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. Rocky Mountain High
Western Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City (6-3-4, 22 points) will renew their long-standing rivalry with the cellar-dwelling Colorado Rapids (2-8-1, 7 points) on Saturday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. CT with three hours of live television coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. CT on FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports Midwest Plus. The match will also stream live on FOX Sports GO, and local radio broadcasts will air on Sports Radio 810 WHB (English) and La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish).
Sporting Kansas City won the first meeting between the sides on April 9 at Children’s Mercy Park, receiving goals from Gerso, Dom Dwyer and Seth Sinovic en route to a comfortable 3-1 victory. However, Peter Vermes’ men have found victories hard to come by at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, having just one win to show from 10 regular season visits to the venue.
2. Can You Outsmart Sporting?
Sports fans will have the opportunity to test their trivia knowledge against Sporting KC players on Wednesday when No Other Pub hosts Sports Trivia Night benefiting The Victory Project. Teams of 2-4 players will go head-to-head with Sporting KC players and compete for a variety of prizes — including Sporting KC fieldside tickets, autographed merchandise and gift cards — and Steven St. John of Sports Radio 810 WHB will emcee the event. Entry is $50 per team with all proceeds going to The Victory Project, the philanthropic arm of Sporting KC that unites players, coaches, staff and fans to help children battling cancer. Sign-up is open now at SportingKC.com/trivia.
3. Top of the Group
Sporting KC defender Erik Palmer-Brown and the U.S. Men’s National Team moved atop Group F of the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup with a 1-0 victory over Senegal today in Incheon, Korea Republic. Palmer-Brown logged another 90-minute shift as the side’s captain, partnering Cameron Carter-Vickers in central defense as the U.S. limited Senegal to just two shots on target. Coupled with Saudi Arabia’s 2-1 defeat of Ecuador, the United States sits alone in first place in Group F ahead of Sunday’s group stage finale. That match between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia will kick off at 4 a.m. CT on FS1, FOX Sports GO and Telemundo.
Palmer-Brown was ranked No. 3 among FourFourTwo’s top 20 CONCACAF men’s U-20 prospects this afternoon, behind only U.S. star Christian Pulisic and Mexican defender Cesar Montes. The 20-year-old will return to Sporting KC upon conclusion of the U-20 World Cup in Korea Republic, which will culminate with the final on June 11.
4. Home on the Range
An excellent USL matchup is on tap Friday night as the Swope Park Rangers (4-3-0, 12 points) put a nine-game home winning streak on the line against league leaders San Antonio FC (8-0-2, 26 points) at Children’s Mercy Victory Field inside Swope Soccer Village. The match will kick off at 7:30 p.m. CT, and tickets are available at SeatGeek.com or at the venue box office before kickoff. The Rangers have yet to lose in the friendly confines of Swope Soccer Village this season, but a big test awaits as San Antonio FC is the only unbeaten club remaining in all of North America. The Western Conference tilt will stream live on SportingKC.com.
5. Magisterial Melia
Sporting KC goalkeeper Tim Melia’s penalty kick save and ensuing block on the rebound against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday was voted MLS Save of the Week for Week 12. Melia earned more than half of the vote to take home his second Save of the Week award in 2017. The veteran goalkeeper is off to a stellar start in 2017, leading all goalkeepers with seven shutouts and a 78.8 save percentage, per Elias. His six wins are tied for tops in the league, while his 0.69 goals against average ranks fourth.
6. Rock the Party
All Sporting Kansas City supporters are welcome to attend the official #COLvSKC watch party at No Other Pub in the Kansas City Power & Light District (1370 Grand Blvd.). Beginning at 6:30 p.m. CT, No Other Pub will offer $6 Till Vodka cocktails as well as an all-you-can-eat buffet featuring hamburgers and hot dogs, chicken wings, pretzels and queso and cheese curds.
