On a memorable night that saw Sporting Kansas City put its longtime rival to the sword, three stars emerged as members of the MLS Team of the Week presented by Audi.
It wouldn't be hard to guess the first two. Israeli forward Gadi Kinda and Mexican striker Alan Pulido continued their scintillating starts in MLS, tallying a goal and an assist apiece to headline a 4-0 demolition of the Houston Dynamo at electric Children's Mercy Park on Saturday.
The third Sporting representative to land Team of the Week honors? Look no further than Manager Peter Vermes, who was selected as the coach for MLSsoccer.com's weekly best XI.
Kinda, 25, is the only player to receive Team of the Week accolades in each of the first two weeks of the season. He and Pulido opened their respective scoring accounts in a season-opening 3-1 victory at Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Feb. 29.
As you would guess, Pulido and Kinda have made collective history in their first two Sporting matches. They are now the third and fourth newcomers all-time to score in each of Sporting’s first two games of a regular season. The others to do so? Danish dynamite Miklos Molnar in 2000 and Argentine Claudio Bieler in 2013. Sporting went on to win MLS Cup in each of the previous two instances.
With Pulido and Kinda on the scoresheet, this is just the third time ever that a pair of Sporting players have scored in the team’s first two regular season games. The previous duos to achieve the feat together were Molnar and Chris Klein in 2000 and Jack Jewsbury and Klein five years later.
“They’re special players and special quality,” Vermes said of Pulido and Kinda on Saturday night. “The biggest thing is they’re team guys. They’ve been working as hard off the ball, defensively, everything. That’s what is most important. Obviously, we brought those guys in to give us a little bit more in the attack. They’re pulling through on that, as well, but I can’t say enough about their defensive responsibilities and how they’re putting a shift in each game.”
As for Vermes' accomplishments through Week 2? Consider this: never before has Sporting opened an MLS regular season with consecutive victories by multiple goals. Moreover, 2020 marks the second time in which Sporting has scored three or more goals in its first two fixtures of a regular season. The first such occurrence unfolded in 2000 when Kansas City went on to claim the MLS Cup and Supporters’ Shield with Vermes leading the defense as a center back. Combine comfortable wins with explosive offense, and there’s a good case to be made that Sporting is off to its most dominant two-game start in club history.
With two emphatic victories under their belts, Sporting will now prepare for a mouthwatering showdown Saturday at Eastern Conference powerhouse Atlanta United FC (2-0-0, 6 points). The cross-conference clash at Mercedes-Benz Stadium is slated for 6 p.m. CT with live coverage on FOX Sports Kansas City, FOX Sports Midwest Plus, FOX Sports GO, ESPN 94.5 FM and La Grande 1340 AM.