Eastern Conference Champs!

In a 1-0 win over DC United, Sporting Kansas City clinched the top spot in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference.

The win means Sporting is a #1 seed going into the playoffs and will play the winner of wildcard game in a quarterfinals match at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in Kansas City the first week of November.

Winning the conference ends Sporting’s run from dead last heading into summer to first place to finish the regular season.

Sporting broke in the new, state-of-the-art stadium awfully well, and finished 9-6-2 at home.

I’ve never been more proud of a Kansas City team, and I’m honored to say I got to be involved in establishing soccer as a legitimate, respected sport in Kansas City. The time I’ve been able to spend working for the team and working at LSP will go down as one of the best jobs I’ve ever had, and the friends I made and experience I gained working for Chris Wyche and Brad Mertel will stick with me for life.

Over the summer we poured a lot of effort into our work there and never gave up on the team, and clearly the team never gave up on themselves. The dedicated folks that filled the stands deserve just as much credit as everyone on the field, in the coaches office, and in the front office.

Congratulations to a team that has laid it all on the line this year, Kansas City truly deserves a championship and just maybe Sporting can bring the MLS Cup home for the fans.

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Check out this tweet from the Kansas City Royals! That’s the graphic I put together for last night’s Sporting game to encourage folks to vote Alex Gordon to this year’s All-Star game. It was awfully late notice, and I wish I’d had more time to put something really cool together, but it’s still nice to see it making it’s way around Twitter.

Here’s the graphic we put on the board:

A quick sneak peek

Here’s a quick taste of what this week at Sporting looks like:

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Essentially we’re working on graphics for the next several home games, including this Saturday’s match against the Vancouver White Caps FC. Those in the slideshow above will be displayed when we announce the White Caps’ starting line up Saturday evening and are much less cool than the those animated graphics we did for our starting line-up (check out my Vimeo to see a few of those!). We’re also working on similar graphics for the Colorado Rapids (July 6) and Chivas USA (July 9), along with other graphics specific to each of those matches.

It’s nice to have a few easier days after the craziness of the last two weeks. I really like putting graphics together and it’s really sharpened my Photoshop skills. When (if) I get better at putting media on WordPress I’ll try to include more of what I’ve worked on because I’d like this to become just as much a portfolio of my work as it is a behind-the-scenes to what I’m learning at Sporting.

Winning at home

At the end of another 60+ hour week, I’m happy to say it’s been a week of learning and frustration, and fortunately more of the former.

We scrambled Monday and Tuesday to host our CONCACAF Gold Cup double-header and it was an incredible experience, especially to see the U.S. men’s national team in person. I don’t think too many interns get the chance to work with CONCACAF and Fox Soccer Channel, and as someone who doesn’t have much experience in TV production, it was eye opening to see behind the scenes of a program that I’ve watched as a fan so many times before.

Last night was another great win for Sporting (and our first at our new home!) but we hit some big snags during the pre-game, missing an important video during our lineup. But we also got to show off the awesome starting lineup graphics we slaved over all day (and night) Thursday. Right around lunchtime on Thursday, all the control room interns were tasked with working

Though they were super complicated to put together, the final result was worth the effort. On the big screen, the graphics looked awesome and our bosses loved them (which always helps). Check out one I did for Ryan Smith, who had a sick goal against Colorado that was nominated for MLS “Goal of the Week” (on my birthday no less). Watch the goal (it starts at 1:17) and then check out his starting lineup graphic:

[Check out the rest of the intro videos I did at my Vimeo page: vimeo.com/zachmurdock. I’ll be uploading other videos and animated graphics I work on throughout the summer too, so keep an eye out here and there for videos!]

Our next match at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park is a week from today, against the Vancouver Whitecaps which means this next week should be a little less crazy. We’ll have our hands full next weekend though because it’s our first broadcast done entirely in house for My KSMO-TVv. It should be a challenge, but after the last two weeks, we’ve proven we can handle just about anything at LSP.

And again, congratulations to the team, owners and everyone who was involved in making the opening of LSP a success, it feels amazing to have been a part of the first ever win at Sporting’s new home!

Hosting the USMNT and CONCACAF

Last week I didn’t do a very good job of blogging about what we did for Sporting’s home opener, so I promised myself I’d try to do a better job with this week’s games.

