This Week in Sporting - July 12, 2021

"This Week in Sporting," presented by The Smile Generation, is a weekly series that highlights the biggest storylines and news updates from Sporting Kansas City.

1. Calm Before the Quake

Occupying second place in the Supporters' Shield standings, Sporting Kansas City (8-3-2, 26 points) is off this week and will return to competitive action on Wednesday, July 21, when they host the San Jose Earthquakes (3-7-2, 11 points) in a 7:30 p.m. CT kickoff at Children's Mercy Park. Tickets for the game are available at SeatGeek.com and supporters can catch the action live on Bally Sports Kansas City, Bally Sports Midwest Plus, BallySports.com and the Bally Sports app.

2. Red, White and Busio

Sporting Kansas City midfielder Gianluca Busio made his highly anticipated debut for the United States Men’s National Team on Sunday night at Children’s Mercy Park, helping the Americans to a 1-0 victory over Haiti in their Concacaf Gold Cup opener in Group B.

Busio received a rousing ovation upon entering the match as a 62nd-minute substitute, landing his first senior cap in his home stadium with the U.S. MNT nursing a 1-0 lead. The talented 19-year-old had a palpable impact on proceedings with pinpoint distribution from the holding midfield position and nearly marked the occasion with a stunning strike in the 76th minute, only to see his venomous volley pushed over the crossbar by Haiti goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre.

The U.S. bagged their game-winner in the eighth minute when Colorado Rapids left back Sam Vines headed home his first international goal off an assist from Gyasi Zardes. From there, the Americans limited Haiti to only three shots on target in what became a comfortable win to kick off the tournament.

3. Gold Cup Resumes

The U.S. MNT is now 6-0-1 at Children’s Mercy Park all-time and will look to improve upon that record when they close out Group B with two more matches at the world-class stadium. Head coach Gregg Berhalter’s side will face Martinique at 9 p.m. CT on Thursday (FS1, FOX Sports app, TUDN and UniMas) and Canada at 4 p.m. CT on Sunday (FOX, FOX Sports app, TUDN and Univision). Thursday’s game is the nightcap of a stadium doubleheader as Canada and Haiti square off at 6:30 p.m. CT (FS1, FOX Sports app, TUDN). Tickets for all remaining Gold Cup matches at Children’s Mercy Park begin at $40 and are available at SeatGeek.com.

4. Pulido with Mexico

Sporting Kansas City striker Alan Pulido was an unused substitute for Mexico on Saturday night as Eli Tri were held to a scoreless draw against Trinidad and Tobago in their Group A curtain-raiser at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Pulido and Mexico will finish Group A with two upcoming matches at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, meeting Guatemala at 9 p.m. CT on Wednesday and El Salvador at 9 p.m. CT on Sunday. Both contests will be shown live on FS1, FOX Sports app, TUDN and Univision.

5. Gold Cup Rundown

Held every two years, the Gold Cup is the regional championship for Concacaf and just like in the European Championships and Copa America, lifting the trophy brings prestige and regional supremacy. Over the course of 15 previous Gold Cup tournaments, the United States has lifted the trophy six times (1991, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2013, 2017), just behind all-time leaders Mexico with eight (1993, 1996, 1998, 2003, 2009, 2011, 2015, 2019). Canada is the only other tournament champion, coming away with the title in 2000. 

The top two teams in each of the four Gold Cup groups will advance to the quarterfinals on July 24-25 in Arlington and Glendale, Arizona. The semifinals are scheduled for July 29 in Austin and Houston before the championship match takes place Aug. 1 in Las Vegas.

6. Leagues Cup Tickets

Tickets for the highly anticipated 2021 Leagues Cup quarterfinal showdown between Sporting Kansas City and either Club Leon or Chivas at Children's Mercy Park are now available to the general public at SeatGeek.com.

Major League Soccer and LIGA MX announced earlier this week the participants, bracket and schedule for the 2021 Leagues Cup, an annual single-elimination tournament that will again feature premier clubs from MLS and Mexico’s top division and build upon the growing rivalry between both leagues.

As one of four MLS clubs in the high-level international competition, Sporting will host either Club Leon or Chivas on Aug. 10 at 7 p.m. CT. The marquee matchup will be shown live nationally on ESPN2 and TUDN.

Sporting will learn its Leagues Cup quarterfinal opponent on July 18 when Club Leon faces Cruz Azul in the 2021 Campeon de Campeones. If Club Leon wins the match, Sporting will host Chivas in the tournament’s opening round and Club Leon will participate in the 2021 Campeones Cup. Should Club Leon lose to Cruz Azul, it will travel to Children’s Mercy Park as the quarterfinal opposition.

7. We Want the World Cup

The KC2026 Bid Committee has partnered with OUTFRONT media to create and install a custom printed wallscape in support of Kansas City's bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. The wallscape measures 90 x 90 feet and is located on the north-facing side of 1627 Main Street. People are encouraged to support the bid by taking photos and sharing on social media using #KC2026.