Two of the hottest players in Major League Soccer have been selected to the MLS Team of the Week presented by Audi.
Sporting Kansas City captain Johnny Russell was included in the best XI for Week 29, continuing his irresistible run of attacking form, while MLS MVP candidate Daniel Salloi earned a spot on the Team of the Week bench alongside midfield teammate Gadi Kinda.
In a pulsating 4-2 home victory over Houston Dynamo FC on Sunday afternoon, Russell struck on both sides of halftime and Salloi strengthened his MLS MVP bid with a goal and an assist. Kinda scored a goal and set up another of his own as Sporting keep within two points of Western Conference leaders Seattle Sounders FC and all but sealed a berth in the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Team of the Week (3-4-3, left to right): Andre Blake (PHI) – Andrew Gutman (RBNY), Mamadou Fall (LAFC), Walker Zimmerman (NSH) – Cecilio Dominguez (ATX), Cristian Roldan (SEA), Joao Paulo (SEA), Johnny Russell (SKC) – Romell Quioto (MTL), Brian White (VAN), Yeferson Soteldo (TOR)
Coach: Wilfried Nancy (MTL)
Bench: Phelipe (DAL), Alex Callens (NYC), Gadi Kinda (SKC), Alejandro Bedoya (PHI), Daniel Salloi (SKC), Daryl Dike (ORL), Jaroslaw Niezgoda (POR)
Just as beaming sunshine and temperatures in the low 70s provided the perfect setting for soccer at Children’s Mercy Park, Russell remained a glowing fixture on the field with a magisterial individual performance. The Scottish forward won and converted a penalty kick in the 16th minute and added an insurance goal with 90 minutes on the clock to seal the victory.
In doing so, Russell became only the second player in club history to score in five consecutive regular season matches. The first player to accomplish the rare feat was Sporting Legend Preki during the team’s inaugural 1996 campaign.
LONGEST REGULAR SEASON GOAL SCORING STREAKS
(SPORTING KC, ALL-TIME)
- 5 matches | Johnny Russell | 09/11/21 to 10/03/21
- 5 matches | Preki | 06/01/96 to 06/20/96
- 4 matches | Felipe Gutierrez | 03/10/18 to 03/31/18
- 4 matches | Dom Dwyer | 09/09/16 to 10/01/16
- 4 matches | Dom Dwyer | 08/29/14 to 09/26/14
- 4 matches | Dom Dwyer | 05/10/14 to 05/23/14
- 4 matches | Eddie Johnson | 05/26/07 to 07/22/07
Russell has 10 goals and seven assists during a 2021 season that actually began slowly for the 31-year-old. Sporting’s captain had zero goals and three assists from April to June but has 10 goals and four assists since the turn of July.
Perhaps more impressively, Russell’s seven goals and nine total goal contributions (including two assists) since Aug. 28 are the most in Major League Soccer. One could fairly argue, therefore, that Russell has been the league’s best player over the last five weeks.
Salloi, meanwhile slotted home Sporting’s second goal of the day in the 26th minute before assisting Gadi Kinda’s strike near the hour mark. His 23 total goal contributions this year—consisting of 16 goals and seven assists—are the most in MLS and the fifth-most in club history. Only Preki (1996, 1997, 2003) and Benny Feilhaber (25) have recorded more goals and assists in a single regular season while playing for Sporting.
MOST GOAL CONTRIBUTIONS IN MLS THIS SEASON
- 23 | Daniel Salloi | Sporting Kansas City | 16 goals, 7 assists
- 22 | Ola Kamara | D.C. United | 17 goals, 5 assists
- 22 | Hany Mukhtar | Nashville SC | 13 goals, 9 assists
- 20 | Gustavo Bou | New England Revolution | 13 goals, 7 assists
- 20 | Valentin Castellanos | New York City FC | 13 goals, 7 assists
MOST GOAL CONTRIBUTIONS IN AN MLS REGULAR SEASON
(SPORTING KC, ALL-TIME)
- 31 | Preki | 1996 | 18 goals, 13 assists
- 29 | Preki | 2003 | 12 goals, 17 assists
- 29 | Preki | 1997 | 12 goals, 17 assists
- 25 | Benny Feilhaber | 2015 | 10 goals, 15 assists
- 23 | Daniel Salloi | 2021 | 15 goals, 6 assists
- 23 | Dom Dwyer | 2014 | 22 goals, 1 assist
- 23 | Preki | 1998 | 10 goals, 13 assists
Salloi’s remarkable goal production is best illustrated by the fact that his 16 non-penalty kick strikes are three more than any other MLS player this year.
Those 16 non-PK goals are also tied for the most in a season in Kansas City history—equaling Dom Dwyer’s hauls in 2014 and 2016—and tied for the most all-time by an MLS Homegrown Player. Gyasi Zardes, an LA Galaxy homegrown product, equaled that total during the 2014 and 2018 seasons.
With Russell and Salloi both scoring freely, the duo have climbed into the top 10 on Sporting’s all-time regular season goals chart. Russell is seventh on the list, three shy of matching Kei Kamara for sixth, while Salloi is tied for eighth alongside Feilhaber and Mo Johnston.
Kinda has five goals and four assists this season after tallying one of each against Houston. Incredibly enough, four of his 11 career MLS goals have come at the expense of the Dynamo.
Having secured a thrilling an emotional win, Sporting will recuperate over the next several days before hitting the stretch run of the 2021 regular season. Sporting’s first of six remaining fixtures will take place on Oct. 17 when the team visits Vancouver Whitecaps FC for a 9 p.m. CT kickoff at BC Place.
Before then, Kinda and Salloi join their respective national teams for FIFA World Cup qualifiers in Europe on Oct. 9 and 12. Kinda and Israel will visit Scotland on Saturday before hosting Moldova three days later. Salloi and Hungary will host Albania on Saturday and visit England next week. All four matches will stream live on ESPN Plus.