Two Sporting Kansas City players have traveled to Europe this week as midfielder Gadi Kinda and forward Daniel Salloi prepare for 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers with Israel and Hungary, respectively.
Kinda and Salloi—who starred for Sporting in a 4-2 home win over Houston Dynamo FC before venturing abroad—are both scheduled to take the field Saturday and Tuesday during the October FIFA window, looking to help their countries end longstanding World Cup droughts. We preview Saturday's slate in the space below.
Israel at Scotland
2022 World Cup Qualifying | UEFA Group F
Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021 | 11 a.m. CT
Hampden Park | Glasgow, Scotland
Streaming on ESPN Plus
In a twist of fate, Saturday's clash at historic Hampden Park in Glasgow will take place one year and one day after Scotland edge Israel on penalty kicks following a scoreless draw at the same venue to cement a berth in the UEFA European Championship unfolded earlier this summer.
Interestingly enough, Israel and Scotland have met four times in the last 13 months. In addition to battling in a UEFA Euro playoff, the teams were paired together in the 2020-21 UEFA Nations League group stage last fall as Israel took four points of a possible six. The sides were then drawn into the same World Cup qualifying group and scrapped to a 1-1 draw on March 28 in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Led by head coach Willibald Ruttensteiner, Israel currently occupies third place in Group F, eight points behind runaway leaders Denmark and one point behind second-place Scotland. Four group stage matches remain between now and mid-November, with the first-place finisher qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar and the second-place team advancing to a World Cup playoff contested by other second-place finishers in UEFA in March 2022. Israel are seeking their second-ever World Cup appearance after competing in the tournament for the first time in 1970.
Kinda has rejoined Israel after linking up with the squad for the FIFA window early last month. He was an unused substitute in World Cup qualifying wins against the Faroe Islands and Austria and came off the bench in a loss at Group F leaders Denmark on Sept. 7 for his third career cap at the international level. Kinda previously punctuated his Israel debut with a sensational long-range goal in a 3-1 friendly win at Montenegro on June 5 and made his first start four days later in a friendly defeat at European powerhouse Portugal.
Kinda scored one goal and set up another last Sunday against Houston and has five goals plus four assists on the season.
Hungary vs. Albania
2022 World Cup Qualifying | UEFA Group I
Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021 | 1:45 p.m. CT
Puskas Arena | Budapest, Hungary
Streaming on ESPN Plus
After making his first three appearances for Hungary's senior team last month, Sporting's MLS MVP candidate has joined the Magyars once again. On the immediate horizon is a pivotal showdown with rivals Albania at the world-class Puskas Arena, which will not be permitted to have fans on Saturday after Hungary was punished for poor supporter behavior in a lopsided loss to England on Sept. 2.
Under the guidance of Italian head coach Marco Rossi, Hungary are seeking their first World Cup appearance since 1986. The Magyars currently occupy fourth place in UEFA Group I, a point behind third-place Poland and two behind second-place Albania, with four qualifying matches still to play between now and mid-November. England are in pole position to finish first in the group and qualify directly for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, while the second-place team will advance to a playoff round contested among UEFA countries in March 2022.
Before his first-team breakthrough earlier this month, Salloi previously represented Hungary in 2019 UEFA Under-21 Championship qualifying, scoring once in four appearances from November 2017 to March 2018. He earned his first selection to Hungary’s senior team in September 2018 and was an unused substitute in UEFA Nations League matches against Greece and Finland.
Salloi is enjoying his best professional season to date, leading MLS with 23 combined goals (16) and assists (seven) as one of the feel-good stories of the year. The 25-year-old Sporting KC Academy product has equaled the all-time record for non-penalty goals by a Sporting player and an MLS Homegrown Player in a single regular season with 16. Salloi is one of three MLS players on Hungary's roster alongside Philadelphia Union midfielder Daniel Gazdag and FC Dallas winger Szabolcs Schon.