Match Preview

Match Preview: Sporting KC hosts Leagues Cup finalists Nashville SC on Wednesday


Sporting Kansas City vs. Nashville SC
2023 MLS Regular Season | Match 30
Wednesday, September 20 | 7:30 p.m. CT (7:39 kickoff)
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kan.

Broadcast Schedule:
Apple TV | MLS Season Pass
English Radio | Sports Radio 810 WHB
Spanish Radio | La Grande 1340 AM

Sporting Kansas City will host Leagues Cup finalists Nashville SC at 7:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday as the club celebrates Hispanic Heritage Night at Children's Mercy Park. Tickets for the cross-conference clash are available  online at SeatGeek, including the Bud Light Easy to Enjoy Pack featuring a match ticket, a hot dog and a Bud Light for only $30. 

Hispanic Heritage Night will celebrate the culture of the Hispanic community with numerous matchday elements including a special adidas pre-match top worn by Sporting KC players during warm-ups and available for fans to purchase at SportingStyle. In addition, Corona and Modelo will be $2 off at Children's Mercy Park concessions and Latin GRAMMY Awards winning group Making Movies will lead the I Believe chant prior to kickoff.

With five matches remaining in the final month of the regular season, Sporting sits one point outside playoff position after a vital 1-0 road win at Minnesota United FC on Saturday. Tim Melia earned his 75th career clean sheet for Sporting in all competitions and the veteran goalkeeper is now one win shy of 100 victories for Sporting in MLS competitions and one start shy of fourth place on the club's all-time regular season chart.

Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes is also on the cusp of a major milestone as Wednesday will mark the 700th MLS match in his distinguished career as a player and head coach. A prominent player during Major League Soccer's first seven seasons, Vermes is now in his 20th season in Kansas City (2000-2002; 2006-present) and the Sporting Legend will be the first individual in league history to reach the 700-match milestone.

While Sporting has won three of the club's last four matches and is now navigating a stretch of three matches in eight days, Nashville SC is winless in their last six MLS matches and arrives in Kansas City on 17 days rest. Led by head coach Gary Smith, Nashville boasts the best defense in MLS this season with a league-low 27 goals conceded in 27 matches behind a backline that features USMNT World Cup teammates Walker Zimmerman - the MLS Defender of the Year in 2020 and 2021 - and right back Shaq Moore.

Offensively, Nashville SC acquired Designated Player Sam Surridge this summer from Premier League side Nottingham Forest to aid the team's attack which is headlined by 28-year-old German playmaker Hany Mukhtar. A two-time MLS All-Star and MLS Best XI selection, Mukhtar is the reigning MLS MVP and MLS Golden Boot recipient who is back in contention for both honors in 2023 with 14 goals and eight assists. Mukhtar's 92 goal contributions (57 goals, 35 assists) over the past four seasons are not only most in MLS since his arrival in 2020, but they also account for more than half (56.4%) of Nashville's regular season goals in club history.

One behind Mukhtar in the MLS Golden Boot race, Sporting KC striker Alan Pulido leads MLS with 12 goals since the start of June and leads Sporting with 14 goals this season in all competitions. Pulido missed all of 2022 through injury, as did fellow Designated Player Gadi Kinda who struck for the game-winning goal on Saturday and now has four goals and five assists in all competitions this year.

Nashville will be without former Sporting KC forward Teal Bunbury on Wednesday due to a one-match suspension for caution accumulation. In addition, the Designated Player duo of Zimmerman and Surridge are questionable due to injury while Randall Leal is also questionable with an illness. Sporting Kansas City's player availability report includes three defenders with Kortne Ford (out), Kayden Pierre (out) and Graham Zusi (questionable).

Wednesday's mid-week match-up will be broadcast live on Apple TV in English and Spanish for MLS Season Pass subscribers (sign up for a one-month free trial). Local radio coverage will air on Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM with streams in the Sporting KC app, while  pub partners in the Sporting Pub Network will also show all of the action.