As Sporting Kansas City prepares for its 26th season as a charter member of Major League Soccer, SportingKC.com is rolling out a 26-day countdown to the start of the 2021 campaign. A mouthwatering opening weekend of MLS action will see Sporting Kansas City visit the New York Red Bulls at 7 p.m. CT on April 17, giving supporters their first look at Manager Peter Vermes’ side since last December.
The 2021 Preseason Countdown, presented by Children’s Mercy, serves as the comprehensive, go-to preview of everything that awaits Sporting Kansas City in the weeks and months to come. From key storylines and bold predictions to statistical breakdowns and players to watch, the 2021 Preseason Countdown highlights the many reasons to be excited for what’s ahead. To visit the series homepage as it expands, head to SportingKC.com/2021countdown.
Only six days remain until Sporting Kansas City begins the 2021 MLS campaign with a compelling road test at Red Bull Arena. With Week 1 within touching distance, all eyes are firmly cast on what is sure to be another thrilling and unpredictable season.
But before the games arrive, let's take a stroll down memory lane and revisit some of the most memorable season openers during the Sporting Kansas City era, which began in 2011 when the club rebranded and took its first steps toward becoming a perennial title contender.
March 19, 2011: Five-goal thriller in LA
The club's first official match as Sporting Kansas City was an instant classic as an early C.J. Sapong strike and an Omar Bravo brace produced a memorable 3-2 triumph over Chivas USA in Carson, California.
March 10, 2012: Late drama in the capital
A cagey battle between Sporting and D.C. United at RFK Stadium looked destined to end scoreless, but Sapong latched onto a Graham Zusi corner kick in second-half stoppage time to give the visitors all three points.
March 2, 2013: The start of something special
Sporting's MLS Cup-winning campaign began with an impressive 3-1 road win over the Philadelphia Union. The hosts truck first but an impressive response saw Zusi, Oriol Rosell and debutant Claudio Bieler find the back of the net.
March 6, 2016: Stunner in Seattle
In yet another tightly contested, low-scoring slugfest between Sporting and Seattle, MLS debutant Nuno Andre Coelho unfurled a speculative long-range effort that skipped past Sounders keeper Stefan Frei and into the corner of the net. The 1-0 result was Sporting's first victory in Seattle since 2009.
March 4, 2017: Tim Melia doing Tim Melia things
Sporting's Tim Melia has saved 10 penalty kicks in MLS competition since 2016, four more than any other goalkeeper. One of which came in the 2017 curtain raiser at D.C. United, when he pulled off a splendid double-save en route to a well-earned clean sheet.
Feb. 29, 2020: Newcomers steal the show
Sporting newcomers Alan Pulido and Gadi Kinda marked their sensational MLS debuts with goals and Erik Hurtado added a late third to seal a 3-1 victory over Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Leap Day 2020. With Kinda joining Pulido on the scoresheet, it had become the fourth MLS regular season opener in club history to see a pair of Sporting debutants find the back of the net.