Match Preview - Aug. 7, 2021

Sporting Kansas City at Colorado Rapids
2021 MLS Regular Season | Match 18
Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021 | 8 p.m. CT
Dick's Sporting Goods Park | Commerce City, Colorado

Broadcast Schedule:
English TV
| Bally Sports Kansas City Plus
English TV | Bally Sports Midwest Plus
Streaming | BallySports.com and Bally Sports app
English Radio | Sports Radio 810 WHB
Spanish Radio | La Grande 1340 AM

Two of the top four teams in the Western Conference will renew their longstanding Western Conference rivalry on Saturday night as first-place Sporting Kansas City (10-4-3, 33 points) visits the fourth-place Colorado Rapids (8-4-3, 27 points) in an 8 p.m. CT kickoff at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.

Bally Sports Kansas City Plus, Bally Sports Midwest Plus, BallySports.com and the Bally Sports app will air three hours of live coverage beginning at 7:30 p.m. CT. Listeners can catch the action locally on Sports Radio 810 WHB (English) and La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish), while the Sporting KC app will provide additional in-game updates and exclusive offers. Supporters are also invited to attend the official watch party for the match at Mr. Brews Taphouse in Overland Park, Kansas (8021 Metcalf Ave.) with programming and specials starting at 7:30 p.m. CT.

Sporting vaulted to the Western Conference summit with an emphatic 4-1 hammering of LAFC at a shell-shocked Banc of California Stadium on Wednesday. Alan Pulido marked his return from the Mexican national team with an opportunistic strike, Luis Martins opened his MLS scoring account, red-hot Daniel Salloi bagged a stunner and Gadi Kinda converted a brilliant header as Sporting handed LAFC their heaviest home defeat in club history and gave Manager Peter Vermes his 200th coaching win at the helm.

In an undeniable trend that stretches back to the start of 2020, Sporting have developed a healthy habit of winning away from home. Vermes' men have five regular season road victories in 2021 and 10 over the last two years, both the most in MLS. Sporting have won their last three away games—tied for the club's second longest regular season streak since the dawn of Major League Soccer's non-shootout era in 2000—by defeating second-place Seattle, third-place LA Galaxy and fifth-place LAFC. Needless to say, they will look to add the fourth-place Rapids to that list on Saturday night.

During a year that has seen several Sporting players deliver standout performances on a consistent basis, the club's lone MLS All-Star has arguably been the best of the bunch. The 25-year-old winger is in the midst of his greatest MLS season to date and leads the league with 15 combined goals (10) and assists (five). With Salloi's goal and assist against LAFC on Wednesday, Sporting KC Academy products have now scored or assisted in a remarkable 12 straight MLS matches dating back to May 16. The club's talented homegrown contingent has accounted for 16 of 33 goals and 11 of 29 assists for the highest-scoring attack in MLS this season.

Sporting's offense received another shot in the arm earlier this week when Pulido, who missed a month of action due to Mexican national team commitments during the Gold Cup, punctuated his return with the opening goal versus LAFC. The 30-year-old has 13 goals and six assists in 20 MLS starts over the last two seasons.

Rapids head coach Robin Fraser has worked wonders since taking the helm in August 2019. Once a perennial cellar dweller in the West, Colorado returned to the playoffs in 2020 and boasts a 21-12-7 regular season record since Fraser was appointed. The Rapids are 5-0-2 in their last seven home matches at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, scoring 15 goals and conceding five.

Colorado midfielders Jack Price and Michael Barrios are tied for second in MLS with three game-winning assists each, while goalkeeper William Yarbrough ranks second in MLS in shutouts (seven) and goalkeeping wins (eight). Defenders Auston Trusty and Keegan Rosenberry have also been ever-present fixtures for a team that sits six points back of Sporting with two games in hand.

Sporting and Colorado made headlines this week as each club transferred a rising star to Europe. Sporting's 19-year-old Gianluca Busio, who helped the United States Men's National Team to the Gold Cup title last weekend, completed his move to Italian Serie A side Venezia FC on Thursday. He has recorded eight goals and nine assists in 70 appearances for the club as one of the top teenagers in American soccer.

On the Colorado sideline, left back Sam Vines joined Busio on the U.S. MNT's Gold Cup-winning squad and signed for Royal Antwerp in Belgium earlier this week. The 22-year-old has started 49 of 54 MLS appearances since debuting in 2018.

Sporting will have multiple absences to atone for this weekend. Ilie Sanchez (caution accumulation), Felipe Hernandez (personal reasons) and Khiry Shelton (abdomen) are ruled out, while Cam Duke (hamstring) is listed as questionable. Colorado, meanwhile, has just one player unavailable as playmaker Younes Namli continues to recover from a long-term ankle injury.