Sporting KC Weekly Update: November 9, 2016

BESLER AND ZUSI JOIN U.S. MNT FOR WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS
Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler and midfielder Graham Zusi have joined the United States Men’s National Team's 26-player roster ahead of two pivotal World Cup qualifiers against Mexico and Costa Rica, U.S. Soccer announced Sunday.

The United States kicks off the Hexagonal on Friday, hosting arch rivals Mexico at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Kickoff is set for 6:45 p.m. CT on FS1 and Univision as head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s side begins the final round of FIFA World Cup qualifying in the CONCACAF region.

Following Friday’s highly anticipated showdown with Mexico, the U.S. will travel south to face Costa Rica on Tuesday at Estadio Nacional in San Jose. The match will kick off at 8 p.m. CT on beIN SPORTS and NBC Universo.

CONCACAF’s six-team Hexagonal will unfold between November 2016 and October 2017 in a home-and-away, round-robin format. The top three finishers will advance to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, while the fourth-place team will meet an Asian side in a World Cup playoff next November.

Besler, 29, has earned 37 caps for the United States, including eight appearances in 2016. He started twice at the 2016 Copa America in June, scored his first international goal in a win over St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Sept. 2, and recently anchored the defense in a friendly vs. New Zealand on Oct. 11.

Zusi, 30, has amassed 41 caps for the U.S. since 2012, recording five goals and six assists. The versatile midfielder played five matches at the 2016 Copa America — scoring against Costa Rica on June 7 and starting in the semifinal against Argentina — and also started in a 6-0 win over St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Sept. 2. (Full story)

ROGER ESPINOZA JOINS HONDURAS MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM
Sporting Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza has been selected to the Honduras Men’s National Team for two upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Espinoza joins a 26-player squad as Honduras opens the Hexagonal with home games against Panama on Friday (2:35 p.m. CT) and Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday (4:05 p.m. CT). Both matches will kick off at Estadio Olimpico in San Pedro Sula.

Led by head coach Jorge Luis Pinto, Honduras is trying to make its third consecutive World Cup appearance. Los Catrachos are one of six CONCACAF nations competing for three automatic berths to the 2018 FIFAF World Cup in Russia, with the Hexagonal unfolding in a home-and-away, double round-robin format from November 2016 through October 2017. The fourth-place finisher will face an Asian side in a World Cup playoff in November 2017.

Espinoza is one shy of his 50th international appearance for Honduras, having represented his country at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, 2012 Summer Olympics and 2014 FIFA World Cup. The 30-year-old midfielder has scored four goals for Los Catrachos since debuting in 2009. He last played for Honduras on March 29, starting in a 2-0 win over El Salvador to help the team ultimately advance from the semifinal qualifying round. (Full story)

DWYER AND RUBIO UNDERGO OFFSEASON SURGERIES
Sporting Kansas City forwards Dom Dwyer and Diego Rubio underwent offseason surgeries last Wednesday.

Dwyer, 26, had arthroscopic surgery to remove bone spurs in his right ankle. The surgery was performed in Kansas City under the care of orthopedic surgeon Dr. Kirk McCullough. Dwyer is expected to make a full recovery ahead of Sporting Kansas City’s preseason campaign in January.

Rubio, 23, had surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee and will also return to Sporting Kansas City for the 2017 season.

Dwyer bagged 16 MLS goals in 2016 to become the first player in club history to score at least 12 times in three straight regular seasons. The Englishman has climbed to second on Sporting Kansas City’s all-time scoring chart with 61 goals in all competitions.

In 2016, Rubio become the first player in club history to score in the MLS regular season, Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League in the same year. He recorded three goals and one assist in 20 total appearances.

SPR'S HERNANDEZ JOINS U.S. U-19 NATIONAL TEAM
Swope Park Rangers midfielder Felipe Hernandez has joined the U.S. Under-19 National Team for the side's final training camp of the year from Nov. 5-14 in Sunrise, Fla.

Led by head coach Brad Friedel, Hernandez and the U.S. U-19s will play an intrasquad scrimmage against the U.S. Under-18 National Team and play another match against an opponent to be determined.

Hernandez, 18, signed for the Rangers on Aug. 18 but did not make a USL appearance as SPR won the Western Conference and claimed a berth in the USL Cup Final in their inaugural season. Hernandez has represented the Sporting KC Academy Under-18 team nine times in the 2016-17 Development Academy season, scoring seven goals.

Hernandez is one of seven current Sporting KC Academy players who have trained this fall with various U.S. youth national teams.

ACADEMY'S GIANLUCA BUSIO JOINS U.S. U-15 BNT
Sporting Kansas City Academy forward Gianluca Busio has joined the U.S. Under-15 Boys’ National Team for its final domestic training camp of 2016, running from Nov. 5-12 in Bradenton, Florida.

The training camp was highlighted by two games on Tuesday as the U-15s faced U.S. Soccer Development Academy sides Chargers SC and Weston SC in split-squad action. Led by head coach Dave van den Bergh, the U-15 BNT will also play an intra-squad scrimmage on Friday at 3 p.m. CT.

A native of Greensboro, North Carolina, Busio moved to the Sporting Kansas City Academy this fall after spending the 2015-16 USSDA campaign with the North Carolina Fusion. The 14-year-old has featured for Sporting KC at the U-14 and U-16 level this season, scoring five goals in seven combined USSDA appearances.

ACADEMY SIDES TO FACE DALLAS TEXANS ON SATURDAY
The Sporting KC U-18s and U-16s will meet the Dallas Texans on Saturday in a doubleheader at Rogers State University in Claremore, Oklahoma. The U-18s kick off at 1 p.m. CT before the U-16s take the field at 3:30 p.m. CT.

The U-18s (7-2-0, 21 points) currently sit third in the Frontier Division standings and lead the 23-team Central Conference with 27 goals scored. The U-16s (5-3-1, 16 points) are in fourth place through nine games, topping the Frontier Division with 22 goals of their own.

Follow @SKCAcademy on Twitter for live updates throughout the season.

BRACKETS SET FOR NCAA DIVISION II SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIPS
The tournament brackets were unveiled Monday for the 2016 NCAA Division II Men’s and Women’s Soccer Championships, which will culminate Dec. 1 and 3 at Children’s Mercy Victory Field at Swope Soccer Village in Kansas City, Missouri.

The 38-team men’s field includes four schools from either Kansas or Missouri, while the 48-team women’s field boasts five from either state. The semifinals and finals of both tournaments will be held at state-of-the-art Swope Soccer Village, hosted by the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association and the Kansas City Sports Commission.

2016 marks the first of two straight years in which the NCAA Division II men’s and women’s soccer championships will unfold at Swope Soccer Village. Kansas City has hosted NCAA soccer championships every year since 2014 (Division I in 2015; Division II in 2016 and 2017; and Division III in 2014 and 2015). For more information, visit NCAA.com/championships.

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