This Week in Sporting - Nov. 15, 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. The Playoffs are Here

In the postseason for a 10th time in the past 11 years, No. 3 seed Sporting Kansas City will begin their journey in the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs at 4 p.m. CT on Saturday against No. 6 seed Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Children's Mercy Park. Tickets are available at SeatGeek.com as Manager Peter Vermes' side aims to take the first step toward a third MLS Cup title in club history.

Saturday's colossal clash will air nationally on TUDN and UniMas with live streams available on MLSsoccer.com and the MLS App. In addition, local broadcast coverage will begin at 3:30 p.m. CT on Bally Sports KC and Bally Sports Midwest Plus with local radio commentary available on ESPN 94.5 FM (English) and La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish).

2. Sporting Club Awards

Sporting announced on Saturday the winners of the 2021 Sporting Club Awards presented by Audi. The awards recognize outstanding performances over the course of the 2021 MLS regular season.

  • Most Valuable Player presented by Audi: Daniel Salloi
  • Offensive Player of the Year presented by Fire Door Solutions: Johnny Russell
  • Defensive Player of the Year presented by Compass Minerals: Andreu Fontas
  • Newcomer of the Year presented by Coca-Cola: Remi Walter
  • Goal of the Year presented by Parisi Coffee: Johnny Russell (Oct. 23 at Seattle)

Sporting also selected award winners in the following categories:

  • Golden Boot presented by Michelob Ultra: Daniel Salloi
  • Neal and Jeanne Patterson Humanitarian of the Year: Ilie Sanchez
  • Sporting KC II Most Valuable Player presented by Brush Creek Partners: Enoch Mushagalusa
  • Bob Gansler Academy Player of the Year presented by Children’s Mercy Sports Medicine Center: Dylan Hooper
  • Sporting Club Network Member of the Year presented by Price Chopper: Sporting Nebraska

3. Salloi Up for MVP

Sporting forward Daniel Salloi is a finalist for the 2021 Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player award and the MLS Comeback Player of the Year, Major League Soccer announced today.

Salloi was named a finalist for both accolades after earning votes among three groups: current MLS players, MLS club technical staffs and select media members. End-of-year MLS award winners will be announced over the next three weeks.

A product of the Sporting Kansas City Academy, Salloi is in contention to become just the third player in club history to receive Landon Donovan MLS MVP honors after Preki won the award twice (1997, 2003) and Tony Meola took the award in 2000. Salloi is one of five Sporting players to be tabbed an MLS MVP finalist alongside Preki (1996, 1997, 2003), Meola (2000), Graham Zusi (2012) and Benny Feilhaber (2015).

11.12.21 Salloi Homegrown

4. Besler Retires

One of the most accomplished and beloved players in Sporting Kansas City history has announced his retirement from Major League Soccer. Kansas City native and longtime Sporting defender Matt Besler officially ended his heralded MLS playing career last week, closing the book on a journey that spanned 13 seasons and included a storybook 12-year stint with his hometown club.

Besler, an unmistakable fan-favorite and a legendary figure of the organization, anchored Sporting Kansas City's backline from 2009-2020 as one of the premier center backs in MLS. He helped the club make nine trips to the MLS Cup Playoffs and win four major championships, namely the 2013 MLS Cup and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles in 2012, 2015 and 2017.

Raised in Overland Park, Besler also became the first Kansan to compete in the FIFA World Cup, leading the United States Men's National Team at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil as part of a brilliant national team career highlighted by Concacaf Gold Cup titles in 2013 and 2017.

5. Pierre in Mexico

Sporting Kansas City defender Kayden Pierre and the United States U-20 Men's National Team will conclude their Revelations Cup campaign on Tuesday, facing hosts Mexico at 5 p.m. CT on TUDN. Pierre, a Sporting KC Academy product, has featured for the U.S. U-20s in their opening two matches of the competition against Brazil and Colombia.

6. Vote Sporting

Sporting Kansas City Academy product Gianluca Busio and goalkeeping standout Tim Melia are each in contention for a postseason award. Busio is up for the annual MLS Goal of the Year award, while Melia is in the hunt for MLS Save of the Year. Voting closes this Friday, Nov. 19, at 10:59 p.m. CT.

But the voting doesn't stop there. Want a chance to win a $250 gift card to Westlake Ace Hardware and two tickets to Sporting Kansas City's home playoff match at Children's Mercy Park on Saturday?

Vote for the Helpful Moment of the Regular Season, presented by Westlake Ace Hardware, and you could come away with the coveted prize.

In celebration of Daniel Salloi's historic 2021 campaign, the poll showcases five memorable goals by the Sporting KC Academy product this year.

7. Paint the Wall

Ahead of the highly anticipated Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs, Sporting KC has teamed up with local artists and makers to launch the club’s Paint The Wall marketing campaign aimed at amplifying attention around the postseason pursuit of a third Major League Soccer championship for Kansas City.

Paint The Wall, a longstanding reference to the club’s iconic tradition of commemorating championship victories on the wall in the northwest corner of Children’s Mercy Park, celebrates the club’s previous MLS Cup triumphs while also rallying the Kansas City region behind the team as Manager Peter Vermes leads Sporting into the playoffs with the ultimate goal of club captain Johnny Russell painting the wall with the year 2021 after MLS Cup on Dec. 11.

Visit SportingKC.com/PaintTheWall for the latest information throughout Sporting Kansas City’s run in the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs.