In the penultimate B&RU Eastern Conference preview, we take a look at the defending champs. Sporting Kansas City didn't add any big names, but in keeping the band together and content they probably had a good offseason nonetheless. Can they improve on an MLS Cup-winning season?
What happened in 2013: Aside from a couple of poor stretches - a 2W-3D-4L spell a quarter of the way through the season, and losing four of five in late July/early August - Sporting Kansas City kept racking up low-scoring wins.
Sporting KC announced the signing of the signing of midfielder Alex Martinez, the first player from this year's draft class to be signed by KC. Martinez, the 57th pick of the draft, the final one of the third round has had an impressive preseason for KC, appearing in seven of KC's 10 preseason games.
One of the big talking points of the offseason so far for Sporting KC has been whether starting right back, Chance Myers would return to the team. In the past week the entire situation has gone back and forth. Last week a deal between the team and Myers didn't sound very likely. Reports were that he was wanting more money than what Kansas City had offered.
Peter Vermes likes his fowards, that's for certain. For the third time in the last four years, Sporting KC has used a first or second round pick on a forward. This year, Sporting KC selected Adnan Gabeljic out of the University of St. Louis.
The St. Louis native appeared in 69 games over his four year career for the Billikens, starting just nine.
As the MLS Cup Final crawls closes, coach-vs-coach, position-vs-position, and style-vs-style breakdowns are appearing. It was, however, a piece way back on November 25th by Grantland writer Graham Parker that began a two-week long journey into a tactical rabbit hole. The trigger was the description of this Cup final as a "referendum.
At long last, Sporting KC has reached the MLS Cup final. They've been a regular contender these past few years but pretty much always fell to the Houston Dynamo. During the past three years, though, the team has experienced a pretty constant shift in personnel. In part, that's the reality of pro sports, especially in MLS with a pretty rigid salary cap.
Last season Sporting Kansas City won the eastern conference in MLS but fell in the first round of the playoffs to the Houston Dynamo. Facing a repeat scenario after losing 2-1 in New England on Saturday, SKC manager Peter Vermes is already setting the groundwork for another early dismissal by blaming the referee for Saturday's loss.
photo courtesy of Graham Greem Last night, for the seventh time in the last eight games in all competitions, Claudio Bieler, Sporting KC's designated player did not see the field for KC. In fact for the fourth time in that stretch Bieler wasn't even on the bench.
In fact, in the post game interview, Peter Vermes said it was a tactical decision to leave Bieler in KC.
Ahead of tomorrow afternoon's game between the Philadelphia Union and Sporting Kansas City, in which the Union will look to stay alive for 24 more hours and SKC will try to get a strangle hold on #1 in the East and perhaps the Supporters' Shied, I had the opportunity to exchange emails with Ben Gartland from Sporting Kansas City's SB Nation blog The Daily Wiz.
Under Peter Vermes, Sporting Kansas City has been arguably the most consistent team in MLS in terms of style of play. They roll out a 433 every week, and the hallmark of their game is an emphasis on withering pressure high up the field to force turnovers. When in possession, KC's preference is to get the ball forward quickly on the ground, or to switch the point of attack.
OTF's Stephen Mangat a third (and likely final) look at the Flapper's army...
There's an apocryphal story about legendary British naval hero Lord Horatio Nelson that fits this post quite well. Lord Nelson was commanding a fleet of 20 ships when, on the horizon, appeared 50 French ones.
With MLS' secondary transfer window coming to a close, Sporting Kansas City did make two moves that coincided with the close of the window. We heard yesterday from Robb Heineman that the Jorge Claros deal at fallen through for this window, but Sporting didn't go out without picking up a couple players.
It appears Peter Vermes is going to stay around KC. Since the offseason, Robb Heineman has mentioned on Twitter that there were trying to get a deal done to extend Vermes contract. The Star is reporting this morning that Vermes has signed an extension that will keep him in KC through 2017.
Vermes became the technical director of KC back in 2006, shortly after OnGoal bought the team from Hunt Sports Group.
Peter Vermes and MLS Commissioner Don Garber today announced the full roster for the All Star Game on July 31st at Sporting Park. The 20 man roster that will be coached by Vermes will take on AS Roma. All 11 of the MLS "Fan XI" were named to the final roster. That means that all three of Sporting KC's selections, Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, and Graham Zusi will all be in uniform for the game that night.
Sporting Kansas City return home to Sporting Park tomorrow night when they'll take on the Columbus Crew for the first of three meetings this season. Sporting's home form as of late has been anything but stellar, they've won just two of their last seven home games in all competitions. Those two wins game against the dysfunctional Chivas USA who played with 10 men, and a bunch of college kids (Des Moines).
The end of Orlando City's run in the U.S. Open Cup apparently also meant the end of Dom Dwyer's time with the club.
A day after the Lions were bounced out of the competition with a 4-1 loss at the Chicago Fire, Sporting Kansas City owner Robb Heineman tweeted that Dwyer would be rejoining his club later on Thursday.
Brek Shea joins Geoff Cameron and Maurice Edu in Philly with Stoke. Hack plans to play "a bunch of guys." Gaber says not a question of if MLS expands but when and how much. Holden diagnosed with torn ACL. More.
Reaction to Jack McInerney's omission from All-Star Game roster. Details from Sunday's Union reserves/academy scrimmage with Chelsea U-23s. Klinsmann says US wants to send Costa Rica a signal in final Gold Cup group game. More news.
More on the new retention fund salary mechanism. Union's preseason Florida home considering building soccer stadium. Power rankings drop. Forlan says no MLS move. USA ready for Belize. Messi's mess. More news.
On Friday, Revolution and USMNT greatJoe-Max Moore was officially inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fameduring awonderful ceremony atSporting Park. It was an honor that was long-deserved for one of the best players of his generation.
MLS has released the game day roster for the2013 AT&T MLS All-Star Game and Raul Fernandez is on it. Fernandez earned the fan vote at his position earlier this month, getting his first All-Star nod as part of the Fan XI.
According to MLS...
The Fan XI are not necessarily included on the game day roster.