Thursday, November 15, 2012

See you in 2013

Afternoon all

Hope this finds you well

Its been a few weeks since we last spoke, again, apologies for that.

So, the season is officially over for Sporting KC after being knocked out at the Eastern Conference semi final second leg stage by Houston Dynamo, losing 2-1 on aggregate over two legs. Rather then concentrating on that though, i'd rather concentrate on what a fantastic season its been once again for Sporting KC. I think every couple of years, your team goes through a season of playing well and perhaps (from my point of view being an Aston Villa fan), over achieving (unless you're a Man United, Barcelona or Real Madrid fan). Last year, many said that was the case with Sporting KC. However, I think after this season and finishing top of the East for a second year running; its been confirmed that Sporting KC really are now one of the better sides in MLS. A really well ran organization, with a great stadium, fantastic fan base and a solid team with silver wear to show for their efforts this season. What more could one want!

There weren't to many low points of that season, but I think if I had to pick one, it'd probably be that 4-0 loss at Philadelphia Union. The high point, most definitely winning the US Open Cup. The first  professional piece of sports silver wear that Kansas City had seen since 2004. What a night that was! I remember that moment when Eddie Johnson smashed the final PK over the bar (rather fittingly into the Cauldron) and the whole stadium erupting. I've seen many stadium explode in my time covering this game, but that was undoubtedly the best outburst of energy and celebration I think i've ever experienced within soccer.

I'm a lucky lad to call what I do 'a job'. I work with some incredibly talented people and on behalf of the organization i'd like to thank every single one of the TV lads for their efforts this season. Jake Yadrich, Chris Wyche, Dan Drelich, Justin Bull, Craig Niedfedlt and Eric Zorans especially for their contribution when traveling on EVERY SINGLE MLS ROAD GAME. The likes of Brad Mertel, Chad Reynolds, Abner Aceves, Carter Augustine, Jack Hochman have all been unbelievable in playing their part as have the home producers Brad Pace and Rudy Guzman. I'd also like to say a quick thanks to Andy Tretiak and Jed Marshall on the Sports Radio 810 side of things too.

My favorite road trip this season was when we went up to Vancouver. I love that city. We had a great broadcast, got to explore the town a little and we won! The worst..... last weekend at Houston Dynamo. Up at 4am for an early flight, a small commentary booth with an awkward view, a loss in the play offs and a late flight home in one day. It was a sad way to end our traveling season.

Either way, its been a great year for Sporting KC and I know Jake shares the same views when I thank all of you, the fans of this wonderful club for once again being so supportive, not only of the team, but also of us on the TV side of things as well. Thank you so much, we love you guys.

I'm due to fly back home to England for an off season break in a few weeks. I'm looking forward to seeing a few old faces and perhaps covering some English soccer once or twice. Then, its back to it in February, as we head down to Orlando for MLS 2013 pre season to do this all over again.

Thanks for a wonderful season guys, see you all in 2013.



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

KC set for the big stage..... once again.

Afternoon all

Hope all is well

So as we take a break from MLS this week our sole attention will be on the United States Mens National Team as this play 2 World Cup qualifying games. The 1st, down in Antigua and Barbuda (beIN Sport 6pm CT) on Friday evening. After that its here in Kansas City at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park where the USMNT host Guatemala (ESPN2 6pm CT).

Here is the latest USMNT roster for the 2 upcoming games -

GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa/England), Tim Howard (Everton/England), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (8): Carlos Bocanegra (Racing Santander/Spain), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/England), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana/Mexico), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover/Germany), Maurice Edu (Stoke City/England), Clarence Goodson (Brondby/Denmark), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim/Germany), Michael Parkhurst (Nordsjaelland/Denmark)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Roma/Italy), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana/Mexico), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04/Germany), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht/Belgium), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim/Germany), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4): Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur/England), Herculez Gomez (Santos Laguna/Mexico), Alan Gordon (San Jose Earthquakes), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders)

