Thursday, July 28, 2011

Kansas City's Best Ever XI

Looking back over the past 15+ great and not-so-great years Sporting Kc/Kansas City Wizards/The Wiz have compiled a great stock-pile of players. Some good, most bad. Some of them that put on the coveted blue jersey were merely here with us for awhile and there names have been forgotten. But some players stick with us in our minds and carry on with us in our day to day lives. How many of you seriously don't remember when Jimmy Conrad jumped into the Cauldron to celebrate his now infamous header goal? How many of you don't remember Claudio Lopez's 60 yard goal against the LA Galaxy? How many of you don't replay Miklos Molnar's game-winning goal in the MLS Cup at least once a week? How many of you don't remember the classic digecel crawl? Or Ryan Smith's tricks and flicks? Those are the moments that make players legends and club-favorites. And that is what this post is about; a dedication to the best players ever to play for a Kansas City soccer team. To commemorate those players I can't just right a brief bio of them and show a picture can I? No. Instead I will tell you who I think were/are the best 11 players that have ever graced the Arrowhead, CAB, or LSP grounds.

Without further Adu here's the best ever Sporting Kc Starting XI:

The Legends

GK: Tony Meola
LB: Michael Harrington
CB: Jimmy Conrad
CB: Peter Vermes
RB: Chris Klein
CDM: Kerry Zavagnin
CAM: Preki
LM: Ryan Smith
RM: Davy Arnaud
ST: Eddie Johnson
ST: Josh Wolff

Subs: Kevin Hartman, Jose Burciaga Jr., Nick Garcia, Jack Jewsbury, Sasha Victorine, Claudio Lopez, Mo Johnston, Carlos Marinelli, Alexandru Zatinca

***Did I leave anyone out? Tell me in the comment section below.***

Chris Estridge Trialling With Sporting Kc?

Through the power of twitter I believe I have discovered the newest player to be trialling with Sporting Kc. I believe his name is Chris Estridge and that he is an Indiana University forward/midfielder. I found this out through a series of tweets from his twitter account and another (very popular) Sporting Kc twitter account.

If he is on trial it seems a little pointless to sign him because of the depth found at the striker and midfield positions. But extra depth is always good.

Furthermore, a lot of players trial for SKC and a lot are never seen in KC again so don't get your hopes up...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Good Problem To Have

Heading into the 10 game home stretch at LSP Sporting Kc find themselves in an interesting situation. There situation is a good one though because for the first time this season they can say they have depth. Not just a couple players in certain positions kind of depth - but real depth. And the depth that they have is actually good. Take a look at DM for example. In the formation that SKC plays they have been using 2 DM's. Normally Cesar and Espinoza. Two players that at the beginning of the season wouldn't even be considered DM's. Now, by themselves they wouldn't be much good, but together they compliment each other. Espinoza is the hit man in the partnership and Cesar is the true DM and can possess the ball very well.

If either of them aren't available on gameday Vermes must look no further than Sassano and Diop (The "Second Tier" DM's.). And if for some reason they can't play you still have the injured Rocastle and Arnaud who are recuperating from their respective injuries. When they're both fit it will be very interesting to see what the starting lineup at DM will be.

So all-in-all you can see Sporting Kc has depth at DM. 6 players in all that can play their. But let's look at some other positions on Sporting Kc's roster. Take a look at the defense.

At Center Back Sporting Kc have about 5 players that can play there: Cesar, Collin, Besler, Cyrus, and Thomas. This is where Sporting Kc have some of the best depth in the team. Although it seems Thomas may soon be on his way out.

At Wingback SKC have about 7/8 players that CAN play there, (Granted there are two wingback positions...) : Aiyegbusi, Ellis, Espinoza, Harrington, Lorenz, Myers, Sinovic, and Sassano. At the beginning of the season it seemed as if this position had the greatest depth. But to me it seems as if the depth in midfield is getting larger.

At Striker Sporting Kc have about 6 players that could play there: Bravo, Bunbury, Diop, Kamara, Saad, Sapong. However players like Bravo, Kamara, and Diop help out at other positions on the pitch for SKC.

