Match Preview

Preview: Sporting KC set for Fourth of July showdown with Colorado Rapids


Sporting Kansas City at Colorado Rapids
2024 MLS Regular Season | Match 22
Thursday, July 4 | 8:30 p.m. CT (8:40 kickoff)
Dick's Sporting Goods Park | Commerce City, Colo.

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

Coming off a 2-0 home win over Austin FC, Sporting Kansas City returns to the road this week to face the fourth-place Colorado Rapids in a Fourth of July match-up. Kickoff is set for 8:40 p.m. CT on Thursday at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado and the Western Conference clash will be available to watch on Apple TV for MLS Season Pass subscribers.

Radio coverage will air locally on Sports Radio 810 WHB in English and La Grande 1340 AM in Spanish with live audio streams in the Sporting KC App. In addition, pub partners in the Sporting Pub Network will also show all of the action including a watch party at No Other Pub in the Kansas City Power and Light District with food and drink specials for fans.

Sporting Kansas City will kick off a July fixture list that features seven games across three different competitions, highlighted by a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal date with FC Dallas on July 10 and the start of the club's Leagues Cup campaign against Chicago on July 28. Thursday also continues the club's busiest stretch of the season with the second of seven games in 22 days.

The gauntlet got off to a strong start on Saturday as Sporting earned a 2-0 win against Austin FC at Children's Mercy Park. The victory was the club's first shutout in 17 regular season matches as the Sporting Kansas City defense held Austin to zero shots on goal and two total shot attempts, the fewest by an opponent in an MLS match since 2016.

Left back Tim Leibold opened the scoring - becoming Sporting's 15th different goal scorer this season, most in MLS -- to earn a spot on the MLS Team of the Matchday while Stephen Afrifa came off the bench to score his third goal in his last four MLS appearances. The 23-year-old winger, drafted eighth overall in the 2023 MLS SuperDraft, is now tied for second on the team with four goals this year in all competitions alongside Alan Pulido and Erik Thommy.

Colorado has orchestrated a dramatic turnaround in 2024 under first-year head coach Chris Armas after the Rapids finished last in the Western Conference a year ago. Armas' roster is headlined by the Designated Player duo of Djordje Mihailovic (nine goals, eight assists) and Rafael Navarro (11 goals, three assists) as well as U22 Initiative Player Cole Bassett (six goals, three assists) and MLS All-Star Keegan Rosenberry on the backline.

The hosts will look to bounce back from a 3-0 loss at LAFC in which the Rapids - who have the highest expected goals value in MLS this season (44.1) thanks to a league-leading nine penalty kicks -- were held scoreless for the first time in 16 games. Designated Player Kevin Cabral was sent off and will serve a one-match suspension on Thursday while Colorado will also be without defender Moise Bombito, who is on international duty with Canada at Copa America.

Both MLS charter clubs from the league's inaugural season in 1996, Sporting and Colorado have squared off 88 times in all competitions -- making the Rapids the most frequent KC opponent all-time -- and SKC holds the series advantage with a 35-31-22 record. However, Sporting has lost each of the team's past seven regular season road matches and has gone winless in 10 straight trips (0-5-5) to Dick's Sporting Goods Park since 2015.

Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes played for the Rapids from 1997-1999, helping lead the team to the MLS Cup final in 1997 and the U.S. Open Cup final in 1999. Vermes is now on the verge of his 200th regular season win as a head coach, a milestone only previously achieved by Bruce Arena and Sigi Schmid.