Obviously there is no Landon Donovan or Brek Shea who will both miss out through injury. However, i'm surprised that Jurgen Klinsman didn't opt to bring in 2 replacements. Many people are stunned that Jozy Altidore was snubbed. But was he really 'snubbed'? Could this now be Klinsman saying, 'you've done well, but I expect more from you' perhaps triggering a bit of anger and determination into Altidore's mind set. I must say, either way, i'm surprised at the timing of this but expect Altidore to be involved in the next set of USMNT games. 
No Chris Wondolowski; a player with 25 goals (and counting) in MLS this season. This is not a disrespect of MLS by Klinsman as some have suggested because he's got 5 others in that squad and thats not counting the recently injured Brek Shea from FC Dallas and Landon Donovan of LA Galaxy. I'm stunned that Wondolowski isn't even in the roster as an option, however, he's never really done it on the international stage has he..... Its very similar to a situation back in England a few years back. For those of you who follow the EPL, you'll be familiar with the name Kevin Phillips, who time and time again would score countless amounts of goals but could never quite find the same form at international level. He would often finish a season within the 20-25 goals per season range. A bad season would be between 9-15; he was that good at scoring goals. With Wondolowski over the past 3 years he's notched 18 in 28, 16 in 30 and this season so far its 25 in 30, but in 8 national team caps (ironically the same amount Phillips finished on for England), he's yet to score. So I get not selecting Wondo, but on the same page, how on earth do you ignore someone with 25 league goals this season. 
On a similar subject, some players that did make the roster that were perhaps surprising to a few were forwards Alan Gordon (San Jose Earthquakes) and Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders). Johnson arrived back in MLS through the allocation process and ended up at expansion side Montreal Impact who later traded Johnson to the Sounders for the pairing of Mike Fucito and Lemar Neagle. Many thought that Montreal got the better deal as Johnson had recently had a torrid time in European football. He left Kansas City (after scoring 15 goals in 1 MLS season) in 2007 for Fulham of the EPL after rejecting another EPL offer from Derby County. But after a poor spell with only 2 goals in 4 years in English football (including loan spells with Cardiff, Preston North End and Greek side, Aris), he returned to MLS after being deemed 'not fit' by representatives of Mexican Premier League club Puebla, where Johnson was on trial. How wrong they were..... It seems the Eddie Johnson of old is most certainly back in the swing of things. Over the weekend in front of a 66,000 crowd, Seattle Sounders beat rivals Portland Timbers 3-0, with Johnson claiming the 2nd and his 15th of the season in MLS. Johnson hasn't scored in a US Jersey since 2008, but instantly you can see why Klinsman has opted to use him. Also at the age of 28, perhaps this is his last chance to impress at the international stage. 
On the other end of the scale, 30 year old journey man forward Alan Gordon was selected to be the national fold for a 2nd time running. He didn't play last time out, but perhaps that may change over the next few days and he could make his USA debut. After an uneventful 6 year spell with LA Galaxy, he had short spells with Chivas USA and Toronto FC before making the move back to California with San Jose Earthquakes. During his time in MLS he's never really been considered a goal scorer, heck, he'd not really been considered a starter for most of the teams he's played for; until now. This season he's notched 13 goals in 23 starts (his best MLS season to date), playing alongside Chris Wondolowski and Stephen Lenhart, the 3 headed monster from San Jose has struck fear into the hearts of many MLS defenses. With 48 goals between them so far this season(San Jose have scored 69 all season), they're undoubtedly the most potent forward line in MLS this season; and they like to leave it late don't they! 8 of Gordon's goals have come when he's started, but 4 of them (including 3 in a row) have come from the bench. Alan Gordon has been in inspired form this season and it really wouldn't surprise me to see him involved, maybe even start on Friday night vs Antigua and Barbuda. The service from either flank, which you would expect to be occupied by Clint Dempsey and Graham Zusi would be something Gordon would relish. Some say this is an experiment and I kind of agree. I do question the timing of this 'experiment' if that is indeed the case, but which ever way you look at it, its always exciting when new strikers come on board, because lets face it, we all love goals! 
So the last thing is...... if you can't wait to discuss the USMNT until Friday. Tune into 610 Sports Radio on Thursday evening from 6pm, where Steve Brisendine and I will firstly talk about Sporting KC, before featuring the USMNT and their upcoming games. We'll talk about all the above and if you fancy your say, call in on 913-576-7610 or tweet me @calwilliamsskc. See you all soon. 



Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Business as usual

Afternoon all,

Hope all is well,

Well, once again its been quite a busy time in the 'business end' of the MLS season. Sporting KC secured two crucial wins over Toronto FC (although not as comfortable as perhaps we would have wanted) and tied 1-1 at home to a Thierry Henry less New York Red Bulls who boasted new boy Tim Cahill. Six of the last seven regular MLS season games are against play potential play off opposition, meaning this really is the time for Sporting KC to grind out results and show how good they really are. The two away trips to New York Red Bulls will undoubtedly have all eyes on it (and for good reason), but I think the away games at Columbus Crew and Montreal Impact have now become just as difficult. Montreal Impact have invested heavily in their roster and now boast some fantastic individuals such as Nesta, Di Vaio, Bernier (who's having the season of his life), Felipe, Arnaud, Rivas, Nyassi, Mapp and Neagle to name a few. For me, Montreal Impact have to be considered late play off pushers. Despite loosing to Columbus Crew (who we'll talk about in a second), they went the whole of August 4-0 and defeated New York before that in late July. Just 3 points stand between Montreal Impact in 7th and Houston Dynamo in 4th.