7. Claim to Fame
Six former Kansas City players are on the finalized ballots for the National Soccer Hall of Fame Class of 2017 elections, U.S. Soccer announced Wednesday. Sporting Legend Chris Klein, former goalkeeper Kevin Hartman and former striker Josh Wolff are among the 33 names on the Player ballot, while former midfielders Mike Burns, Chris Henderson and Mike Sorber are among the 15 players up for selection on the Veteran ballot.
8. Lucky Thirteen
Week 13 of the MLS regular season features four nationally televised matches on Memorial Day Weekend. The action begins at 2 p.m. CT Saturday on FOX when defending champion Seattle Sounders FC hosts the Portland Timbers in arguably the fiercest of MLS rivalries. The rivalry theme will continue Saturday night when the first California Clasico sees LA Galaxy visit the San Jose Earthquakes at 9 p.m. CT on Univision and the Univision Deportes Facebook page. The following Sunday, Atlanta United FC will host New York City FC at 4 p.m. CT on ESPN and ESPN Deportes before the Texas Derby pits FC Dallas against the Houston Dynamo at 7 p.m. CT on FS1 and FOX Deportes.
9. Red Devils Reign
Manchester United punched its ticket to the 2017-18 UEFA Champions League with a 2-0 defeat of Ajax in Wednesday’s Europa League Final in Stockholm, Sweden. The Red Devils’ victory came just two days after a horrific terror attack following an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena left 22 dead. The victory gave the city of Manchester a reason to celebrate in wake of the tragic event and bolstered United’s hopes of strengthening their squad ahead of next season. The guarantee of Champions League competition should greatly raise the club’s expectations for 2017-18, writes SI.com’s Jonathan Wilson.
10. Cup Clashes
This weekend delivers a numerous domestic cup finals in Europe as the 2016-17 campaign draws to a close ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final between Juventus and Real Madrid on June 3. In England, London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea will battle for FA Cup glory at Wembley Stadium. In Spain, Barcelona will seek a third straight Copa del Rey title against heavy underdogs Alaves at Vicente Calderon Stadium in Madrid. U.S. midfielder Christian Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund will contend for the German DFB Pokal title against Eintracht Frankfurt, while Paris-St. Germain aims for a fourth straight Coupe de France against Angers in Paris.
11. The Perfect Patio
Sporting Kansas City is teaming up with Westlake Ace Hardware in May for the All-Star Patio Sweepstakes. One entrant will win Sporting KC merchandise, tickets to an upcoming match and a variety of patio essentials. Fans can enter the sweepstakes and learn more at SportingKC.com/westlakepatio.
Games to Watch (May 26-29)
|DATE/TIME (CT)||GAME||COMPETITION||TV CHANNEL|
|Friday, 7:30pm||Swope Park Rangers vs. San Antonio FC||USL||SportingKC.com|
|Saturday, 11:30am||Arsenal vs. Chelsea||English FA Cup Final||FOX|
|Saturday, 1pm||Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Borussia Dortmund||German DFB Pokal Final||ESPN3|
|Saturday, 1:30pm||Seattle Sounders FC vs. Portland Timbers||MLS||FOX, FOX Deportes|
|Saturday, 2:30pm||Barcelona vs. Alaves||Spanish Copa Del Rey Final||ESPN3|
|Saturday, 7pm||Sporting KC at Colorado Rapids||MLS||FOX Sports KC, FOX Sports Midwest Plus|
|Saturday, 7pm||Mexico vs. Croatia||International Friendly||FS1, Univision|
|Saturday, 9pm||San Jose Earthquakes vs. LA Galaxy||MLS||Facebook Live, Univision|
|Sunday, 4am||USA U-20s (Palmer-Brown) vs. Saudi Arabia U-20s||FIFA U-20 World Cup||FS1, Telemundo|
|Sunday, 4pm||Atlanta United FC vs. New York City FC||MLS||ESPN, ESPN Deportes|
|Sunday, 7pm||FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo||MLS||FS1, FOX Deportes|
|Monday, 9am||Huddersfield Town vs. Reading||English Championship Playoff Final||beIN SPORTS|