220723-vsLAFC-MatchPreview-DLTWFB

Sporting Kansas City vs. Los Angeles FC
2022 MLS Regular Season | Match 23
Saturday, July 23 | 7:30 p.m. CT (7:38 kickoff)
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas

Local TV | 38 The Spot
Streaming | SportingKC.com, SKC App, ESPN+
English Radio | Sports Radio 810 WHB
Spanish Radio | La Grande 1340 AM

Sporting Kansas City (5-12-5, 20 points) will host MLS Supporters' Shield leaders Los Angeles FC (13-4-3, 42 points) at 7:30 p.m. CT on Saturday at Children's Mercy Park. Tickets are available online at SeatGeek.com  and the first 3,500 fans in attendance will receive Sporting KC sunglasses courtesy of match sponsor Sun Solar.

In anticipation of high temperatures, all ticket holders will be permitted to bring one bottle of water into Children's Mercy Park on Saturday. The bottle must be sealed and no larger than 20 ounces, and the bottle's cap will be removed at the gate upon entry. 

Prior to kick off, Sporting Legend Jimmy Conrad - a MLS Defender of the Year and four-time MLS Best XI selection during his 13-year MLS career - will sign autographs on the Mazuma Plaza. The World Cup veteran will also lead the I Believe chant prior to kick off and will make a guest appearance on the match broadcast with Nate Bukaty and Jacob Peterson.

The Western Conference clash will be locally televised on 38 The Spot with three hours of coverage beginning at 7 p.m. CT. The broadcast will also stream live on SportingKC.com and in the Sporting KC app for viewers in Kansas and Missouri (excluding the St. Louis area per MLS policy), as well as ESPN+ for out-of-market subscribers. In addition, the match will air live on Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM.

Saturday's match kicks off a high-profile week of matches for Sporting KC, who host the top two teams in the league on back-to-back Saturdays in addition to a mid-week trip to Sacramento for the U.S. Open Cup Semifinal. Sporting sit seven points outside playoff position with 12 regular season matches remaining, eight of which will be played at Children's Mercy Park.

Sporting has lost the team's last three regular season home matches and will be aiming to snap the skid on Saturday to avoid the team's first four-game regular season home losing streak in the non-shootout era of Major League Soccer (2000-present). Manager Peter Vermes' squad has been bolstered by the arrival of 22-year-old Nigerian striker Willy Agada and 27-year-old German attacking midfielder Erik Thommy. Both players trained with Sporting for the first time this week and could make their club debuts on Saturday.

LAFC's roster also features new summer signings with the additions of 33-year-old Welsh winger Gareth Bale, 37-year-old Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini and 25-year-old Ecuadorian midfielder Sebastian Mendez. Bale, who will lead Wales at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in November, is a five-time UEFA Champions League winner and arrives after a nine-year career with Real Madrid in Spain. Chiellini, who won nine Serie A titles during a 17-year career at Juventus FC, has 117 caps for Italy -- including appearances at the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cup -- and captained Italy to the 2020 European Championship as the Defender of the Tournament.

The trio join an LAFC side that will send three players - Diego Palacios, Ilie Sanchez and Carlos Vela - to the 2022 MLS All-Star Game next month. Vela, Major League Soccer's MVP and Golden Boot winner in 2019, was named Best MLS Player at the ESPYs this week. Ilie, who made 171 appearances for Sporting across all competitions from 2017-2021, leads all LAFC field players in minutes played this season.

Now led by first-year head coach Steve Cherundolo after missing the playoffs last season, LAFC lead the league in goals per game (2.00) and have the lowest goals against average in the Western Conference (1.10). Colombian forward Cristian Arango leads the team with eight goals - including goals in six of his last seven appearances - while Ecuadorian midfielder Jose Cifuentes has contributed six goals and four assists.

Saturday's showdown will feature two of the top attacking players in Major League Soccer over the past five seasons in Vela (63 goals, 43 assists) and Johnny Russell (46 goals, 31 assists). The two club captains rank first and third, respectively, in goal contributions since arriving in Major League Soccer in 2018.

Russell leads Sporting with eight goals in all competitions this year and has become the first SKC player to score six goals in five straight regular seasons. On the opposite wing, Daniel Salloi has six goals in all competitions this year and his 45 goals for Sporting in all competitions are one shy of tying Josh Wolff for fifth most in club history.

In eight all-time meetings between Sporting KC and LAFC, no player has scored more often than Salloi with three goals in the series including the game-winning goal in a 2-1 victory the last time the teams played at Children's Mercy Park on June 26, 2021. The series is evenly split with four wins for each side in a match-up that has produced four red cards and four penalties and nearly four goals per game (30 goals in eight encounters).

Sporting KC will be without five players on Saturday, including Designated Players Alan Pulido and Gadi Kinda as well as veteran midfielder Roger Espinoza. Goalkeeper Tim Melia and defender Graham Zusi are questionable to return from injury, while LAFC Young Designated Player Brian Rodriguez is also questionable after missing the last four matches due to injury.

Following Saturday's match, The Final Whistle postgame show will air on Sports Radio 810 WHB with hosts Chad Reynolds and Dave Borchardt. Listeners can tune in via the Sporting KC mobile app or online at 810WHB.com.