Here is a look at the Eastern conference table as is stands -

1Sporting Kansas City50271.851575342410177173
2New York Red Bulls46271.7137746397271519-8
3Chicago Fire44261.6913853531420815-4
4Houston Dynamo42271.56117939336241415-8
5Columbus Crew42261.6212863330321412-1
6D.C. United41271.521210543385311712-12
7Montreal Impact39291.34121434346-3311312-16

For me, even though Sporting have a 4 point cushion at the top, no one is safe and every point now counts. Chicago Fire play their game in hand mid week next week vs bottom of the league Toronto FC and Columbus Crew play tonight at 9th placed New England Revolution. It seems as though Columbus Crew and now doing what they've not been able to do all season........ score goals. They're now unbeaten in just over a month and in that time have scored 11 goals in 5 games. This is obviously due to the dynamic duo up front Jairo Arrieta with 3 goals in 6 and the new DP Federico Higuain (for those reading in europe, the brother of Real Madrid's Gonzalo) who has 6 assists and 3 goals in 5 appearances in MLS. They've crept into 5th above DC United and it wouldn't surprise me if they won tonight at New England either. Columbus Crew have tough games vs New York, Sporting KC and Chicago Fire BUT they also have games vs Toronto FC, Chivas USA and Philadelphia Union. We're in for an intriguing end to this MLS season, I can promise you that.

Elsewhere around the world of US Soccer, the USMNT play 2 World Cup qualifiers vs Jamaica. Firstly on Friday evening away and then at home in Columbus, Ohio on the Tuesday evening.

Here is Jurgen Klinsman's roster for these upcoming games -

GOALKEEPERS (4): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (9): Carlos Bocanegra (Racing Santander), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover), Maurice Edu (Stoke City), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis), Michael Parkhurst (Nordsjaelland), Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Jose Torres (Pachuca), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur), Herculez Gomez (Santos)

Really pleased that Graham Zusi has received some recognition. It wouldn't surprise me if we saw Graham Zusi play more of a wide role for the national team at some stage. He's done it consistently for Sporting KC in MLS and done it well. For me, with Michael Bradley out injured, there's a real opportunity for someone to show what they can do. Bradley will always start for the US, he's now become that good (as an Aston Villa fan, it still pains me to think we let him go so easily). We've seen the games were some of these players have been tried and tested, now its the time to shine. Very interested to see if Break Shea starts out on the left (no reason why he shouldn't) but i'm excited to see who will start up front on Friday evening. Its been a rapid start for Terrance Boyd in Viena (excuse the pun). He scored another 2 over the weekend and took them very very well.

(here they are -

For me, Boyd is really 1 to watch out for. He's only 21, but if you watch both goals, his 2nd is a really well directed header but its his 1st that gives away the most for me. Watch his movement as he sprints past his marker to get in front of him. He's more then aware that the ball is going near post. He could be the next big natural goal poacher and threat for the USMNT. On the other hand Jozy Altidore has 4 goals in 3 Dutch Erdivisie games, Herculez Gomez is always a threat and Clint Dempsey finally got his move away from Fulham and joined Tottenham Hotspur (how on earth have Liverpool not shelled out the extra few million for him, i'll never know). I think Tottenham is a great fit for Dempsey now as they failed in a bid to sign Joao Moutinho from FC Porto. Expect to him Demspey out wide for Spurs or even just underneath the front man (Adebayor or Dembele). My point is, the USMNT are not short of options up top and will be a threat, as long as they get service.

The Jamaican national team also boast some very good players throughout their roster too. Defensively they are sharp with Jermain Taylor (Houston Dynamo, USA) and Adrian Mariappa (Watford, England). Their midfield will consist of pace and patience in the shape of Dane Richards (Vancouver Whitecaps, USA), Je-Vaughn Watson (Houston Dynamo, USA) and Rodolph Austin (Leeds Utd, England). The front line may consist of Toronto FC's Ryan Johnson (who of course scored vs Sporting KC last weekend in MLS), Colorado's Omar Cummings but the 1 player i'm very eager to see at the international stage for only the 2nd time in his career is Vancouver Whitecaps forward and MLS rookie Darren Mattocks. Aged just 22, for me an outstanding candidate for MLS rookie of the year with 7 goals in 12 starts in MLS.

