Thursday, February 10, 2011

Podcast: Byline 2 Backpost 2/9/2011

The latest podcast is now available.

We discuss all the news around Sporting Kansas City and the Missouri Comets. Included in this podcast is a short interview with Teal Bunbury.

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Posterous

We now have music on the podcast as well thanks to The Vandon Arms, a great band out of Iowa. Their latest album is The Sent Off EP and contains several soccer related songs. You can hear their music here or check them out on their Facebook page. We will feature more of their songs on future podcasts.

Teal talks from training camp in the latest podcast...


We talk about the Citizen's Bank and Trust becoming the shirt sponsor for the Missouri Comets, The Comets Retro Night and the Reunion game...

2011 Schedule Finally Released

The MLS Schedule was finally released. Sporting Kansas City has a long road trip as expected to start the season while they finish the stadium. Starting with First Kick on March 19 against Chivas (visiting former KC Captain Jimmy Conrad) Kansas City goes on a 10 game road trip.

The home opener for Sporting Kansas City's new stadium is June 9th
Sporting will have a 9 game home stand starting with 2 at the end of July through 6 games in August and 1 in September.

With more games this year and the need to work around the opening of the new stadium, there will be some difficult stretches of game. In June Sporting will play 6 games in 22 days alternating between home and road.

Sporting Kansas City is only scheduled to be on ESPN once this year on the home opener. While frustrating to Kansas City fans, it is not surprising. Teams from smaller cities that finish out of the playoffs are often not shown on national TV the next year very often. ESPN can (and has in the past), changed what games they show when teams play better than expected. So Sporting needs to perform better than expected, score goals, win despite the road trip and they will be on TV.

Sporting Kansas City Schedule

Full MLS Schedule

The late release of the schedule did lead to a swarm of humorous twitter responses (#MLSScheduleislatebecause) started by Ives.

Manager Peter Vermes will face a difficult schedule as expected...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sporting KC Release Chhetri, Kounenakis, Murray and Scales

Sunil Chhetri juggling the ball in practice...


Chhetri (#19) heading ball against Man U

The news:

Sporting Kansas City announced four roster moves Monday. Sporting did not pick up the option for Sunil Chhetri, Nick Kounenakis was released by "mutual consent" and pre-season cuts of draft picks JT Murray and Sam Scales.

Sunil Chhetri only appeared in one Open Cup game and the friendly with Manchester United, never making the bench during a league game. Kounenakis did appear on the bench a few times but never made it to the field for Kansas City.

Murray, a defender was the 2nd round (32nd overall) pick for Kansas City in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft out of the University of Louisville.

Scales, a midfielder taken in the first round of the MLS Supplemental Draft from Ohio State University.

The analysis:

Chhetri and Kounenakis were no surprise at all. Neither has been with the team this pre-season. In fact, with Kounenakis the only surprise is it was not officially reported already. I reported Kounenakis was released on Jan 24th and was just waiting on the official release.

Chhetri was in limbo while waiting to see if a deal could be worked out. Vermes had said they were working on bringing Chhetri back if the situation was right. Sporting wanted to sign him and loan him out so he could get playing time. Chhetri is a great finisher but he needed to work on a lot of other aspects of his game and he needed actual games against better opponents than he was used to previously. So apparently no deal was reached and will not be. I will try to find out what was the deal breaker not that it matters.

Murray and Scales were also not a huge surprise. Neither player was mentioned by Vermes in the post game press conference after the pre-season tie with Columbus. When asked about which new guys were fitting into the system, Vermes mentioned all of the other draft picks; Sapong, Mravec, Warzycha and Jones.

Both Murray and Scales looked decent in their first week of training in Kansas City. Scales initially impressed when he was the winner of one of the beep test groups. Many fans will probably find the release of Murray to be the most disappointing since he was a second round draft pick. I don't think it is that unexpected that a second round pick would be released with all of the competition in camp, it is a mild surprise it is this early. The early release of a second rounder will be pointed at as a failure of scouting but it may also be a triumph of scouting that lower draft picks and trialists are still there.

When Murray was drafted it was mentioned that he would be cover for Espinoza when he was called up for Honduras (like in the Gold Cup this summer). Note an unknown trialist (#4) played at left back in the second session of the Columbus game.

While it is unknown why the two were released this early, it is easy to assume that other players in camp showed more promise for the style Vermes wants to play. Stiff competition from trialists, other draft picks, possible homegrown players and returning Sporting KC players may have just been too much.

Expect a couple more moves this week as Vermes trims his roster to the players with the best chance of making the team.

Kounenakis at practice