Starting XI - Sept. 4, 2017

Starting XI, presented by Ford, is a biweekly series on SportingKC.com that highlights 11 of the biggest storylines and news updates from Sporting Kansas City, MLS and soccer around the globe. Click here to visit the Starting XI archive.



1. Battle in the Bronx

After more than two weeks away from competitive action, Sporting Kansas City (10-5-10, 40 points) takes the field Wednesday in a marquee interconference matchup against New York City FC (14-7-5, 47 points) at Yankee Stadium in Bronx, New York. Kickoff is slated for 6:30 p.m. CT with three hours of live coverage beginning at 6 p.m. CT on FOX Sports Kansas City, FOX Sports Midwest Plus and FOX Sports GO.


A win on Wednesday would see Sporting Kansas City reclaim first place in the Western Conference standings, while New York City FC will look to stay within reach of Toronto FC in the Supporters' Shield race. Manager Peter Vermes' men handed NYCFC their first-ever home loss with a 1-0 triumph in March 2015 behind a goal from defender Ike Opara.


2. Needing Three

Friday's 2-0 home loss to Costa Rica has put the U.S. Men's National Team in a precarious situation ahead of Tuesday's critical World Cup qualifier against Honduras at Estadio Olimpico in San Pedro Sula, slated for 4:30 p.m. CT on beIN SPORTS and Universo. Head coach Bruce Arena's men entered Friday night with hopes of taking second place in CONCACAF's Hexagonal standings, but Costa Rica capitalized on a pair of mistakes to run out 2-0 winners and all but secure a spot at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.


With Mexico sealing World Cup qualification on Friday, the U.S. MNT is now left to battle Honduras and Panama for the third and final automatic berth to Russia 2018. Sporting KC defenders Matt Besler and Graham Zusi are along for the ride to San Pedro Sula as the Yanks look to bounce back.


3. Highlighting the Hex

In addition to the U.S. visiting Honduras, two other matches round out matchday eight in CONCACAF's Hexagonal. The top two teams will square off at 9 p.m. CT on beIN SPORTS as Costa Rica hosts Mexico, while Panama will look to jump up the table when they host Trinidad and Tobago, also at 9 p.m. CT. The top three finishers in the Hex will book their places at the 2018 World Cup, while the fourth-place finisher will meet an Asian country in a two-legged World Cup playoff in November.

Team
PTS
W
L
D
GF
GA
GD
Mexico (Q)
17
5
0
2
10
2
+8
Costa Rica
14
4
1
2
11
4
+7
United States
8
2
2
3
11
10
+1
Honduras
8
2
2
3
8
15
-7
Panama
7
1
4
2
4
5
-1
Trinidad and Tobago
3
1
6
0
4
12
-8

4. All Whites on the Brink

Sporting KC midfielder James Musa and the New Zealand Men's National Team are well positioned heading into tonight's decisive second leg of the OC Final Playoff against Solomon Islands, set to kick off at 10 p.m. CT. The All Whites cruised to a 6-1 first-leg home victory on Friday in Auckland, with Musa playing 26 minutes as a second-half substitute in his first international appearance since May 2014. The holding midfielder will now contend for his third New Zealand cap when head coach Anthony Hudson's men visit Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara, Solomon Islands.


The aggregate winner will advance to face a South American country in a two-legged, home-and-away World Cup playoff scheduled for Nov. 6 and 14. Live updates of tonight's contest will be available on Twitter at @NZ_Football.


5. Soony Overseas

Sporting Kansas City forward Soony Saad has joined the Lebanon Men’s National Team for a 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifier at North Korea, slated for Tuesday at 2:30 a.m. CT at Kim Il-sung Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea. Lebanon owns a five-point lead atop Group B with four qualifying matches still to play between now and March 2018. The top two finishers will advance to the AFC Asian Cup, a major quadrennial tournament organized by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).


6. Amer Awaits Debut

Sporting Kansas City defender Amer Didic was an unused substitute for the Canada Men's National Team in a 2-0 friendly victory over Jamaica on Saturday at BMO Field in Toronto. The 22-year-old Didic had earned his first selection to Canada's senior national team and trained with the Reds last week in preparation for Saturday's match against the Reggae Boyz.


7. Rangers Reign

The Swope Park Rangers (13-6-6, 45 points) snapped a six-game winless drought with a 2-0 win over rivals OKC Energy FC (9-10-6, 33 points) on Saturday at Swope Soccer Village, using a brace from Lebo Moloto and a clean sheet from Adrian Zendejas to keep hold of fourth place in the USL's Western Conference. SPR will now travel to face Orange County SC (7-8-8, 29 points) at 9 p.m. CT Saturday, streaming live on SportingKC.com from Champions Soccer Stadium at Orange County Great Park.


8. Party in the Pub

The official watch party for Wednesday's MLS match between Sporting KC and New York City FC will take place at No Other Pub in the Kansas City Power & Light District (1370 Grand Blvd.), featuring an all-you-can-eat buffet with bottomless domestic draft beer or soda as well as $4 Bud Light drafts.


9. Lindsey Represents

Sporting KC Academy defender Jaylin Lindsey appeared in three matches for the U.S. U-17 Men's National Team last week at the Vaclav Jezek Tournament in the Czech Republic. The U.S. took third place at the tournament, which served as preparation for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup in India.


Lindsey played all three matches in the group stage: a 4-1 win over Hungary, a 3-1 defeat of Russia and a 4-0 loss to Japan. The U.S. U-17s topped Iceland 4-0 in the third-place game, while Japan knocked off hosts Czech Republic 4-2 in the final.


10. Dallas Drops Points

An abbreviated weekend of MLS action saw just three Western Conference clubs take the field. The LA Galaxy topped Colorado Rapids 3-0 in a battle of bottom-dwellers, while FC Dallas failed to make up ground on its nearest neighbors after drawing the New York Red Bulls 2-2 in Frisco, Texas. The result leaves FC Dallas holding onto the sixth and final playoff spot in the West heading into the final eight weeks of the regular season.


11. Limited Remain

All remaining tickets for the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final between Sporting Kansas City and the New York Red Bulls are on sale to the general public at SeatGeek.com. Serving as U.S. Soccer's National Championship, the Open Cup Final is slated for 8 p.m. CT on Sept. 20 at world-class Children's Mercy Park. The highly anticipated showdown will be televised nationally on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.


Games to Watch (Sept. 5-6)

<strong>DATE/TIME&nbsp;(CT)</strong>
<strong>GAME</strong>
<strong>COMPETITION</strong>
<strong>CHANNEL</strong>
Tuesday, 4:30pm
USA at Argentina
World Cup Qualifying
beIN SPORTS, Universo
Tuesday, 6:30pm
Argentina vs. Venezuela
World Cup Qualifying
beIN SPORTS
Tuesday, 9pm
Costa Rica vs. Mexico
World Cup Qualifying
beIN SPORTS
<strong>Wednesday, 6:30pm</strong>
<strong>Sporting KC at New York City FC</strong>
<strong>MLS</strong>
<strong>FOX Sports KC, FOX Sports Midwest Plus</strong>