I'm excited to see what the USMNT can do in this game, but equally, the Jamaican national team have plenty to offer as well. 2 very good games coming our way on beIN Sport and ESPN. Lets enjoy!



Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The life of an announcer

Hello there!

I can't believe its been over two months since I last did one of these! My sincere apologies; its been a very busy time for us. Lots to talk about over the last two months, results, travel, trades/transfers should all hopefully squeeze into this one.

So let me start right from the last time we spoke. June was upon us as was Euro 2012. After England surprisingly finished top of the group, the TV boys and I set our sights on what would be the longest and busy eight week stretch of the season. First up we got a solid home result over a poor Toronto FC. After that we set out eyes over to the pacific north west and a trip to Seattle. Really do like that city, great place and obviously its a great place for soccer. But we'll talk about Seattle Sounders a little later on, won't we ;-). From their we had the cross country trip to Philadelphia. Two coast lines within the space of four days. We got back to KC to prepare for the Open Cup quarter finals. A result at home in that game and then a radio commentary at home to Chicago Fire would follow (again, three days apart). If i'm totally honest, the months of June/July  just seem like one big blur. This was our schedule since I last wrote on here -


Tue 26th - DAYTON DUTCH LIONS HOME (USL) (US Open Cup Quarter Finals)


Wed 11th - PHILADELPHIA UNION AWAY (US Open Cup Semi Final)
Tue 24th - MONTPELLIER HOME (International Friendly)


Wed 1st  - STOKE CITY HOME (International Friendly)
Wed 8th - SEATTLE SOUNDERS HOME (US Open Cup Final)

This weekend we're away to Toronto FC. Lots of fun, but lots of work. Bare in mind preparing a TV show is not something that happens over night. It takes time and precision. Major thumbs up to Jake Yadrich (@jakeyadrich) who prepared every perfectly. Brad Mertel (@bmertell22), Abner Acevas (@abnerha) and all the rest of the video boys really did a fine job helping us prepare for that and they even had time to make some great in stadium video's including the three video's for the Open Cup final. Its the travel more then anything that kills you. We love it and we're very lucky we get to do it, but we don't get any time to see anything though. Maybe downtown for a couple of beers but I think we've maybe done two tourist things this season. But hey, its Ok, it really is, #itsokbecausewetravel (inside joke).

I think the hardest part of that schedule was getting up at 4am to head to Phily for the Open Cup semi's. We got there, did the game, then flew back to KC at 6am for a day, then was up again at 4am to head to Columbus. Think I may have swerved a little on the highway as I was driving to the airport. Doing broadcasts on top of that was testing, but major respect to the back room boys who got their even earlier then I did to set up! Also during this madness, helping the girlfriend Stacey (@staceygolub) move into her new place in 100 degree heat was a nightmare, but worth it in the end (she has a pool :D)!

We got to see two new stadiums in Montreal and Houston, both of which I liked and again is a clear sign as to where this league is heading. Houston was particularly good fun as  Stacey came along to the game as she was visiting her sister, who also had an enjoyable experience. Hosting Stoke City was a lot of fun. I ended up doing a couple of interviews for the BBC and another local radio station in Stoke-on-trent (Signal radio) to help out an old friend of mine who covers Stoke City for a living. I felt like a proper journalist again, almost fighting people to get the interview that mattered; it was a lot of fun and I sometimes miss those days.

To the more recent times we go. Incase you missed it, Kansas City has a champion again! The last two pro titles in this town have been soccer titles when the then Kansas City Wizards won the MLS Cup in 2000 and the Open Cup in 2004, but before that, it was the baseball team 'The Royals' who won the World Series back in 1985! This game against Seattle Sounders was a BIG occasion in KC and I was privileged to be on the call locally for Sports Radio 810.

Here is the link to our commentary of the penalty shoot out -

Think I may have lost every ounce of composure i've ever gained in that moment. But what a moment it was. This club has made some major strides of the past two years, now they have something to show for it. I have to say there was a wave of emotion around the stadium that night. The scenes after the game were unbelievable. Every room you went in to, people were smiling, laughing, hugging each other, it really was a site for sore eyes and one night i'll never forget. Thanks for all the kind comments about our recent broadcasts as well guys, really appreciate it, just wish the whole of the country could see them.

