Sporting KC working up to season slowly but surely
Plus: Remembering Frank Borghi
'Another good work day'
The 2014 season was a bit of a disappointment for Sporting Kansas City. The soccer team went from winning the MLS Cup in 2013 to a low postseason seed and quick bounce from the playoffs. Coach Peter Vermes still believes he has a winning system, its just a matter of getting a raft of new players used to it.
"Every day is another good work day for us," said coach Peter Vermes. "We are still trying to lay the foundation for our model of play for the season. We are very early on and we've seen some good things."
It's early on, certainly, with the only test against MLS competition being Saturday's contest with Real Salt Lake. The result, a 2 - 0 loss, was not what Vermes wanted, but it was a good test for a side that was missing some starters.
"I was happy to get 30 minutes for all the guys ... it's important that we are gaining minutes and staying healthy," said Vermes. "We didn't work on any defensive concepts leading up to that game, and there were things very good in regards to us defensively. I also thought that what we were trying to do in regards to us offensively, the guys trying to build out of the back, the guys that were here before, was also very good for us."
Particularly impressive to Vermes was Connor Hallisey. The Cal Golden Bear, one-time youth national team player and 10th pick in the 2015 draft created several opportunities against RSL with deliveries into the box.
SKC is not just counting on draftees. Although he did not play in Saturday's match, returning player Roger Espinoza will likely be counted on as a big part of the team's offensive plans. He's a particular welcome addition for those players that played on the squad on his first time around.
"It's a big deal. Roger played a big part on the team before he left," said SKC midfielder Benny Feilhaber. "He's become an even better player since he left with his time in the Prem and the Championship and playing in the World Cup...he's a guy that will be very important for us and it's priceless that he's here."
While not advertised as "Desert Friendlies," four teams will get a chance to play against each other in scrimmages Wednesday morning.
One will feature the Houston Dynamo and San Jose Earthquakes. Interestingly, the Dynamo used to be the Earthquakes until 2006. The Earthquakes-cum-Dynamo of the middle part of the last decade was one of the better teams in MLS, winning two MLS Cups under coach Dominic Kinnear. Some of the luster has come off since those years, and the Dynamo are hoping to rebuild.
By the way, San Jose's new coach is the aformentioned Dominic Kinnear.
The other scrimmage will bring the New England Revolution down from their preseason home in Casa Grande to face off with Vancouver Whitecaps FC. This will be the first chance for the Revs to see what returning player Juan Agudelo can do for their offense. Agudelo's previous stint with New England was only a bit more than half a season, but he scored a third of the goals in his professional career there.
New England isn't the only one bringing new people into the line-up. Former Toronto striker Robert Earnshaw and former New York Red Bulls player Dane Richards arrived at Whitecaps camp at Kino this week.
Remembering Frank Borghi
Frank Borghi only earned nine caps for the U.S. national team, but one is enough for him to deserve being remembered by fans. He was the goalkeeper for one of the greatest wins for the team: the 1 - 0 victory over the highly-touted English team at the 1950 World Cup. His family announced on Wednesday that he passed away at the age of 89.
Borghi grew up in the famous Italian neighborhood of St. Louis of The Hill, and, like neighbors Joe Garagiola and Yogi Bera, he was a baseball player. After a short minor league career, he switched to soccer and became a goalkeeper because it used the skills he learned as a catcher. He joined up with St. Louis club Simpkins Ford and won two U.S. Open Cups with them.
His biggest stop of the match came off of a free kick from Wolverhampton's Jimmy Mullen. Stops like that It ended up being the only win of the tournament for the U.S. and the team wouldn't play in the World Cup again for 40 years.
Borghi's death leaves only a single player left from that 1950 squad, halfback Walter Bahr.