Starting XI, presented by Ford, 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. Real Ransacked at Rainy CMP
Sporting Kansas City strolled to a 3-0 win over rivals Real Salt Lake on Saturday at Children’s Mercy Park, extending their home unbeaten run to a club-record 13 regular season matches. Benny Feilhaber, Dom Dwyer and Gerso scored goals—Feilhaber’s a magisterial MLS Goal of the Week nominee—to vault Sporting KC (4-1-3, 15 points) to second place in the Western Conference.
The result saw Sporting KC continue its stingy ways defensively, as goalkeeper Tim Melia collected his league-best fifth shutout of the season. As Feilhaber and Manager Peter Vermes alluded postgame, much of Sporting KC’s recent success has been attributed not only defensive pressure, but to the elimination of dangerous turnovers in their own defensive third.
2. Running With the Red Bulls
Three days’ rest — that’s all Sporting Kansas City will have until they host the New York Red Bulls (5-3-1, 16 points) on Wednesday at Children’s Mercy Park. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. CT with three hours of live television coverage beginning at 7 p.m. on FOX Sports Kansas City Plus and FOX Sports Midwest Plus. The interconference battle will also be streamed on FOX Sports Go, available to all pay-TV subscribers within the Sporting KC TV territory who receive FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports Midwest.
Tickets for Wednesday’s game are available at SeatGeek.com as both teams bring favorable unbeaten streaks to Children’s Mercy Park. Sporting KC is undefeated in a club-record 13 straight regular season home games, while the Red Bulls are 2-0-3 in their last five visits to Kansas City since 2012. New York is coming off a 2-1 home win over the Chicago Fire this Saturday but has lost three straight road games.
3. Loons Looming
A busy fixture list sends Sporting Kansas City on the road this weekend for their inaugural meeting with expansion side Minnesota United FC at 12:30 p.m. CT Sunday. The match will be televised nationally from TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, pitting Sporting KC against its nearest geographical opponent in MLS. The Loons endured a turbulent start to the campaign and have conceded a league-high 25 goals through nine games, but have gone a respectable 2-2-1 in their last five matches.
4. Helpful Moment of the Month
Sporting Kansas City fans can visit SportingKC.com/helpful to cast their vote for the Westlake Ace Hardware Helpful Moment of the Month. Individuals can choose among three nominees for the month of April, with each participant receiving a $7 coupon to Westlake Ace Hardware locations in the Kansas City area. The grand prize includes a $300 Westlake gift card, a Sporting KC replica jersey and two tickets to an upcoming match at Children's Mercy Park. Voting closes late Tuesday night.
5. Can Rangers Rebound?
The Swope Park Rangers slipped to their second straight loss on Saturday as forward Kharlton Belmar found the back of the net in a 2-1 setback to Real Monarchs (5-1-0, 15 points) at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. The Rangers (3-2-0, 9 points) now return home to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 (2-2-2, 8 points) at 7:30 p.m. CT Friday at Children’s Mercy Victory Field in Swope Soccer Village. Tickets for the match are available on SeatGeek.com or at the stadium box office on game day as the Rangers look to extend an eight-game home winning streak dating back to last season. Friday’s contest will also stream live on SportingKC.com.
6. Jaylin’s Jam
Swope Park Rangers defender and Sporting KC Academy product Jaylin Lindsey is with the United States U-17 Men's National Team for the CONCACAF U-17 Championship, which culminates Sunday in Panama City, Panama. The U.S. opened the tournament with a 3-0 group stage record to advance to the classification stage, where they will face Honduras at 3:30 p.m. CT Wednesday and Cuba at 5:30 p.m. CT Friday. Both matches will be streamed live in English on the CONCACAF YouTube channel and televised in Spanish on UDN. Should the U.S. finish above Honduras and Cuba in the classification stage, the Americans will advance to Sunday's final at 3 p.m. CT.
7. Busio Brings Back Title
Sporting KC Academy midfielder Gianluca Busio and the United States U-15 Boys National Team defeated England 2-1 today to win the prestigious Torneo Delle Nazioni in Gradisca d’Isonzo, Italy. The tournament, which included eight U-15 national teams from across the globe, required the U.S. to play three consecutive group stage matches from April 25-27 against Slovenia, Russia and England, respectively, before topping Portugal 4-2 in Saturday’s semifinal. Busio started group stage matches against Slovenia and England and also played in today’s final.
8. Home Cooking
The Sporting Kansas City Academy U-18s and U-16s will look to bounce back from Sunday’s defeats to FC Dallas when they return to Swope Soccer Village for a doubleheader against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday. The matches are free and open to the public as the U-18s kick off at 9 a.m. and the U-16s commence at 11:30 a.m. Both teams are currently in position to qualify automatically for the U.S. Soccer Development Academy playoffs, which run from June 20-26 in Westfield, Indiana. Follow @SKCAcademy on Twitter for live updates.
The Victory Project will host its annual soccer clinic fundraiser on Tuesday, May 9 at Children’s Mercy Park. The clinic runs from 6-7:30 p.m. CT and is open to the first 100 kids aged 6-12 who register at VictoryKC.org. The clinic is $75 per child and all proceeds will go to The Victory Project, the philanthropic arm of Sporting Kansas City that unites players, staff and fans to help children battling cancer. Click here for more information about the unique event.
10. Wild Week 9
Jozy Altidore propelled Toronto past Houston, D.C. raided Atlanta on the road, Orlando stayed perfect at home, FC Dallas and Portland played to a thrilling draw, NYCFC rallied past Columbus, the Whitecaps edged Montreal, San Jose narrowly topped Minnesota, the Sounders stormed back against New England, and strugglers Philadelphia and LA settled for a point apiece. MLSsoccer.com analyst Matthew Doyle offered a complete breakdown of Week 9, as did Ryan Tolmich of Soccer By Ives.
11. Mighty Madrid
The UEFA Champions League semifinals kick off with a pair of first-leg ties this week. On Tuesday, city rivals Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid will square off at Real’s Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, serving as a rematch of the 2014 and 2016 Champions League Finals. The following day, upstart French side Monaco travels to face traditional Italian heavyweight Juventus. Both matches will kick off at 1:45 p.m. CT on FS1.
Games to Watch (May 2-4)
|DATE/TIME (CT)||GAME||COMPETITION||TV CHANNEL|
|Tuesday, 1:45pm||Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid||UEFA Champions League||FS1|
|Wednesday, 11:45am||Ajax vs. Lyon||UEFA Europa League||FS2|
|Wednesday, 1:45pm||Monaco vs. Juventus||UEFA Champions League||FS1|
|Wednesday, 3:30pm||U.S. U-17s (Jaylin Lindsey vs. Honduras||CONCACAF YouTube||CONCACAF YouTube|
|Wednesday, 7:30pm||Sporting KC vs. New York Red Bulls||MLS||FOX Sports KC Plus, FOX Sports Midwest Plus, FOX Sports GO|
|Thursday, 2pm||Celta Vigo vs. Manchester United||UEFA Europa League||FS1|