Sporting then also reclaimed top spot of the eastern conference after a confident win over DC United. However, the week was already topped off by a wonderful event on Friday evening when Jake Yadrich got married to his fiancé Whitney (@whitneyyadrich). An absolutely lovely evening surrounded by work colleagues who've become close friends. The so called 'other half' was there also, to make it even more enjoyable. Again, another special moment to be apart of in this huge and very loving Sporting KC family.

Life is absurdly good right now. Very excited for what the future holds, but right now, I think i'll enjoy the present!

See you soon


Monday, June 4, 2012

Nation portration

Hello there

Hope this blog finds you well. 

So, much of my focus over the last week or so has been on the USMNT (US Mens National Team); so I thought i'd continue that on my blog....... 

Despite the rather average performance against Canada (which ended goalless) last night on the NBC Sports Network, I still think there are plenty of positives to look at with this side. Yes at times they looked flat and perhaps far to deep, but when they get in their groove they are a joy to watch when on the attack. The one thing is find fascinating about this US side now is that there seems to be so many options; where as maybe five years a go the options where no were near as mouth watering. We all know the goal keeping situation is fine and for a US fan I think thats always been the case. Tim Howard is playing at the top level and performing as consistently as he ever has been. Brad Guzan is a solid number two, who in my opinion will one day take that number one jersey. More then anything, Guzan needs to find a club where he'll be playing regularly. Several teams around Norway, Sweden and Holland have been linked with the former Aston Villa stopper, but more interestingly (at least from our part) New York Red Bulls has been mentioned as a possible suitor for him. Young rookie Ryan Meara has had a fine start to his MLS career, but at the age of twenty one, you have to wonder if he'll be as consistent as many in New York City hope. I think Guzan would be a perfect fit for the Red Bulls. It'd certainly make it easier for Jurgen Klinsman to keep an eye on him AND he'd be playing at a level in MLS that is equal if not better then the likes of the Swedish Allsvenskan and Norwiegen Tippeligaen (both Premier divisions in their respected countries). Plus there's also the ever present Nick Rimando of Real Salt Lake, who is undoubtedly one of the best keepers in MLS, he'll always be up for consideration. 

I think there are a few question marks within the USA back line. With Steve Cherundolo getting on a bit at the ripe old age of thirty three, a replacement is needed. Question marks were upon us when Tim Chandler decided to decline a call up to the national team a few weeks back I now think this gives several other players an opportunity in that right back position. We've seen Michael Parkhurst of FC Nordsjaelland (Denmark) come in over the last few games at right back and deliver steady performances. Perhaps Jurgen Klinsman needs to take a look closer to home within MLS? Maybe in a year or two Real Salt Lake's Tony Beltran (who's been very impressive so far in this campaign) could be up to the job? Or maybe even Sporting KC's Chance Myers, who's made the position his own his the mid way point of last season. The one area which I keep hearing that people are worried about is center back for the USMNT. For me, its not so much of an 'issue' because there are plenty of options; its just finding the right pairing. For me, its vital to get that partnership right. Usually in a center back situation (especially if the ball is in the air) one center back with go and attack the threat whilst the other will drop and cover. Most of the time this is accomplished by the pairing of a commanding physical defender and a speedy guy to cover up. I'm not so sure that 'speedy' option is available to the USA at the moment, but the physical option is most certainly out there.  Oguchi Onyewu had a solid season for Sporting CP in Portugal but has looked like he's lacked a little bit of sharpness over the last few national team games. Clarence Goodson of Bronby in Denmark nearly snatched a victory over Canada last night when he saw his thunderous header tipped over by Lars Hirschfield. He had a solid game as well and could definitely be an option to start next week vs Antigua & Barbuda in that World Cup qualifying game. Perhaps Geoff Cameron of Houston Dynamo could claim a fifth USA cap? Another player who is very highly thought of and was linked to both Newcastle United and Everton in recent weeks. Carlos Bocanegra has also looked slightly uncomfortable over the last couple of games. In my opinion, maybe he needs a move away from financially troubled Glasgow Rangers. We also need to mention former New York Red Bulls defender Tim Ream (now at Bolton Wanderers in the Championship in England). Lets not forget that Klinsman has plenty of options for this 'problem' within MLS as well. The likes of Nat Borchers (Real Salt Lake), Danny Califf (Chivas USA), Matt Besler (Sporting KC), Jay Demerit (Vancouver Whitecaps) and maybe even George John (FC Dallas). With the exception of Demerit, the international experience there isn't great, but still, the options are out there. Plus, the future is looking bright as well with the likes of Perry Kitchen (DC United) and even Chicago Fire's Austin Berry all coming through I don't think this is a worrying time for US Soccer at the center back position. As I said earlier, its just finding the right pairing. 

