Sporting Kansas City hits the road for a match with Austin FC at Q2 Stadium on Saturday. First kick will take place at 8 p.m. CT on 38 The Spot beginning a half-hour before with the Sporting KC Pregame Show.
Saturday will be Sporting's second ever match at Q2 Stadium after suffering a 3-1 defeat at the one-year-old soccer-specific stadium last season. Austin, currently sitting in second place in the West, have been tough at home in spurts this season. They opened the season with back-to-back wins scoring five goals in each match, but have won just three of their last nine home matches at Q2 Stadium.
Here are five things to keep an eye on in the matchup between Sporting Kansas City and Austin FC.
Fresh off a win
In the third and final showing of a three-match home stretch, Sporting KC lit up the LA Galaxy for four goals, scoring three in the first half. That win snapped a losing streak and produced some of the best individual performances of the season for Sporting KC. Midfielder Erik Thommy scored his first goal for Sporting KC and had said goal nominated for AT&T Goal of the Week. Forward Willy Agada bagged a brace in the first, opening his Sporting KC scoring account and giving all SKC fans a memorable celebration. Forward Daniel Salloi contributed three goals, providing two assists and sealing the match with his second-half stoppage time score. Sporting will be riding the momentum of that win into Austin, looking to even the series at two wins a piece in the fifth ever meeting.
Major milestones approaching
This upcoming Sporting KC match guarantees one major milestone and provides the opportunity for two players to reach historic markers. Manager and Sporting Director Peter Vermes will hit 600 matches played or coached for the club on Saturday. Vermes has three Lamar Hunt US Open Cup titles, more than any active coach in MLS, and has coached in 507 matches for Sporting, more than any coach at one club in league history. He remains the only person to win MLS Cup as both a player and a coach for the same club as well.
On the pitch, two Sporting KC veterans have the chance to make history for themselves on Saturday. Forwards Johnny Russell and Daniel Salloi are each one goal off from climbing the club charts. Russell is on 51 goals in all competitions, one shy of tying Davy Arnaud for third on the club leaderboard, and Salloi's 46 goals in all competitions is one away from fifth on the club charts, which would tie him with Josh Wolff. Both Wolff and Arnaud will be in attendance on Saturday as Wolff is the head coach of Austin FC and Arnaud is his assistant coach. The Sporting Legends duo will try their best to stifle Russell and Salloi and keep their records intact.
Newcomers no more
Last Saturday's Sporting KC win over the Galaxy truly introduced everyone to the abilities of Erik Thommy and Willy Agada. As stated earlier, Thommy's goal, which sparked the Sporting KC offense, received a nomination for AT&T Goal of the Week. His deft touch with his chest into a volley which he blasted past Jonathan Bond will be a memorable first goal in Sporting Blue. Agada's opening goal was not as clean but counted all the same. After Bond blocked the initial shot Agada finished the rebound but was not awarded the goal initially. After a lengthy VAR check, the goal was given and Agada leaped into the arms of Vermes in celebratory fashion.
He followed that up 10 minutes later with another goal and an athletic backflip to cap it off. Sporting KC's newest members have both appeared in four contests. The two have started two of three appearances in regular season play and are becoming well acquainted with the club. As Sporting enters the home stretch of the season, Thommy and Agada will look to contribute as much as they can to Sporting KC's success.
Very familiar faces
Saturday's opponents Austin FC present a familiar site. Sporting did battle with the Black and Verde at Children's Mercy Park two weeks prior to Saturday's match on July 30. Austin left Kansas City with three points, scoring two goals against a 10-man Sporting KC side. That was the fourth all-time meeting between the side as Sporting's record against Austin dropped to 1-2-1. Sporting did not win in their one visit to Q2 Stadium in 2021.
Austin's technical staff is home to two very familiar faces. Head coach Josh Wolff and assistant coach Davy Arnaud are both Sporting Legends and enjoyed very successful times in Kansas City. As stated above both Russell and Salloi are nipping at the duo's heels in the all-time goals category.
Sebastian Driussi and Austin FC
Austin has been flying high in their sophomore season in Major League Soccer. The Texas outfit has tallied 45 points and a league-high 50 goals. Their offensive firepower has come from midfielder and MVP front-runner Sebastian Driussi. The Argentine leads the Golden Boot race at 16 goals and has added seven assists for Austin. He had a busy midweek, starting in the MLS All-Star Game presented by Target but only played 32 minutes in the MLS All-Stars' win over the Liga MX All-Stars.