Five Things presented by Children’s Mercy Kansas City: Sporting opens Leagues Cup 2023 with trip to Cincinnati | July 23, 2023


Sporting Kansas City is set to begin the club’s Leagues Cup 2023 campaign this weekend as the side heads east to take on MLS Supporters’ Shield leaders FC Cincinnati at TQL Stadium in the first of two matches Sporting will play in Group 3 of the Central Region. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. CT and will be available to stream for free on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV in English and Spanish. The match will also be available on the radio locally on Sports Radio 810 WHB (English) and La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish).


Sporting Kansas City saw the club’s three-game unbeaten streak come to an end last Saturday with a 2-1 loss to Austin FC at Q2 Stadium and will now not play an MLS regular-season match until Aug. 26 when the team hosts the San Jose Earthquakes at Children’s Mercy Park.

Instead, Sporting will embark on the team’s campaign in Leagues Cup 2023 with a pair of upcoming matchups in Group 3 of the Central Region as Sporting will visit Supporters’ Shield leaders FC Cincinnati before hosting Mexican powerhouse Chivas Guadalajara.

Both MLS and Liga MX will stop the league’s respective seasons to allow all 47 clubs from the U.S., Canada and Mexico to put their best foot forward in the newly-imagined tournament.

Teams will compete for spots in the Concacaf Champions Cup, as three teams can qualify for next year’s Champions Cup based on their Leagues Cup performance and be one of the 27 participants in 2024.


Sporting Kansas City shifts gears this week as the team prepares to open play in Leagues Cup 2023 with a daunting trip to face off against MLS Supporters’ Shield runaway leaders FC Cincinnati at TQL Stadium in Ohio. Cincinnati are unbeaten at home in 2023, going 11-0-1 in MLS regular-season play and 14-0-1 in all competitions. The only team to leave TQL Stadium with a result this year was second-place New England who earned a 2-2 draw on July 1, 2023.

Sporting have faced off against Cincinnati twice since the Ohio side joined MLS as an expansion team in 2019, with both matches being played at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati. The first came in the midst of Sporting’s run to the Concacaf Champions League Semifinals in 2019, with a heavily rotated side earning a 1-1 draw on April 7, 2019 as Gianluca Busio’s goal cancelled out Darren Mattocks’ opener from the penalty spot.

The only other visit Sporting has made to Cincinnati saw the team claim a 1-0 victory at an empty Nippert Stadium on Oct. 28, 2020 as Alan Pulido and Gadi Kinda linked up to set up Roger Espinoza to fire home the only goal of the game early in the second half.

With that, Sporting leads the all-time series 1-0-1 but has yet to face Cincinnati at TQL Stadium which opened in 2021, while Sporting has also yet to host Cincinnati at Children’s Mercy Park.


Sporting Kansas City defender Dany Rosero tallied his second goal of the season during last Saturday’s 2-1 setback against Austin FC at Q2 Stadium. With the team in a 2-0 hole late in the first half, Rosero rose to meet Daniel Salloi’s corner kick and thunder home a header to reduce the deficit to one.

Rosero’s only other goal for Sporting came in the exact same fashion, heading home an inswinging corner taken by Salloi from the left wing to open the scoring in the 3-0 victory over Minnesota United FC at Children’s Mercy Park on May 13, 2023.

The imposing Colombian joined Sporting in March 2023 after spending the entirity of his career in South America. He’s started 17 of the club’s 20 MLS matches since signing and has struck up a solid partnership with Andreu Fontas at the heart of Sporting’s backline, especially at home where Sporting have gone 4-0-1 when the pairing of Rosero and Fontas starts.


Sporting Kansas City forward Daniel Salloi continued his fine recent form with an assist in Sporting’s 2-1 loss to Austin FC at Q2 Stadium last Saturday night. Salloi whipped in a corner that connected with the forehead of Dany Rosero to pull a goal back for Sporting late in the first half of the match.

Salloi now has a goal and an assist in his last two games after enduring a barren month of June where he had just one assist in seven games.

With the assist, Salloi moved to five goals and five assists this regular season, marking the third straight year he has reached that mark. The only other players in MLS to have tallied at least five goals and five assists each of the last three seasons are stars Hany Mukhtar (Nashville), Luciano Acosta (Cincinnati), Lucas Zelarayan (Columbus) and Carlos Vela (LAFC).

The assist also takes Salloi to 85 combined goals and assists for Sporting across 199 appearances in all competitions, only trailing club icons such as Preki (185), Graham Zusi (125), Chris Klein (97), Johnny Russell (97), Benny Feilhaber (93) and Davy Arnaud (92).


Sporting Kansas City rookie forward Stephen Afrifa reached a major career milestone during last Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Austin FC at Q2 Stadium, earning his first MLS start in the defeat.

Afrifa, 22, played the opening 45 minutes and completed 100 percent of his passes, as well as his lone attempted dribble and led the team with 3 touches in the opposition box. He was replaced at halftime by Designated Player Alan Pulido as Sporting searched for a way back into the match.

Sporting selected Afrifa with the eighth overall pick of the 2023 MLS SuperDraft - the club’s highest draft pick since selecting Teal Bunbury fourth overall in 2010. Afrifa remained at Florida International University through his spring semester before signing with Sporting in late April and joining up with the team full-time at the start of May.

The Canadian forward who is capable of playing either as a center forward or as a winger enjoyed a standout four-year career at FIU, where he amassed 23 goals and 11 assists in 63 appearances from 2019-2022.