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Sporting KC Weekly Update

December 12, 2012 - Major League Soccer (MLS) Sporting Kansas City

MATT BESLER PENS NEW CONTRACT WITH SPORTING KC

Sporting Kansas City announced Wednesday that defender Matt Besler has signed a new contract with the club. Per team policy, terms of the agreement will not be disclosed.

Besler, 25, was named the 2012 MLS Defender of the Year after anchoring a Sporting Kansas City defense that allowed 27 goals in 34 MLS matches to lead all MLS teams with the fewest goals conceded. The Overland Park, Kan. native was also named the team's Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season and was the highest-ranked defender in this year's MLS Castrol Index at No. 25 overall. His accomplishments were recognized when he was selected to train with the U.S. Men's National Team in August.

Besler was selected 10th overall in the first round of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft out of the University of Notre Dame and made 28 appearances in his rookie season. Besler was named an MLS All-Star in 2011 in the midst of a season in which he featured in 35 matches (including playoffs), logging the full 90 minutes in each one.

SPORTING KC ACQUIRES DEFENDER IKE OPARA

Sporting Kansas City acquired defender Ike Opara from the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday in exchange for Sporting KC's natural second round pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft. Opara, 23, made 36 MLS appearances (including postseason) in the last three seasons with San Jose after being taken No. 3 overall in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft out of Wake Forest University.

As a rookie in 2010, Opara scored two goals in his first three professional matches en route to tallying three goals in 11 games before his season was cut short due to injury in July. The fracture in his left foot would also cause him to miss the second half of the 2011 season after he played in eight of the team's first 11 games and scored a last-minute game-winner in Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup qualifying.

Opara was selected to travel to Spain with Major League Soccer's Generation adidas team in December 2010 along with current Sporting KC teammate Teal Bunbury. He earned starts against Real Madrid and Rayo Vallecano reserves.

This year, Opara appeared in 17 MLS matches (including postseason) for the Supporters' Shield winners. The Durham, N.C. native also continued his youth international career with his introduction to the United States Under-23 National Team.

SPORTING KC ACQUIRES MIDFIELDER BENNY FEILHABER

Sporting Kansas City acquired midfielder Benny Feilhaber from the New England Revolution on Tuesday in exchange for allocation money, Sporting KC's natural first round pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, and natural second round pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. The 27-year old playmaker has been added to Sporting Kansas City's roster and will occupy a senior roster spot.

Feilhaber has made 39 appearances for the United States Men's National Team, debuting in 2007 and recording an assist and game-winning goal in his third cap at the international level. He went on to start four of his five appearances at the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup, including the championship match against Mexico. He scored the game-winning goal on a volley from 22 yards out which was later voted U.S. Soccer's Best Goal of the year. His breakout year continued with two starts at the 2007 CONMEBOL Copa America against Argentina and Paraguay

In 2008, Feilhaber represented the United States at the Summer Olympics in China and appeared in all three games for the U.S. under-23 squad. He started all four games and was named one of the tournament's most impressive group stage performers as he helped the U.S. finish atop world powers Argentina, Germany and Egypt. He played 16 games for the United States Under-20 National Team in 2005 and was named US Soccer's Young Male Athlete of the Year.

He continued to be a key contributor for the United States on the national team's biggest stages and was the only player to appear in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup and 2010 FIFA World Cup. He appeared in all five of the United States matches at the 2009 Confederations Cup, helping set up Clint Dempsey's goal in the team's historic 2-0 win over No. 1 Spain in the semifinals and starting against Brazil in the United States first ever final in a major FIFA tournament.

Having played a pivotal part with six appearances in the United States final round of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Feilhaber returned to South Africa as part of the United States World Cup squad. He made three appearances at the 2010 FIFA World Cup to help the United States win their group over favorites England and advance to the Round of 16.

2013 DISNEY PRO SOCCER CLASSIC SCHEDULE ANNOUNCED

The schedule has been announced for the 2013 Disney Pro Soccer Classic, which will open with a matchup between the Columbus Crew and Toronto Football Club on Saturday, February 9 at 1 p.m.

The six Major League Soccer (MLS) teams participating in Central Florida Soccer Spring Training, as well as Orlando City Soccer Club (USL) and the Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL), will compete in two weeks of group play, with Group A consisting of Orlando City, Philadelphia Union, Toronto Football Club and Columbus Crew. Teams in Group B will include the Tampa Bay Rowdies, DC United, Montreal Impact and Sporting Kansas City. All games will be played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World.

