The Week in Review: Dec. 26, 2022

The Week in Review

"The Week in Review,” is a weekly series that highlights the biggest storylines and news updates from Sporting Kansas City.

1. Sporting KC 2023 MLS regular season schedule released

Early last week, Sporting Kansas City and Major League Soccer announced the club's full 34-match 2023 regular season schedule. With the earliest regular season start in club history, Sporting KC opens the season on Saturday, Feb. 25 at the Portland Timbers making their debut on MLS Season Pass, the new subscription service from Apple.

The club's home opener will take place on Saturday, March 11 against fellow MLS originals and five-time MLS Cup champions LA Galaxy. Single-match tickets are on sale for the first eight Sporting KC home matches via now. Season ticket memberships as well as various other ticket packages are available for purchase as well. One of those deals includes the Home Opener Pack which includes tickets to the March 11 match against the Galaxy, one Leagues Cup match at Children's Mercy Park and one other 2023 MLS regular season match excluding the contest against St. Louis City SC.

For a second straight season, Sporting KC is launching the My Five ticket contest. Fans can select the five home matches they are most excited to attend in 2023 and be entered to win a ticket package to attend those top five matches. With the schedule release last week, previewed all 34 matches and offered Ten things to know about the upcoming season.

2. Sporting Kansas City selects forward Stephen Afrifa and defender Chris Rindov in MLS SuperDraft 2023 presented by adidas

Sporting Kansas City selected two college seniors last Wednesday in MLS SuperDraft 2023 presented by adidas, picking forward Stephen Afrifa from Florida International University with the eighth overall pick in the first round and defender Chris Rindov with the 37th overall pick in the second round. Both draftees are set to join Sporting Kansas City for preseason training in Arizona, which will begin Jan. 9 and culminate prior to the club’s 2023 MLS regular season opener at the Portland Timbers on Feb. 25. 

Afrifa begins his professional journey following a stand-out senior campaign at FIU where he produced a team-high 10 goals, four assists and earned United Soccer Coaches Second Team All-American honors. He guided the Panthers to the 2022 American Athletic Conference regular season and tournament titles and was named the AAC Championship Most Outstanding Offensive Player, scoring the lone goal in a 1-0 semifinal win over Memphis on Nov. 10. Afrifa ended 2022 as a MAC Hermann Trophy Semifinalist and a member of the United Soccer Coaches All-East Region Team.

Rindov was a defensive mainstay for perennial powerhouse Maryland, starting in each of the program’s 38 matches over the last two seasons and finishing his college career with four goals and five assists in 58 appearances. Rising from freshman walk-on to team captain as a senior, he had a banner year this fall as an All-Big Ten First Team selection and an MLS College Showcase participant. Rindov played every minute in all 20 matches for the Terrapins this fall, pushing Maryland to the Big Ten regular season title with an unbeaten 4-0-4 conference record.

3. Sporting KC II acquires defender Diedie Traore and winger Andrew Draper

Sporting Kansas City II has signed former LA Galaxy defender Diedie Traore and acquired 21-year-old winger Andrew Draper on loan from Ecuadorian side Universidad Católica for the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro season. The duo becomes the second and third newcomers to join Sporting KC II for the 2023 season, following in the footsteps of 21-year-old midfielder Ethan Bryant earlier this month. The club’s roster currently sits at 10 players and will continue to expand ahead of the upcoming MLS NEXT Pro campaign.

Sporting KC II Roster (as of Dec. 21, 2022)

  • Goalkeepers (1): Ethan Bandre
  • Defenders (5): Aljaz Dzankic, Coby Jones, Mikey Lenis, Jahon Rad, Diedie Traore
  • Midfielders (1): Ethan Bryant
  • Forwards (3): Bakary Bagayoko, Josh Coan, Andrew Draper

Led by head coach and longtime Sporting midfielder Benny Feilhaber, Sporting KC II will begin preparations early next year for the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro season, which will feature an expanded field of 28 clubs.