At Attacking Mid Sporting have 6 players that play there: Jeferson, Arnaud, Bravo, Stojcev, Warzycha, and Zusi. Although Warzycha has been injured all season and I doubt he will be back for 2012.

At the RW and LW positions KC have 6 players that can play there: Aiyegbusi, Bravo, Ellis, Kamara, Myers, and Stojcev. The best players at this position are Kamara and Bravo.

And at Goalkeeper Sporting Kc have 3 players: Nielsen, Kronberg, and Kempin. Nielsen is the best out of those three but Kronberg is probably one of the best backup keepers in the entire league.

As you can see Sporting Kansas City have A LOT of talent in a lot of different positions. Which promotes good competition, and every player is different from the last and I feel like Vermes has made some very good moves to promote and grow this depth.

What do you guys think? Is there any one position we need more/less depth? Tell me in the comment section below.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sporting Kc Weekly Update

Matches: -- Sporting Kc played to a 0-0 draw with EPL team Newcastle United on Wednesday in the first ever international club friendly at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. -- Sporting Kc beat Chivas USA 4-2 at home on Saturday, keeping their unbeaten streak against MLS teams alive. --

Standings: -- Sporting Kc move up to 4th place in the Eastern Conference following their 4-2 win on Saturday. -- Sporting Kc move up to 10th place in the overall MLS standings following their 4-2 win on Saturday. --

Last Five Games: -- W-T-T-T-W --

Next Game: -- New England @ Sporting Kc. 7:30 PM.

Player of the Week: -- Daneil Cyrus. The new 20 year old center back impressed a lot of people at the Newcastle friendly and also came in for an injured Collin and did a solid job at CB, despite a bad back-pass that lead to a Toronto goal. Look for him to be a future star at this club. Yes, i'm calling it. --

Transfers: -- None

Transfer Rumors: -- Shavar Thomas has NOT left Sporting Kc. Instead he was merely given personal time off. -- Stephane Auvray is still rumored to be leaving the club. --

Player News: -- Omar Bravo and Matt Besler were both selected to the All-Star game day squad by Hans Backe. -- Kei Kamara surpassed Omar Bravo to become Sporting Kc's leading goal scorer in the league this season. He has now netted 5 goals for KC. --

Interesting/Cool Links: -- Go check out the numerous new Sporting Kc podcasts on iTunes. Get the links to the podcasts on their twitter pages. @AndyEdSKC @downthebyline @thefull90 @TheBackpost @Sporting_Times 

***** While you're on Twitter give me a follow @TheFrontMen *****

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sporting Kc Weekly Update

Matches: --Sporting Kc lost 2-0 to the Richmond Kickers on Tuesday.-- Sporting Kc earned a point away at Houston on Saturday, 1-1 was the final score.--

Standings: -- Sporting Kc are 5th in the Eastern Conference and 12th in the league. --

Last Five Games: -- W-W-T-T-T --

Player of the Week: -- Aurelien Collin. The Frenchman was maliciously tackled two times in Houston. Resulting in 2 red cards for The Dyanmo. The defender also scored Sporting's only goal in a 1-1 draw over the weekend. --

Transfers: -- Daniel Cyrus has joined Sporting Kc on season long loan. -- Jeferson Rodrigues Goncalves has also joined Sporting Kc on a season long loan.--

Transfer Rumors: -- Auvray is rumored to be leaving Sporting Kc, if he hasn't already.
 -- Ryan Smith is rumored to be trialing with Spainish side Real Zaragoza.--

Player News: -- 18 year old goalkeeper Jon Kempin has been called up to the U-18 US camp. -- Omar Bravo has been called up to the All-Star game vs. Manchester United via Don Garber. -- Aurelien Collin ties Kamara, Sapong, and Zusi with 3 goals for Sporting Kc in league play. --

Interesting/Cool Links: -- Sporting's TV announcer finally has a broadcast partner -- Bravo Callum, BRAVOOOOOOOO -- Practice and Press Conference Thoughts --

Jeferson Rodrigues Goncalves Joins Sporting Kc On Loan

Brazilian midfielder Jeferson has joined Sporting until the end of the season. He will be SKC's third ever Designated Player and will join current DP Omar Bravo.

