Starting XI - Aug. 28, 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. Harvey Forces Postponement

Sporting Kansas City’s MLS regular season match at the Houston Dynamo on Saturday was been postponed due to the arrival of Hurricane Harvey, which has wreaked havoc on the Greater Houston area and Southeast Texas over the last three days. The match has been rescheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. CT at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston. Sporting Kansas City will resume MLS action Sept. 6 against New York City FC at Yankee Stadium, set for 6:30 p.m. CT on FOX Sports Kansas City.


2. Defenders Deployed

Sporting KC defenders Matt Besler and Graham Zusi were named to the U.S. Men’s National Team on Sunday for a pair of crucial World Cup qualifiers in CONCACAF’s Hexagonal. The duo has joined head coach Bruce Arena’s 26-man squad ahead of Friday’s match against Costa Rica at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, with live coverage set to begin at 5:30 p.m. CT on ESPN, Univision and UDN. The Americans will then travel to face Honduras next Tuesday, Sept. 5, at Estadio Olimpico in San Pedro Sula, broadcast live at 4:30 p.m. CT on beIN SPORTS and Universo.



The U.S. MNT currently occupies third place in the Hexagonal standings with four World Cup qualifiers still to play between now and Oct. 10. The top three finishers will advance automatically to the 2018 FIFA World Cup next summer in Russia, while the fourth-place team will face an Asian country in a two-legged intercontinental playoff in November with a World Cup berth on the line.


3. Sporting Starlet

Sporting Kansas City announced on Friday the signing of 15-year-old forward Gianluca Busio as a Homegrown Player. At 15 years and 89 days, Busio becomes the second-youngest player all-time to sign an MLS contract and the youngest active player in Major League Soccer. Busio starred for the Sporting KC Academy during the 2016-17 season as one of the United States’ top youth prospects for his age. At the international level, Busio has blossomed as a key contributor for the United States U-15 Boys’ National Team. Earlier this month he guided the U.S. to a second-place finish at the CONCACAF U-15 Championship in Bradenton, Florida, scoring a team-high five goals in five matches.



4. Soony Overseas

Sporting KC forward Soony Saad has been named to the Lebanon Men’s National Team for the resumption of 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualification. Saad will join Lebanon for the second time in 2017 as the Cedars travel to face North Korea on Tuesday, Sept. 5 at Kim Il-sung Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea. He previously started in a 2-1 qualifying win over Malaysia on June 13, collecting his eighth cap since debuting in 2013.


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). Lebanon made its lone appearance at the competition in 2000, bowing out of the group stage, and is hoping to punch its ticket to the 2019 edition in the United Arab Emirates.


5. Musa Makes the Trip

Sporting KC midfielder James Musa has joined the New Zealand Men’s National Team for a pair of FIFA World Cup qualifiers against the Solomon Islands. Musa has linked up with the All-Whites ahead of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Final Playoff. The first leg is slated for Friday at QBE Stadium in Auckland, with the return leg set for next Tuesday, Sept. 5, at Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara, Solomon Islands.


The winner of the OFC Final Playoff will advance to a two-legged intercontinental playoff in November, meeting a South American side with a 2018 FIFA World Cup berth on the line.


6. Didic on Duty

Sporting KC defender Amer Didic has joined the Canada Men’s National Team for the first time ahead of an international friendly against Jamaica on Saturday at BMO Field in Toronto, set to kick off at 6 p.m. CT. Didic’s inclusion on the Canada senior roster continues a breakthrough year for the 22-year-old center back who made his debut for the Canada U-23s in March, anchoring the defense in shutout victories over Uzbekistan and Qatar at a tournament in Doha, Qatar.


7. SPR Sunk

The Swope Park Rangers (12-6-6, 42 points) suffered a 1-0 setback at Reno 1868 FC (12-5-6, 42 points) on Saturday, conceding an early penalty kick in just their second defeat over the last 16 USL matches since the start of June. The fourth-place Rangers will look to bounce back when they host regional rivals OKC Energy FC (9-9-6, 33 points) this Saturday at Children's Mercy Victory Field inside Swope Soccer Village. Tickets for the Western Conference clash are available at SeatGeek.com or at the venue box office on matchday, and the first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive a free Hat Trick Harry bobblehead courtesy of Sky Zone KC.

8. Helping Hand

Sporting Kansas City fans can visit SportingKC.com/helpful to cast their vote for the Westlake Ace Hardware Helpful Moment of the Month. Individuals can choose among three nominees for the month of August, with each participant receiving a $7 coupon to Westlake Ace Hardware locations in the Kansas City area. The grand prize includes a $300 Westlake gift card, a Sporting KC replica jersey and two tickets to an upcoming match at Children's Mercy Park.


9. Final Fling

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.


Sporting Kansas City is a three-time Open Cup champion — having lifted the trophy in 2004, 2012 and 2015 — while the Red Bulls have never won the competition and will be making their first final appearance since 2003. Next month’s championship match will serve as the first Open Cup meeting between the MLS charter members.



10. Weekend Rewind

While mother nature ultimately gave Sporting KC and Houston the weekend off, every other MLS club took the field this weekend for 2017's second installment of Heineken Rivalry Week. All things considered, results went favorably for Sporting KC as several Western Conference contenders dropped points. FC Dallas took a 2-1 loss at resurgent Columbus on Saturday, while Seattle and Portland settled for a 1-1 draw last night at CenturyLink Field. Wins from San Jose and Vancouver lifted both clubs above the red line at the expense of an FC Dallas side that saw its winless skid hit six matches.


11. Break the Bank

According to reports, big-spending Paris Saint-Germain will sign 18-year-old Monaco starlet Kylian Mbappe on an initial loan, with the move made permanent next summer to comply with financial fair play regulations. Mbappe is then expected to sign a five-year contract next year in a transfer that will cost upwards of $215 million, the second-largest transfer fee for a player in the history of the sport. PSG signed Neymar earlier this summer for a world-record $262 million from FC Barcelona.


Games to Watch (Aug. 28-31)

<strong>DATE/TIME&nbsp;(CT)</strong>
<strong>GAME</strong>
<strong>COMPETITION</strong>
<strong>CHANNEL</strong>
Thursday, 5:30pm
Chile vs. Paraguay
World Cup Qualifying
beIN SPORTS
Thursday, 7:30pm
Brazil vs. Ecuador
World Cup Qualifying
beIN SPORTS
Thursday, 9:15pm
Peru vs. Bolivia
World Cup Qualifying
beIN SPORTS