Starting XI - Sept. 30, 2019

Starting XI, presented by StorageMart, 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. Home is Where the Heart Is

Goals from Hungarian forwards Krisztian Nemeth and Daniel Salloi helped Sporting Kansas City (10-15-8, 38 points) to a 2-2 draw against the Portland Timbers (13-13-7, 46 points) in the club’s home finale at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday night.

Portland struck first through Sebastian Blanco, but Nemeth conjured an instant first-half equalizer before Salloi opened his 2019 scoring account early in the second period. The Timbers would salvage a badly needed result—keeping hold of sixth place in the Western Conference and moving two points above the playoff line—when substitute Dairon Asprilla buried a late penalty to deny 10th-place Sporting its first victory of the month.

2. Ending in Big D

After battling the Timbers to a draw in their home finale, Sporting will conclude the 2019 MLS campaign on Sunday at FC Dallas (12-12-9, 45 points). The Western Conference tilt at Toyota Stadium is one of 12 MLS matches slated to kick off simultaneously at 3 p.m. CT as the regular season draws to a dramatic close on Decision Day. FOX Sports Kansas City, FOX Sports Midwest Plus and FOX Sports GO will provide three hours of live coverage starting at 3 p.m. CT, while listeners can catch the action live on ESPN 94.5 FM (English) and La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish) with The Final Whistle postgame show immediately following on 94.5 FM.

3. No Other Party

Fans of all ages are invited to the official watch party for Sunday's match at No Other Pub in the Kansas City Power & Light District, featuring an endless wings and domestic beer package for $30 as well as $4 Bud Light drafts, Corona bottles and Captain Morgan cocktails. No Other Pub will also conduct prize giveaways for autographed Sporting KC merchandise.

4. SPR Double-Dip

The Swope Park Rangers (5-17-7, 22 points) will continue their USL Championship campaign with a pair of matches this week, first hosting Birmingham Legion FC (11-12-6, 39 points) tonight at 7 p.m. CT at Children's Mercy Park. Tickets for the Eastern Conference clash are available at or at the stadium box office beginning at 5 p.m. CT. Fans will also have the opportunity to win an exclusive prize prize package courtesy of Smile Generation—including an electric toothbrush plus an SPR scarf, beanie, bobblehead and more—by using the hashtag #RangersSmile on Twitter.

SPR will then travel east to meet Hartford Athletic (6-21-4, 22 points) on Saturday at Dillon Stadium, kicking off at 6 p.m. CT. Both matches will stream live on ESPN Plus.

5. Hungary for More

Sporting Kansas City defender Botond Barath and forward Krisztian Nemeth were named to the Hungary Men’s National Team roster today ahead of two UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying matches next month. Barath, Nemeth and the Magyars will travel to face 2018 FIFA World Cup finalist Croatia on Oct. 10 at Stadion Poljud in Split (1:45 p.m. CT) before hosting Azerbaijan on Oct. 13 at Groupama Arena in Budapest (11 a.m. CT). The duo will join Hungary's 26-man squad following Sporting’s MLS regular season finale at FC Dallas on Sunday afternoon at Toyota Stadium.

6. Awards Announced

Sporting Kansas City announced recipients for the 2019 Sporting Club Awards on Friday night during Pitch Black presented by Audi. Votes from Sporting players and fans determined the following award winners:

  • Most Valuable Player, presented by Audi: Felipe Gutierrez
  • Offensive Player of the Year, presented by Ivy Investments: Johnny Russell
  • Defensive Player of the Year, presented by Fire Door Solutions: Tim Melia
  • Goal of the Year, presented by Heartland Coca-Cola: Benny Feilhaber

Sporting Kansas City also selected award winners in the following categories during the annual celebration at Children’s Mercy Park:

  • The Neal and Jeanne Patterson Humanitarians of the Year: Ilie Sanchez and Daniel Salloi
  • Swope Park Rangers Most Valuable Player, presented by U.S. Bank: Felipe Hernandez
  • Bob Gansler Academy Player of the Year, presented by Children’s Mercy Sports Medicine: Brandt Betts
  • Sporting Club Network Member of the Year, presented by Price Chopper: Sporting St. Louis

7. Tuesday at Tanner's

A new episode of The Sporting KC Show will air live at 6 p.m. CT Tuesday at Tanner's Bar & Grill in Overland Park, Kansas (14337 Metcalf Ave.). Sporting KC veterans Matt Besler and Seth Sinovic will join hosts Nate Bukaty and Carter Augustine for an hour of programming on Sports Radio 810 WHB, with Tanner's serving $1 tacos until closing time.

8. Twitching with Busio

From 7-8:30 p.m. CT on Thursday, Sporting midfielder Gianluca Busio will play fans in the newly released FIFA 20 video game on Twitch. To participate, players can add eSportingKC on the PlayStation Network, send eSportingKC an invite to a FIFA 20 match and watch the stream until they are selected to play.

9. Meet and Greet at the Furniture Mall

Two Sporting KC players and Sporting mascot Blue will participate in meet and greets this weekend at Furniture Mall of Kansas locations in Topeka (1901 SW Wanamaker Rd.) and Olathe (2125 E Kansas City Rd.). The Topeka event will take place from 2-3:30 p.m. CT on Saturday, while the Olathe event will run from 2-3:30 p.m. CT on Sunday.

10. Academy in Action

The Sporting Kansas City Academy U-19s, U-17s and U-15s concluded their Fall Group Stage campaigns in the inaugural DA Cup on Saturday, visiting Columbus Crew SC in a tripleheader at Crew SC Training Center in Obetz, Ohio. Click here for a full recap.

11. Red Card Campaign

Sporting Kansas City and Children’s Mercy will showcase their Red Card anti-bullying program with five assemblies at local elementary and middle schools in the coming weeks. Coinciding with National Bullying Prevention Month in October, each assembly will feature participation from a Sporting KC player, a Children’s Mercy specialist, Sporting KC commentator Nate Bukaty and club mascot Blue. The first event took place today as Sporting defender Graham Smith visited Tonganoxie Middle School in Tonganoxie, Kansas.