"This Week in Sporting," presented by The Smile Generation, is a weekly series that highlights the biggest storylines and news updates from Sporting Kansas City. To visit the series archive, click here.
1. Disney World awaits
For the first time since match play was suspended March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Major League Soccer action will resume July 8 with the historic and unprecedented MLS is Back Tournament. This one-of-a-kind competition will see all 26 clubs descend on ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, marking the emphatic return of men's professional soccer in the United States after a near four-month hiatus.
As the opening match approaches, SportingKC.com is presenting a 20-day preview of the World-Cup style tournament from June 18 through July 7 called Countdown to MLS is Back presented by Children's Mercy Sports Medicine Center. Sporting has been drawn into Group D alongside Western Conference rivals Real Salt Lake, Colorado Rapids and Minnesota United FC, with a full tournament schedule to be unveiled in the near term. To visit the series homepage as it expands, head to SportingKC.com/MLSisBack.
2. USL set to return
The USL Championship and the USL Players Association announced Friday that they have reached a formal agreement on a return to play for the 2020 season. The two sides are now actively preparing for a July 11 restart to the 2020 Championship season and will resume negotiations on a historic first Collective Bargaining Agreement in the coming weeks. Sporting Kansas City II played its season opener on March 8 at Children's Mercy Park before COVID-19 prompted the USL Championship to suspend the campaign.
3. Black Players Coalition launched
A group of MLS players have joined forces to form a new Black Players Coalition, officially launched Friday on Juneteenth. The organization aims to address racial inequalities in MLS, fight racism in soccer, elevate Black voices and positively impact Black communities across the U.S. and Canada. For more information on the organization and for regular updates, the Black Players Coalition can be followed online and on Twitter and Instagram.
4. Alekzandur in eMLS Cup on Friday
eMLS announced last week the 2020 eMLS Cup champion will be crowned through eMLS Cup presented by Coca-Cola and PlayStation this Sunday, June 28. The highly anticipated competition will move to an online format and stream live on Twitch.tv/MLS, Twitter.com/MLS and MLSsoccer.com from 12-5 p.m. CT. Competitors will be vying for the title as the best EA SPORTS™ FIFA 20 player in North America and $20,000 in prize money.
Sporting Kansas City eMLS player and Kansas City native Alekzandur qualified for the marquee tournament as one of the top 11 finishers in total season points after League Series One and League Series Two, which took place in January and February, respectively.
5. Gatorade National Player of the Year
Former Sporting Kansas City Academy member Jony Munoz was named the 2019-20 Gatorade National Boys Soccer Player of the Year last week, landing the prestigious award for his standout accomplishments on and off the field at Olathe West High School in Olathe, Kansas.
Munoz is the first Gatorade National Player of the Year from the Kansas City area in any sport in the award's 35-year history. He joins a heralded group of former Gatorade National Boys Soccer Player of the Year winners that includes Sporting Kansas City greats Chris Henderson (1988-89), Matt McKeon (1991-92) and Nick Garcia (1996-97) as well as forward Soony Saad (2009-10), who had two separate stints with the club last decade.