The midfield intrigues me and once again there are so many options at the moment. Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04) will always pick up yellows in that holding role he plays. He's needed though! He gives Michael Bradley (Chievo) so much room to roam. Bradley needs to be given more of this time so he can produce what he has done in an excellent season in Serie A which has seen the likes of Inter Milan sniffing around his availability. With the likes of Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim) and Joe Corona (Club Tijuana) coming through as well, this US midfield is packed with bodies. 

Up top again I don't see there being an issue. Jozy Altidore looks to have finally found the form we'd all been expecting for years after a tremendous season in Holland with AZ Alkmaar (seventeen goals in forty six appearances in all competitions). Chris Wondolowski can't stop scoring (he just needs to find the net for the national team). He finished the last MLS campaign with sixteen goals and now with eleven goals in twelve starts this season, he'll always be an option over the coming year. Clint Dempsey offers something completely different to what else the USMNT has in the way he can play just off the main forward in a supporting role. That allows Jurgen Klinsman to tinker with all sort of different formations. Plus, with twenty three goals in all competitions and seventeen in the last EPL season, he was the most pro active 'forward' for the US this year. Hercules Gomez (Santos Laguna) has also recently emerged as an option and of course scored in that 4-1 defeat to Brazil. CJ Sapong and Teal Bunbury of Sporting KC always seem to be on the tip of many people's tongue's when talk of the national team crops up. Terrance Boyd is the one i'm looking forward to watching over the next few years. At the age of twenty one, he scored twenty goals in thirty two appearances for Borussia Dortmund's reserves alerting Rapid Vienna to take him on a season long loan. I'm very interested to see how this up and coming forward takes to a full season of fully fledged European football, but either way, he's one for the future most definitely. Before I wrap this up, let me through this out to you... I just wonder how long Jurgen Klinsman can ignore Kenny Cooper? Eleven goals in eleven starts for New York Red Bulls. The former Portland Timbers forward seems to have found his form of old, even without the still outstanding Thierry Henry along side him. Yes, some of his goals haven't been pleasing on the eye, but surely that doesn't matter. It doesn't even matter if he's not playing well, as a forward your job is to put the ball in the net. Cooper was given the 'target man' role in Portland and for whatever reason it didn't work. Under Hans Backe at New York, he's taken up much more of a free role (you'll even see him drift out wide from time to time). He's taken center stage in the big city and if he keeps this up, it wouldn't surprise me at all if he was back amongst the international ranks. 

There have been a few grumblings of unhappy US fans over the last week or so, my message to you is that there is absolutely nothing to worry about. We've learnt a lot about the national team in the last three games. They battered Scotland 5-1 and showed their class. The 4-1 defeat to Brazil was expected, but I actually thought the USA gave a good account of themselves and pushed Brazil back hard until Pato got the fourth which killed the game. A horrid spectacle against Canada proved to me that the USA can slug it out when they're not on top. This up coming game between Antigua and Barbuda should deliver a solid win for the USMNT and maybe Jurgen Klinsman can continue to experiment with several other options. 

Hope you've enjoyed the blog and the change of the usual Sporting KC talk. Due to the international break, once again no MLS duties for me this weekend, but I'm on 610 Sports Radio on Thursday evening from 6pm CT, talking once again about Sporting KC and the national team with a few guests as well. See you all there. 



Tuesday, May 15, 2012

3 is the magic number

Afternoon everyone

Sporting KC have been knocked off the top of the Eastern Conference after falling 2-1 to Chicago Fire at Toyota Park last weekend; but also due to the persistence from New York Red Bulls.

Let me take you back to the Friday when we traveled to Chicago. We got in at about 9pm from Kansas City, loaded up all the equipment and eventually got to the hotel at 11.30pm. We just about had enough time to grab a bite to eat and a couple of beers before we called it a night. The next day I had to make use of the fantastic gym facilities at the 'swissotel', where we stayed in downtown Chicago. I had a wonderful view of Lake Michigan from the running machine and its beauty helped me through the absurdly diabolical and painful run (I need to get fit again!).

After taking 1 more final look at my notes I headed to the stadium with Kristen Bock (@kbock2241), Mike Flaherty (@kitmanskc) and Chet North (who was taking part in his 500th MLS game as head trainer with Sporting KC! Well done Chet!). Kristen and I met up with the TV boys and had plenty of discussion about some of the new things we were going to try out during the broadcast. We think we had a very good broadcast and were happy with the final delivery. It was the first time we were broadcasting on stations (other then MLS Live and direct kick) other then KSMO. The viewing figures were good and we hope all the new viewers liked what they saw; if so we'll see you again this weekend in Colorado.

