"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. Playoff Time in KC
As the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, Sporting Kansas City will begin their pursuit of an MLS Cup title on Sunday when the club hosts No. 8 seed San Jose Earthquakes in Round One of the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs at Children's Mercy Park.
Kickoff is slated for 3 p.m. CT with national coverage on FS1, FOX Deportes and the FOX Sports app. The highly anticipated matchup will also air locally on ESPN 94.5 FM and La Grande 1340 AM, with The Final Whistle postgame show immediately following on ESPN 94.5 FM.
2. Goal of the Year
It should come as no surprise that one of the greatest strikes in Sporting Kansas City history is up for AT&T 2020 MLS Goal of the Year. Erik Hurtado's stunning volley that gave Sporting a 2-1 win over Nashville SC on Oct. 11 is one of 16 nominees for the annual award. Fan voting is open at MLSsoccer.com through Wednesday at 8 p.m. CT.
3. Sporting Club Awards
Fan voting is now open for the 2020 Sporting Club Awards presented by Audi, recognizing the club's outstanding performances over the course of the season. Supporters can cast their online ballots in the lead-up to Sporting Kansas City's highly anticipated playoff campaign, which begins Sunday against the San Jose Earthquakes at Children's Mercy Park. Sporting Club Award winners will be announced on Thursday.
4. Playoff Countdown
As postseason anticipation continues to build, SportingKC.com is rolling out a 12-day countdown to the club's opening playoff match, offering a comprehensive preview of the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs. From key storylines and positional breakdowns to history lessons and community initiatives, our Countdown to the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs highlights the many reasons to be pumped for Sporting’s pursuit of another MLS Cup title. To visit the series homepage as it expands, head to SportingKC.com/playoffcountdown.
5. Hurricane Relief
Sporting Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza is leading a coalition of players across Major League Soccer to rally support for Hurricane Eta relief in his native Honduras. The devastating effects of Hurricane Eta over the last 10 days have left Honduras with widespread flooding, mudslides and a shortage of essential products, especially for children. Because the aftermath of the storm has made social distancing difficult for citizens, Honduras has also struggled to stop potential spread of COVID-19.
In response to the emergency situation, Espinoza—who was born in Honduras and has represented his country at two FIFA World Cups—has assembled a group of fellow Hondurans in MLS to generate awareness and raise money for aid organizations that are on the ground in Honduras.
6. Letters of Encouragement
With the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs just around the corner, Sporting Kansas City is welcoming all fans to show their support for players by submitting letters of encouragement online at SportingKC.com/playoffletters.
Letters written by supporters will be displayed prominently in the players tunnel between the Sporting KC locker room and field entry at Children’s Mercy Park ahead of the highly anticipated playoff match against the San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday, Nov. 22.
Sporting Kansas City forwards Alan Pulido and Johnny Russell find themselves on the list of the 25 best-selling adidas jerseys in Major League Soccer for the 2020 regular season, MLS announced last week.
Pulido sits at No. 14 on the list following an excellent debut campaign in MLS, while Russell ranks 18th after a third straight standout season in Kansas City. Pulido and Russell tied Gadi Kinda with a team-best six goals this year as Sporting Kansas City finished atop the Western Conference standings and earned a No. 1 seed going into the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs.
8. Back in March?
Major League Soccer is targeting an early March start to the 2021 season, despite the uncertainty brought on by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, President and Deputy Commissioner of MLS Mark Abbott told media on Friday. The beginning of March has become the traditional start date for the MLS season. The 2020 season began on Feb. 29 before being suspended two weeks in due to COVID-19.
9. Offseason Calendar
Major League Soccer announced last week the calendar of offseason roster mechanisms, a schedule of roster-building events and deadlines ahead of the 2021 season. The calendar is highlighted by the 2020 Expansion Draft on Dec. 15 as Austin FC will have the opportunity to select up to five current players for their inaugural season in 2021. In addition to the Expansion Draft, the calendar includes the Re-Entry Process, Free Agency as well as roster deadlines as MLS clubs prepare to make key roster decisions at the conclusion of their current campaigns.