Tuesday night we had the special opportunity of working with CONCACAF to produce their broadcast of the Gold Cup on Fox Soccer Channel. LIVESTRONG Sporting Park hosted four teams, including the U.S., and we got to work alongside the FSC crew to broadcast both games of the double-header.

This was our view from the roof of LSP while Colonel Chapel coordinated the flyover with his pilots via radio.

For the most part CONCACAF took the reins and we were under the direction of a Gold Cup representative who had final say on when things happened and what replays were and weren’t shown. We didn’t have a lot of creative freedom, but it was awesome to be part of the Gold Cup experience.

Other than the chance to see the U.S. men’s national team play in person, my favorite part of the night was our flyover. We coordinated a flyover with two A-10 attackers and to get the best shot of the planes coming in we took a camera and the pilot coordinating the flyover to the roof. We had the best seat in the house to see Panama’s late goal against Canada to win Group C.

It’s been an exciting week already and it’s only Wednesday! Friday Sporting hosts the San Jose Earthquakes and look to pick up their first win at their new home and it will be the first broadcast that is completely run by our crew. Tune into My KSMO-TV Friday at 7:30 p.m. to see us in action!

Keeping busy at LSP

I’m already feeling guilty about not getting the chance to publish a full post last week. The opener was the perfect opportunity to write about the whole array of things we learned, but the chaos of Thursday’s sprint to the finish made it nearly impossible to really sit down and write. In short, the opportunity to be a part of LIVESTRONG Sporting Park’s inaugural match was truly a one-in-a-lifetime chance and it’s still sinking in that we get to keep doing it all summer long.

I spent most of the week with a few others interns working with Brad Mertel in the video board room at LSP putting together a whole slew of graphics for Thursday’s match. The process turned out to be an awful lot of trial and error for us but I got to expand my Adobe Photoshop skills and learn how to use After Effects to create animated graphics.

During the match, interns were scattered all over the stadium, but I stayed put in the control room to take over as PA spotter. Essentially the PA spotter is there to keep the public address announcer, Eric Danielson, on schedule and in order as we follow the script through pre-game announcements like advertising, team introductions and pre-game ceremonies. It was up to us in the control room to keep everything rolling and to ensure our B-2 flyover and kick-off happened at exactly their prescribed times.

Overall, I think the game was a great success. Even though the team didn’t quite get the result they expected, we hosted a beyond sell-out crowd (officially 19,925 in a 18,500 seat stadium) on national television and the stadium has received nothing but praise from the community. I really can’t cover it all though (and I didn’t get the chance to take any of my own pictures), so read more about the opener from the Star’s Terez Paylor at The Full 90 and check out a cool photo essay done by The Free Beer Movement.

And despite some of the initial fears I had, it’s opportunities like last week that remind me why I wanted to get involved in this internship in the first place. While I’m getting to put some of the skills I already had to good use, learning to use new programs and picking up little tricks and shortcuts to use software more effectively are at the heart of my learning this summer. Of course, getting to be a part of a national broadcast on ESPN2 didn’t hurt either.

This week looks like it’ll be another long one. Tuesday we’re hosting a CONCACAF double header for the final round of group stages, where the U.S. men’s national team will looks to finish off Guadeloupe and advance in the Gold Cup. And Friday we host the San Jose Earthquakes in an MLS league play match-up where Sporting hopes to snag their first 3-points at home.

Opening week!

Even though it’s only Wednesday evening, this week has been absolutely insane. With just over 24 hours before kick-off, there’s still a whole lot of stuff to finalize before LIVESTRONG Sporting Park is ready to go. The stadium looks amazing and people enjoyed our soft opening Tuesday night, but it’s safe to say the official home opener will come with a few surprises.

It looks like we (nearly all the interns and staff) are here for the long haul and will be staying the night at LSP to get things finished up. Everyone is exhausted and stressed and it’s crunch time, but I’m excited to say I’ve been a part of such a unique opportunity.

Things may settle down after Thursday night, if only for a day or so, because of the Gold Cup double-header LIVESTRONG Sporting Park hosts this coming Tuesday and I hope to write a comprehensive post this weekend about everything that’s happened this week and that post should be chock full of pictures and media.

I’ll be tweeting all day today and tomorrow so follow @zach_murdock on Twitter for all the updates!

