Starting XI: Draft Season

Starting XI - Dec. 14, 2017

Starting XI, presented by Ford, is a biweekly series on 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. Latif to LA

Los Angeles FC selected Sporting KC forward Latif Blessing in the second round of the 2017 MLS Expansion Draft on Tuesday.

Blessing, 20, joined Sporting KC ahead of the 2017 season. The Ghanaian recorded six goals and two assists in 31 appearances across all competitions, notably scoring in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final as Sporting KC defeated the New York Red Bulls. Blessing becomes the 10th all-time Sporting KC player to be selected in an MLS Expansion Draft.

2. Draft Season

Sporting KC passed on its pick in the 2017 MLS Waiver Draft on Wednesday. Twenty-one of 23 MLS clubs elected to pass during the Waiver Draft, which consisted of players who had been waived by their teams but didn’t meet the minimum years of service requirement for the Re-Entry Draft or Free Agency. The 2017-18 MLS offseason rolls forward with momentum, as Stage One of the 2017 MLS Re-Entry Draft will take place Friday at 2 p.m. CT. Click here for the Re-Entry Draft rules.

3. BOGO Beanies

As the temperatures continue to drop, the can't-miss holiday deals on Sporting swag continue to roll in. Today through Friday, all Sporting KC fans can visit the SportingStyle Pop-In Store at Children’s Mercy Park for buy-one, get-one free beanies. The beanie sale will be in effect over the next three days during normal business hours from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT. Supporters can also email to place their orders.

4. Truce Tourney

In celebration of a long-standing Boxing Day tradition, Sporting KC, the National World War I Museum and Memorial and The Soccer Lot will host The Truce 3v3 Soccer Tournament on Dec. 26. The fifth annual Truce Tournament will take place on scenic Liberty Hill, and the final day to register is next Tuesday, Dec. 19. Recreational, Competitive and Beer divisions are available for entry, and all teams are guaranteed three games. Complimentary breakfast is included on-site for all teams who register. Click here to register a team.

5. The Hopeful Eight

As the U.S. Soccer Federation presidential approaches in February, the federation announced Wednesday that it had received the required three letters of nominations for eight potential candidates prior to Tuesday night's deadline. U.S. Soccer will formally confirm the eight candidates for February's election once all background checks have been completed.

Nine candidates have publicly announced their candidacy for the U.S. Soccer presidency: former U.S. MNT player Paul Caligiuri, Soccer United Marketing president Kathy Carter, USSF vice president Carlos Cordeiro, attorney Steve Gans, United Premier Soccer League regional director Paul Lapointe, former MLS player and TV analyst Kyle Martino, former U.S. WNT goalkeeper Hope Solo, lawyer and former professional player Michael Winograd and former U.S. MNT standout and current TV analyst Eric Wynalda.

6. Blockbuster

Atlanta United FC will send up to $1.65 million in allocation money to the Portland Timbers to acquire U.S. international midfielder Darlington Nagbe, who has spent each of his previous seven professional seasons with the Timbers. Portland defender Gbenga Arokoyo has also joined Atlanta as part of the blockbuster deal, which could eclipse the MLS-record transfer fee if Nagbe meets all of the incentives involved in the trade.

7. Laurent to LA

Los Angeles FC has wasted little time building its backline this week, first trading for FC Dallas defender Walker Zimmerman before acquiring former MLS Defender of the Year Laurent Ciman in a trade that saw LAFC’s expansion draft picks Jukka Raitala and Raheem Edwards join the Montreal Impact.

8. Elis Inked Permanently

The Houston Dynamo confirmed on Wednesday that the club had acquired forward Alberth Elis on a full transfer from Liga MX side Monterrey. Elis joined the Dynamo last year on a year-long loan with a transfer option. The 21-year-old Elis, a Honduras international, had a strong first season for the Dynamo with 10 goals and four assists.

9. Sel-Goal Stunner

Swope Park Rangers forward Nansel Selbol has won the 2017 USL Fans' Choice Goal of the Year competition. The 20-year-old's superb strike against Seattle Sounders FC 2 on July 20 beat out a Colorado Springs goal from Masta Kacher, garnering 52 percent of the vote in the final round.

10. Lebo Leaves

The Swope Park Rangers announced Tuesday that the club has traded midfielder Lebo Moloto to USL expansion side Nashville SC in exchange for future considerations, pending league and federation approval. Following Tuesday’s trade, SPR now has six players under contract ahead of the 2018 USL season: goalkeeper Darrin MacLeod, defenders Dakota Barnathan and Parker Maher and midfielders Felipe Hernandez, Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal and Will Little.

11. Title Bout

West Florida and Texas A&M-Commerce will lock horns Saturday in the 2017 NCAA Division II Football Championship, set to kick off at 5 p.m. CT at world-class Children's Mercy Park. Hosted by the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association, the game will be televised live on ESPN2. Tickets for Saturday's national championship are on sale now via, marking the fourth straight year that Children's Mercy Park will host the Division II football title game.

Games to Watch (Dec. 15-17)

<strong>DAY / TIME&nbsp;(CT)</strong>
Friday, 1:30pm
Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Hamburg
German Bundesliga
Friday, 1:45pm
Saint-Etienne vs. Monaco
French Ligue 1
Saturday, 8:30am
Stuttgart vs. Bayern Munich
German Bundesliga
Saturday, 9am
Arsenal vs. Newcastle
English Premier League
Saturday, 9am
Chelsea vs. Southampton
English Premier League
Saturday, 10am
Rennes vs. PSG
French Ligue 1
Saturday, 11:30am
Manchester City vs. Tottenham
English Premier League
Sunday, 8:15am
West Brom vs. Manchester United
English Premier League
Sunday, 10:30am
Bournemouth vs. Liverpool
English Premier League
Sunday, 1:45pm
Barcelona vs. Deportivo La Coruna
Spanish La Liga