Written by Will Parchman

wankamal

Over the last few years, Sporting KC’s gotten increasingly adventurous with its academy swoops outside its immediate realm of influence. At least in purely geographic terms, SKC’s Homegrown territory encompasses three states, more than any other club in the nation. Of course, those states are more sparsely populated Oklahoma and Kansas in addition to Missouri. But even then, SKC’s vision has been precise.

One of those late additions was a small, skilled and relatively unknown midfielder named Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal. The creative Malaysian-American had a short run with the U17 MNT, but it wasn’t nearly long enough to create anything approaching a hype nimbus around his profile. His commitment to Akron represented his growing reputation among those in the know, but on a broader look-at-this-kid-destroy-people level, he hadn’t quite arrived yet.

At least not in the U.S.

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Written by Travis Clark

USATSI_9635974_167117710_lowresHeading into Thursday night’s MLS playoff clash between D.C. United and Montreal, Didier Drogba dominated the headlines.

Much of that is the player’s stature in the global game. No matter what he does,  Drogba will generally draw the attention, whether good or bad. It’s part and parcel of the approach that Major League Soccer clubs seek with big name signings. Create the splash, by acquiring internationally recognized talent, and deal with the blow backs if conflicts arise

Whatever happened between Drogba and the Impact over the past few days (or weeks even), the Impact sure didn’t need his services in Thursday’s win. Thirty-two year-old Italian forward Matteo Mancosu scored twice and had an assist as Montreal’s lone striker, with Drogba watching on from the stands, sharing his delight on social media.

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Written by Will Parchman

jlinds

Here at TDS, we spend a fair amount of time talking about young soccer players. In fact, that’s mostly all we talk about. Because some day these will all be middle-aged soccer players and old soccer players and it’s worth knowing about them before tufts of gray hair ring their ears. In large part we serve the small, insistent man inside all of us who needs to know before anyone else.

In that sense we look at young players in cycles of fives. Right now our ratings cycle is on players slated to turn 18 (a milestone year for a variety of reasons) between the years of 2015-2019. We’ll soon replace 2015 with 2020, and on the interminable march toward World Cup glory goes.

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Written by Travis Clark

Quincy_Top10
Another week of MLS action, another edition of the good, the bad and the ugly to sift through on a Monday morning.

My colleague Will Parchman takes you through what went down at Yankee Stadium on Sunday between NYCFC and Toronto, a fairly entertaining 2-2 draw featuring an amazing formation from head coach Patrick Vieira.

That was the tip of the iceberg when it comes to another weekend of MLS madness. Let’s get to it.

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Written by Travis Clark

The MLS playoffs have already seen some epic moments just four games into the random knockout frenzy that crowns a league champion.

Thursday night was no different. After Montreal Impact’s runaway 3-0 defeat of Canadian rivals Toronto FC, Sporting KC’s trip to Portland produced an instant classic.

Both sides needed late equalizers to advance to overtime and penalty kicks respectively. SKC defender Kevin Ellis netted an 87th minute goal to make it 1-1 and secure overtime. After a sensational 96th minute goal by Krisztián Németh put KC up by one in overtime, Maximilliano Urruti scored in the 118th minute to send the game to PKs.

That’s where things hit another level of crazy. The penalty kicks yielded some of the worst misses you’ll ever see (I’m looking at you Matt Besler and Jack Jewsbury), Sporting KC had two chances to win, only for Ellis to hit the post and Saad Abdul Salaam with one of the unluckiest misses you’ll see.

The Timbers finally won when goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey converted his penalty, and then he went on to save from his counterpart Jon Kempin, who entered the game in the 84th minute, replacing the injured Tim Melia.

Full shootout video is courtesy of reddit/MLS.

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Written by Will Parchman

bluehell

The MLS season got its highly anticipated curtain-raiser on Friday night. A matchup between defending champs LA Galaxy and defending trying-not-to-die Chicago Fire went about as expected. LA bossed possession, the Fire looked like a toddler lost in the mall and the Galaxy ended up winning 2-0. As the world turns.

While the Fire scuffled to a performance that made all of us fear for Harry Shipp’s future, the KC Cauldron was busy. The Cauldron is the preeminent fan supporters group for SKC, and they share a regional overlap with the Fire. The two teams have had a simmering feud on field, but it’s never been the nation’s hottest. Maybe something about that Midwestern sensibility.

While the Fire got stomped into nonexistence by the Galaxy, the Cauldron had a bit of fun on Twitter. And by a bit of fun, I mean they danced themselves into an ecstatic oblivion unknown to most of mankind. They leaned on this #cauldronafterdark tag and let their fans, well-wishers and just general internet malcontents just swing away by flooding the Fire’s home #cf97 tag with pictures of food. And it was brilliant.

Strap in. This is going to take a glorious while.

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Written by Will Parchman

TFCCCCCC

Fiery rhetoric from the MLS Players Union, stone feet from MLS owners and public dithering from caught-in-the-middle MLS commissioner Don Garber have stolen a slice of the offseason spotlight from, you know, actual games. How to plan for the season when a proverbial axe hangs over its exposed neck?

But there are, in fact, games on the horizon. Whether we reach them whole is a matter worth pondering, but let’s live in a realm devoid of gray hairs, heart palpitations and stoppage-induced night terrors today. Let’s assume the season goes off without incident, players are given some measure of free agency freedom, the owners’ bloodlust for control is satiated somehow and Garber gets a vacation. In fact, we all get vacations. To Tacticsland. That’s how today works.

Here are three of the most pressing tactical questions heading into the 2015 season. How does LA fill the Great Donovan Void? Where does Giovinco fit? And can Dom Dwyer and Sporting KC possibly sustain its breakneck pace?

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Written by Will Parchman

kempin-us

MLS clubs released roster news on Tuesday. As far as I’m concerned, the biggest bit of news involved Sporting KC, which severed ties with first team keepers Andy Gruenebaum and Eric Kronberg. The latter of those two was named the MLS Player of the Month for June. He’s the only keeper to win the honor since 2011.

Which leaves SKC with a single keeper on the roster. His name is Jon Kempin, he’s a Homegrown, and he’s 21 years old. The #playyourkids initiative is having a good day.

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Written by Travis Clark

SKCWASHINGTON — Ahead of a crucial Eastern Conference encounter with D.C. United on Friday, Sporting Kansas City popped in to meet the 44th President of the United States on Wednesday.

A trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is a tradition offered to pro teams in the wake of winning a major championship, and the 2013 MLS Cup winners enjoyed the Commander-in-Chief’s hospitality.

It also offered fuel to Sporting KC’s ambition of becoming back-to-back Cup champions.

“We’re extremely appreciative of the opportunity and more importantly, it gives you a little more motivation to try and come back again, to win another championship,” head coach Peter Vermes said.

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Written by Travis Clark

The past year and a half has been something of a renaissance for Benny Feilhaber, who has reinvented himself nicely as one of the best players on Sporting KC, and a reliable midfield option in the middle of the park.

Wednesday saw the former (and future?) U.S. MNT player score this nice golazo against the Columbus Crew, which secured a 2-1 win on the road for the reigning MLS Cup champs.

 

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