"This Week in Sporting,” is a weekly series that highlights the biggest storylines and news updates from Sporting Kansas City
1. Sporting defeats Real Salt Lake 1-0 at Children’s Mercy Park
Sporting Kansas City renewed its rivalry with Real Salt Lake Saturday night and took down the undefeated Claret and Cobalt off Johnny Russell’s 81st minute winner. It was a memorable night filled with milestones as Tim Melia made his 200th regular season start in goal for Sporting and Roger Espinoza made his 300th start in all competitions for the club. Melia becomes the first keeper in Sporting history to start/appear in 200 regular season matches.
Graham Zusi also made history in the 57th minute when he became Sporting’s all-time leader in minutes played with 30,463 minutes played all time. Sporting handed RSL their first loss of the season as Salt Lake came into Saturday’s match off their best start in a decade. Melia made two crucial saves, and the backline stood strong for 90 minutes en route to Sporting’s second clean sheet in 2022. Russell’s goal late in the match gave Sporting the lead and was also the 400th goal scored by Sporting at Children’s Mercy Park.
2. The Great White North and Vancouver Whitecaps await
A match against a 2021 playoff opponent turns into two as Sporting hits the road for a Western Conference clash with the Vancouver Whitecaps. In his first full year in charge of the Whitecaps, Vanni Sartini has yet to notch a win in the win column as Vancouver finds itself in the basement of the west with an 0-3-1 record. Former LAFC defender Triston Blackmon and forward Lucas Cavallini pace Vancouver with a goal apiece while 2021 standout Ryan Gauld is tied for the club lead with one assist.
3. SKC II takes a point from MLS NEXT Pro season opener
The MLS NEXT Pro regular season officially kicked off for Sporting Kansas City II on Sunday night as the team faced Colorado Rapids 2 at the University of Denver Stadium. Tj Fatah drew SKC II level in the 79th minute after Colorado took the lead in the 61st. First-team loanee John Pulskamp made five saves in the first half, keeping SKC II in the match. Colorado went on to win in penalties stealing the extra point, but SKC II comes home with a point of their own. SKC II will face Minnesota United FC 2 Sunday at 1 p.m. CT at Allianz Field with an enhanced broadcast as MLS NEXT Pro’s game of the week.
4. Generation adidas Cup schedule set
MLS today announced the details for the 2022 Generation adidas Cup. Sporting KC’s U-15’s and U-17’s will be one of 80 professional academies from around the world represented at the elite youth tournament in Frisco, Texas from April 9-17. Sporting’s U-15’s will compete against the U-15 affiliates of the Seattle Sounders, Austin FC and Scottish Premiership side Celtic. The U-17’s are set to face the U-17 affiliates of Inter Miami, Italian Serie A side AS Roma and the Portland Timbers.
5. Voting is now open for the 2022 Sporting Legends inductee
Fan voting is now open for the 2022 Sporting Legends and will continue through April 8 at 11:59 p.m. CT. The 2022 inductee will be chosen by the fans and recognized before a Sporting KC match as the newest Sporting Legend later this season. Since 2013, the Sporting Legends hall of honor pays homage to Sporting icons and allows them to reunite with the soccer community in Kansas City. The 2022 inductee will have his name brandished outside the Victory Suite in the northwest corner of Children’s Mercy Park above the championship wall.
6. Aurelien Collin Retires
Former Sporting KC defender and MLS Cup MVP Aurelien Collin announced his retirement from MLS last Thursday. Collin played 11 of his 15 professional years in MLS and won the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and 2013 MLS Cup with Sporting Kansas City. He earned a spot on the MLS Best XI in 2012 and was an MLS All-Star from 2012 to 2014.
The defender finished out his storied career with stints at Orlando City SC, the New York Red Bulls and the Philadelphia Union, capturing two Supporters’ Shield titles along the way.
7. Matt Besler named Blue KC Sporting Samaritan ambassador
Former Sporting KC and U.S. Men’s National Team defender, and Kansas City native Matt Besler will serve as an ambassador for the Blue KC Sporting Samaritan program for the 2022 MLS season. Blue KC partners with Sporting KC every year to recognize local students and teachers striving to make the community a better place for everyone. Blue KC Sporting Samaritans are nominated online and honored at Children’s Mercy Park during a home match’s pregame. Besler captained Sporting for seven seasons and was instrumental in four Sporting titles. The former skipper made 47 appearances with the U.S. Men’s National team winning two CONCACAF Gold Cup titles and starting in four matches at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.