In terms of the game and Sporting KC's 3rd loss in a row. I remember tweeting out that there's no need to panic. This is soccer, it happens throughout the season. Every team will go through some sort of run like this, but its just about weathering the storm. I thought Convey's 1st goal for the club was well taken after excellent work from Espinoza. I thought Sporting weren't at their best by any stretch, but they seemed to be controlling the game in the 1st half. Chicago came out in the 2nd half with all guns blazing. The penalty at the time was an interesting call. I've seen the replay today and Collin slides the ball away from Oduro, but the ball then deflects off Oduro's left leg and continues in the way that he's running. Looking at it from where the ref was, it looks to him that Collin got non of the ball and it rolls in the same direction as Oduro (usually signaling that there was no contact with the ball). Grazzini stepped up and placed the ball beautifully in the top corner, leaving Neilsen with no chance. The red card for me IS a red card. Yes there's the argument that Espinoza is using his arms for balance, but, that left arm does come up higher then it should. I think its clumsy more then anything, doubt there was any intent at all. The winning goal of the game, was poor defensively from Sporting KC. That'll hurt them this week.

Its on to Colorado Rapids this week, Jake (@jakeyadrich) and I will be on 610 on Thursday at 6pm to preview the game. Working on guests right now, so keep your ears pealed. We'll be on KSMO, WIBW,  My TV Wichita and My TV Topeka on Saturday so check your listings for details. Pre game show will start at 7.30pm CT.

See you there!



Monday, May 7, 2012

A message from the north

Afternoon all

Hope this post finds you in good ways.

So Sporting KC fell to their first home defeat of the season last weekend. I think we were all expecting it to come at some stage this season, but with all due respect, I think there were very few of us who thought it would have come this weekend at the hands of Montreal Impact.

Due to a change in schedule, last weeks radio show was moved to Wednesday and meant I called upon fellow Englishman James Starrit (@sporting_times) to help me host the show on 610. Despite several late changes, I enjoyed the show, the input from you guys and thought it was nice to have James back on a temporary basis.

I must admit, after spending most of the week doing the usual prep, I was very excited to get back on the call. Obviously we'd previously had a bye weekend (which was lovely). Its always nice to have a weekend off, but I really do miss being on the call when this is the case.

So on we went to the game vs Montreal Impact. I don't think I was the only one who was surprised when we heard whispers that Montreal would give MLS debut's to two new center backs. Nelson Rivas was somebody I was familiar with, having seen him previously play for Inter Milan. Hassoun Camara was the one I was quite surprised with. He'd won the NASL MVP title for Montreal Impact, which lead to be question why he had yet to make his MLS debut. Either way, when it was confirmed, I thought they both looked outstanding. We all knew that Montreal where going to come to LIVESTRONG Sporting Park and look to remain deep and keep it tight. They did exactly that, better then most would have expected. Rivas won everything in the air and was very rarely caught out of position or possession. You could really tell at times that he'd played at the top level and with him still only being twenty nine, he still has a lot to offer. I thought the partnership between both him and Camara was excellent, it was as if they'd played together for years. Sporting were unable to find any sort of way through Montreal who held their own against the team top of the East. I had a chat with our former player Davy Arnaud before the match, he told me some great things about head coach Jesse Marsch, claiming that he certainly 'has something about him'. I thought tactically, Marsch got it spot on and his side came out with what could be viewed as there most impressive victory all season. The first goal was a fantastic strike from Felipe. Though I thought the back line should have stepped up quicker, it was quite simply excellent. The penalty I thought was a penalty. At first I thought Collin got the ball but on a second and third viewing, i'm convinced that Neagle was taken down.

I think we need to walk away from this one and scratch it off as a 'bad day at the office'. Everybody in the world is entitled to one of those once in a while. Not that we needed it, but perhaps it could also serve as a bit of a reality check. We know we're good, but lets take one game at a time and get the job done. I know this result will be killing the players inside and now we have two tough away games at Chicago Fire and Colorado Rapids. However, you have to give credit to Montreal Impact for claiming arguably the most surprising result of the week.

I have to commend the fans once again, you guys were so loud at LSP and I know the players appreciate it.

In terms of us and TV, I think we had a great broadcast and despite not getting the result we all wanted, it was still a good game of soccer and was really fun to call. Jake (@jakeyadrich) and I will be on 610 at the usual time of 6pm on Thursday before we see you all in Chicago on KSMO - TV at 7pm.

