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. Fantastic Four
A pair of goals in both halves lifted Sporting Kansas City to a rampant 4-0 win over Minnesota United FC in Wednesday’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup fourth-round clash at Children’s Mercy Park. Ike Opara and Gerso scored just before halftime, while Dom Dwyer and Daniel Salloi struck late to send Sporting Kansas City into the Round of 16 at the expense of a Minnesota United FC side that suffered its second defeat at Children’s Mercy Park in as many weeks.
Dwyer became Sporting Kansas City’s all-time leading U.S. Open Cup scorer with his sixth career goal in the tournament, and Homegrown striker Salloi marked his first Sporting KC start with the game’s final tally. Manager Peter Vermes praised the performance as a positive response from Saturday’s 1-1 home draw against the Montreal Impact.
2. Houston on the Horizon
Sporting Kansas City will travel to face the Houston Dynamo on June 27 or 28 in the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Round of 16, U.S. Soccer announced today. The match will be streamed live on SportingKC.com, with exact date and kickoff time to be confirmed in the near future. Wednesday’s dominant 4-0 home victory over Minnesota United FC propelled Sporting Kansas City into the Round of 16, where it will face a Houston Dynamo side that edged NASL outfit North Carolina FC by a 3-2 scoreline in the fourth round.
Sporting Kansas City and Houston will meet in the U.S. Open Cup for the third straight year and the fourth time overall. Manager Peter Vermes’ men earned a 3-1 quarterfinal victory over the Dynamo en route to the 2015 Open Cup championship before Houston exacted revenge with a 3-1 home win of their own in last season’s Round of 16.
3. Do You Know the Way to San Jose?
Sporting Kansas City will return to MLS regular season action with a trip to the San Jose Earthquakes (5-6-4, 19 points) on Saturday at 8 p.m. CT. FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports Midwest will air three hours of live coverage beginning at 7:30 p.m. CT, while local radio broadcasts will air on Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM. The game will stream live on FOX Sports GO and updates will be provided through the Sporting KC Uphoria mobile app.
The sides first met on March 18 at Children’s Mercy Park when Sporting Kansas City used Benny Feilhaber’s magisterial strike and a fortuitous own goal to collect a 2-1 victory. Manager Peter Vermes’ men have claimed three straight wins in the series, including a 2-1 win last September at Avaya Stadium that snapped Sporting KC’s 16-year winless skid in San Jose. The all-time regular season series is dead even with 24 wins apiece and seven draws.
4. Stars Descend on Swope
The Swope Park Rangers (5-4-1, 16 points) will play their second match of a three-game homestand Sunday when they host star-studded Phoenix Rising FC (5-5-0, 15 points) at Children's Mercy Victory Field inside Swope Soccer Village. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. CT as the Rangers square off against a Phoenix side whose roster includes African legend Didier Drogba, former Mexico international Omar Bravo and former England international Shaun Wright-Phillips. Tickets for the highly anticipated matchup are on sale via SeatGeek.com and will be available for purchase at the venue box office on matchday.
5. Saad Starts for Cedars
Sporting Kansas City forward Soony Saad helped the Lebanon Men’s National Team to a 2-1 victory over Malaysia in Tuesday’s qualifying match for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. Earning his eighth career cap for the Lebanon senior team, Saad started and played 64 minutes as the Cedars moved five points clear atop Group B. The top two finishers in the group will advance to the AFC Asian Cup, Asia’s quadrennial national team tournament in which Lebanon made its lone appearance in 2000.
6. Drop It Like It’s Hot
96.5 The Buzz announced the lineup for Buzz Beach Ball 2017 on Wednesday, set to be held Sept. 8-9 at Children’s Mercy Park. Grammy-nominated Snoop Dogg, Weezer and Foster The People headline the two-day event which will see at least 22 different artists perform during one of the Midwest’s elite summer concerts.
Tickets for the concert will go on sale to the general public on Monday at 10 a.m. CT, with two-day ticket packages starting as low as $49. Visit www.beachballkc.com for more details. This marks the sixth straight year that Buzz Beach Ball will take place at Children’s Mercy Park.
