Sporting Kansas City remains at home this weekend as the team hosts Eastern Conference strugglers CF Montreal at Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday night. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. CT and is available to stream on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV in English, Spanish and French, while the match will also be broadcast on the radio locally on Sports Radio 810 WHB (English) and La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish).
1. LOOKING TO BUILD ON OPEN CUP SUCCESS
Sporting Kansas City will look to build on the club’s 3-0 victory over Tulsa Athletic in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Third Round when the team hosts CF Montreal at Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday night. Both sides have endured challenging starts to the 2023 MLS season, with Sporting still winless at 0-6-3 while Montreal are tied for last in the East with a 2-6-0 mark.
Sporting KC matched the team’s goals output for the entire MLS season on Tuesday night, tallying three goals during a comfortable night at Children’s Mercy Park. Daniel Salloi scored the opener before Alan Pulido notched his first goal for the club since Aug. 14, 2021 and Marinos Tzionis fired home his third goal for the club.
The team will be hoping the result brings some confidence back into the group as the club prepares to host just its fourth home MLS match of the season, having played six of their opening nine league matches on the road in 2023. The club was boosted by the return of Designated Player Gadi Kinda on Tuesday night, who played the opening 31 minutes in his first game action since Nov. 28, 2021 following knee surgery that forced him to miss all of 2022 and the opening nine matches of 2023.
Sporting are currently in last place in MLS and the only team yet to record a victory in 2023. Defender Andreu Fontas will miss Saturday’s match as he serves a one-game suspension after being sent off in the 61st minute of last weekend’s 2-1 loss to New England, marking the club’s third red card in just nine matches this season.
2. CLUB DE FOOT CLASH
Sporting Kansas City remains at home this weekend as the club gets set to host CF Montreal at Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday night. So far in 2023, Sporting has played just three of nine MLS matches at home, going 0-2-1.
Sporting and Montreal met once in 2022, with Peter Vermes’ side snatching an unlikely victory at Stade Saputo on July 9, 2022. Romell Quioto gave high-flying Montreal an early lead before a moment of genius from Roger Espinoza levelled the game, lobbing the goalkeeper with an audacious effort from 50 yards out. Remi Walter fired home Khiry Shelton’s low cross midway through the second half to seal the three points.
Sporting last hosted Montreal at Children’s Mercy Park over four years ago on March 30, 2019. It was a day to remember for those in attendance as Sporting went on to thrash the Club de Foot by a 7-1 scoreline. Krisztian Nemeth bagged a hat trick while Johnny Russell had a brace to go along with goals from Felipe Gutierrez and Gianluca Busio before Saphir Taider tallied a late consolation goal for the then-Impact.
Sporting KC holds a 8-4-3 record against CF Montreal since they joined MLS as an expansion team in 2012, including a 4-2-1 mark at Children’s Mercy Park.
3. PULIDO SCORES, KINDA RETURNS IN OPEN CUP WIN
Sporting Kansas City Designated Players Alan Pulido and Gadi Kinda reached landmarks in their recovery from knee surgeries during the club’s 3-0 victory over Tulsa Athletic in the U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday night.
Pulido scored his first goal since returning from injury earlier this month, while Kinda played his first minutes since 2021. Sporting now has an opportunity to see all three of the club’s Designated Players - Pulido, Kinda and Erik Thommy - on the field at the same time when the team hosts Montreal on Sunday. It would mark the first time it’s happened since Nov. 28, 2021.
Pulido continued his comeback with another 60-minute outing on Tuesday and fired home the team’s second goal of the night, meeting Daniel Salloi’s cross at the far post to fire home. Kinda showed plenty of nice touches and flashes of brilliance during a 31-minute cameo before being replaced by SKC II talent Ethan Bryant for the remainder of the match.
4. SALLOI CONTINUES TO SHINE IN OPEN CUP
Sporting Kansas City forward Daniel Salloi continued to put his stamp on the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup by tallying a goal and an assist in Tuesday’s 3-0 victory over Tulsa Athletic at Children’s Mercy Park.
Salloi scored what turned out to be the game-winner in the first half, sneaking a shot inside the near post for his eighth Open Cup goal for the club - extending his lead atop Sporting’s all-time Open Cup goalscoring charts - before setting up Alan Pulido for the second goal of the night early in the second half. Salloi’s goal was his 50th for the club in all competitions, and he has now been directly involved in five of the team’s six goals in 2023.
Salloi is in his eighth season with Sporting since signing as a Homegrown Player ahead of the 2016 campaign. Buoyed by two outstanding campaigns in 2018 and 2021, Salloi has tallied 50 goals and 27 assists across 182 appearances in all competitions for SKC.
5. SPORTING SIGNS SUPERDRAFT PICK STEPHEN AFRIFA
Sporting Kansas City announced on Wednesday that the club has signed 22-year-old forward Stephen Afrifa, who was selected by the club in the first round of the 2023 MLS SuperDraft last December. Afrifa, who was taken eighth overall, is Sporting’s highest draft pick since 2010 when the club took Teal Bunbury at No. 4 overall.
The Canadian forward enjoyed a standout four-year career at Florida International, where he amassed 23 goals and 11 assists in 63 appearances from 2019-2022. Capable of playing as a striker or a winger, Afrifa will begin his professional journey on the heels of a phenomenal campaign last fall that yielded a team-high 10 goals, four assists and United Soccer Coaches Second Team All-American honors. He guided the Panthers to the 2022 American Athletic Conference regular season and tournament titles and was named the AAC Championship Most Outstanding Offensive Player.
Afrifa competed for USL League Two side One Knoxville SC in 2022, scoring 10 goals and leading the first-year club to a first-place finish in the South Central Division.