Jeferson comes from Vasco Da Gama, a Brazilian club that has become a decent powerhouse in Brazil's top flight.

According to reports and YouTube videos Jeferson has the traditional Brazilian playmaking ability and a powerful shot from distance.

Jeferson seems to know very little English seeing has he needed a translator for his interview on but I know 2 out of the 11 starters currently for Sporting Kc can speak Portuguese, Collin and Cesar.

As of right now I don't see him starting. Maybe if he played on the right wing in place of Kamara and maybe if there wasn't that big of language barrier I could see him starting. Time will tell but you'd expect your DP's to be in the Starting XI.

Welcome to the club Jeferson! May your time here be bountiful and your assists a plenty.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Daneil Cyrus Joins Sporting Kc On Loan

Central defender Daneil Cyrus has joined Sporting Kc on a loan deal from FC Santa Rosa. The Trinidad & Tobago international will be wearing the number 25 for Sporting Kc.

Although Cyrus is a strong and physical CB he may not find many minutes in the league this season due to the outstnding performances of All-Star Besler and French defender Collin.

Welcome to the team Cyrus! May your time here be prosperous and your clean-sheets a plenty.

This is the first of many transfer deals from Sporting Kc. Expect this to be a long Transfer Window.

Who do you think Sporting Kc will let go / buy this summer?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sporting Kc vs. Richmond Kickers Preview

Sporting Kc will welcome USL Pro club Richmond Kickers to beautiful LIVESTRONG Sporting Park on Tuesday night. This comes after a win against the Chicago Fire Premier in the Round of 16 a couple weeks ago. Now Sporting Kc find themselves taking on the last non-MLS side in the tournament, and a chance to really have a run towards the MLS Open Cup final. Should Sporting KC win against the Kickers, KC would host the semifinal against either Chicago Fire or New York Red Bulls.

Projected Lineup


Sporting Kc - 3 (Bunbury, Kamara, Collin)
Richmond Kickers - 0

Sporting Kc Weekly Update

Looking at the many blogs that are around in KC, I've decided I needed to introduce a new segment here at TheFrontMen to somehow gain an advantage over everyone else. I call it "Sporting Kc Weekly Update" and basically every Monday or Sunday I will take a look at all things Sporting Kc and condense them down into an easy to read list that will help fans look back on the week of soccer that was and sort of review everything that's happened.

Matches: --Sporting Kc tied Chivas USA at home 1-1 on Saturday.-- Sporting Kc tied Colorado Rapids at home 1-1 on Wednesday. --

Standings: --Sporting Kc sit 5th in the East and 12th in all of MLS.-- 

Last Five Games: --T/W/W/T/T

Player of the Week: --Omar Bravo, the Mexican wore the captain's armband and rescued a point for Sporting Kc in the dying moments of a 1-1 draw with Chivas USA.--

Transfers: --None--

Transfer Rumors:-- 2 trialists are currently training with the team, names are undisclosed at this time. --

Player News: --Matt Besler was selected to his first ever All-Star game on July 10th. -- Omar Bravo moved to the top of SKC's leading goal-scorers in league play, netting 4 times.--

Interesting/Cool Links:  Boot Camp with Davy Arnaud -- Through the Eyes of Vermes: Summer transfer window in horizon -- Midseason Grades -- Jimmy Nielsen post Chivas game interview 

Matt Besler Selected to All-Star Team

Sporting Kc defender Matt Besler has been selected to the 2011 All-Star squad. He will join the likes of Landon Donovan, David Beckham, and Thierry Henry in the All-Star camp. Although he was not selected to the Starting XI (meaning he did not receive the most fan votes through internet voting) he did however earn an overwhelming 30% of all votes via text. Whether or not he will start is up to coach Hans Backe.

The All-Star call up comes after what can only be described as a break out season for Matt. Appearing 16 times for KC he has scored once, and along with Aurelien Collin he has helped Sporting Kc improve defensively.

