Sporting Kansas City forward Alan Pulido and defender Robert Castellanos were named to the MLS Team of the Matchday presented by Audi on Monday for Matchday 18 of the 2023 MLS regular season. Pulido scored two goals and added the assist on Castellanos' game-winning goal as Sporting earned a 4-1 win over Austin FC on Saturday at Children's Mercy Park.
A week after scoring in Sporting's 1-1 draw in Vancouver, Pulido played a part in the team's first three goals on Saturday as Sporting jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the hour mark. Playing his 50th match for SKC in all competitions, Pulido opened the scoring in the 19th minute - hammering home a right-footed strike after Castellanos cushioned a header into his path -- and then returned the favor in the 47th minute with a glancing touch on Erik Thommy's free kick to set up Castellanos at the backpost for his first goal for the club with a well-taken first-time finish.
Ten minutes later, Pulido tripled the advantage on a pinpoint pass from Tim Leibold - moving Pulido into a tie with Daniel Salloi for the team lead with five goals in all competitions this season and making Pulido the first player in club history to score two goals and record a game-winning assist in an MLS regular season home match. The 2014 World Cup veteran now has 29 total goal contributions (18 goals, 11 assists) in 37 career MLS regular season starts.
"I'm really happy," Pulido said postgame inside the locker room. "The team is most important to me. It felt like a complete victory because we won and I was able to score two goals. Honestly, I'm feeling the best that I've ever felt mentally and physically. I've really sacrificed a lot and I’ve worked really hard to get these results. I just have to keep working the way I have and giving my best for the club."
Sporting Kansas City now sits in playoff position for the first time this season ahead of a match-up with the reigning MLS Cup champions LAFC at 7:30 p.m. CT on Saturday at Children's Mercy Park. Tickets for the Western Conference clash are available online at SeatGeek, including the Sporting U Pass featuring $15 Supporters' Stand tickets for college students.
Saturday's showdown will be broadcast live on Apple TV in English and Spanish for MLS Season Pass subscribers (sign up for a one-month free trial). In addition, local radio coverage will air on Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM with streams in the Sporting KC app and all of the action will be shown by pub partners in the Sporting Pub Network.