Sporting Kansas City vs. Chicago Fire FC
2021 MLS Regular Season | Match 24
Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021 | 7:30 p.m. CT
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
English TV | Bally Sports KC Plus, Bally Sports Midwest Plus
Streaming | BallySports.com, Bally Sports app
English Radio | Sports Radio 810 WHB
Spanish Radio | La Grande 1340 AM
Sporting Kansas City’s pursuit of first place in the Western Conference will continue this weekend when the club hosts Chicago Fire FC in its final Saturday home game of the 2021 regular season at Children’s Mercy Park. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. CT and tickets for the match are available at SeatGeek.com, including Coca-Cola Family Four Packs consisting of four general admission tickets in the South Stand, four Coca-Cola products and four Domino's pizzas.
Saturday's cross-conference clash will air live on Bally Sports Kansas City Plus and Bally Sports Midwest Plus with three hours of live coverage beginning at 7 p.m. CT. The match will also stream live on BallySports.com and the Bally Sports app while airing locally on Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM, with The Final Whistle postgame show immediately following on 810 WHB. The Sporting KC app will provide additional in-game updates and exclusive offers, including a digital coupon for a free Coca-Cola 2-liter courtesy of match sponsor Price Chopper.
Sporting will commemorate a consequential time in history on Saturday, observing the 20-year remembrance of the September 11 attacks on the United States. Pilots from the 303rd Fighter Squadron at Whiteman Air Force Base will perform a Children's Mercy Park stadium flyover at the conclusion of the National Anthem and receive formal recognition during a halftime ceremony. Additionally, all past and present military members attending the game will receive 50% off Sporting's food and beverage value menu, Coca-Cola products and Michelob Ultras.
Led by 13th-year manager Peter Vermes, Sporting (11-5-7, 40 points) sit two points out of first place in the Western Conference after seeing their six-game unbeaten run end with a loss at LAFC last Friday. Chicago (6-11-5, 23 points), marshaled by second-year head coach Raphael Wicky, occupy 11th place in the East—seven points below the playoff line and in danger of missing the postseason for the fourth straight year—after securing their first road win of the 2021 campaign with a 1-0 result at the New York Red Bulls on Aug. 28.
Seeking their third first-place finish in the West over the last four seasons, Sporting enters the weekend with a club-record 26-game home scoring streak that dates back to August 2019. Captain Johnny Russell—on the brink of his 100th regular season appearance for the club—extended that streak with a brilliant free kick in a 1-1 draw against the Colorado Rapids on Aug. 28. The Scottish winger is part of a potent offense—further bolstered by the likes of Alan Pulido (eight goals, three assists), Daniel Salloi (12 goals, six assists) and Gadi Kinda (four goals, three assists)—that ranks second in MLS with 37 goals. Salloi and Kinda have returned to Kansas City this week and will be available for selection Saturday after representing Hungary and Israel, respectively, in 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying during the September FIFA window.
In addition to welcoming Salloi and Kinda back to the team, Sporting has received a defensive boost with center back Nicolas Isimat-Mirin no longer on the club’s injury report. The Frenchman has missed the last month with a hamstring ailment and has performed admirably in his seven starts this season. Vermes will have to account for the absence of midfielder Roger Espinoza due to suspension, while defender Jaylin Lindsey is out with a hamstring issue and Felipe Hernandez remains absent for personal reasons.
On the opposite sideline, Chicago is led by Serbian attacking midfielder Luka Stojanovic, whose seven goals this year are four more than any other player on the team. Striker Robert Beric finished second in the MLS Golden Boot race in 2020 but has managed just three goals in 22 appearances this season, while midfielder Alvaro Medran has chipped in a team-best five assists on 44 chances created. Defensively, goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth is fourth in MLS with 69 saves and center back Francisco Calvo is second in the league with 48 interceptions. Calvo is one of three Chicago players listed as questionable for Saturday’s game (thigh) alongside winger Ignacio Aliseda (shin) and homegrown teenager Brian Gutierrez (ankle).
The Fire have a 5-34-15 record in 54 regular season road matches since the start of 2018, managing just five shutouts in those 54 matches. Their five away wins over the last four seasons are tied with Houston Dynamo FC for the fewest in MLS, excluding recent expansion teams Nashville SC and Austin FC.
Chicago has played a prominent role as a key antagonist in the context of Sporting's illustrious history. Kansas City defeated Chicago by a 1-0 scoreline in the 2000 MLS Cup and 2004 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title while also edging the Fire for the 2000 Supporters' Shield by virtue of greater goal differential after finishing level on points.
More recently, Sporting have dominated the head-to-head series with a 4-0-1 record in the last five meetings. Vermes' men are also 6-0-2 in their last eight home games against Chicago, with the Fire last winning at Children's Mercy Park in June 2012. The teams battled twice in 2020 as Sporting came away with a 1-0 home win on Oct. 7 before scrapping to a 2-2 draw 10 days later in Chicago.