By The Numbers: Sporting hits major milestones in 2023

"By The Numbers" presented by Compass Minerals is a season-long series that gives a statistical preview of every Sporting match. To visit the series archive, click here.

Sporting Kansas City’s 28th season in Major League Soccer may have begun precariously, but it ended better than many would have dared to imagine back in April.

A slow start was put on the backburner from early May onward as Sporting performed as well as any other team in the Western Conference over the final six months of a long and grueling campaign. And by the time the season had finally ended, Manager Peter Vermes’ men had plenty to be proud of.

In a season that showcased Sporting’s mettle and ultimately treated fans to an unforgettable playoff triumph over hated rivals St. Louis City SC, we visit the biggest milestones of 2023 in our year-end edition of By The Numbers, presented by Compass Minerals.


  • Sporting reached the conference semifinals of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs for the fourth time since 2018, a feat matched by just three other clubs (New York City FC, Philadelphia Union, Seattle Sounders FC).
  • By defeating the San Jose Earthquakes and St. Louis City SC in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, Sporting advanced past two opponents in a single postseason for the first time since winning MLS Cup in 2013.
  • With a shootout win over San Jose in the Wild Card round, Sporting improved to a perfect 5-0 in penalty kick shootouts at Children’s Mercy Park—with each of the last three victories coming against San Jose.
  • With an emphatic two-game sweep of St. Louis City SC, Sporting became just the second No. 8 seed to defeat a No. 1 seed in the history of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
  • Sporting became the first club in league history to reach the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs after opening the regular season winless in 10 games, having opened the year with a 0-7-3 record. Kansas City was also the first team to reach the playoffs after collecting fewer than five points from its first 10 regular season matches.
  • Sporting was objectively the best team in the Western Conference from the start of May to the end of the regular season, a period of nearly six months. From May 1 through Decision Day on Oct. 21, Sporting led the West in points (41), wins (12) and goals per game (1.88) while ranking second in goal differential (+10). The club’s seven losses during that time were also tied for the fewest in the conference.
  • Sporting won three of its final five MLS away matches of the season from Sept. 16 onward. No other club had more away wins during that time.
  • After a slow start to the year, Sporting displayed a penchant for bouncing back from defeats. The team went 9-0-2 in matches immediately following losses from April 22 onward.
  • Thanks to a playoff run that earlier this year seemed unlikely, Sporting became the only club to reach the U.S. Open Cup semifinals, MLS conference semifinals or Concacaf Champions League semifinals in each of the last seven seasons since 2017.
  • Sporting made its 20th appearance in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, tied for second most in league history behind only the New York Red Bulls (24).


  • Goalkeeper Tim Melia cemented his place as the preeminent penalty kick king in MLS. In Sporting’s dramatic playoff triumph over San Jose on Oct. 25, the veteran improved to a perfect 7-0 in penalty shootouts during his professional career. He also saved two penalties during the regular season, extending his total to an MLS-best 15 saved penalties in regular season play since 2015.
  • Defender Jake Davis was a revelation for Sporting in 2023, bursting onto the scene after hardly playing for the first team in 2021 and 2022. Davis started each of the club’s last 27 matches this season in all competitions, becoming the fourth player in club history to log over 2,000 minutes in an MLS season before the age of 22. Sporting was 16-9-7 this season when he started and 0-8-3 when he did not.
  • In their first year as a center back pairing, defenders Andreu Fontas and Dany Rosero struck quite the partnership at Children’s Mercy Park. Sporting went 9-1-2 when Fontas and Rosero started together at home while going 1-5-1 in the team’s other seven home matches.
  • Defender Logan Ndenbe became a fan favorite during the latter half of 2023, solidifying his spot at left back and saving his very best for the postseason. He was arguably Sporting’s most valuable player in the two-game playoff sweep of St. Louis, scoring brilliant goals in both matches after going his first 93 professional appearances without a goal.


  • Forward Daniel Salloi continued to deliver in clutch moments, becoming the club’s all-time regular season leader in match-winning goals before putting St. Louis to the sword in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. With one goal and one assist in Games 1 and 2 of the series sweep, Salloi vaulted to second in club history in playoff goals (five), playoff assists (four) and total playoff goal contributions (nine).
  • Prior to the playoffs, Salloi also became the third player in Sporting history (Preki, Johnny Russell) to have seven goals and seven assists in three or more regular seasons for the club (2018, 2021, 2023).
  • In one of the feelgood stories of the season, forward Alan Pulido was named the 2023 MLS Comeback Player of the Year. He became the fifth Kansas City player to receive the honor, making history as the league’s first player to hit double-digit goals the year after missing an entire season due to injury.
  • Among players with at least 20 regular season goals for Sporting, Pulido ranks first in club history with 0.54 goals per 90 minutes (28 goals in 4630 minutes).
  • Captain and forward Johnny Russell became the third player in club history to eclipse 100 goal contributions in all competitions, joining rarefied air alongside Preki and Graham Zusi. The skipper also became one of three MLS players to score six goals every regular season since 2018.
  • Russell has climbed to third in club history in both regular season goals (56) and goals across all competitions (62), trailing only Preki (71/81) and Dom Dwyer (57/67). With another strong season in 2024, Russell is likely to catch Dwyer and could even make a run for Preki’s perch.
  • Sporting’s single-game performance of the season may have belonged to midfielder Gadi Kinda, who spearheaded a 4-1 road playoff win over St. Louis on Oct. 29 with two assists and a world-class long-range goal amidst an all-action display in the center of the park. By doing so, he became the first player in club history to have three total goal contributions in a playoff match.
  • Midfielder Erik Thommy became the fifth player in club history to hit 11 assists in a single regular season. He finished the year with a team-best 13 assists in all competitions.
  • Sporting boasted a well-balanced attack over the course of 2023. For the first time since its inaugural 1996 campaign, Kansas City had three different players finish the regular season with at least 16 goal contributions: Pulido (14 goals, three assists), Salloi (seven goals, nine assists) and Thommy (five goals, 11 assists).


  • Defender Graham Zusi—a lock to one day be inducted into the Sporting Legends hall of honor—became the first player in MLS history to spend 15 seasons with one MLS club. Though his campaign was limited due to an untimely injury in late May, Zusi returned for a playoff appearance against Houston on Nov. 26, extending his club-record appearance total to 411 in all competitions.
  • Midfielder Roger Espinoza, whose future induction into Sporting Legends also seems inevitable, has methodically climbed into a tie for third place on Sporting’s all-time chart with 45 regular season assists. The Honduran ranks second behind Zusi in multiple club longevity categories, including 399 appearances in all competitions.


  • Manager Peter Vermes continued his reign as a perennial figure in MLS history. By guiding his side to the postseason, he entered into a tie for third on league charts with 11 playoff appearances as a head coach. His 18 combined MLS playoff appearances as a player and coach are most in league history.
  • Vermes also ascended to third in league history with 195 regular season wins, now the most among active coaches. He has won an MLS-record 303 MLS matches as a player or a coach (regular season and playoffs combined).
  • Assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin, Vermes’ assistant since 2009, has been with the club for 24 consecutive seasons since joining as a player in 2000. By doing so, he has set the MLS record for most seasons with one club as a player or coach.