For being almost smack-dab in the middle of pre-season (read: it's a slightly boring time to be an MLS blogger), Valentine's Day was pretty busy for Sporting Kansas City.
Yes, I somehow found it within myself to avoid a hacky Valentine's Day pun lead for this blog. It was really, really tough. Like trying to keep my supply of Andre's chocolate crisps through the weekend.
Yikes, three paragraphs in and no soccer talk.
In its last tune-up in Tucson, Sporting Kansas City toppled host FC Tucson 5-1 on the strength of a Dom Dwyer hat-trick. The match was likely a near perfect approximation of a mid-March game in Kansas City. It was an un-Arizona-like day with temps in the 40 and cold rain.**You know that because of the mild Winter we've had in KC, we're gonna have some really dreadful weather in March.
The highlights were Homegrown goalkeeper Jon Kempin stuffing an early penalty kick and Dwyer's 30-minute hat-trick (the rookie came on as a second-half sub in the 60th minute).
Kei Kamara and Roger Espinoza had unassisted goals in the first half to round out KC's scoring.
Sporting's starting lineup featured Kempin, Michael Harrington, Luke Sassano, Konrad Warzycha and Soony Saad with normal starters C.J. Sapong, Graham Zusi, Julio Cesar, Seth Sinovic and Jimmy Nielsen given a day off. Peter Vermes brought on a deluge of 10 newcomers and Lawrence Olum in the 60th minute.
Among the notable guys in that substitution splurge besides Dwyer:
Stefan Antonijevic and Cyprian Hedrick (both of whom don't have a contract yet) got a chance to make their case for a reserve defender role with the team when they replaced Collin and Besler. It seems Olum (who can play midfielder and defender just like Julio Cesar) is the front-runner for the third CB spot. Antonijevic and Hedrick are fighting for the fourth spot it woold seem.Vermes told MLSSoccer.com:
"Cyprian has really come along quickly. He's someone that has really impressed us. Stefan hasn't hurt himself, but we just need to see him a bit more. It's been a good tandem for right now. We just need to see a bit more of what Stefan can do."
There was a new trialist playing with the team today, John Owoeri. If Wikipedia is to be trusted (maybe), Owoeri is a Nigerian who last played with Ismaily in Egypt though he trained with the Columbus Crew (allegedly) last season. He's a 25-year-old striker and replaced Bobby Convey on the left wing on Tuesday.
Sporting will be back in Kansas City four the next four days before leaving for Orlando and the 2012 Disney Pro Soccer Classic.
Sporting to hold signing ceremony for Juniors
There will be 17 members of the Sporting Kansas City Juniors U-18 academy team playing collegiately next season. (Is that a lot? I don't really have a good gauge on if it is or not.)
On Wednesday at Livestrong Sporting Park (in the swanky Shield Club), the team will honor the outgoing Juniors in a special ceremony. Vermes and Sporting's director of coaching Jon Parry will both be in attendance.
Here are the U-18 players and where they're headed.
Daneil Hare, DEF: Loyola University (Chicago)