Starting XI is a biweekly series on SportingKC.com that highlights 11 of the biggest storylines and news updates from Sporting Kansas City, MLS and soccer around the globe. Click here to visit the Starting XI archive.
1. Three Cheers
Sporting Kansas City cruised to its first preseason win of 2017 on Saturday, sinking the New York Red Bulls by a 3-0 scoreline. Dom Dwyer fired his side ahead with a first-half penalty before Cameron Porter and Daniel Salloi scored late to seal the victory at Kino Sports Complex in rainy Tucson. Matt Besler, Roger Espinoza and Manager Peter Vermes spoke positively about the result, which keeps Sporting KC in contention to win the Desert Diamond Cup.
2. Revs Rematch
Fresh off their first preseason victory against the Red Bulls, Sporting KC gets back at it when the side takes on the New England Revolution for the second time this month on Wednesday. The game will be broadcast on SportingKC.com and FOX Sports GO, with Sporting KC looking for revenge after the Feb. 7 defeat to the Revs. While Sporting KC have gone an unbeaten 1-0-1 in the Desert Diamond Cup, the Revolution have in contrast gone winless, falling to defeats in their opening two games to the Houston Dynamo and the Colorado Rapids.
3. Party on a Rooftop
Now this is a night fans won't want to miss. Sporting KC is hosting the “We. Together.” Season Kickoff Party presented by Ivy Investments on Feb. 28 on The Green Roof, a rooftop park at 1220 Walnut St. in downtown Kansas City that will be transformed into a soccer field for the special occasion. The “We. Together.” celebration is free and open to supporters who RSVP at SportingKC.com/rsvp. Rooftop festivities will begin at 6:30 p.m. with Sporting Kansas City players and coaches in attendance, highlighting a day full of interactive fan activities in the Kansas City Power & Light District.
4. U-20s Tumble
Sporting KC defender Erik Palmer-Brown and the U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team stumbled out of the gates with a 1-0 loss to Panama in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship on Saturday. The result places extra importance on the United States’ remaining two matches in the preliminary group stage — versus Haiti on Tuesday and versus St. Kitts and Nevis on Friday. Both games will kick off at 4:30 p.m. CT in San Jose, Costa Rica, with English-language live streams on CONCACAF’s Facebook page and Spanish telecasts on Univision Deportes. Palmer-Brown was named U.S. U-20 captain ahead of the CONCACAF competition, which doubles as the team’s 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup qualifying tournament.
5. Rangers Rip ‘Roos
The Swope Park Rangers welcomed two new faces to the squad over the last few days and soundly dispatched UMKC in their preseason opener on Sunday. On Friday, SPR signed former Marquette midfielder Louis Bennett II who had recently enjoyed a stint playing in Cyprus, while ex-Benfica midfielder Robert Mirosavic joined the roster earlier today. In between the two announcements, the Rangers cruised to a 5-0 victory over UMKC at Swope Soccer Village with goals from Liam Doyle, Kharlton Belmar, Nansel Selbol (2) and Leroy Enzugusi.
6. Pumped Up Kicks
The Sporting KC Academy U-16s won two of three matches over the weekend in the final preliminary round of the 2017 Generation adidas Cup in Houston, Texas. Led by head coach Josh Gardner, the U-16s will head to Frisco, Texas from April 7-15 for the Generation adidas Cup finals, facing some of the best youth sides from across the nation.
While the U-16s were in Houston, other Sporting KC Academy teams competed in the U.S. Youth Futsal National Championships this weekend at locations across Johnson County, Kansas. The U-18s were crowned champions, while the U-12s, U-13s and U-14s all played up an age group and earned second-place finishes.
You don’t need a chocolate bar to get your hands on a golden ticket to Sporting KC’s trip to Portland on April 15. Ticket requests are underway, and as always are provided by the club for qualifying fans. Requests will be open through March 31 as Sporting KC looks to record their first win at Providence Park since 2015.
8. Who’s Gonna Start?
With opening day just around the corner, it’s a question many Sporting KC fans might be asking right now. On Sunday, MLSsoccer.com analyst Matt Doyle took his latest shot at predicting the starting lineups for all 22 MLS clubs. Doyle predicts Gerso Fernandes to be the only Sporting KC newcomer to crack Peter Vermes’ starting XI. Whether you agree or disagree, Doyle’s forecasts may be a useful tool in picking your MLS fantasy team.
9. CCL Crunch Time
For three MLS teams, preseason ends this week as FC Dallas, the New York Red Bulls and Vancouver Whitecaps FC resume their CONCACAF Champions League campaigns. The Red Bulls and the Whitecaps take on one another on Wednesday in the first leg of their quarterfinal, while FC Dallas will host Panama’s CD Arabe Unido on Thursday. New York’s Jesse Marsch describes his side’s matchup with Vancouver as one of the biggest games of the season on MLSSoccer.com while CBC Sports looks at a selection headache for the Whitecaps.
10. Lincoln Legends
Lincoln City’s fairytale ride reached unthinkable heights on Saturday in the English FA Cup. The fifth-division team sealed a historic upset against Premier League outfit Burnley, scoring in the 90th minute to win 1-0 and become the first non-league club to reach the FA Cup quarterfinals since 1914. Alex Dowd of FOX Sports chronicled Lincoln City’s remarkable feat in the aftermath of Saturday’s victory, which drew praise from Chelsea manager Antonio Conte as a prime example of the “beauty of football and the FA Cup.”
11. Colossal Clubs Continue to Collide
The UEFA Champions League fireworks resume tomorrow afternoon, having seen a fair amount of shock results in the first round of the knockout stage already. Bayern Munich crushed Arsenal while PSG dismantled Barcelona in a domineering display last week, and more titans are set to collide this week. Nicholas Mendola previews Manchester City’s showdown with Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen’s matchup against Atletico Madrid on NBC Sports, while Mark Ogden of ESPN FC looks at how Manchester City can use the Champions League to energize their fan base.
Games to Watch
|DATE/TIME (CT)||GAME||COMPETITION||TV CHANNEL|
|Tue., Feb. 21, 1:45pm||Manchester City vs. AS Monaco||UEFA Champions League||FS1|
|Tue., Feb. 21, 1:45pm||Bayer Leverkusen vs. Atletico Madrid||UEFA Champions League||FS2|
|Tue., Feb. 21, 4:30pm||U.S. U-20s (Palmer-Brown) vs. Haiti||CONCACAF U-20 Championship||CONCACAF FB,
|Wed., Feb. 22, 12pm||Sporting KC vs. New England Revolution||Desert Diamond Cup||SportingKC.com,
FOX Sports GO
|Wed., Feb. 22, 1:45pm||Sevilla vs. Leicester City||UEFA Champions League||FS1|
|Wed., Feb. 22, 1:45pm||FC Porto vs. Juventus||UEFA Champions League||FS2|
|Wed., Feb. 22, 7pm||New York Red Bulls vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC||CONCACAF Champions League||UDN|
|Thu., Feb. 23, 2pm||Tottenham vs. Gent||UEFA Europa League||FS2|
|Thu., Feb. 23, 7pm||FC Dallas vs. Arabe Unido||CONCACAF Champions League||UDN|