Staff soccer and multimedia

Just eight days until the big opening of LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, the Sporting KC staff got the chance to have some fun on the pitch in our staff soccer game. Whether it’s official or not, we’d like to consider our few games of pick-up soccer to have christened the stadium for competitive play.

It's a challenge and definitely has a steep learning curve, but working with Sporting's video software is exactly the kind of thing I hoped to learn this summer.

It wasn’t all fun and games today, though. The morning meant more stats research for Callum Williams‘ broadcast notes, but I got to dig into some multimedia work this afternoon at LSP in the videoboard room where we worked on sponsor graphics for LSP’s two main screens. Though it may not have been the fanciest work, getting familiar with the systems and board operations was a great first step.

Familiarizing myself with different types of media is really the point of taking on an internship like this. As a Print/Digital News student I’m constantly writing—and that’s a good thing, writing is my specialty and I’d like to make a career out of it. But the ability to serve an organization in more than one capacity is what’s to be an effective journalist these days (and it’s a helluva boost to market myself to potential employers). Being familiar and comfortable working with technology and across media platforms makes me twice as marketable (or more) to future employers than someone who only has experience writing.

I don’t mean to say that only convergence journalists will be getting jobs after graduation, but I am absolutely saying that even though you may specialize in writing (or broadcast, or photography, etc.), being comfortable working with video, audio, the internet or multimedia is a must in today’s journalism world.

It’s already been a challenge, but I’m excited to take it in stride and pick up a variety of new skills along the way. Of course, working at a state-of-the-art new stadium sure doesn’t hurt.

Hitting the home stretch before June 9

Week 1 at Sporting Kansas City has come to a close and it’s been a long one for all.

We were plagued with awful weather all day Wednesday, including reports that morning that a tornado had touched down just blocks from the DAC.

Wednesday evening we hosted the New England Revolution at the Blue Valley District Athletic Complex (DAC) for the team’s last qualifying match in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. In spite of the day’s weather, the match was played on-time and aired on My KSMO TV. It was a stellar result for the team, who won 5-0 to advance to the round of 32 in Open Cup play, as well as a great debut for our team of interns who got a sneak-peek of what we’ll be doing at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park this summer.

Getting the DAC match-ready was an all day task, and we ended up working nearly 14 total hours Wednesday. In the morning we set up the static field boards we’d prepared Monday and unloaded most of our gear into the press box, but spent much of the morning waiting for severe storms to subside. After a short stint standing outside listening to the tornado sirens (“If the sun’s out we’ll be fine, right?”), we took cover in Blue Valley Northwest High School while reports of tornadoes touching down in KC poured in.

Of course everyone, and luckily everything we had already set up, was fine and the storms let up for most of the afternoon. I got the chance to watch our broadcast team set up their equipment, including the TriCaster and HD cameras, and even had the pleasure of running on an ultra-last minute errand with our broadcast engineer to get the correct power cables for our main camera.

During the game all of the interns were split up to handle different jobs and I was sent down to the field to help with our field level cameraman. During college basketball season I had always wondered how you get the job of holding the cables for the cameraman on the court, and…well, now I know. Even though I was just working the cable on the field, it was great to get to see firsthand the decisions the field cameras have to make about who and what to film at what times (like tackles, throw-ins or celebrations after goals).

The space we'll be broadcasting from at LSP will be quite an upgrade from our space at the DAC.

In the end, the game Wednesday was nothing compared to the pressure we’ll be under come June 9th. We’ll have to step up our game for ESPN2 and a sell-out crowd, and I’m excited to take on that challenge. However, the main task over the next two weeks will be to get the stadium up and running in time for the opener.

To be honest, I was frustrated at points last week with some of the things the interns were asked to do. But having talked with Chris Wyche, I definitely have a better understanding and appreciation for the work we’re doing at LSP. From now until June 9th, everyone’s focus at Sporting is the home opener and to be a part of that is a privilege. I’m excited to focus on broadcast this summer, but for the next 11 days the focus stays on getting LSP match ready.

Last night the team took their momentum to Colorado to face the Rapids in League play and came away with a 1-1 draw. That’s SKC’s first League point since April 2, and hopefully signals a turn for the better going into this Saturday’s match against Toronto FC.