"This Week in Sporting,” is a weekly series that highlights the biggest storylines and news updates from Sporting Kansas City.
1. Sporting slips to 2-1 defeat against Nashville
Sporting Kansas City hosted Nashville SC on Saturday, April 9 for a Western Conference showdown at Children’s Mercy Park. Tim Melia denied Hany Mukhtar’s penalty attempt early in the match before midfielder Remi Walter scored his second goal of the season off Ben Sweat’s first Sporting KC assist.
Nashville struck twice in the second half to take a 2-1 lead that Sporting was unable to erase despite numerous close encounters with Nashville’s goal. Daniel Salloi pinged a shot off the post, Graham Zusi sent a rocket inches past the upper-90 and Johnny Russell’s final attempt of the match whistled just wide. All of those close calls came in the final 10 minutes as Sporting was unable to draw even. The attention now turns to LAFC.
2. LAFC awaits in Sunday matinee on ESPN
An Easter Sunday afternoon showdown with LAFC is Sporting’s next challenge of the 2022 MLS regular season. The nationally televised match kicks off at 3 p.m. CT on ESPN as the Western Conference leaders welcome Sporting to Banc of California Stadium. Sporting met up with LAFC on three occasions last season, claiming two wins and suffering one defeat. Sporting took home a convincing 4-1 victory over LAFC at Banc of California Stadium last season in which four different players scored for Sporting.
3. SKC II suffers first-ever MLS NEXT Pro defeat
Sunday evening, Sporting KC II played in their 2022 MLS NEXT Pro home opener, slipping to a 3-0 defeat to undefeated Houston Dynamo 2. Robert Avila scored three times for Dynamo Dos, including a first half brace. Sporting KC first-team loanee John Pulskamp saved a penalty in the 12th minute to keep SKC II down just one goal after Avila scored his first goal in the eighth minute of the contest.
SKC II nearly equalized multiple times but Xavier Valdez made four first half saves, including a penalty stop of his own to retain the Dynamo Dos lead. Avila doubled the lead in stoppage time of the first half and completed his hat trick with a converted penalty in the second. SKC II will host St. Louis City2 on Saturday at Rock Chalk Park with kickoff set for 7 p.m. CT and tickets available at SeatGeek.com.
4. Sporting KC’s Youth-Internationals
Mataeo Bunbury scored his first professional goal on April 3 at MNUFC 2 and received a call up to Canada’s U20 Youth International Camp in Costa Rica the following Wednesday. The sixteen-year-old, who made his first SKC II start of the year against Houston on Sunday, will join up with his Canadian teammates in Costa Rica for a two-week camp and two friendlies against Costa Rica’s U20’s.
Two Sporting KC Academy players also received call ups to their youth national teams as well. Forwards Alex Umana will join the El Salvador U20’s and Zacarias Escobar-Bowie is set to link up with the Honduras U17’s. Umana and El Salvador will compete for the 2022 Dallas Cup from April 9-17 in Dallas while Escobar-Bowie has been training with the Honduras U17’s since April 5 and is set to return to Kansas City this week.
5. Sporting KC U15’s and U17’s kick off at GA Cup
While said duo of Sporting KC Academy players are out with their respective youth national teams, the Sporting KC U15’s and U17’s kicked off their Generation adidas Cup runs this past weekend. The U15’s earned a point in their opening match against the Seattle Sounders U15’s and then beat the Austin FC U15’s 1-0. Sporting's U15’s currently sit atop group H and will play their final group stage match against Celtic FC later today. The Sporting U17’s opened GA Cup with a 2-0 loss to Inter Miami’s U17’s, followed that up with a win in penalties against AS Roma and one group stage match to go against the Portland Timbers U17 side.
6. Sporting teams up with Hill’s Pet Nutrition
Wednesday, Sporting KC announced a season-long partnership with Hill’s Pet Nutrition, a global leader in science-based pet nutrition. Hill’s was the title sponsor of Saturday’s Sporting match vs. Nashville and hosted an adoption showcase at halftime of the match. From April 9-17 Hill’s is sponsoring 50 percent of the adoption fees of 10 pets from various shelters (Wayside Waifs, Great Plains SPCA Kansas City and Kansas Pet Services) around Kansas City. This was not a one-off event as Hill’s will be organizing pet adoption events with local animal welfare partners at future 2022 Sporting home matches.