Ten things to know about Sporting’s continued 2020 MLS season

Sporting Kansas City released today the club’s six-match schedule for phase one of the continued 2020 MLS regular season in home markets. Manager Peter Vermes’ side will play half a dozen times in the space of roughly three weeks, meeting four different regional rivals between Aug. 21 and Sept. 13.

As MLS action returns to home markets, matches will be coming thick and fast for a Sporting outfit that currently occupies the summit of the Western Conference. With tons of soccer beckoning in the near future, here are 10 things to know about Sporting’s revamped schedule and the league’s slightly altered format.

Date
Opponent
Time (CT)
TV & Streaming
Friday, Aug. 21
at Minnesota United FC
6:30 p.m.
FOX Sports Kansas City Plus;
FOX Sports GO
Tuesday, Aug. 25
HOUSTON DYNAMO
7:30 p.m.
FOX Sports Kansas City Plus;
FOX Sports GO
Saturday, Aug. 29
at Colorado Rapids
8 p.m.
FOX Sports Kansas City;
FOX Sports GO
Wednesday, Sept. 2
FC DALLAS
7:30 p.m.
FOX Sports Kansas City Plus;
FOX Sports GO
Saturday, Sept. 5
at Houston Dynamo
7 p.m.
FOX Sports Kansas City Plus;
FOX Sports GO
Sunday, Sept. 13
MINNESOTA UNITED FC
7:30 p.m.
FOX Sports Kansas City;
FOX Sports GO

1. Regular Season Format

Each club will play 18 additional regular season games in a phased approach, culminating with Decision Day on Nov. 8 to round out the 23-game regular season. FC Dallas and Nashville SC will play an additional three matches against each other to make up the three missed fixtures from the MLS is Back Tournament.

2. Expanded Playoffs

In an expansion of the postseason for 2020, 18 clubs will compete in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, up from 14 teams last year. The postseason will begin Nov. 20 and MLS Cup will be played on Dec. 12.

3. More Matches TBA

MLS plans to announce the rest of the regular season schedule by early September as the league continues to work with infectious disease experts, league and club medical personnel, and government officials in all markets in charting a course for the completion of the 2020 season.

4. Two with the Loons

Sporting’s six-game slate in phase one is bookended by matchups against Minnesota United FC. The clubs will battle on Aug. 21 in the Loons’ home opener at Allianz Field before meeting again on Sept. 13 at Children’s Mercy Park. This budding rivalry appears likely to reach new heights in 2020, as Sporting and Minnesota presently own the top two spots in the Western Conference table. Vermes’ men sit on 12 points with a 4-1-0 record, while the Loons are a point behind and remain unbeaten at 3-0-2.

The teams notably met on July 12 in the Group D opener of the MLS is Back Tournament, and although Sporting dominated the first 60 minutes and carried a 1-0 lead into second-half stoppage time behind Khiry Shelton’s goal, Minnesota struck in the 92nd and 97th minutes—an own goal and a Kevin Molino strike—to seal the unlikely 2-1 victory.

Revenge just might be on Sporting’s mind this time around, but they have yet to win in Minnesota since the Loons joined MLS in 2017. They have, however, dominated Minnesota at Children’s Mercy Park. Sporting is a perfect 5-0-0 against the Loons at home in all competitions, scoring 14 goals and conceding just one.

5. Two with the Dynamo

By the time phase one finishes on or around Sept. 13, Sporting will have met Minnesota and Houston three times each in 2020. The upcoming double-date with Dynamo kicks off Aug. 25 when Sporting takes the field at Children’s Mercy Park for the first time since March 7, when Shelton, Alan Pulido, Roger Espinoza and Gadi Kinda scored goals in a 4-0 rout of—you guessed it—the Dynamo. The return meeting in Houston—Sporting’s longest trip during phase one at roughly 640 miles—is slated for Sept. 5 at BBVA Compass Stadium.

Sporting boasts a 4-0-2 record in the last six regular season meetings against Houston, a stretch that includes four shutouts. Led by first-year head coach Tab Ramos, a longtime U.S. international and club teammate of Vermes, Houston failed to reach the knockout rounds of the MLS is Back Tournament after losing to the Portland Timbers and tying both Los Angeles teams in the group stage.

6. Rocky Mountain High

Four days after hosting Houston, Sporting will venture west for the 80th all-time meeting against the Colorado Rapids. The Aug. 29 encounter will serve as a rematch of the MLS is Back Tournament group stage fixture on July 17 that saw Sporting prevail in a 3-2 thriller with goals from Shelton, Pulido and Graham Zusi.

The Rapids spend most of the previous decade languishing in the lower half of the able, but head coach Robin Fraser orchestrated an impressive turnaround during the final few months of 2019 and guided his side to consecutive wins to start 2020. Colorado’s attack packs a familiar punch, too, as former Sporting forwards Kei Kamara and Diego Rubio combined for 25 goals last year.

7. A Date with Dallas

FC Dallas has a very limited sample size of competitive action in 2020, as the club was withdrawn from the MLS is Back Tournament in early July after a number of COVID-19 cases within the team. Head coach Luchi Gonzalez’s side hasn’t played since March 7, but by the time they visit Children’s Mercy Park on Sept. 2, they will have played five matches in the previous three weeks.

The meeting with Dallas comes at a busy time for Sporting, as well. The club will play five times in 16 days between Aug. 21 and Sept. 5 before having a full week to prepare for Minnesota on Sept. 13.

8. Catch It All on FOX Sports Kansas City

Each of Sporting’s next six matches will air live on FOX Sports Kansas City or FOX Sports Kansas City Plus in Kansas, Nebraska and western Missouri and on FOX Sports Midwest or FOX Sports Midwest Plus in St. Louis, mid-Missouri and Iowa. They can also be streamed via the FOX Sports GO app or FOXSportsGO.com.

Every broadcast will be supplemented by 30-minute pregame and postgame shows as commentator Nate Bukaty, color analyst Jacob Peterson and sideline reporter Carter Augustine provide full-spectrum coverage of every contest.

9. Tickets and Reduced Capacity

Tickets for the next three home matches will be available exclusively to Sporting Kansas City Season Ticket Members via lotteries and no single-game tickets will be sold by the club on SeatGeek.com or at the Children’s Mercy Park box office. These three home games will be held at a reduced capacity of approximately 14% and the seating plan will adhere to proper social distancing guidelines. Face coverings will be mandatory for fans along with a number of other new safety protocols.

10. Safety First

Major League Soccer’s return to play in the home markets of all 26 clubs will feature comprehensive health and safety protocols, including regular testing of players, coaches and essential staff for COVID-19. MLS continues to work closely with the league’s infectious disease advisors as well as advisors for the MLSPA on the plan for testing. All clubs are forming testing partnerships with a local certified lab, and all players, technical staff and essential club staff will be tested every other day, including the day before each match day. Teams will also take chartered flights, and for the majority of road trips will arrive in the host market on matchday and depart after the match later that evening.

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