday, Nov. 7. The clinic will be held from 8:30-10:30 a.m. as a part of their youth clinic series at Swope Soccer Village. In addition to a free t-shirt and goodie bag, all clinic participants will receive a voucher for free admission to the Big 12 Championship match on Sunday, Nov. 8. To register for the clinic, visit SportKC.org.

The quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of the championship will be streamed live on Big12Sports.com, while the championship match will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1. This year's championship at Swope Soccer Village will be the third straight hosted in Kansas City.

TICKETS 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 Ticketmaster.com. 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

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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