"This Week in Sporting" is a biweekly series that highlights the biggest storylines and news updates from Sporting Kansas City. To visit the series archive, click here.
1. Melia Extends His Stay
Sporting Kansas City announced Friday that goalkeeper Tim Melia has signed a contract extension with the club through 2022. Since joining the side in late 2014, Melia has led Sporting to four playoff appearances and two Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles as one of the premier goalkeepers in Major League Soccer. Over the last five regular seasons, Melia leads MLS with 10 saved penalty kicks—four more than any other player—while ranking third in shutouts (45), third in wins (62), fourth in saves (456) and fifth in save percentage (71.5%).
2. Roster Revealed
Sporting Kansas City has announced its roster for the first leg of the 2020 preseason, presented by Children’s Mercy. The preseason squad currently consists of 34 players including the 26 signed to MLS contracts, three members of Sporting Kansas City II, three Sporting KC Academy players and two unsigned MLS SuperDraft selections.
The Sporting KC II trio includes Wilson Harris, John Pulskamp and Camden Riley, while the three Academy players making the trip are Jake Davis, Tucker Lepley and Kaveh Rad—all of whom featured for Sporting KC II during the 2019 USL Championship season. MLS SuperDraft picks James Kasak and Jaret Townsend round out the roster.
The first phase of preseason training in Arizona began Sunday and conclude Feb. 1, highlighted by friendlies against a team of Phoenix Rising FC trialists this Saturday and fellow MLS side FC Cincinnati on Feb. 1.
3. Feels Like Home
A pair of familiar faces who weren’t present in 2019 have returned to Sporting Kansas City. As the club prepares for preseason training in Arizona, left back Amadou Dia and Khiry Shelton are about to embark on their second stints with Sporting.
Both enjoyed success in their first go-arounds at Children’s Mercy Park—Dia winning the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and Shelton helping the side finish first in the West in 2018—before their respective career paths took them to two very different places. And although their experiences since leaving Kansas City differed in duration, location and level of play, both are delighted to be back at a place they describe as home.
4. Warehouse Sale
Sporting Kansas City fans are welcome to attend the grand re-opening of the SportingStyle Pop-In Store this Saturday, Jan. 25, at Children's Mercy Park. To kick off the new decade in style, the SportingStyle Warehouse Sale is offering 25% off full-priced items and up to 50% off sale items.
The Warehouse Sale will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT at the Budweiser Brew House inside Children's Mercy Park. Parking is available on Village West Parkway just outside the Budweiser Brew House entrance and in Lot D. Supporters can also email stylist@SportingKC.com or call 913-912-7563 to see what's in stock and to place orders.
5. Groundbreaking Anniversary
Ten years ago today, Sporting Club broke ground on a stadium that would soon become one of North America's most heralded soccer cathedrals. On Jan. 20, 2010, some 24 hours after Wyandotte County approved the bonds to help finance the world-class venue in Kansas City, Kansas, Robb Heineman used heavy machinery to move dirt on the construction site during an official groundbreaking ceremony.
In the decade since, Children's Mercy Park has stood among the best soccer-specific stadiums on the continent, regularly hosting the U.S. Men's and Women's National Teams in addition to serving as the home of Sporting Kansas City. From cup finals and All-Star games to World Cup qualifiers and NCAA national championships, Children's Mercy Park has hosted several of soccer's biggest sporting events on an annual basis.
6. U-20 Debutants
Sporting Kansas City midfielder Gianluca Busio and Sporting Kansas City II goalkeeper John Pulskamp earned their debuts for the United States U-20 Men’s National Team last week, making one start apiece as the Americans faced archrivals Mexico on Thursday and Saturday at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
Busio started on the left wing in Thursday’s match, helping the U.S. to a 2-0 victory with both goals from Cole Bassett. Pulskamp started between the posts on Saturday as the U.S. and Mexico scrapped to a 2-2 draw.
7. Futsal Phenoms
The Sporting Kansas City Academy U-14s were crowned 2020 US Youth Futsal Central Regional champions on Sunday at Mid-America West Sports Complex in Shawnee, Kansas. Led by head coach Declan Jogi, the U-14s rolled to five straight victories between Friday and Sunday, including a 6-2 win over City FC in the championship, to claim the regional title and book a spot in the 2020 US Youth Futsal National Championships, which will take place Feb. 14-17 in venues across the Kansas City metro area.
8. Vermes Congratulates Chiefs
With Sporting Kansas City taking the field for its first training session of 2020 on Sunday afternoon in Scottsdale, Manager Peter Vermes was plenty busy. But it didn't stop him from congratulating the Kansas City Chiefs for winning their first conference championship in half a century. The Chiefs defeated the Tennessee Titans 35-24 on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium to bring the Lamar Hunt Trophy back to Kansas City and clinch their first Super Bowl appearance since 1970.
Vermes, a champion in his own right with four major titles as Sporting's head coach, stepped in front of the camera to offer praise and well wishes to the Hunt Family, Chiefs coach Andy Reid and his players for their historic accomplishment.
9. Podcasting Peter
Anecdotes laced with humor, honesty and remarkable detail characterize a must-listen podcast between Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes and local sports figure Danny Clinkscale, which debuted Friday on dannyclinkscale.com.
The first part of a two-part podcast serves as a captivating American success story, with Vermes talking openly about his upbringing in the home of first-generation parents who fled oppression to build a life for their family.
Over the course of 45 minutes, Vermes shares the backstory of his parents leaving communist Hungary, meeting his wife in high school, his mother passing away from cancer while Vermes was at Rutgers University, and the special relationships he shared with each of his immediate family members. Listen to the full podcast below.
10. Perfect Timing
Sporting Kansas City has confirmed kickoff times for all 34 matches on the club's 2020 USL Championship schedule. Led by head coach and former Sporting midfielder Paulo Nagamura, Sporting II will kick off their 2020 campaign by hosting Charlotte Independence at 4 p.m. CT on Sunday, March 8. For the second straight year, the club will play all 17 home fixtures at world-class Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.