Saturday, February 9, 2013:

1 p.m.: Columbus Crew vs. Toronto Football Club

3 p.m.: Montreal Impact vs. Sporting Kansas City

6 p.m.: Orlando City Soccer Club vs. Philadelphia Union

8 p.m.: DC United vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies

Wednesday, February 13, 2013:

1 p.m.: Philadelphia Union vs. Columbus Crew

3 p.m.: Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Montreal Impact

6 p.m.: Sporting Kansas City vs. DC United

8 p.m.: Toronto Football Club vs. Orlando City Soccer Club

Saturday, February 16, 2013:

1 p.m.: Montreal Impact vs. DC United

3 p.m.: Philadelphia Union vs. Toronto Football Club

6 p.m.: Orlando City Soccer Club vs. Columbus Crew

8 p.m.: Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Sporting Kansas City

Pro Soccer Classic Championship Day - Saturday, February 23, 2013:

1 p.m.: Group A Fourth Place vs. Group B Fourth Place

3 p.m.: Group A Third Place vs. Group B Third Place

6 p.m.: Group A Second Place vs. Group B Second Place

8 p.m.: Group A First Place vs. Group B First Place

Travel packages are available that include lodging, Disney Pro Soccer Classic game tickets, attraction tickets and exclusive VIP experiences. Additionally, Soccer Spring Training will include a number of events aimed at increasing excitement for soccer in Central Florida, including a College Combine, International Trials and amateur soccer tournaments.

For more information about Central Florida Soccer Spring Training and to book a travel package, please visit www.SoccerSpringTraining.com or call the official travel provider, GET Travel, at 888-877-4445, option 3.

SPORTING STYLE LAUNCHES NEW ONLINE STORE

Find all of the latest Sporting Kansas City merchandise just in time for the holidays on Sporting Style's new site. For the latest news on new merchandise, follow @sportingstyle on Twitter.

ERIK PALMER-BROWN STARS IN ACADEMY SELECT GAME

Sporting Kansas City Academy player Erik Palmer-Brown was selected as one of 37 players to participate in the Academy Select match at the Winter Showcase earlier this month. The Academy Select game at the 2012 Winter Showcase is considered an important part of the player identification and evaluation process for the Youth National Team program. Only the best 37 players paticipating in the 2012 Winter Showcase are invited to play in the Academy Select game. The pool is then divided into two sides, a red and a blue.

Palmer-Brown played a vital role in the red team's 4-1 victory as he anchored the Red defense for the full 90 minutes. Topdrawersoccer.com said, "The center back [Palmer-Brown] was in commanding form for his side, showing composure on the ball, superb in distribution, and possessing the necessary speed and athleticism to neutralize whatever attacks the Blue Team could manage on the night." Palmer-Brown earned ussoccer.com Man of the Match honors for his performance.

KEI EVENT RAISES OVER $5,000

Kei Kamara and Schools for Salone hosted a special viewing of KEI on Sunday as part of a fundraiser at Phoenix Theatres in the Legends shopping center across from LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. The mission of the event was to help raise awareness and funds for Sierra Leoneans as they try to rebuild the many rural schools destroyed during their country's 10-year civil war that ended in 2002.

The event was sponsored by Copper Pot Pictures, Schools for Salone and JFLO Photography and succeeded in raising over $5,000 through an auction that included an all-expenses paid dinner with Jimmy Nielsen, dinner with Kamara, a signed Jimmy Nielsen jersey, a signed Kamara jersey and signed photo collages with pictures taken by local photographers Jeremy Flowers and Joel White.

Additionally, many Sporting Kansas City players attended the viewing and auction to meet with fans and sign autographs.

SPORTING KC ANNOUNCES 2013 PRE-SEASON DESTINATIONS

Sporting Kansas City will travel to Tucson, Ariz. and Orlando, Fla. for the team's 2013 pre-season. The team will arrive in Tucson on Jan. 20 for a two-week stay and will participate in The Desert Friendlies presented by FC Tucson against other MLS competition at the Kino Sports Complex. The matches will be open to the public with tickets to go on sale later this month. Visit FCTucson.com for more information. The upcoming pre-season will mark the third straight year that Sporting Kansas City has selected Tucson as a pre-season site.

After returning home to Kansas City on Feb. 2, the club will depart for the second leg of the 2013 pre-season in Orlando on Feb. 7. Sporting Kansas City will be one of several MLS teams once again competing in the 2013 Disney Pro Soccer Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex from Feb. 9-23. Sporting Kansas City supporters can follow the club to Central Florida to see the team compete in the tournament while enjoying all of the world class attractions Orlando has to offer. Travel packages are available that include lodging, match tickets, attraction tickets and exclusive VIP experiences. Visit SoccerSpringTraining.com for details.

In addition to the MLS regular season schedule, Sporting Kansas City's 2013 campaign will be highlighted by the club's defense of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title and participation in the 2013-2014 CONCACAF Champions League. Season tickets for the 2013 season at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park start at $300 for a20-game package and are available to purchase by calling 888-4KC-GOAL.

SPORTING KC NOW TAKING DEPOSITS FOR 2013 RESERVED SEATING

Sporting Kansas City supporters can now place 2013 Season Ticket Deposits for all Reserved Seating at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park by calling 888-4KC-GOAL or visiting www.SportingKC.com.

FOLLOW SPORTING KC ONLINE

Sporting Kansas City fans looking to keep up with the club on the worldwide web now have a place to go. The social media page on SportingKC.com features Twitter account information for the club, its players as well as many staff members. Additionally, fans may take advantage of the Media Recap page for all the latest independent news coverage available online.

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Major League Soccer Stories from December 12, 2012


The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.