"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. To visit the series archive, click here.
1. Friday Night Lights
Occupying first place in the Western Conference, Sporting Kansas City (4-1-0, 12 points) will continue the club's 2020 regular season campaign on Friday with a visit to second-place Minnesota United FC (3-0-2, 11 points) as Major League Soccer returns to home markets. Kickoff at Allianz Field is set for 6:30 p.m. CT with three hours of live coverage beginning at 6 p.m. CT on FOX Sports Kansas City Plus, FOX Sports Midwest Plus and FOX Sports GO. The contest will also air live locally on Sports Radio 810 WHB (English) and La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish), with The Final Whistle postgame show immediately following on 810 WHB.
The teams notably met on July 12 in the Group D opener of the MLS is Back Tournament, and although Sporting dominated the first 60 minutes and carried a 1-0 lead into second-half stoppage time behind Khiry Shelton’s goal, Minnesota struck in the 92nd and 97th minutes—an own goal and a Kevin Molino strike—to seal the unlikely 2-1 victory.
2. Player Profiles
Major League Soccer's highly anticipated return to home markets will see Sporting Kansas City play six regular season matches against four different regional rivals between Aug. 21 and Sept. 13. Ahead of the restart, SportingKC.com has assembled profiles on the following 10 Sporting players, each of whom figures to play an integral role in the weeks and months to come:
- Forward Alan Pulido
- Forward Khiry Shelton
- Forward Johnny Russell
- Midfielder Gadi Kinda
- Midfielder Roger Espinoza
- Midfielder Ilie Sanchez
- Defender Matt Besler
- Defender Graham Zusi
- Defender Roberto Puncec
- Goalkeeper Tim Melia
3. Captain's Quotes
In his weekly appearance on Sports Radio 810 WHB last week, Sporting Kansas City captain Matt Besler was quick to express his excitement of the fact that MLS regular season matches are back on the horizon.
After competing in the MLS is Back Tournament last month, Sporting will resume the 2020 regular season campaign Friday at rivals Minnesota United FC. Major League Soccer’s return to home markets will see all clubs play 18 more matches between now and Decision Day on Nov. 8, with Sporting set to return to Children’s Mercy Park on Aug. 25 against the Houston Dynamo. Sporting will play six matches between Aug. 21 and Sept. 13—including three at home—with the remainder of the league schedule to be released in the near term.
4. Busio's Show
Sporting Kansas City homegrown midfielder Gianluca Busio was the star of the Soccer Cooligans Podcast last week, joining comedian hosts Alexis Guerreros and Christian Polanco to discuss the MLS is Back Tournament, his upward career trajectory as a promising 18-year-old, his close ties with club and youth international teammates, plus several other compelling topics.
Busio appeared in all five matches for Sporting at the MLS is Back Tournament in Walt Disney World, notably converting the game-winning penalty in a shootout win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC on July 26. As one of the brightest teenage prospects in American soccer, the North Carolina native and Sporting Kansas City Academy product has already notched four goals and two assists in 41 competitive appearances for the club, including 14 starts.
5. The Window Opens
After opening a crack for a brief two days before the start of the MLS is Back Tournament on July 6-7, the MLS transfer window is now wide open through Oct. 29. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Major League Soccer revised its 2020 transfer windows for its clubs in the U.S. and Canada, as approved by world soccer governing body FIFA:
- Two-day transfer window: Monday, July 6 – Tuesday, July 7
- Secondary transfer window: Wednesday, Aug. 12 – Thursday, Oct. 29
6. Tune In Tuesday
A new episode of the Sporting Kansas City Show will debut at 8 p.m. CT Tuesday on Sports Radio 810 WHB. Hosts Nate Bukaty, Carter Augustine and Aly Trost will hear from a Sporting KC guest and provide a comprehensive preview of Friday's clash against Minnesota. Previous episodes of the Sporting Kansas City Show are available at SportingKC.com/SportingKCShow.
On Thursday, Sporting Kansas City's rival-in-waiting revealed its official name, crest and colors. The team will be known as St. Louis City SC, with its name rooted in the city's rich soccer tradition. The moniker celebrates the area’s diverse, iconic neighborhoods and proud heritage while capturing the region’s recent growth and cultural renaissance.
8. Sink and Swim
Sporting Kansas City II took a 3-1 loss to Saint Louis FC in a weather-delayed battle on Saturday night at West Community Stadium in Fenton, Missouri. Christian Duke scored his first goal of the season to level the score just before intermission, but Saint Louis FC pulled away with consecutive strikes in the second period of a rain-drenched affair.
9. Double Take
Sporting Kansas City II (2-4-1, 7 points) will resume their USL Championship campaign with two matches this week, visiting Louisville City FC (3-3-1, 10 points) at 7 p.m. CT Wednesday before hosting OKC Energy FC (1-3-3, 6 points) at 7 p.m. CT Saturday in the club's final home match of the season at Swope Soccer Village in Kansas City, Missouri. Both fixtures will stream live on ESPN Plus and Saturday's home game will be closed to the public.