Sporting Kansas City’s 6-0-0 start is unrivaled in Major League Soccer’s last 16 years. This represents the second-best start ever, bested only by the Los Angeles Galaxy’s 12-0 start in 1996, the league’s inaugural season. (That streak included one tiebreaker win, being back in the shootout era.)
It’s a little early to wonder whether Peter Vermes’ side can double-down on its perfect start and make a run at the Galaxy’s big launch. But it’s never too early to wonder how far the Livestrong Sporting Park outfit might go.
Let’s look at their coming foursome of matches:
April 18, at Vancouver: This is the first of two toughies. Martin Rennie’ Whitecaps already looks like the most improved club in 2012 (although Chivas USA may yet have something to say about that.) The Whitecaps have a win and a draw at home so far. They have played twice on the road since a March 24 scoreless tie at BC Place against D.C. United, so they’ll be thrilled to be back along Pacific Boulevard.
April 21, at Portland: A trip into Jeld-Wen Field is always tricky (never mind Portland’s splotchy home form this year) and the timing of this one makes it more so. First, this is a quick turn for SKC: play Wednesday, travel Thursday, quick walk-through on Friday and play again on Saturday. Kansas City’s high-pressure tactics exacts a physical price. So far Vermes has leaned heavily on his starting 11; might this be the first test of SKC’s depth?
May 5, vs. Montreal: If the team navigates those two, there’s plenty of time to rest up for the expansion Impact’s visit. Given Montreal’s place in it all – a club that looks every bit like a rookie outfit with a 1-5-1 mark in the standings – and given the extra week of rest, this one sure looks like a “W” waiting to happen for Sporting KC.
May 12, at Chicago: The Fire hasn’t been poor, but neither has Frank Klopas’ side been much to scream about in 2012. Sunday night’s soggy 1-1 draw with Houston is the latest evidence that pieces remain missing at Toyota Park. By the way, Chicago’s 16-11-22 record at home over the last four seasons is wholly underwhelming.
Sporting Kansas City’s complete schedule is here.
Tottenham Hotspur’s thin hopes of winning the Premier League demand all three points from its visit to Chelsea on Monday (Watch live on NBCSN at 3 p.m. ET and online via Live Extra).
Spurs are eight points behind Leicester City, and a loss or draw makes the Foxes the 2015-16 champions.
[ MORE: Burnley clinches promotion to the Premier League ]
Reigning champion Chelsea, in an odd twist, can play the spoiler for either its London neighbors or the fairytale Foxes.
Chelsea: Begovic; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (c), Azpilicueta; Mikel, Matic; Willian, Fabregas, Pedro; Diego Costa. Subs: Amelia, Baba, Loftus-Cheek, Kenedy, Oscar, Hazard, Traore.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris (c), Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Dier, Dembele; Lamela, Eriksen, Son; Kane. Subs: Vorm, Davies, Wimmer, Carroll, Chadli, Mason, Clinton.
Sam Vokes‘ 61st minute header has Burnley back in the Premier League at the first time of asking, and there’s only one way to describe it.
[ MORE: Bobby Wood to Hamburg for $4 million? ]
Burnley clinched automatic promotion thanks to its 1-0 win over QPR and Brighton’s draw earlier in the day. With Brighton facing Middlesbrough this weekend, only one could pass Burnley in points.
Take away the math, though, and Burnley is flying off the emotion of the 1-0 win.
From the BBC:
“It’s magic, it’s a great feeling. You could feel the anticipation around the place when we kicked off. We knew what we had to do after the Brighton result earlier. Magic scenes here today. Getting that goal sparked relief around the place. I missed a lot of the Premier League last season but hopefully I’ll get another chance next season.”
And here’s Sean Dyche, classically stoic in the face of extreme emotion:
“That was well off our performance level but the result was all that mattered today. The resilience, belief and character got us through. You can’t be brilliant every week, we don’t think we’re the real deal, but we’re a real group that sticks together.”
If you don’t know much about Burnley, we suggest Joe Posnanski’s SportsWorld piece from last season’s Premier League campaign.
Congrats to the Clarets.
One claret and blue team has been relegated from the Premier League, but another is taking its place.
Sam Vokes did not score in 15 Premier League appearances last year with Burnley, but his goal on Monday boosted the Clarets back into England’s top flight.
[ MORE: Bobby Wood to Hamburg for $4 million? ]
Vokes, 26, headed home in the second half to give Burnley a 1-0 lead over Queens Park Rangers, and the Clarets held on to make sure their absence from the Premier League was a mere season long.
The win gives Burnley 90 points with one match to play. With Middlesbrough and Brighton & Hove Albion sitting on 88 points and playing each other on the final day of the season, only one winner can pass the Clarets.
There seems to be growing interest in USMNT striker Bobby Wood, who is having a sensational season for Union Berlin in 2.Bundesliga.
Linked with Liverpool in March, Wood is now said to be desired by Hamburg in Germany’s top flight.
[ MORE: Klinsmann calls up 40 for Copa America camp ]
Hamburg’s strike corps consists of young target forward Pierre-Michel Lasogga, ‘Gladbach loanee Josip Drmic and veteran Ivica Olic.
Bild.de says the fee is around $4 million, but that the club has yet to begin discussing terms with Union.
Wood has 17 goals and 3 assists in league play this season, and has also become a mainstay with the U.S. team under Jurgen Klinsmann.
[ MORE: Timbers striker wanted by Palace, St. Etienne ]
Union Berlin is sixth in 2.Bundesliga, while Hamburg is 11th in Bundesliga.
Fellow USMNT striker Aron Johannsson has faced a long injury lay-off with Werder Bremen, while a similar situation has faced Terrence Boyd. The latter is with Red Bull Leipzig and is set for a promotion to the Bundesliga barring extreme unlikelihood over the final few weeks.