The All-Star game will be played on July 27 at  Red Bull Arena. The All-Stars will take on EPL giant Manchester United. A team that your very own Sporting Kc beat last season.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Why the Western Conference Is Better Than the East, and How It Got There

For the past 2 or 3 seasons now something has become quite clear around the league. Something that didn't simply happen overnight. Something that can be difficult to explain but can be clearly identified by fans, coaches, and players. Something that may have just changed the future of MLS forever...

The West is better than the East.

While this may be no big surprise to most supporters, some Eastern Conference fans are reluctant to admit it. Not me though, the West is actually a lot better than the East - there I said it. In a whole lot of different aspects. Like stadiums, fans, local support,  money, ownership, coaches, players, and overall the level of soccer being played somewhat outweighs the Eastern Conference. In fact, 5 out of 6 of the last MLS Cup champions have been from the Western Conference. But that's not to say that all teams in the East are necessarily bad. Over the past couple of seasons the New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew have clearly taken over as the top two teams in the Eastern Conference. With the Crew bringing in the MLS Cup in 2008 and earning the Supporters Shield back to back in '08 and '09. While the New York Red Bulls have invested a lot of money into their team and now have 2/3 Designated players gracing their side. With big name players like Henry and Marquez.

So why has the West emerged as the better conference? Well, to know why we must understand the past....

Major Powerhouses Fall In the East

In the first 5 years of the MLS' existence 5 teams that are now in the Eastern Conference won the MLS Cup. DC United won it 3 times, while Chicago and KC each won it once. So it became somewhat clear that DC United was the powerhouse team. Not just in the East but in all the league. In the first 4 years of the league DC United won the Supporters Shield twice, and the MLS Cup 3 times. But have seen very bad seasons in recent years.

While DC United reigned terror down on the rest of the league, Chicago slowly became a stable in the league. A team that you could count on being in the playoffs every year and one that you would expect to fight for the title every year as well. Mostly due to the leadership of Chris Armas, Zach Thorton, and C.J. Brown. But then head coach Bob Bradley left and the club looked to be in a state of despair. Despite the future USMNT coach leaving Chicago made the playoffs every year except for last season.

Then it was Kansas City's turn to enjoy some Eastern Conference dominance. They won both the Supporters Shield and the MLS Cup in 2000. And went 12 games without losing, a team record that has not been broken to this day. However KC's dominance was to be short lived, seeing "off-seasons" in 2001 and 2002. Since then they haven't won any silverware since 2004 when they beat out the Chicago Fire to win the US Open Cup.

The Rise Of the West

In 2001 San Jose became the first Western Conference team to win the MLS Cup. Having Landon Donovan on your team never hurts either, the future USMNT star scored 32 times in 87 games for San Jose, but left in 2004 to join the Galaxy. San Jose continued to fight for titles all the way until 2005. Maybe Donovan foresaw the future, because in 2005 the San Jose Earthquakes (players and staff) were moved to Houston and became the Houston Dynamo. Thus starting the reign of Houston Dynamo. Houston won back to back MLS Cup titles in 2006 and 2007. The first team to do so since DC United won the MLS Cup back in 1996 and 1997. Maybe somewhat shifting the balance between the Eastern and Western Conference.

Again, during one team's dominance another team emerges. In the Western Conference's case it was the LA Galaxy. LA won their first title in 2002 but didn't seem that powerful until 2005 when they really got kickin. Landon Donovan has become a key figure in LA. Playing for the Galaxy, Landon has gained captaincy and proved to be possibly the best American player of all time. Since 2005 La Galaxy have been one of the biggest threats in the league. Signing Juan Pablo Angel, David Beckham and Abel Xavier in recent years.

Recent Years
The Western Conference has certainly become the more dominant conference in the league. The past two years have seen MLS Cup winners Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids grow into two great teams, while FC Dallas have also been thrown into the limelight as a serious MLS contender . All clubs have become very competitive teams and compete for the title every year.

While the East has seen the resurgence of the Philadelphia Union and Sporting Kc who have both started to gain a real presence in the MLS.

I don't know where the MLS will be in the next couple of years, but it seems as if the Western Conference has a tight grip on the MLS Cup.

As for the East? Well, the future looks grim.

