Five Things

Sporting Kansas City returns to play in Major League Soccer in a home match against Western Conference foes Austin FC at Children's Mercy Park. The match is set for Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m. CT, tickets are available at SeatGeek.com and the showdown will be broadcast on 38 The Spot.

Saturday will be the first meeting in 2022 between Sporting KC and Austin and the two sides will meet again in two weeks in the Lonestar State capital at Q2 Stadium. Austin in their second season has found their footing in the league, currently occupying second place in the Western Conference. Sporting is looking to pick up a resume-boosting result at home against a well-rounded Austin FC squad.

Here are five things about Sporting Kansas City and Austin FC's match on Saturday night.

Sporting KC connections

One of MLS's charter clubs, Sporting KC is a team with boatloads of history. Included in that history are 12 Sporting Legends whose legacies have left a lasting impact on the club. Two of those Sporting Legends, Josh Wolff and Davy Arnaud, return to Kansas City and Children's Mercy Park on Saturday in the Austin FC technical area.

Wolff's name was enshrined at Children's Mercy Park on July 20, 2019, as the 10th Sporting Legends inductee. The former Wizards forward played seven seasons in Kansas City, amassing 46 goals and 30 assists, good enough for fourth in goals and eighth in assists on the club's charts. Arnaud saw his name adorn the Victory Suite at Children's Mercy Park earlier this season on June 12, becoming the 12th member of Sporting Legends. In his 10 seasons as a member of the club, the midfielder climbed into third on the club goals chart with 52 goals and ranks fifth in assists totalling 40. Both Legends played under current Manager and Sporting Director of Sporting KC, Peter Vermes during their time as players. Now the duo will have to square off against their former manager for a fourth time from the technical area.

All level in the series

In Austin's inaugural season, they had to face Sporting three times. The first-ever meeting between Sporting and Austin took place on May 9, 2021, at Children's Mercy Park. Austin struck in the seventh minute to take a one-goal advantage. The script of the contest flipped when Alexander Ring received a second yellow card in the 67th minute while the score was still 1-0 in favor of Austin. Johnny Russell assisted on the leveler in the 82nd before Gadi Kinda buried the match winner in the 90th to send Austin FC back to Texas empty handed.

The second battle also came at Children's Mercy Park and had a similar opening. Austin scored first and took the 1-0 scoreline into the half. Sporting fired 32 shots and 11 shots on target, finally finding the breakthrough in the 71st minute off the foot of Daniel Salloi. The match would conclude 1-1. Sporting fell 3-1 in the most recent matchup on Nov. 3, 2021, in their first trip to Q2 Stadium. The fourth iteration of Sporting vs Austin will take place Saturday and the deadlock will be broken one way or another.

Always exciting at Children's Mercy Park

Children's Mercy Park has been the backdrop for two matches between Sporting and Austin. As stated above, Sporting won the first duel in thrilling fashion, scoring two goals after the 80th minute to win 2-1. They followed that up with another exhilarating come-from-behind performance to take a point at home. This season, Children's Mercy Park has witnessed even more thrilling matches. Nine of Sporting's 10 home MLS matches have been decided by one goal or ended in a draw this year. Sporting's three Open Cup matches all produced wins as Sporting outscored opponents 12-3. These two have a history of edge-of-your-seat action between them and Saturday is another opportunity for exactly that.

Righting the ship

Saturday is another opportunity for Sporting to snap their current home-losing skid. The club has dropped their last four matches at Children's Mercy Park after losing just once in their first six home matches. Seven of Sporting's last 11 MLS matches this season will be played at home, giving Sporting a leg up on every team that comes to town in home stretch of the season. Sporting will look to add to their impressive 127 matches won and 418 goals scored in all competitions at CMP since the stadium opened in 2011.

No sophomore slump for Austin

Standing in the way of that slump-ending win is second-year team Austin FC. The Verde and Black finished their inaugural season in 12th place in the west and have climbed the ladder in 2022 holding second place at the moment on 41 points, already 10 more than their total a season ago. They are headlined by MLS MVP front-runner and Golden Boot leader Sebastian Driussi. He has scored 13 goals in 2022 – tied for the league lead alongside Valentin Castellanos who now plays for La Liga side Girona – and has tallied seven assists. A season ago he had just five goals and five assists. The 26-year-old Argentine midfielder alongside midfielder Diego Fagundez (five goals, eight assists) have been key contributors to Austin's offense that paces MLS with 45 goals. A Sporting KC defense that has conceded just 11 goals at home will look to stifle Austin's attack on Saturday and pick up a home result.