Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sporting KC signs Kevin Ellis to a Home Grown Player Contract

Sporting Kansas City announced they had signed Kevin Ellis to a Home Grown contract in a press conference Friday. Ellis is a 19 year old defender that came out the Sporting Kansas City Juniors program. He attended Barton Community College and was named All American both years.

Ellis played forward and midfield in his first season with the Barton Cougars scoring 23 goal and 8 assists. In his second season Kevin moved to the back line but still scored 11 goals with 4 assists.

Ellis joined the senior team in a pre-season combine and impressed enough to be travel with the Senior team to Arizona for the first phase of Pre-season training.
Since Ellis came through Kansas City's Juniors program, he was eligible to be signed as Home Grown player. The Home Grown player category was established by Major League Soccer in 2007 to permit teams to promote youth academy players to professional contracts, bypassing the league’s annual SuperDraft or traditional allocation process. These players must meet Home Grown Player regulations as determined by the League, including participation in the club’s youth system for at least one year.

Goalkeeper Jon Kempin was signed in August 2010 as Kansas City's first Home Grown Player.
The Blue Valley North High School graduate has represented the United States National Team at the Under-18 and Under-20 levels since signing with Kansas City.

Kevin Ellis after the press conference

Jon Parry - Sporting Kansas City Juniors Director of Coaching

Barton College Coach Oliver Twelvetrees and Futura FC Director/Coach Todd Logan

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sporting KC Juniors playing in National Futsal Tournament in Kansas City

Kansas City is host to the Super F Champions Cup, a National Futsal tournament. Boys and girls teams U-8 through High School will be competing this weekend.

There are teams from Kansas City, St. Louis, Springfield, Boston, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Cleveland and San Jose. The events will be at Mid America West Complex, Roeland Park Sports Dome, Johnson County Community College and XL Sportswarehouse.

Keith Tozer is giving a clinic tonight at Johnson County Community College. Tozer is the Head Coach of the US Men's National Futsal Team and the Milwaukee wave of MISL.

Sporting KC Juniors are fielding several teams and can be seen playing both days this weekend. Spectators are welcome at the games this weekend.

Coach Parry, the Director of Coaching for Sporting Kansas City Juniors is one of the organizers of the tournament.



Sporting Kansas City to Announce Second Home Grown Player

Coach Vermes and Kevin Ellis during preseason training.

Sporting Kansas City is prepared to announce their second Home Grown player in club history today. The speculation is that it will be Kevin Ellis. Coaches have praised him throughout the preseason. Ellis was a member of the Juniors program for Kansas City playing for the U-16, U-18 and U-19 teams. Kevin attended Barton Community College where he continued to blossom, earning first team All American honors this year. He earned a second team All American honors last year.

Ellis played forward and midfield in his first season with the Barton Cougars scoring 23 goal and 8 assists. In his second season Kevin moved to the back line but still scored 11 goals with 4 assists.

I interviewed Coach Zambrano yesterday prior to the announcement that a Home Grown player would be signed and this is what he had to say about Ellis.

I think he really, really showed a type of growth that was highly noticeable. We saw him last year in one or two training sessions he came and just to take a look we saw a kid okay, with some abilities and what not but nothing really special. Whereas this time around we are just all extremely happy how he handled himself. For a young kid to understand what is expected of him and to hold himself well in competitive matches against bonafide professionals. I think he is a guy that I find as a revelation.

He's an excellent kid with a tremendous future.

When asked if Ellis would be offered a Home Grown contract?

That is not really a decision we are going to make immediately. Peter (Coach Vermes) obviously talked with all the persons that needed to be talked with, the parents of the player, the club itself, the owners. He has to come to that decision, that is a decision that will come sometime soon.

A little sooner than expected maybe, it appears a lot can change in 3 hours.

While it is possible that a different player will be announced it is very likely that it will be Ellis.

The Home Grown player category was established by Major League Soccer in 2007 to permit teams to promote youth academy players to professional contracts, bypassing the league’s annual SuperDraft or traditional allocation process. These players must meet Home Grown Player regulations as determined by the League, including participation in the club’s youth system for at least one year.

Goalkeeper Jon Kempin was signed in August 2010 as the first Home Grown Player signing in Sporting Kansas City history. The Blue Valley North High School graduate has represented the United States National Team at the Under-18 and Under-20 levels since signing with Kansas City.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Teal Bunbury injured during scrimmage with Houston

Sporting Kansas City forward Teal Bunbury was injured in a scrimmage with the Houston Dynamo. Bunbury and Houston defender Andrew Hainault tangled and Bunbury went down hard.