Sporting Kc Tie Colorado Rapids

Sporting Kc retain 4th place after a physical 1-1 draw against the defending MLS Cup Champions at LSP. Graham Zusi and Connor Casey were the scorers for each team, Casey netting in the 32nd minute after what can only be described as a defensive error, and Zusi scoring from a Sapong shot that Perkins parried right to Zusi, who was left with an easy tap in - his 3rd goal of the season.

The Standings
Neither teams moved up or down in their respective conferences.

The Stats

  • Julio Cesar conceded the most fouls for SKC - 3 in total. 
  • Espinoza had 32 completed passes 
  • Omar Bravo had 5 shots for SKC

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sporting Kc vs. Colorado Rapids Game Preview

Sporting Kc welcome yet another team to LSP on Wednesday night as they take on the Colorado Rapids. Who are, of course, the reigning MLS champions. Last time Sporting Kc played The Rapids it ended in a 1-1 draw. That was away at Dick Sporting Goods Park, now, Sporting Kc will have the 12th man behind them.

Sporting Kc enter the match with one of the best hot-streaks in the entire league (9 games undefeated). Meanwhile, The Rapids are without a win in their past 3 games. Sporting Kc will likely have the edge in this match.

A win for Sporting Kc would not move them up any positions but it would keep 4th place out of the grasps of clubs below them,(Houston Dynamo, DC United, Chicago Fire, etc.). While a win for Colorado would not move them up any spaces either.

Wednesday's match won't be a huge game in terms of either team jumping up any spaces in their respective conferences but it could do them both a lot of good in the long run.

Projected Lineup

Key Match-ups

Collin vs. Folan: Collin will most likely have the difficult task of marking the former Hull City front man. Who netted 11 times in 3 seasons for "The Tigers". Both are big strong players and it should be fun to watch them.

Zusi vs. Larentowicz/Mastroeni: Larentowicz and Mastroeni will have the not-so-easy task of trying to contain the July Player of the Month, who has become absolutely essential for Sporting Kc's offense over the past couple of games.


Sporting Kc - 2 (Sapong, Espinoza)
Colorado Rapids - 0

Sporting Kc Sign Soony Saad

Sporting Kc have signed 18 year old Soony Saad through a league wide lottery in which 4 different MLS clubs competed to get a contract with the striker. The signing merely adds on to the powerful strike force that Sporting already posses.

Soony Saad broke multiple records at both his college and high school level as a striker. 

Here's his Wikipedia page. 

Welcome to the club Soony! May your time here be long and your goals a plenty!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Sporting Kc Face a Disheartened Portland Timbers Side

Sporting Kc will travel to the pacific northwest on Saturday night to take on the Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field. Sporting will have to make the long trip to Portland without "Mr.Captain Fantastic" Davy Arnaud, who has a hernia injury and will likely miss 6 weeks. Despite their captain being injured Sporting Kc will enter the match with high hopes, going undefeated in the past 8 league games. While Portland haven't won a game since May 21st. Both teams are 7th place in their respective conferences, but Sporting Kc seem to be the more dominant side heading in to the match.

Should Sporting Kc win their match on Saturday it could push them up to 4th  place, depending on the other results around the league on Friday and Saturday.

Projected Lineup

Key Match-Ups

Sapong vs. Brunner/Danso
Sapong will have to come up against two of the biggest center backs in all of MLS. However Sapong himself will impose a threat to Portland's back line. Whoever can win most of the aerial challenges should be able to control the ball.

Myers vs. Alhassan 
The speedy Ghanaian will look to go at Sporting's back line all night. Myers will have the difficult task of marking him, but Alhassan will have to be mindful Myers runs down the flank. 

Collin vs. Cooper
It seems as if Collin is in the key match-ups every week, but yet again he will have to mark another strong CF in Kenny Cooper. Both players are quite strong but Cooper likes to play with the ball at his feet instead of getting flicks on to other players like Hassli or Lenhart. Collin will have to be careful when diving in to tackle the ball away from Cooper, he's a skillful player.

Sporting Kc - 2 (Sapong, Bravo)
Portland Timbers - 2 (Jewsbury, Cooper)