Sedalia Soccer

Major League Soccer

Details of the Zusi and Besler contracts are out! Sporting sits atop the Eastern Conference are in a position to challenge for the Supporter's Shield. Benny is killing it on and off the field with a new episode of the Benny Feilhaber Show. Yet another American international may be MLS bound.
There was a lot of mid-week action in MLS last night. Thierry Henry scored for the Red Bulls in a draw with RSL. The Revs handled the Rapids 3-0. After D.C. United's 3-0 victory over Toronto last night, United and SKC have opened up a gap between the rest of the field. Kansas City is at the top of the Eastern Conference with 38 points and United is a close second with 37 (having played one less game).
On Monday the Galaxy beat Seattle quite emphatically. Great for Sporting in that it erased one of the games in hand for Seattle in the race for the Supporter's Shield, and it also showed that the Sounders have some problems in the back.
We now finally know the details of SKC's two shiny new Designated Player contracts. It is again just great business from Sporting. Zusi and Besler will be paid the same amount in the coming years, with bonuses for marketing and performance differing.

"Each player then will see his base compensation rise to $650,000 in 2015, $700,000 the following season, $725,000 in 2017 and $750,000 during the final year."

Sporting locked the two of them down for way less than the price of Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey... and somehow even cheaper than the new DP contract that saw DeMarcus Beasley go to Houston.
I don't care if Zusi's goal took a deflection... its up for goal of the week and you should vote for it.
The Chicago Fire have jumped into the Jermaine Jones mix. Meanwhile, he is still running around in America winning social media:

In addition to Jones, another American international may be coming home to play. The Galaxy are apparently pursuing Sacha Kljestan for a loan move back to SoCal.
Collin joined the boys this week on the Benny Feilhaber show. It is hilarious as always:

Benny has been absolutely killing it this season and it might be because of his new workout routine:

Jacob Peterson's gritty work all season paid off as he was rewarded with the game winner against his former club, TFC. Peter Vermes hails his versatility and his importance to the team.

"I think he's one of the guys that, when you look at his work ethic on a daily basis, there's no doubt that the guys have an incredible amount of respect for him," Vermes said. "Because they know that they never have to question his commitment."

MLS Insider has dome some good work in the past, especially this Graham Zusi piece. Now they have a piece on the new star in the league (but not big enough for the All-Star game apparently), Dom Dwyer. You have to kind of the love the guy.

Sporting will be playing host to the Union on Friday. Last time they came to town, it didn't go too well. At halftime, the club will induct three new Sporting Legends. Jimmy Conrad, who has the most goals in club history by a defender; Peter Vermes, because of course; and Lamar Hunt the former owner, for his role in founding Major League Soccer and progressing the sport in the country.
We talked with Eugene Rupinski from Brotherly Game about the match between Sporting Kansas City and the Philadelphia Union.
The Blue Testament asks Brotherly Game....
1) The Union signed a new goalkeeper, Rais Mbolhi. What new talents does he bring to the Union and what does this mean for the futures of Zac McMath and Andre Blake?

I think what M'Bolhi brings is a wealth of international experience and can serve to mentor Andre Blake and/or Zac MacMath. While there's no question he's an upgrade on MacMath, many of us are scratching our heads on the acquisition because MacMath was playing relatively well considering he hasn't had a decent defense in front of him all year. The club's biggest need is at center back, and this acquisition didn't help with that at all.
So what does that mean for Blake and MacMath? Well short-term it means they're going to be subjected to constant trade rumors. The writing is on the wall - one or both of them is leaving. Whether Blake is loaned out or MacMath is sold/traded to Orlando City (he's from Florida and has family in my old hometown of Daytona Beach) or whatever, it's bound to be a tense time for them.

2) Philadelphia currently sit seventh in the East, but are only three points away from third. What do the Union need to do in the last three months of the season to secure a playoff place?

Keep winning! The Union need to get every point they can in order to make the playoffs. While they are close in points, there are plenty of teams with games in hand on them. The team has really gelled under interim manager Jim Curtin, so if they can keep up this good run of form it's possible that the meat grinder of a World Cup year could catch up to teams like New York and DC, who also have CONCACAF Champions League matches (and travel) to contend with.

3) How has the addition of Maurice Edu in the offseason impacted the Union? Is he better than, less then or about where you expected him to be in terms of contributing to the team?

Maurice has been that veteran leader the club has needed since his arrival. He's played well at central defensive midfielder and at center back and had been one of the few constant bright spots for the Union this season. I'd say he's right about where I expected him to be in terms of performance - a very good player and solid contributor.

Brotherly Game asks The Blue Testament....
1) Sporting Kansas City's president Robb Heineman recently said that SKC was "the greatest (club) in MLS)". That certainly rubbed a lot of supporters from other clubs the wrong way - what can you offer as supporting evidence toward his point?

