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. A New Home
Pinnacle — a brand new facility located a mile from Children’s Mercy Park and Wyandotte Sporting Fields in Kansas City, Kansas — will officially open on Tuesday when Sporting KC trains at the $75-million, world-class venue for the first time. Formerly the National Training and Coaching Development Center, Pinnacle is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between a professional sports team (Sporting KC), a national sports federation (U.S. Soccer) and a sports medicine provider (Children’s Mercy). The state-of-the-art complex will welcome tens of thousands of visitors annually as a premier destination for the development of elite players, coaches and referees of all ages.
2. Perfect in Preseason
Sporting KC stayed perfect in Arizona with a 2-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday at Phoenix Rising FC Soccer Complex in Tempe, Arizona. Khiry Shelton and Gerso tallied early goals as Manager Peter Vermes’ men recorded their third straight win to open the 2018 preseason, presented by Children’s Mercy. The club has returned to Kansas City this week prior to traveling back to Arizona for training from Feb. 9-25, highlighted by four matches in the Mobile Mini Sun Cup preseason tournament.
3. Priceless Prank
One minute Sporting KC forward Daniel Salloi was eating lunch, the next minute he was getting robbed by a guy in a ski mask. Just sit back and enjoy below as captain Matt Besler pulls off an epic preseason prank in Arizona.
4. Number Crunching
Manager Peter Vermes deployed 35 players over the course of three exhibition wins at Phoenix Rising FC Soccer Complex in Tempe, Arizona. Sporting KC has used a balanced attack in the early stages as seven goal scorers found the back of the net and six players recorded assists. Gerso was the lone contributor to strike twice, having led the team in 2017 with 10 goals in all competitions, while Cristian Lobato was the only player to provide a goal and an assist. Click here for 2018 preseason stats to date.
5. Singles on Sale
Single-game tickets for Sporting KC’s first 10 home matches of the 2018 MLS regular season are now on sale via SeatGeek.com. Individual match tickets for games at Children’s Mercy Park through July 7 — beginning with the highly anticipated season opener versus New York City FC on March 4 and continuing through a mid-summer matchup with reigning MLS Cup champion Toronto FC — can be purchased by clicking here.
6. High Value
Tickets for Swope Park Rangers regular season home matches at Shawnee Mission South District Stadium in Overland Park, Kansas, will go on sale at 10 a.m. CT on Wednesday via SeatGeek.com. Season ticket packages start at $7 per game and Season Ticket Members can add a Kids Club (ages 13 and under) season ticket for $50. In addition, group tickets (minimum 15 tickets) start at $8 per ticket and single-game tickets start at $9 per ticket.
7. Rangers Reveal Roster
Led by first-year head coach Paulo Nagamura, the Swope Park Rangers announced their full preseason roster on Friday. The Rangers currently have 10 players under contract for the 2018 season, returning six from last season's run to the USL Cup Final while adding four newcomers in defender Matheus Silva, midfielders Bryam Rebellon and Rodrigo Saravia and forward Hadji Barry. The club will begin its preseason campaign on Saturday, hosting Rockhurst University at 3:30 p.m. CT in a contest that is free and open to the public at Swope Soccer Village.
8. Duke Deployed
Sporting KC Academy midfielder Cameron Duke will return to the United States U-18 Men’s National Team for two upcoming friendlies against the Costa Rica U-18s during a training camp that runs through next Monday in Orlando, Florida. Duke was one of two Academy players invited to join Sporting KC for preseason in Arizona this year, logging 60 minutes in a 2-1 victory on Jan. 27.
9. Back in Session
With a two-month break in the books, the Sporting KC Academy U-15's, U-17's and U-19's will host Solar Soccer Club (Dallas, Texas) in a U.S. Soccer Development Academy tripleheader starting at 10 a.m. CT Saturday at Swope Soccer Village. The Sporting KC Academy U-19's can move into sole possession of first place in the Central Conference's Frontier Division with a victory. All three matches are free and open to the public to attend.
10. Free to Roam
A total of 37 MLS players were eligible for free agency when the offseason list was officially unveiled last December. Nearly two months have transpired since then, and some of the league’s most recognizable names are starting to find landing spots, either with their longtime clubs or elsewhere.
11. Good Samaritans
Sporting KC and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City are teaming up once again in 2018 to recognize Blue KC Sporting Samaritans, honoring students and teachers who make the Kansas City community a better place to live, work and play. Once a month, a Samaritan will be recognized on the pitch at Children's Mercy Park before a Sporting KC home game. The Samaritan and a limited number of guests will receive a behind the scenes VIP experience with a wide variety of all-inclusive perks. Supporters can nominate members of their community to be the next Blue KC Sporting Samaritan at SportingKC.com/bluekc.
Games to Watch (Feb. 6-8)
|DAY / TIME (CT)||GAME||COMPETITION||CHANNEL|
|Friday, 1:30pm||Cologne vs. Borussia Dortmund||German Bundesliga||FS1|
|Saturday, 6:30am||Burnley vs. Manchester City||English Premier League||NBCSN|
|Saturday, 8:30am||Mainz vs. Bayern Munich||German Bundesliga||FS1|
|Saturday, 9am||Manchester United vs. Huddersfield Town||English Premier League||NBCSN|
|Saturday, 10am||Lille vs. PSG||French Ligue 1||beIN SPORTS|
|Saturday, 11:30am||Sporting KC vs. Colorado Rapids||Preseason Friendly||Updates via @SKCMatchday|
|Saturday, 11:30am||Arsenal vs. Everton||English Premier League||NBC|
|Saturday, 1:45pm||Levante vs. Real Madrid||Spanish La Liga||beIN SPORTS|
|Sunday, 9:15am||Espanyol vs. Barcelona||Spanish La Liga||beIN SPORTS|
|Sunday, 10:30am||Liverpool vs. Tottenham||English Premier League||NBCSN|
|Monday, 2pm||Watford vs. Chelsea||English Premier League||NBCSN|