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Julio Cesar has become a main stay in the Sporting Kansas City starting lineup.(Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Julio Cesar has become a main stay in the Sporting Kansas City starting lineup.(Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
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With the draw, Sporting Kansas City  have now lost on just three occasions in their last 22 matches. Friday's result -- in a match played in front of a national television audience as part of Fox Soccer's 'Soccer Night in America' -- moves Sporting Kansas City level on points with the Columbus Crew at second place in the Eastern Conference with just four matches left to play in the 2011 MLS regular schedule. 

Sporting Kansas City and Philadelphia Union draw 1-1 at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park on Friday via

Despite only having on game-winning goal, on average, Kei Kamara's goals have actually been the most important. Why? Five of his eight tallies have put Sporting Kansas City into the lead. Unfortunately, their record in the games where those five took place is two wins and three losses, simply because Sporting's defense has struggled mightily to hold the lead this season. Still, his eight goals have been more valuable then Henry's 12, on average. 

Sporting KC's Kei Kamara is one of MLS's most clutch goal scorers via 

Since starting Kansas City's last matchup with Philadelphia on June 22, Julio Cesar has found himself in manager Peter Vermes' starting XI for 15 of 16 league matches, flip flopping between center back and defensive midfield while scoring two goals and erasing any reservations about his ability to contribute in MLS. 

Cesar a steady presence in Sporting defense via

Over Major League Soccer's 16-year history, hard-core fan groups like the Sons of Ben have grown from novelty, in places like Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Chicago, to ubiquity, defining recent expansion markets such as Philadelphia and the Seattle Sounders, Portland  Timbers, Vancouver Whitecaps, and Toronto FC. The fan groups, made up mostly of young, city-dwelling men who don't yet have families, represent a considerable turnabout in MLS's core demographic. In the early years, the league marketed itself to soccer moms from the suburbs, the polar opposite of the crowd that has now become the face of it's fan base. 

The ever changing demographic of the MLS fan via 

The talent has always been there ever since Dallas made him their 2008 first-round draft pick. But Shea's had to endure the ups and downs of four years in the pros as he carried the weight of high expectations on his shoulders.

FC Dallas forward Brek Shea is named the #1 player under the age of 24 in MLS via 

Who is your MLS cup dark horse? My pick: Kansas City. Gotta say I wasn't feeling too good about this one midway through the season when K.C. was in last place in the East. But a run of success at home has put Sporting in position to make a playoff run and fulfill  my SI mag prediction that it would make the MLS Cup final. There's a ways to go yet, but we'll see. 

S.I.'s Grant Wahl looks back on his preseason predictions via Your nickname is something people have latched on to since you started training in Kansas City. When did people start calling you the "Haitian Xavi," and how did it come about?

Joseph: When I first came to Braga, I went to play a match with the junior team. The assistant coach saw me play and it reminded him of Xavi for a second. They started that out there, and I basically carry that wherever I go now. 


The issue with Kansas City's smooth-passing midfielder has always been this: Where, exactly, to play him? He was always something of a 'tweener.' Now Peter Vermes is using Zusi as a two-way central midfielder, leaning slightly forward. It's working. 

S.I.'s Steve Davis names Graham Zusi to his Top 10 Breakout Players list via