Teal was taken to the hospital and the early reports are that he dislocated his elbow. It is obviously unknown how long he will be out and how this will affect his training and possible US National team duties.

With Ryan Smith having not yet trained with the team do to a lingering knee rehab and Teal's injury, the forward position is looking a little weaker than expected at the moment.

Sporting Kansas City and Houston did resume the scrimmage after Bunbury was taken to the hospital. The Dynamo won 3-1 with the lone goal for Kansas City coming from Chance Myers. It is unknown at this time if the other scrimmage with the US 18's took place.

Sporting Kansas City is scheduled to come home for a few days before heading back to Arizona for the next phase of pre-season.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Post Colorado press conference with Coach Zavagnin

Sporting Kansas City and defending Champion Colorado scrimmaged on Saturday to 0 - 0 result. Kansas City played three lines.

1st lineup played 60 minutes:

Nielsen (Kronberg 46); Harrington, Cyrus, Correa (Santos), Espinoza, Mravec, Milos Stojcev, Arnaud, Kamara, Bunbury, Bravo

2nd lineup played 30 minutes:

Kronberg, Sassano, Thomas, Besler, Lorenz, Kirakosyan (Warzycha 80), Rocastle, Auvray, Diop, Myers, Djeziri

3rd lineup played 30 minutes:

Kempin, Ellis, Jones, Butcher, Colley, Aiyegbusi, Bateau, Jewsbury, Zusi, Sapong, Bowen

In a post game press conference, Coach Zavagnin spoke about the game, the lineups and the various trialists...

Discussing the lineups...

We've attempted to give the nucleus of the team progressively more and more minutes.
We inserted one trialist into the group, Miloš Stojčev and he played in the center part of midfield and we also added one draft pick, Mravec into the holding position. They added a little bit more possession, a little bit different of a look into our eleven paired with Kei, Teal and Omar up top. It gave us a opportunity to evaluate them in the first team, and overall we were relatively pleased with their performances, again our backline continues to be evolving , the presence of Correa and Cyrus in the back was quite solid.

The second group had the familiar pairings of Auvray and Rocastle in the midfield. We thought Besler and Thomas in the back were steady and solid and the new additions of Sassano and Lorenz certainly were a help in the back line. Diop continues to play well as a target forward up top and certainly did so today (Saturday) with trialist Djeziri and Myers out on the flanks doing some good things.

In the final group you see some familiar names with Zusi, Jewsbury and Aiyegbusi and they continue to do good things within the group. Sapong, our first round draft pick continue to impress with his ability to hold up the ball. He is going to be a handful and I don't know if he is a starter yet within the team we are certainly moving in the direction of getting him a contract. We want to wrap him up pretty soon now.

Asked to compare Salas (who was released from camp already) and Miloš Stojčev

It would be difficult to compare and contrast Salas and Stojčev as they came in with different expectations. I would say Stojčev, although it's only been a few days there's certainly the things you notice about him is that he is very technical, he's quick with the ball, he's a left footed player that can both in the center of midfield but also out wide as one of the wingers so his versatility is certainly in act as we are looking for players in that center midfield and a little bit of depth out wide. That's what attracted us to him in the first place. the part about adapting to the physicality of the game and certainly we played a pretty good team in Colorado, he did fairly well in handling that physicality but he also brought a little bit of tempo in the center part of mid. That is something we continue trying to evolve as last year we were a very dynamic athletic and direct team and we're looking for a little bit more tempo while not taking away from that athleticism we have.

Stojčev's situation?

He is out of contract, he's on trial with us indefinitely. He could stay for the remainder of the pre-season. Like a lot of these guys ,we are going to have to come to a consensus sooner rather than later. We do have a little bit of time with as he just joined us in the last couple days. He is a Serbian player, a product of Red Star Belgrade and has played in the Serbian league. As you would expect from a lot of Eastern Europeans, he is a technical player, I think he can handle the physicality of our league and he's young. I believe he is 24 years old. There si a lot of upside to the player, it's just whether at the end of the day he continues to impress and whether he fits into the final picture taking the international slots into account.

