Five Things presented by Children’s Mercy Kansas City: Sporting to open 2024 MLS season in Houston | Feb. 24, 2024


Sporting Kansas City kicks off the new MLS season this Saturday night when the team travels south to take on Houston Dynamo FC at Shell Energy Stadium in a rematch of the 2023 Western Conference Semifinals. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. CT and will be available to stream on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV in English and Spanish. The match will also be available on the radio locally on ESPN 94.5 FM (English) and La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish).


Sporting Kansas City will embark on their 29th Major League Soccer season this Saturday when the team south to take on Houston Dynamo FC at Shell Energy Stadium. Sporting enjoyed a momentous turnaround during the 2023 campaign, going a winless 0-7-3 in their first 10 game before posting a Western Conference-best record of 12-7-5 the rest of the way to qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs.

Sporting’s run in the MLS Cup Playoffs saw the team eliminate the San Jose Earthquakes and St. Louis before falling to this weekend’s opponents, the Dynamo, in the Western Conference Semifinals. Houston enjoyed a stellar 2023 campaign, highlighted by hoisting the U.S. Open Cup.

Sporting KC has an excellent record in the opening weekend of a season - the team actually leads MLS with 15 season-opening wins all-time, posting a 15-9-4 record in Week 1. Over the previous eight seasons, Sporting has gone 3-4-1 in season openers, beating Seattle, Vancouver and the New York Red Bulls in 2016, 2020, and 2021 respectively, falling to New York City, LAFC, Atlanta United and the Portland Timbers in 2018, 2019, 2022 and 2023 while also playing to a scoreless draw against D.C. United in 2017.

Sporting maintains an edge in the all-time regular-season series against Houston, going 14-13-15, but also has a 5-8-8 mark on the road.


Sporting Kansas City will commence the club’s 2024 MLS campaign this Saturday night with a visit to take on Houston Dynamo FC at Shell Energy Stadium. The match marks an immediate opportunity for revenge as Sporting saw their 2023 season curtailed by the Dynamo in the MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Semifinal.

That postseason matchup didn’t pass without controversy, as just moments after Houston scored the only goal of the game, Daniel Salloi saw a shot blocked off the line by the arm of Erik Sviatchenko, but no penalty was awarded. PRO later admitted an error had been made on the call.

Sporting claimed the season series over Houston in the 2023 regular season, going 1-0-1. Sporting first settled for a point on July 8 with a 2-2 draw at Shell Energy Stadium. Alan Pulido twice gave Sporting the lead but Houston equalized in first and second-half stoppage time to salvage a draw.

The return fixture took place at Children’s Mercy Park on Sept. 23, with Sporting holding on for a 2-1 win. Johnny Russell gave Sporting an early lead from the spot before being shown a straight red card following a VAR review later in the first half. Willy Agada doubled the lead before Teenage Hadebe pulled a goal back on the stroke of halftime but Sporting held on with 10 men through the second half to pick up all three points.


Sporting Kansas City enters the 2024 campaign with the vast majority of the team that produced one of the most remarkable turnarounds in MLS history last season returning for another year under Manager Peter Vermes.

Of the starting XI that saw their season come to an end in Houston on Nov. 26, 2023, 10 of those players are back in 2024 as Gadi Kinda was the sole casualty of the offseason after he returned home to Israel and Maccabi Haifa. Despite Kinda starting Sporting’s final three postseason matches, it was actually the returning Erik Thommy who played the majority of the minutes alongside Nemanja Radoja and Remi Walter in 2023.

Up front, Sporting’s deadly trio all return as Alan Pulido, Johnny Russell and Daniel Salloi are all back in 2024 after putting up some stellar numbers last campaign. Pulido was the team’s top scorer with 15 goals in all competitions and tallied 21 goal contributions, while Salloi led the team with 22 goal contributions (10g, 12a). Russell also tallied 13 goal involvements as the trio made up 56 goals and assists in 2023.

Along the backline, goalkeeper Tim Melia is back to anchor the same quartet that started Sporting’s playoff finale in Jake Davis, Dany Rosero, Andreu Fontas and Tim Leibold.


When Sporting KC takes the field in their season opener at Houston Dynamo FC on Saturday, Manager Peter Vermes will be reaching a major managerial milestone.

Across all MLS competitions (including the MLS Cup Playoffs and MLS is Back Knockout Round), Vermes currently sits on 499 games coached. Embarking on his 16th season at the helm in Kansas City, Vermes will celebrate the new campaign with his 500th game coached in MLS competition.

Vermes is one of the longest serving managers in world soccer. Among all leagues with an average attendance of 10,000+, Vermes ranks second, while Vermes is the 5th longest tenured head coach in the five major American men’s sports leagues.


Sporting Kansas City added four players during the offseason and each will be looking to make an impact in 2024 and beyond. Sporting signed a player on each line heading into the season with goalkeeper Ryan Schewe, defender Zorhan Bassong, midfielder Memo Rodriguez and forward Alenis Vargas all joining the ranks.

Schewe, 21, was Sporting’s first round selection in the 2024 MLS SuperDraft (22nd overall) out of Georgetown University where he posted a 20-4-4 record in two standout collegiate seasons.

Canadian left back Bassong, 24, joins Sporting as a free agent after spending the last year playing in Romania. Bassong was developed at Belgian clubs Mouscron and Anderlecht before moving to Lille in France and Cercle Brugge back in Belgium. In a previous stint in MLS, Bassong made 43 appearances in all competitions for his hometown team CF Montreal from 2021-2022.

Rodriguez, 28, arrives in Kansas City with a wealth of MLS experience, mostly with Houston Dynamo FC from 2015-2022 where he came up through their academy. Rodriguez has scored 34 goals in 227 professional appearances and helped the Dynamo win the 2018 U.S. Open Cup before spending the 2023 season with the LA Galaxy and Austin FC.

Vargas, 20, signed with Sporting’s first team from Costa Rican side Futbol Consultants Desamparados after impressing while on loan with SKC II in 2023. Last season, Vargas recorded six goals and five assists while drawing three penalty kicks and helping the team reach the MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs with a third-place finish in the West.