This Week in Sporting presented by The Smile Generation: March 1, 2021

"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. Preseason Starts Today

Sporting Kansas City has kicked off the club’s 2021 preseason, presented by Children’s Mercy. The preseason calendar includes one week of voluntary training beginning today at Compass Minerals National Performance Center in Kansas City, Kansas, followed by four weeks of training at Phoenix Rising FC’s new training facility at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler, Arizona. The club will return to Kansas City for another two weeks of preparation prior to the 2021 MLS regular season, which will kick off the weekend of April 17.

For the 12th straight year, Sporting will part of their preseason training camp in Arizona. The club will train at Wild Horse Pass and is currently scheduled to play preseason matches on March 13, March 20, March 24 and April 3 (all dates subject to change). Sporting will announce preseason match details soon, with live coverage of each game available on Twitter at @SKCMatchday.

2. Sporting Preseason Spotlight

As momentum builds toward Major League Soccer’s 26th season in 2021, Sporting Kansas City players and coaches will look to lay the foundations for another successful campaign when preseason training unfolds this month in Arizona.

With newcomers joining familiar faces for the 2021 preseason presented by Children’s Mercy, SportingKC.com has launched the “Sporting Preseason Spotlight” web series to acquaint supporters with the goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and forwards who will help Sporting Kansas City compete for silverware in 2021. To read up on every player and visit the series archive as it expands, head to SportingKC.com/Spotlight.

3. Springtime Return

Sporting Kansas City defender Graham Zusi is eyeing a return to the field in April, the seven-time MLS All-Star told Sports Radio 810 WHB in an interview last week. The longtime legend suffered a serious foot injury last October and has been rehabbing ever since, progressing ahead of schedule in the lead-up to 2021. Zusi is set to become the first player in club history to spend 13 seasons with the team, having joined out of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft, and he is now the longest-tenured active MLS player at one club.

4. Gutierrez Bids Farewell

Following in the recent footsteps of forwards Gerso Fernandes and Erik Hurtado, midfielder Felipe Gutierrez bid farewell to Sporting Kansas City in a social media post on Sunday morning.

Gutierrez, 30, took to Instagram with a video highlighting some of his greatest moments in a Sporting uniform with the caption, "Thank you @sportingkc."

5. Sacramento Update

Major League Soccer announced in a statement Friday that due to issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic Ron Burkle has decided not to move forward with the acquisition of an MLS expansion team in Sacramento. 

The city was awarded an expansion team in October 2019 and had been due to begin play in 2022 before that date was pushed back a year due to the early impact of the pandemic in 2020. Burkle was the lead investor in Sacramento Republic FC, and spearheaded their efforts to join MLS.

MLS will work with Mayor Darrell Steinberg to evaluate possible next steps for MLS in Sacramento.

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