Sporting Kansas City at LAFC
2021 MLS Regular Season | Match 17
Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021 | 9:30 p.m. CT
Banc of California Stadium | Los Angeles
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
Sporting Kansas City (9-4-3, 30 points) will reach the halfway point of the 2021 MLS regular season on Wednesday when the club visits LAFC (6-5-5, 23 points) in a marquee Western Conference clash at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles.
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 9 p.m. CT ahead of kickoff at 9:30 p.m. CT. Listeners can also 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.
Manager Peter Vermes' side saw their five-game unbeaten run and 11-game regular season home unbeaten streak end Saturday in a frustrating 2-1 loss to FC Dallas at Children's Mercy Park. Paxton Pomykal and Jesus Ferreira struck early in each half for the visitors, and although captain Johnny Russell grabbed a goal back in the 85th minute on a Daniel Salloi assist, Sporting’s spirited late rally fell short. Russell now has three goals in his last four games, while Salloi is tied for the MLS lead with 13 combined goals (nine) and primary assists (four) as one of the league's premier players this season.
When Salloi assisted Russell's header last weekend, Sporting's talented crop of Academy products extended a collective streak that underscores the club's Homegrown reliance. Dating back to May 16, during a stretch in which Sporting has posted a 7-2-2 record, Academy products have scored or assisted in 11 successive MLS matches.
On the opposite sideline, no MLS player has scored more goals (59) or contributed more combined goals and assists (96) than LAFC star forward Carlos Vela. The prolific Mexican navigated injury problems at the start of 2021, but the dynamic attacker has hit full form over the last fortnight with goals in four straight games. Complementing Vela are Diego Rossi, the reigning MLS Golden Boot winner with 47 goals over the last four seasons, and unsung midfielder Jose Cifuentes, who has scored or assisted in seven of his last nine appearances.
Sporting have won three of five regular season meetings against LAFC all-time, including a 2-1 comeback victory on June 26 at Children's Mercy Park. After Kim Moon-Hwan gave the visitors an early lead, Sporting rallied in the second half with goals from Pulido and Salloi to claim victory.
The most recent meeting between the clubs was emblematic of their respective 2021 campaigns thus far: Sporting leads MLS with 17 points gained from losing positions, eight more than any other team, while LAFC's 14 points dropped from winning positions are the most in MLS. Head coach Bob Bradley's team enjoyed a three-match winning run to begin the month of July, but a last-gasp loss at Portland followed by consecutive 2-2 home draws against Vancouver and Minnesota have stunted momentum.
Sporting have competed at or near the top of the West despite the fact that numerous players have missed action through injury or international duty. Entering Wednesday's trip to Los Angeles, however, only two players are ruled out or questionable: midfielder Felipe Hernandez will be absent for personal reasons, while fellowing Sporting KC Academy product Cam Duke is day-to-day with a hamstring issue. Elsewhere, Gold Cup champion Gianluca Busio and runner-up Alan Pulido have concluded international duty with the United States and Mexico, respectively.
Wednesday marks the start of a frantic stretch that will see Sporting play six matches in 18 days. This week proves particularly difficult with trips to LAFC and the fourth-place Colorado Rapids on the horizon. Following a Leagues Cup quarterfinal clash against Club Leon on Aug. 10, Sporting will travel to FC Dallas on Aug. 14, host the Portland Timbers on Aug. 18 and trek to Minnesota United FC on Aug. 21. This congested run marks the first time that Sporting has played six times in 18 days since Feb. 28 to March 17 in 2019, when Vermes' men juggled the start of the regular season with the Concacaf Champions League.