7. Watch Parties are Back
All Sporting Kansas City supporters are welcome to attend the official #SJvSKC watch party at No Other Pub in the Kansas City Power & Light District (1370 Grand Blvd.) on Saturday. Beginning at 7:30 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. In addition, zTrip will offer all Sporting KC fans attending the watch party a $10 credit that will be activated on Saturday and expire the following day.
8. Eyes of the Nation
Three MLS matches fit the national television bill as all 22 clubs prepare for battle in Week 16. At noon CT on Saturday, upstart New York City FC (7-5-3, 24 points) will look to rebound from a midweek Open Cup loss to the New York Red Bulls when they host MLS Cup champion Seattle Sounders FC (5-6-4, 19 points) on ESPN and ESPN Deportes. Saturday’s action concludes at 10 p.m. CT when LA Galaxy (5-5-3, 18 points) welcomes the Houston Dynamo (7-6-2, 23 points) on Facebook Live and UniMas. The weekend wraps up Sunday at 4 p.m. CT when the New York Red Bulls (6-7-2, 20 points) visit the Philadelphia Union (4-6-4, 16 points) on ESPN and ESPN Deportes
9. Third in the Hex
Matchday 6 in CONCACAF’s Hexagonal concluded on Tuesday with Panama and Honduras drawing 2-2 and Costa Rica defeating Trinidad and Tobago 2-1. The results leave the U.S. Men’s National Team in third place heading into September and October, when all teams will play their remaining four World Cup qualifying matches. The top three finishers will advance automatically to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, while the fourth-place finisher will face an Asian team in a two-legged World Cup playoff in November. Sporting Kansas City defenders Matt Besler and Graham Zusi returned from national team duty this week after the U.S. topped Trinidad and Tobago 2-0 and held Mexico to a 1-1 draw in Mexico City.
|Trinidad and Tobago||3||1||5||0||3||10||-7|
10. Confederations Cup on Tap
The 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup will kick off Saturday in Russia as a prelude to the 2018 FIFA World Cup. As hosts, Russia will be joined by six winners of the FIFA confederation championships as well as 2014 World Cup winner Germany, with the eight-team tournament running until July 2 in four host cities. SI.com’s Brian Strauss assessed the eight participants and what the Confederations Cup resembles for each respective country. On the political side, Russia hopes a successful Confederations Cup will banish other nations’ concerns about the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
11. Mazuma Before Midnight
Mazuma Credit Union and Sporting Kansas City are hosting a Matchday Experience sweepstakes that ends tonight at midnight. Sporting Kansas City fans who enter the sweepstakes will have the opportunity to win tickets to a future Sporting KC home match in 2017, including a pregame tour, field access for pregame warmups and access inside the postgame press conference. The winner will also receive a $100 Visa gift card and a customized Sporting KC jersey. Click here to participate.
Games to Watch (June 16-19)
|Saturday, 10am||Russia vs. New Zealand||FIFA Confederations Cup||FS1, FOX Deportes|
|Saturday, 12pm||New York City FC vs. Seattle Sounders FC||MLS||ESPN, ESPN Deportes|
|Saturday, 8pm||Sporting KC at San Jose Earthquakes||MLS||FSKC, FS Midwest|
|Saturday, 10pm||LA Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo||MLS||Facebook Live, UniMas|
|Sunday, 10am||Portugal vs. Mexico||FIFA Confederations Cup||FS1, FOX Deportes|
|Sunday, 1pm||Cameroon vs. Chile||FIFA Confederations Cup||FS2, FOX Deportes|
|Sunday, 4pm||Swope Park Rangers vs. Phoenix Rising FC||USL||SportingKC.com|
|Sunday, 4pm||Philadelphia Union vs. New York Red Bulls||MLS||ESPN, ESPN Deportes|
|Monday, 10am||Australia vs. Germany||FIFA Confederations Cup||FS1, FOX Deportes|