Currently, there's a lot of evidence toward his point. Sporting have made the playoffs three straight years and are on their way to the fourth. They've finished second in the Supporters Shield standings in the past two years. Trophy-wise, they won the 2012 US Open Cup and the 2013 MLS Cup, qualifying for the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 editions of the CONCACAF Champions League along the way. There are currently seven players on the team who are regulars on their respective national teams, including three who played in the World Cup. In terms of the soccer culture in Kansas City, Sporting KC has had 47 straight MLS sellouts and is widely regarded as one of the best atmosphere's in the league with one of the best stadiums in the league. The ownership is willing to go and splurge on big players as evidenced by their $40 million bid for Michael Bradley before he signed for Toronto FC, but they have also shown a good developmental side considering the players that have come up and performed well, such as Kevin Ellis and Erik Palmer-Brown.
The club has done a lot of things right. Heineman is obviously going to be biased with this statement but I do believe there is some force behind it.

2.) When Jimmy Nielsen retired at the end of last season, a lot of people had doubts about SKC's goalkeeping corps, but Eric Kronberg has silenced the critics with his minuscule 0.88 GAA. How huge has he been for this team?

A lot of that stat is inflated due to the strength of the defense but Eric Kronberg has proven himself to be a legitimate starting keeper. He's made some mistakes and he's earned some criticism but overall he has been solid. He's an athletic keeper who comes off the line a lot, stopping some shots before they even happen. This leaves the goal open at points but he seems to be successful at it. Unfortunately, he's been out for the past couple of weeks with a broken fourth metacarpal in his hand, which will keep him out for the few weeks. Andy Gruenebaum has been solid for Sporting as well, coming off his starting experience in Columbus. Sporting KC has really done well with keepers the past few years.

3.) What will SKC need to do repeat as MLS champions?

The biggest thing they need to do right now is to stay the course and get into the playoffs. They currently have a one point advantage in the Eastern Conference over DC United (who has a game in hand) and have been very hot lately. SportsClubStats has them at a 99.95% chance to make the playoffs. It would take a collapse of Chiefs (sigh) proportions in order for them to not make it. As they chase the top spot in the East, the Supporters Shield and a spot in next year's CCL, this should not be too much of a problem. Once in the playoffs it all comes down to showing up and performing well. They have shown they have the personnel to win games in the playoffs, they have experience winning in the playoffs and Sporting is 7-3-3 against the rest of the East this year. They have as good a shot as any, if not better.

It's a mix of players, coaches and founders in the 2014 edition of the Sporting Legends.

Jimmy Conrad, Lamar Hunt and Peter Vermes will be inducted into Sporting Legends as the second ever class, the club announced.
The ceremony will take place this Friday during halftime of the match between Sporting Kansas City and the Philadelphia Union.
Jimmy Conrad played with the Kansas City Wizards from 2003-2010, making 204 appearances for the club. He was MLS Defender of the Year in 2005 and named to the MLS Best XI in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2008. He also earned 27 caps with the United States National Team, playing in the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
Peter Vermes is the first inductee to be active within the organization as the current Technical Director of Sporting Kansas City. In his six years as technical director, Vermes has won the 2013 MLS Cup, 2012 US Open Cup and has qualified for the playoffs in every year since 2011. Sporting have also qualified for the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 CONCACAF Champions League under his tenure.
As a player, Vermes spent three years with the team, anchoring the back line from 2000-2002 before retiring. He was named MLS Defender of the Year in 2000 as he helped lead the team to the MLS Cup. He became the first person to ever win the MLS Cup as both a player and a coach. He was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame last year, making 66 appearances with the national team.
The final inductee is Lamar Hunt, who passed away in 2006. Hunt is one of the greatest pioneers of soccer in the United States as the principal founder of both Major League Soccer and the now-defunct North American Soccer League. Hunt was the founder and owner of the Kansas City Wiz in 1996, as well as the Columbus Crew. He bought the Dallas Burn (FC Dallas) in 2003. He sold the Wizards a few months before he died in 2006.
Outside of soccer, he was the founder of the American Football League, which would merge with the National Football League to become the league we know today. He was the founder and owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, who were founded as the Dallas Texans before they relocated to Kansas City. He coined the term "Super Bowl" for the NFL's Championship game. He was also a minority owner of the NBA's Chicago Bulls and was a co-founder of World Championship Tennis.
Hunt has received many accolades over the years. The US Open Cup was renamed the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup in 1999, as was the name of the trophy given to the winners of the AFC Championship Game in the National Football League. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1972 and the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1982, as well as the medal of honor from the National Soccer Hall of Fame. He is one of only three other persons to receive the medal of honor.
Conrad and Vermes will be there at halftime for the induction Friday evening, while Clark Hunt will represent his father during the ceremony. Clark Hunt is the current owner of the Kansas City Chiefs and currently oversees the operations of the Columbus Crew.