Sporting Kansas City at Austin FC
2021 MLS Regular Season | Match 33
Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021 | 8 p.m. CT
Q2 Stadium | Austin, Texas
English TV | Bally Sports KC, Bally Sports Midwest
Streaming | BallySports.com, Bally Sports app
English Radio | ESPN 94.5 FM
Spanish Radio | La Grande 1340 AM
For the first time in club history, Sporting Kansas City (17-8-7, 58 points) will travel to the Texas state capital to face Austin FC (8-20-4, 28 points) on Wednesday evening. Sporting KC’s penultimate regular season match of 2021 is set to kick off at 8 p.m. CT at Q2 Stadium.
The match will air on Bally Sports Kansas City and Bally Sports Midwest and will stream on the Bally Sports App and at BallySports.com. Supporters are invited to access the Sporting KC mobile app for additional in-game updates and exclusive offers and attend the official watch party for the match at No Other Pub in the Kansas City Power & Light District (1370 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.).
In the Western Conference race for first place, Sporting KC suffered a setback Sunday afternoon after losing 2-1 on the road to regional rival Minnesota United FC. Manager Peter Vermes’ men currently occupy second place in the West on 58 points, level with the Colorado Rapids and one point behind leaders Seattle Sounders FC but with a game in hand on both clubs. Sporting therefore controls its own destiny: wins in their final two regular season matches would clinch a No. 1 seed in the MLS Cup Playoffs and a first-round by the conference semifinals.
Sporting clinched a playoff berth on Oct. 23 and a home playoff match four days later. Following Decision Day this Sunday, Sporting KC will be one of seven teams from the Western Conference to play for MLS Cup in a single-elimination tournament.
Wednesday will be the third meeting between Sporting and Austin during the 2021 MLS regular season. Sporting has earned a result in the previous two matches with one win and one draw, both coming at Children’s Mercy Park. In the first match back on May 9, Austin jumped out to an early 1-0 lead within the first 10 minutes before Alex Ring was sent off in the 67th minute. Sporting made use of the man advantage with an equalizer from Ilie Sanchez in the 82nd minute and a winner from Gadi Kinda in the 90th minute. In the second meeting on June 12, Sporting and Austin fought to a 1-1 draw in which Daniel Salloi scored.
Vermes continues to guide Sporting KC through a congested schedule with aplomb. In a weeklong span, Sporting has won two out of three games and punched their ticket to the MLS Cup Playoffs for the 10th time in 11 seasons. Now the club’s attention turns to earning a spot in the 2022 Concacaf Champions League, which they can do with a win Wednesday.
With 10 goals and at least one goal or assist in his last nine appearances, captain Johnny Russell (14 goals, eight assists) comes into the final week of the season in blistering hot form. The forward’s eight-game goal streak from Sept. 11 to Oct. 27 was the longest scoring streak in MLS this season as well as an all-time club record. His brace in a 2-0 win over the LA Galaxy last Wednesday earned him a nod to the MLS Team of the Week as well as MLS Player of the Week Honors.
Joining Russell in the attack is Salloi (16 goals, eight assists), who rejoined the Sporting lineup as a 54th-minute sub in Sunday’s match. His appearance in the match was his first since Oct. 17 in Vancouver after he missed two games through injury. Sporting attack becomes more potent with Salloi in the squad as his 16 goals is tied for third in the league and just two back of the Golden Boot.
Ilie (one goal) and Kinda (five goals, seven assists) have been versatile assets for Sporting KC. Ilie has been a Swiss army knife for Vermes, moving from holding midfielder to central defender and back again. No matter where he plays on the field, he will find the open man, ranking second in MLS in successful passes this season. Kinda has also been a durable weapon for Sporting KC in 2021. With recent injury concerns, Kinda has stepped up to play the false nine as of late. The Israeli international has tallied three assists in his last two games.
On the defensive side, Graham Zusi (five assists) has been a regular on Sporting KC’s backline. The Sporting veteran broke 25,000 career minutes in Sunday’s match, becoming just the ninth player in MLS history to do so with one club. Playing alongside Zusi, Andreu Fontas (one assist) has stepped up in a big way this season. No matter who his center back partner is, Fontas has continuously provided excellent support for Sporting, as he leads the league in successful passes.
Austin FC head coach and Sporting Legend Josh Wolff is in his first season as an MLS manager. The former Sporting KC striker was honored as a Sporting Legend in 2019. As a coach, he has previously served as an assistant coach for D.C. United, Columbus Crew and the U.S. Men’s National Team. Alongside Austin assistant coach and fellow Sporting great Davy Arnaud, he has led Austin FC through their freshman season and earned a record of 8-20-4, with six of those wins coming at home.
Led by former New England Revolution midfielder Diego Fagundez (seven goals, three assists), Paraguayan international Cecilio Dominguez (seven goals, four assists), 25-year-old forward Sebastian Driussi (four, five assists) and goalkeeper Brad Stuver (128 saves), Austin FC are in form at home, winning three of their last four at Q2 Stadium. Despite being knocked out of playoff contention, they remain a threat heading into the final week of the regular season campaign.
Sporting KC will be traveling to Austin for the first time ever on Wednesday, playing their inaugural match in Q2 Stadium despite facing Austin FC twice already this year. With Sporting coming into this one with plenty to play for and Austin FC looking to end their introductory season on a high note, this game promises to be another late-season thriller.