See you all soon.



Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Having a laugh on the road

Afternoon all

Well, I must say, despite the 1-0 loss up in Portland, everyone still seems in a jubilant mood...... and why wouldn't they be!? The first loss of the season had to come at some stage, now with it been and gone, perhaps there is now a little less pressure on the team. Certainly the hype will be off them for a while, but I get the feeling, with the way this side play their soccer, the bright lights will be back on them very soon.

So let me take you back to the start of last week. We all arrived at KCI early in the morning for a 3/4 hour flight to Seattle. Once we got there and realized that Jake (@jakeyadrich) had forgotten his passport (which was no problem, he got that sorted fairly quickly), we had to devilish challenge of driving up to Vancouver. After a 3 hour drive involving lots of banter and laughing, we reached the Canadian boarder and were subsuquently denied entry into Canada due to not having a certain document signed. So after an hour or 2, we were through and heading for my favorite MLS city that we'd visited last year. I was very excited and as we approached downtown Vancouver and were very much in the thick of things, my eyes lit up and a rather large grin appeared on my face. I really do like Vancouver as a city, it excites me. So after a lovely lie on on Wednesday morning, I took a final look over my notes for the broadcast. I wandered downtown for something to eat and accidentally ended up strolling onto a movie set! Theres my claim to fame right there!!! Never before have I seen a guy in such a rush to usher and move people away from the set. We did the broadcast of the game on the evening and the boys said it was one of the better and easier set ups they've done in a while due to the great facilities at BC Place. I have to say, I was very much looking forward to seeing BC Place. Last year we played Vancouver at the temporary facility 'Empire Field' which had a cracking atmosphere in the close proximity it offered. BC Place had been recently renovated and I have to say, when I walked on the pitch, I was gob smacked. What a lovely stadium and I can't wait to go back when ever that may be. Sporting got themselves a 3-1 win to remain top of the league and we left Vancouver in great spirits and even managed to fit in a few beers after the broadcast.

The next day the 8/9 hour journey to Portland would be upon us. We arrived in the lobby at 9am and set off. We knew we'd have a problem or 2 getting back into the USA. It was plain and simple, just always going to be in the script. Thankfully, Jake had his passport this time, so that wouldn't be an issue. The problem was the fact that we had 19 bags full of TV equipment, overloaded with wires, cables and other things that quit frankly, I have no idea what they do! Either way, we were told to go to a certain building after being escorted out of our cars. After moving about 10 ft in an hour we were then told we'd been directed to the wrong building (which was extremely frustrating). However, after that, things flowed fairly smoothly and after getting the appropriate paper work signed and everything cleared, we were back in the USA and on our way. Driving past Seattle once again (knowing we'd have to come back this way on Sunday) we worked our way down to Portland. Dan (@the_doubledown) was driving and I still have no idea how he didn't fall asleep! So once again after hours of banter, laughing, working talking, singing and dancing (in our car anyway); Jake, Dan and I made it to Portland, closely followed by the other 2 separate vehicles with Chris (@ctwyche) and Justin in 1 car and Craig and Eric in the other.

So we decided to meet up for a couple of beers with Mike Flaherty (@kitmanskc) on the friday night and ended up bumping into the traveling Cauldron (@kccauldron) and shared several stories of our separate travels to get to Portland. I was also treated to several stories about the team 'back in the day' and had a genuine good time with the fans and thoroughly enjoyed that.

So game day came in Portland, it was a beautiful day. I must admit, Jeld WEN - Field has to be 1 of the best atmosphere's in MLS. The Timbers army are so loud and as you all know due to your vocals at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, it makes a difference and helps the team out. Obviously Sporting suffered their first defeat of the season (rather unexpectedly) to Portland Timbers, but either way, I still think we have to be excited in the fact that we aren't playing to our full potential quite yet. The first defeat was always going to come, now its out of the way. The last leg of the long road trip was the final salt in the wound here, with a 5am wake up call and another 3 hour drive to Seattle. It was so good to get back to Kansas City and see people i'd missed. However, that was a laugh.

Here are some video's which will give you all you need to know about our road trip - Enjoy!

A bye weekend now for Sporting, so lets recharge the batteries and enjoy the weekend off, we've got it all to do again next weekend vs Montreal Impact. I know you all will anyway, but lets make sure we give Davy Arnaud a warm welcome back.

No radio show on Thursday on 610, but Jake and I will be on KSMO - TV on Sunday evening at 9.30pm for 'Off the Pitch'.

See you there guys!