Match Preview

Match Preview: Sporting KC hosts the Chicago Fire on Saturday in cross-conference clash


Sporting Kansas City vs. Chicago Fire
2023 MLS Regular Season | Match 21
Saturday, June 24 | 7:30 p.m. CT (7:39 kickoff)
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kan.

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

Two teams coming off dramatic road results on Wednesday night will go head to head on Saturday as Sporting Kansas City returns home to host the Chicago Fire.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. CT at Children's Mercy Park, where the two sides took the field 12 years ago this month for the inaugural match at the world-class venue. A dozen years later, Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes and Chicago Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas - teammates for the United States at the 1988 Olympic Games - will once again be back on the sidelines looking to move their 11th-place teams into playoff position.

Tickets for the cross-conference clash are available online at, including the Sporting U Pass featuring $15 Supporters' Stand tickets for college students. Fans can also pre-order team apparel for match-day pick-up at - with a special offer of buy one, get one 50% off scarves - and all Bud Light and Michelob Ultra 25-ounce cans will be $2 off at Children's Mercy Park concessions on Saturday.

Apple TV will stream the match for free on MLS Season Pass in English and Spanish with longtime Sporting KC broadcaster Nate Bukaty on the call. In addition, local radio coverage will air on Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM with streams in the Sporting KC app and all of the action will be shown by pub partners in the Sporting Pub Network.

Sporting KC rescued a road result at the LA Galaxy on Wednesday as Alan Pulido scored both goals - highlighted by a 91st-minute penalty - in a 2-2 draw in southern California. The Mexican international has scored in four straight league matches, the longest active streak in MLS, for the first time in his illustrious professional career and he leads all MLS players with six goals and seven goal contributions (six goals, one assist) in the month of June.

Most MLS Goals Scored in June
1. Alan Pulido (SKC), 6 goals
2. Hany Mukhtar (NSH), 4 goals
3. Niko Gioacchini (STL), 4 goals

Most MLS Goals + Assists in June
1. Alan Pulido (SKC), 7 (6G, 1A)
2. Carles Gil (NE), 5 (2G, 3A)
3. Eight players tied with 4

Pulido is the third player in club history to score six regular season goals in a single month (Dom Dwyer in May 2014 and Johnny Russell in October 2021) and the Designated Player now has the chance to become the first to score for a seventh time in one month on Saturday. Should he find the back of the net, he would join Preki (five-game scoring streak in 1996) and Johnny Russell (eight-game scoring streak in 2021) as the only KC players to score in five or more consecutive regular season matches.

Chicago is coming off a 2-1 win in Portland on Wednesday courtesy of Kei Kamara's 83rd-minute game-winning goal. A fan favorite in Kansas City from 2009-2013 who last made an appearance at Children's Mercy Park while with the Colorado Rapids in 2019, the 38-year-old Sierre Leone striker now has 144 career MLS regular season goals and his next goal will tie Landon Donovan for second most in league history.

Twenty-year-old homegrown midfielder Brian Gutierrez provided the assist on both of Chicago's goals in the victory and his seven assists this season rank fifth most in Major League Soccer. Gutierrez is one of several youthful contributors for Chicago, who used six players 23 or younger on Wednesday including 19-year-old goalkeeper Chris Brady - the youngest player to record a shutout in MLS this year - and 19-year-old Greek forward Georgios Koutsias.

The Fire will be bolstered on Saturday by the return of Venezuelan defender Miguel Navarro and Swiss playmaker Xherdan Shaqiri from international duty. Shaqiri, who had a goal and two assists in the Fire's 3-1 home win over Sporting last season, featured for Switzerland in the last four FIFA World Cups and has extensive European experience, winning Bundesliga and English Premier League titles, UEFA Champions League trophies and FIFA Club World Cup championships.

Sporting Kansas City has accumulated the most wins (five) and points (18) of any team in the Western Conference since the start of May - as well as the most goals (20) in MLS over that span -- and the club now sits one point out of a playoff position. Chicago, who is a perfect 3-0-0 against the West this season, are three points below the playoff line in the Eastern Conference as the Fire faithful have endured 12 straight seasons with no postseason wins and only two postseason berths.

Last month, the Fire announced the departure of head coach Ezra Hendrickson with Klopas now in his third stint as the club's interim manager. Klopas was the second player in Kansas City Wiz history and scored in the team's inaugural match, his first of seven goals for KC from 1996-1997 before joining Chicago for the club's expansion season in 1998.

Although Chicago leads the all-time series, the Fire are 1-7-3 at Children's Mercy Park where Sporting Kansas City has won six straight against the Fire dating back to 2014 and is unbeaten in nine consecutive regular season match-ups since 2012. The two sides have no shortage of history - Chicago is the only Eastern Conference team Sporting has played every season in the last 25 years -- highlighted by Kansas City's triumph in the 2000 MLS Cup and 2004 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup finals.