Sporting Kansas City

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Toronto FC snatch late draw v. Sporting KC

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TORONTO (CP) – The young Canadian duo of Jordan Hamilton and Ryan Telfer combined to provide a better ending than the way Toronto FC’s match was progressing against Sporting Kansas City on Friday.

Telfer’s pinpoint pass to Hamilton for an in-close goal in added time bailed out their team for a 2-2 draw at BMO Field. But the single point extended Toronto’s winless streak to seven outings (0-4-3) heading into the Gold Cup break.

Toronto (5-6-4) had been frustrated earlier in the game when on two occasions Kansas City was awarded two successful penalty kicks from Felipe Gutierrez after video reviews.But Hamilton’s goal in the 95th minute resulted in a single point.

“I was feeling that their defenders couldn’t keep up with me or Telfer,” said the 23-year-old Hamilton, a native of Scarborough, Ont. “Before that play, me and Telfer were a little too far apart. (Toronto head coach) Greg (Vanney) was screaming us from the sidelines to come closer together.

“As soon as we did, then (Alejandro) Pozuelo plays a great ball to Telfer and he squares a lovely pass and I’m just there to do my job.”

Telfer had been called up from the Canadian Premier League’s York9 to help short-handed Toronto. The home side was without United States internationals Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore as well as Canadians Jonathan Osorio and Ashtone Morgan. All four are on international duty ahead of the Gold Cup. Defenders Auro (hamstring) and Chris Mavinga (hamstring) also missed the match.

Both the 25-year-old Telfer, a native of Mississauga, Ont., and Hamilton were second-half substitutes. Their game-tying play only temporarily put a smile on Vanney’s face. He was still seething about the two video-review penalty kicks.

“I’m exhausted and it wasn’t because of my team,” he said.

Referee Fotis Bazakos was called upon by the video assistance referee to take a look at two possible fouls inside the box.

The second, a tripping foul to Toronto midfielder Nick DeLeon, resulted in Gutierrez’s penalty kick in the 73rd minute to break a 1-1 draw. DeLeon was yellow-carded for the play.

Kansas City snatched a 1-0 lead on a successful penalty kick from Gutierrez in the 25th minute. Toronto defender Drew Moor fouled Gerso on the edge of the 18-yard box.

Bazakos was summoned to the sidelines for a video review, and it was determined the foul occurred inside the 18-yard line. As a result, Kansas City was awarded a penalty kick.

“The first call was disgraceful, and that changes the game because we had the momentum,” Vanney said. “We were attacking their goal, we had them on the ropes and there is nothing more

“It was not a foul. There are a lot of hands on peoples’ chests. (Gerso’s) momentum was going. He was falling off balance and he wasn’t going to get back to the ball. If (Bazakos) thinks it was in the box, I don’t think he calls it.

“My frustration was once you set the standard you have to call it that way the rest of the game. But that wasn’t the case.”

Bazakos explained his view.

“We called the foul, but when he showed me the angle, I saw it was inside so that’s the mistake,” he told a pool reporter.

Toronto drew level late in the first half. DeLeon finished off a dandy passing play from defender Justin Morrow and Pozuelo, who enjoyed a strong game.

Kansas City (3-5-7) was missing Botond Barath, Krisztian Nemeth, Nico Hasler and Johnny Russell. They were all overseas for UEFA 2020 European qualifiers this weekend.

Toronto doesn’t play again until June 22 in Dallas because of the league’s Gold Cup break.

Sporting KC hammered by Monterrey in CCL semis (video)

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Sporting Kansas City were humbled at the hands of Monterrey on Thursday, as Major League Soccer’s lone representative left in the CONCACAF Champions League were thumped 5-0 in Mexico.

Liga MX’s Monterrey struck twice early on against SKC, with the hosts in control the entire match.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage

Dorlan Pabon scored twice, while Aviles Hurtdao, Jeses Gallardo and Nicolas Sanchez added a goal each. In truth the defeat could have been heavier for Peter Vermes SKC, as Rayados ripped them apart out wide.

Below is a look at the highlights in full (painful viewing for Sporting fans, and any MLS fans), as the second leg takes place next Thursday in Kansas City.

The winner of the this semifinal tie will play Tigres or Santos Laguna in the final. Tigres have a 3-0 lead from the first leg, so it’s looking like a Tigres v. Monterrey final. That would mark an eighth all-Mexican final in the 11 years of the competitions.

MLS’ woes in CCL continue, as no MLS club has won the competition since it was revamped in 2008.


CCL preview: Long odds for 3 of 4 MLS teams

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Let’s start with a positive: Sporting Kansas City find themselves in a pretty strong position to advance to the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals when they host Panamanian side Independiente in leg no. 2 on Thursday.

[ UEFA Champions League: Juve seek comeback v. Atleti; Man City v. Schalke ]

Now, the not-so-positive: the chances of any of the other three remaining MLS teams joining them — should Sporting KC get there themselves, even — are extremely poor.

