Sporting Kansas City returns home this weekend when the team hosts Austin FC at Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday night. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. CT and will be to stream 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).
1. SPORTING EXTENDS UNBEATEN STREAK TO THREE
Sporting Kansas City continued the club’s solid run of form this past weekend when the team saw out a 1-1 draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC on the road at BC Place in Canada. The result saw Sporting extend their unbeaten run to three matches (2-0-1), while the squad has lost just once in their last seven, going 4-1-2 since the start of May. The club’s 4-1-1 record in May was the best in the Western Conference.
Sporting navigated a tricky schedule last week, playing Sunday-Wednesday-Saturday, but picked up two wins at home and a draw on the road to take seven points in seven days during the regular season for the first time in club history. Sporting surpassed the previous high mark of six points in seven days set in 2010. SKC has played three regular season matches in seven days on 15 occasions since 1996.
Saturday’s road result in Vancouver was the first time that Sporting’s three Designated Players (Alan Pulido, Erik Thommy and Gadi Kinda) and three U22 Initiative Players (Logan Ndenbe, Robert Voloder and Marinos Tzionis) have all appeared in the same match since MLS launched the U22 Initiative in 2021.
Sporting remains on the outside looking in with regards to the MLS Cup Playoffs, but the club sits just two points back of the ninth and final spot for the postseason with half of the regular-season slate still to play.
2. SPORTING LEGENDS RETURN
Sporting Kansas City will welcome a pair of familiar faces to Children’s Mercy Park this weekend when the team hosts Austin FC on Saturday night. Austin head coach Josh Wolff and assistant coach Davy Arnaud have both been inducted into the Sporting Legends Hall of Honor over the past four years, with Wolff (2003-2006, 2008-2010) and Arnaud (2002-2011) representing key figures for the Kansas City Wizards and Sporting.
Austin claimed the season series over Sporting in 2022, winning both matches between the two sides. The first meeting took place at Children’s Mercy Park on July 30, 2022 and Austin capitalized on Sporting’s own errors to claim all three points with Cam Duke sent off before Alex Ring and Sebastian Driussi tallied for a 2-0 win.
The return fixture at Q2 Stadium came just two weeks later on Aug. 13, 2022 and played out as one of the games of the season. Sporting took both 2-0 and 3-1 leads on the night through goals from Andreu Fontas, Willy Agada and Johnny Russell, only for Austin to roar back in the second half and snatch victory through Driussi’s 94th-minute winner.
Sporting trails the all-time regular-season series 1-3-1 since Austin joined MLS as an expansion team in 2021. Sporting won the first-ever meeting between the sides and drew 1-1 in the second, but Austin has won three straight since Sporting’s first visit to Q2 Stadium in late 2021.
3. PULIDO BACK ON THE SCORESHEET
Sporting Kansas City forward and Designated Player Alan Pulido notched his second goal of the 2023 MLS season - and his third across all competitions - this past weekend in the 1-1 draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC at BC Place on Saturday night.
Pulido met Erik Thommy’s corner kick in the 20th minute and looped a brilliant header over the goalkeeper and into the far side-netting to give Sporting a 1-0 lead.
Still building back to full fitness and sharpness after being out for 16 months following knee surgery at the start of 2022, Pulido now has two goals and two assists in MLS play in 2023, with all four goal contributions coming in the last seven games. Sporting is an unbeaten 2-0-2 when Pulido tallies either a goal or an assist in 2023.
Pulido now has 26 total goal contributions (16 goals, 10 assists) in 36 career regular season starts for Sporting KC, while the club has gone 12-1-1 when Pulido scores in the regular season.
4. THOMMY FINDING FORM
Sporting Kansas City Designated Player Erik Thommy continued his recent up-turn in form during last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC at BC Place, providing the assist on Alan Pulido’s opening goal in the contest.
Thommy’s corner kick delivery to the near post was expertly redirected into the back of the net by Pulido in the 20th minute. The assist was Thommy’s fourth of the year across all competitions, to go along with two goals, while his two goals and three assists in MLS regular-season action have all come in the last seven matches - six of which have been starts for the German.
Thommy was named to the bench of the MLS Team of the Matchday for his all-round performance on Saturday. He is now one of nine Western Conference players with five goals and five primary assists since the start of August 2022, while he also ranks ninth in MLS in shots (44) and eighth in shots on target (18).
5. RADOJA REACHING MILESTONE APPEARANCE
Sporting Kansas City midfielder Nemanja Radoja has started the club’s last six MLS matches after an injury-ravaged start to the campaign, with the club going 3-1-2 with a +3 goal differential in the games in which he’s started.
Should Radoja start again during this weekend’s match against Austin FC at Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday night, it’ll be the Serbian’s 300th of his senior club career across all competitions. The 30-year-old midfielder joined SKC in 2023 after making 181 appearances in Spain’s La Liga and also spending time in his native Serbia.