Trialist timelines

It varies from one to the other, obviously this first phase of pre-season is all about evaluating who we have both in the trialists and our returning players. I think when we return back down here to Arizona for the second phase it will be very close to the final team. Obviously things can come up in the last moments and we have till the middle of April to sign international players, or any players for that matter. I think there are some players, take a guy like Julio, he may have other options abroad that we would have to make a decision in the coming week on him. It would be hard to stretch a guy like that out. Other guys that are in camp such as Djeziri , Butcher, Bateau, Cyrus, those are guys that I would think we would be able to bring throughout the rest of our preseason. I cannot confirm the situation with Stojčev but as he just came into camp with us it would only be fitting that he comes back for the second half if he continues to impress. So it varies from player to player but I think we could have them for the remainder for most of them.

Talk about the trialists

Adda is a player that came to us, he had played with Jimmy Nielsen in Denmark. A young player, 23 years old. Started out his career and immediately skyrocketed all the way to a contract with Southampton (Portsmouth I think), had a lot of EPL clubs looking at him and showed a lot of promise. Unfortunately his form fell off a little bit and in recent months, in the last year he has been searching for a steady position within a club. We were fortunate to be able to bring him in on trial, I think he is a very interesting mix of being a big tall kid at 6 3 with having soft feet and good technical ability. He's a left side player, whips good balls in and is certainly a mismatch on that left side for opposing defenders. He is an interesting guy.

Callum Butcher, a young player, 19 years old center back from the Tottenham reserve system is another promising guy that we wanted to take a look at and he has some decent qualities. Especially in his ability to play out of the back. A lot of these guys fall into a similar category in that it would be nice to take all of them but with only 9 international spots available it's going to be a very difficult decision at the end of the day.

The two Trinidadian players, Battue and Cyrus both are Trinidadian Youth Internationals. Cyrus being called into the full national team and at only 19 years old shows lot of promise for a guy that age.

A couple other trialists that we acquired through different means though our combine, Gor Kirakosyan is a young player who hasn't yet went to college, he does hold a green card I believe but is a young dynamic attacking midfielder but the issue with him at the end of day will most likely come down to his fitness as he hasn't been in a professional environment very much. It's going to be interesting to see how quickly we can bring him along to cope with the fitness of our league. And finally Scott Lorenz who we had in on trial last year. Has experience in the second division and has matured a lot in his short time in the USL. Left side player who we found last year but came to our Kansas City combine before we came to Arizona.

All of these guys have shown they have some very good tools. It's going to be difficult to make a decision on who stays and who goes.

Colley is a young Gambian layer that came to us last year, came in at mid-season and unfortunately we did have a chance to take a real good look at him but we knew that we wanted him back into our preseason. He is a very big, very imposing athletic defender that can play both centrally and wide. I would say that he has some of the characteristics and is competing with guys like Cyrus for a position on the team. Calum Butcher, although he has different characteristics he would be competing with a guy like that for a roster spot. So another good young option in the back line.

Supplemental picks doing well, especially Mravec?

I would say all in all that it is difficult find supplemental picks that come in and make an immediate impact. It is probably a little premature to say this player is going to stick and this player is going to make an impact with our team throughout this season. It's a little premature. I wil say he does have maturity in his game, he does have a good presence in that holding midfield spot. Unfortunately he has a cast on his wrist that limits his ability to be even more physical than what he is at the moment. Taking all of that into account, I think he's a guy with great tempo, great awareness, he understand the position and the requirements of that position in midfield. When you put all of those characteristics together, I would say that we got a steal out of him as a supplemental pick.

What happens between now and the game on Tuesday?

The remaining group, the group that played today (Saturday) and the guys are in camp will remain through that game on Tuesday. There will be decisions made on that day on some guys that will be let go. In terms of what we are trying to accomplish, I think this is the final stages of our evaluation phas/ I talked a little bit about moments of the game that we like to train and we have done that through our training session but all in all if you're going to define this part of preseason, it is evaluation. I think we will have a pretty good idea of the guys in camp, what they can and can't do. I think we have a pretty good idea of the guys that are not going to be with us after Tuesday. So from that standpoint it's just a matter of maybe any final guys making a case for themselves on Tuesday and us moving forward into our next phase of preseason.

You know what you have, do you know what you still need?

Every day we are looking at possible guys to come in and we have our scouting network looking through different players that could fit some of the holes we have. I will say that as the preseason goes on and we start to integrate those guys that haven't been with us, we finding some solutions to some of the holes that we had in the off season. So we want to temper that and be very careful that we do not have a revolving door of guys coming and coming out. At some point we have to start developing a little bit more chemistry within the existing group. Si I would say that while we are still looking for other options we'll have the opportunity of the guys here to evaluate them. There are some solutions to some of the issues we had and holes that we left open in the off season.

This years first round draft pick CJ Sapong with last years first round pick Teal Bunbury