Peter Vermes’ side trails 2-1 after last week’s first leg in Panama City, but the away goal secured from the penalty spot could prove vitally important when the two sides wrap up the tie at Children’s Mercy Park. Independiente were fully deserving of the home result, as they pressed and thoroughly frustrated a Sporting side that rotated eight of 11 first-choice starters from the weekend prior.

Ilie Sanchez got the away goal, from the penalty spot, which should give at least one MLS team a fighting chance to reach the final four.

[ MORE: With “batteries recharged,” Zidane “couldn’t say no” to Real return ]

Reigning MLS Cup champions Atlanta United have, perhaps, the next best chance of going through — and matching wits with Sporting in the semis — if only for the fact that their first-leg defeat occurred away from home. They have, however, the largest deficit to overcome on Wednesday: 3-0, against Liga MX powerhouse Monterrey.

For much of the first leg, Atlanta trailed 1-0, until the floodgates gave way in the final 10 minutes and Monterrey opened up what could very well be an insurmountable lead. Throw in the fact that Frank De Boer‘s side have looked a far cry from Tata Martino’s final edition of the Five Stripes — the one that tore MLS to shreds en route to the league title in its second season of existence — and a Sporting v. Monterrey matchup begins to look the best possible reality for neutral viewers north of the border.

[ MORE: Guardiola: Man City still “teenagers“ among UCL contenders ]

Then, there are the New York Red Bulls and Houston Dynamo, each of whom trail 2-0 and hit the road for the decisive leg, against Santos Laguna and Tigres, respectively.

Houston held firm for more than 75 minutes, and though a scoreless draw would have left them in an unfavorable position ahead of Tuesday’s second leg, 0-0 would have been preferable to 0-2. The Red Bulls, on the other hand, were completely played off their home field and never looked up to the challenge of what is arguably Mexico’s most prolific side.

Should a second MLS side join Sporting in the semifinals — heck, if Sporting get there themselves, it’ll be a minor miracle — it’ll be an epic night that no one will soon forget.

USMNT’s Zelalem leaves Arsenal for Sporting KC

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Gedion Zelalem is looking to get his career back on track, and the USMNT midfielder has landed in Major League Soccer with Sporting Kansas City.

The club announced on Monday that Zelalem has signed a deal for the rest of the 2019 season, “with club options for 2020 and 2021.”

Zelalem, 22, was born in Germany to Ethiopian parents and moved to Maryland as a youngster. Former USMNT boss Jurgen Klinsmann spoke highly of Zelalem after he chose to represent the U.S. over Germany, while Arsene Wenger took him to Arsenal at the age of 16 and raved up his potential.

Zelalem will now be pushed on by Peter Vermes at Sporting KC, and this signing is a huge coup for MLS as it proves that yet another young player sees a pathway to develop their game and improve in North America.

“Gedion is a talented player and we are excited to welcome him to the club,” Vermes said. “We look forward to his integration into the squad as the team competes in multiple competitions throughout the season.”

Since bursting onto the scene with Arsenal and the U.S. youth national teams, Zelalem has struggled to kick on. After joining the Gunners’ academy in 2013, he made just four first team appearances under Wenger.

Loan spells at Glasgow Rangers and VVV Venlo were okay but not great, while injuries impacted his development in north London and he just hasn’t quite lived up to expectations after being billed as one of the most skilful youngsters to be nurtured at Arsenal’s academy.

There is no doubting Zelalem’s talent, especially with the ball at his feet, but there are some question marks around his physicality and even his drive to succeed at the next level.

We are about to find out if he can rip it up in MLS as he will finally push for regular minutes as a professional. That is something that has never happened, and was unlikely to happen, at Arsenal.

Sporting KC seal historic CCL win in Mexico

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Sporting Kansas City have done something no Major League Soccer team has ever done, and they will go into the start of the 2019 MLS season with a significant spring in their step.

[ MORE: MLS 2019 season preview ]

On Thursday evening they eased by Mexico’s Toluca 2-0 in the CONCACAF Champions League, as SKC advanced 5-0 on aggregate to reach the last eight.

The success was the first-time an MLS team has ever beat a Liga MX side in a CCL knockout round match when playing the second leg in Mexico. Peter Vermes side dominated a disjointed Toluca at the Estadio Nemesio Diez as Gerso Fernandes’ early goal settled any nerves and Krisztian Nemeth’s second half penalty kick sealed the deal.

SKC were so good that Toluca’s fans started chanting their name and the ole’s rang out as Vermes men kept the ball and eased to victory.

Sporting KC now face Independiente of Panama in the quarterfinals as they beat Toronto FC 5-1 on aggregate. The away leg will be played March 5-7, with the home leg March 12-14.

There are four MLS teams in the last eight, with the New York Red Bulls facing Santos Laguna, Houston Dynamo taking on Tigres and Atlanta taking on Monterrey in three MLS v. Liga MX ties.

No MLS team has ever won the CCL in its current format, but my word Sporting look irresistible and have certainly been handed a very decent route through to the final four.