Starting XI - March 6, 2017
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Starting XI: Home Sweet Home

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. Defense in D.C.

A pair of MLS charter members split the points in Week 1 as Sporting Kansas City and D.C. United battled to a scoreless yet entertaining draw Saturday at RFK Stadium. Both sides had their opportunities, as Bill Hamid thwarted Benny Feilhaber on a wonderfully struck free kick before goalkeeper Tim Melia provided some heroics of his own. Then there was the wild goal-line sequence in which Jimmy Medranda, Dom Dwyer and finally Melia stood on their heads to prevent D.C. from taking the lead. All things considered, Manager Peter Vermes was pleased to emerge from RFK with a point in the bag.

2. Home Sweet Home

Arguably the best team in MLS is coming to Kansas City on Saturday. Sporting KC will host FC Dallas in its 2017 home opener at Children’s Mercy Park, with kickoff set for 8 p.m. CT on FOX Sports KC. Fans can still get their hands on tickets at SeatGeek.com as the first 15,000 fans into the stadium will receive a free schedule magnet courtesy of Children’s Mercy. Sporting KC has won four straight home games against the defending Supporters’ Shield and U.S. Open Cup champions, outscoring FC Dallas 15-3 in all competitions during that stretch.

3. The Golden Boy

Erik Palmer-Brown made Kansas City proud on Sunday, leading the United States to victory in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship Final with a penalty shootout win over Honduras. Sporting KC’s Homegrown center back donned the captain’s armband throughout the competition and was honored with the Golden Ball award, given to the tournament’s best player. A week ago, Palmer-Brown scored the game-winning goal to help the U-20s beat Mexico for the first time since 1986.

Thanks to the strong showing, the United States was one of four CONCACAF nations to qualify for the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup, which will take place from May 20 – June 11 in South Korea.

4. Stingy Standouts

On a night defense reigned supreme in the nation’s capital, it was little surprise to see a Sporting KC goalkeeper defender and midfielder receive Team of the Week recognition for Week 1. Tim Melia stopped a penalty en route to five total saves, landing a spot on MLSsoccer.com’s Team of the Week bench, while Goal.com included right back Graham Zusi on its Team of the Week after the veteran won an MLS career-high nine duels.

5. Block Party Bonzanza

Last week’s season kickoff celebration was really fun, but Sporting Kansas City isn’t done partying. The “We. Together.” Block Party will take place Friday from 2:30-6:30 p.m. CT at Town Center Plaza & Crossing in Leawood. The event is free and open to the public, coming a day before Sporting KC’s home opener versus FC Dallas. Fans of all ages are welcome to the interactive event, with more information available here.

6. We. Lead. Together.

Matt Besler will be Sporting Kansas City’s captain. Manager Peter Vermes said as much himself in a SportingKC.com Q & A on Saturday. However, Vermes was just as quick to point out that leadership will come from multiple figures within the clubhouse throughout the 2017 campaign. Click here for the head coach’s entire interview, as he speaks openly and candidly about what he expects from his veteran core.

7. Turn Up Your Radio

With a new MLS season comes a new season of The Sporting KC Show on Sports Radio 810 WHB. A new episode drops Tuesday at 8 p.m. CT as hosts Nate Bukaty and Carter Augustine recap an eventful Week 1 in MLS and look forward to Saturday’s high-profile clash against FC Dallas.

8. Oreos for Everyone

What’s better than Oreo cookies? Free Oreo cookies, of course. And Sporting KC Uphoria users will be able to enjoy just that when the team faces FC Dallas. Beginning Saturday, everyone who has Sporting KC’s official mobile app will receive an offer for free Oreos at Kansas City-area Price Chopper locations. Supporters can download Uphoria for free on the App Store or Google Play to enjoy a variety of exclusive offers, live stats, MySKC Cam, SeatGeek ticket managing and more.

9. Pipeline to the Pros

The professional pipeline continues to take shape at Sporting Kansas City. Last Friday, the Swope Park Rangers inked seven Sporting KC Academy players to academy contracts. Ezra Armstrong, Chase Bromstedt, Leroy Enzugusi, Max Rugova, Steven Tekesy, Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal and Patrick Wilkinson will all be introduced to a professional setting in the coming weeks as the Rangers prepare for the 2017 USL season.

In other Academy news, the Sporting KC U-16s and U-18s won three of four games in Texas this weekend despite missing a combined 14 players who were either with the Rangers or a U.S. youth national team.

10. That’s a Wrap

Week 1 of the 2017 MLS regular season is in the books. If you missed the weekend that was, catch up with MLSsoccer.com’s Susannah Collins and Calen Carr, who recap results and talk expansion. Meanwhile, Charles Boehm brings our attention to 10 things we may have missed in Week 1, while Benjamin Baer leverages advanced stats to tell us who was really unlucky on opening weekend.

11. Break It Down Now

No weekend recap is complete without visiting the latest post from MLS Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle. Doyle saved kind words for Sporting KC and D.C. United, whom he believed played to a playoff pace in a well-balanced encounter. He also spoke glowingly of Saturday’s opponents FC Dallas — particularly lauding Kellyn Acosta for his midfield play in a 2-1 win at LA Galaxy.

Games to Watch (March 7-9)

DATE/TIME (CT) GAME COMPETITION TV CHANNEL
Tue., Mar. 7, 1:45pm Arsenal FC vs. Bayern Munich UEFA Champions League FS1
Tue., Mar. 7, 1:45pm Napoli vs. Real Madrid UEFA Champions League FS2
Tue., Mar. 7, 6pm U.S. WNT vs. France #SheBelieves Cup FS1
Wed., Mar. 8, 1:45pm Barcelona vs. PSG UEFA Champions League FS1
Wed., Mar. 8, 1:45pm Borussia Dortmund vs. Benfica UEFA Champions League FS2
Thu., Mar. 9, 12pm Rostov vs. Manchester United UEFA Europa League FS2
Thu., Mar. 9, 2pm Schalke vs. Borussia Monchengladbach UEFA Europa League FS2
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