Friday, March 25, 2011
By NICHOLAS MURRAY
When the USL Premier Development League’s Kansas City Brass originally scheduled an exhibition against the reserve team of Major League Soccer’s Sporting Kansas City for Monday, March 28, they couldn’t have been expecting one of the NFL’s biggest names to be participating.
But when Sporting KC decided to extend Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco’s tryout with the team so he could take part in Monday’s scrimmage at the SKC training facility, a spotlight was suddenly thrown on the contest.
“We often play against Sporting KC in the offseason,” Brass head coach Lincoln Roblee said by phone. “Usually there’s some local media, Kansas City Star people around, but this one’s probably going to be a little bit different. It’s going to be fun.”
Scrimmages between the two clubs have been commonplace during the past few years, with current and former Kansas City players such as Davy Arnaud, Claudio Lopez, Jimmy Conrad and Josh Wolff having competed against the PDL squad’s up-and-comers. In fact, some of the Brass’ alumni themselves have gone on to MLS careers, most notably current Portland Timbers captain Jack Jewsbury, himself also a former Sporting KC standout.
The fact that his players have competed against some of the best players to come through Kansas City in recent years leads Roblee to expect that his players won’t be overawed by the occasion. In fact, they might be able to take advantage of the opportunity to play in front of the Sporting coaching staff as much as Ochocinco hopes to.
“We always have a number of players that have ambitions to play professional soccer,” Roblee said. “We’ve had a number of players over the past few years get drafted and play professionally and so all of them also have ambitions to also play in MLS.”
Most eyes, though, will be trained on Ochocinco, and not just those at the facility. Sporting KC has announced that they will be streaming live coverage of the scrimmage online on Monday at 3 p.m. at www.sporting85.com, the same site that showed live video of Ochocinco’s training sessions earlier this week.
Certainly, Roblee thinks the attention that Ochocinco is bringing to Sporting KC and to MLS as a whole is going to be beneficial for the club and the league.
“I think that it’s obviously brought a lot more media to MLS because Ochocinco obviously represents a huge fanbase,” Roblee said. “Ochocinco himself, with his name recognition, is a marketable piece, and now that marketable individual has attached himself to Major League Soccer it’s obviously bringing a lot of newer fans who are sports fans and aren’t familiar with Major League Soccer and Sporting KC.”