"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. Instant Classic
A pulsating 4-2 victory over rivals Houston Dynamo FC (5-12-12, 27 points) saw Sporting Kansas City (15-6-7, 52 points) solidify second place in the Western Conference on Sunday afternoon at sun-drenched Children’s Mercy Park.
Captain Johnny Russell struck on both sides of halftime, becoming the second player in club history to score in five consecutive regular season matches, while fellow forward Daniel Salloi strengthened his MLS MVP bid with a goal and an assist. Midfielder Gadi Kinda also notched one and set up another as Sporting took a one-point lead over Seattle Sounders FC at the top of the West.
With the 170th regular season win of his heralded managerial career, Sporting Manager Peter Vermes became the fourth-winningest coach in MLS history in a game that entertained from start to finish. Vermes’ side leads the league with 11 multi-goal victories in 2021 and has now scored at least three goals on nine occasions this season, tying the club record.
Having secured a thrilling and emotional triumph on home turf, Sporting will recuperate over the next week before hitting the stretch run of the 2021 MLS regular season. Sporting’s first of six remaining fixtures will take place on Oct. 17 when the team visits Vancouver Whitecaps FC for a 9 p.m. CT kickoff at BC Place.
2. Terrific Trio
Two of the hottest players in Major League Soccer have been selected to the MLS Team of the Week presented by Audi. Captain Johnny Russell was included in the best XI for Week 29, continuing his irresistible run of attacking form, while MLS MVP candidate Daniel Salloi earned a spot on the Team of the Week bench alongside midfield teammate Gadi Kinda.
Team of the Week (3-4-3, left to right): Andre Blake (PHI) – Andrew Gutman (RBNY), Mamadou Fall (LAFC), Walker Zimmerman (NSH) – Cecilio Dominguez (ATX), Cristian Roldan (SEA), Joao Paulo (SEA), Johnny Russell (SKC) – Romell Quioto (MTL), Brian White (VAN), Yeferson Soteldo (TOR)
Coach: Wilfried Nancy (MTL)
Bench: Phelipe (DAL), Alex Callens (NYC), Gadi Kinda (SKC), Alejandro Bedoya (PHI), Daniel Salloi (SKC), Daryl Dike (ORL), Jaroslaw Niezgoda (POR)
3. Russell Re-Signs
Sporting Kansas City announced last week that the club has re-signed captain and forward Johnny Russell to a new contract through 2023 with an option for 2024.
Russell has enjoyed a phenomenal stint at Sporting since joining the club in 2018, recording 37 goals and 37 assists with starts in 101 of 121 appearances across all competitions. His influential displays have helped Sporting finish atop the Western Conference standings in 2018 and 2020, with the club now in contention to secure first place for the third time in four seasons.
One of two MLS players with 30 goals and 30 assists in the regular season since 2018, Russell occupies seventh place on the club's all-time charts for goals (35) and assists (30) in the regular season. He has become the fifth player in Kansas City history to notch 30 of each in MLS alongside Preki, Chris Klein, Davy Arnaud and Benny Feilhaber.
4. International Duty
Sporting Kansas City midfielder Gadi Kinda and MLS MVP candidate Daniel Salloi each provided a goal and an assist on Sunday and will now join their respective national teams for FIFA World Cup qualifiers in Europe on Saturday. Kinda and Israel will play at Scotland at 11 a.m. CT, while Salloi and Hungary will host Albania at 1:45 p.m. CT with both matches broadcast live on ESPN Plus in the United States.
5. Two for SKC II
Sporting Kansas City II (4-15-8, 20 points) will continue their USL Championship campaign with two road matches this week, traveling to Memphis 901 FC (9-8-8, 35 points) for a 7 p.m. CT kick off on Wednesday at AutoZone Park before visiting Louisville City FC (15-5-7, 52 points) at 6:30 p.m. CT on Saturday at Lynn Family Stadium. Both matches will stream live on ESPN Plus and fans can follow @SportingKCII on Twitter for in-game updates.