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. Revved Up
A pair of MLS charter members will lock horns Saturday night at Gillette Stadium when Supporters' Shield leaders Sporting KC (5-1-2, 17 points) visits the New England Revolution (3-2-2, 11 points). Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. CT with live coverage beginning at 6 p.m. CT on FOX Sports Kansas City Plus, FOX Sports Midwest Plus and FOX Sports GO. Local radio broadcasts will also air on Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM (Spanish).
Manager Peter Vermes' men have enjoyed an excellent start to the 2018 campaign and will look to continue their successful ways against a New England side that is always tough to beat on their home turf, where the Revolution are 14-4-3 since the start of 2017. Click here for five storylines surrounding the game and here for a statistical preview of the matchup.
2. Rock the Party
No Other Pub in the Kansas City Power & Light District welcomes all fans to the official #NEvSKC watch party on Saturday as Western Conference leaders Sporting KC look to extend their seven-game unbeaten run against the New England Revolution. No Other Pub's matchday specials will begin at 6 p.m., featuring $4 Bud Light drafts as well as an all-you-can-eat buffet with endless domestic draft beers. Watch party programming will also include giveaways for Sporting KC tickets and No Other Pub gift cards.
3. Russell Rolls
On Tuesday, Sporting KC forward Johnny Russell was voted the Alcatel Major League Soccer Player of the Week by the North American Soccer Reporters (NASR) for Week 8 of the 2018 MLS season. Russell delivered a dominant performance in last Friday’s 6-0 win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC, scoring the eighth MLS hat-trick in Sporting KC history. The 28-year-old also won his team a penalty kick and put four of six shot attempts on frame as Sporting KC set or tied single-game records in goals, margin of victory, shots, shots on target and possession.
4. Bring Your Questions
Sporting Kansas City CEO & President Jake Reid, captain Matt Besler, winger Johnny Russell and homegrown forward Daniel Salloi will participate in a Fan Forum this Tuesday, May 1, at No Other Pub in the Kansas City Power & Light District, giving supporters of all ages the opportunity to interact first-hand with club representatives. The event will see Reid, Besler, Russell and Salloi answer questions and engage with fans in attendance, making for an interactive and open-ended conversation. The Fan Forum will begin at 6 p.m. CT inside No Other Pub, and attendance is free for a limited number of fans who RSVP at SportingKC.com/forum.
5. Sea Lions and Elephants
Soccer fans and animal lovers of all ages are welcome to attend the fourth annual Sporting KC Day at the Zoo on Sunday, May 6, at the Kansas City Zoo in Swope Park (6800 Zoo Dr., Kansas City, Mo.). Sporting KC stars Tim Melia, Diego Rubio, Johnny Russell and Graham Zusi will lead the fun-filled day at one of the premier zoos in the region, playing soccer with sea lions, painting with elephants and signing autographs for everyone in attendance. In conjunction with the event, the Kansas City Zoo is offering $3 off the price of regular admission to guests that wear Sporting KC apparel.
6. Radio Rewind
A pair of Sporting KC midfielders joined Sports Radio 810 WHB this week to recap a record-breaking victory over Vancouver Whitecaps FC and look ahead to Saturday's road test at the New England Revolution. First-year Frenchman Yohan Croizet was on The Sporting KC Show with hosts Nate Bukaty and Carter Augustine on Tuesday night, reflecting on his background growing up in France and developing as a professional soccer player. The next morning, MLS assists leader Roger Espinoza visited with The Border Patrol to discuss his stellar start to the 2018 campaign.
7. SPR to CMP
The Swope Park Rangers announced Tuesday that Children’s Mercy Park will host the remainder of the club’s home matches during the 2018 USL season. The Rangers will honor all season tickets and single-game tickets previously purchased for home matches at Shawnee Mission South District Stadium. Tickets for each the Rangers’ 15 remaining home matches this season, starting as low as $9, are available by contacting Jon Valentine at 816-949-1190 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Led by head coach and former Sporting KC midfielder Paulo Nagamura, the Rangers will return to Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday to host rivals Saint Louis FC at 7:30 p.m. CT. The first 500 fans in attendance will receive a free USL Western Conference Champions T-shirt.
8. Success in Spain
Sporting KC Homegrown Player Gianluca Busio helped the United States U-17 Men's National Team to the Sportchain Cup title last week in Benicassim, Spain. The 15-year-old midfielder notably tallied a goal and an assist in the U-17 MNT's 2-0 victory over Norway on April 17 . Led by head coach John Hackworth, the United States earned a pair of wins over both the Norwegians and India to finish the tournament with a perfect 4-0 record.
9. Heartbreak Hotel
Reigning MLS Cup and Supporters' Shield champion Toronto FC went agonizingly close to winning the 2018 Concacaf Champions League on Wednesday night, but after defeating Chivas de Guadalajara 2-1 in the second leg of the finals inside a raucous Estadio Akron, the Reds fell in the resulting penalty shootout as the Liga MX side took the title. Orbelin Pineda fired the hosts ahead 1-0 in the 19th minute, but Toronto rallied behind goals from star forwards Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco to take a 2-1 halftime lead and level the score at 3-3 on aggregate. The match would remain deadlocked through 90 minutes, forcing a penalty shootout that the Reds lost 4-2.
10. Airing Nationally
The final weekend of April features a compelling slate of MLS action, highlighted by three matches that will air nationally. Click here for a rundown of the action as Philadelphia hosts D.C. United, Colorado welcomes Orlando City SC and LAFC opens Banc of California Stadium against Seattle Sounders FC.
11. Tulsa Tripleheader
The Sporting KC Academy will face FC Dallas in a tripleheader this Saturday as the 2017-18 U.S. Soccer Development Academy season continues. All three matches will take place at Hurricane Soccer & Track Stadium on the campus of the University of Tulsa, with the U-15s kicking off at noon CT followed by the U-17s at 2:30 p.m. and the U-19s at 5 p.m. Follow the Sporting KC Academy on Twitter for live updates Saturday and throughout the year.
Games to Watch (April 28-30, 2018)
|DAY / TIME (CT)||GAME||COMPETITION||CHANNEL|
|Saturday, 6:30am||Liverpool vs. Stoke City||English Premier League||NBCSN|
|Saturday, 8:30am||Bayern Munich vs. Eintracht Frankfurt||German Bundesliga||FS2|
|Saturday, 11:30am||Swansea City vs. Chelsea||English Premier League||NBC|
|Saturday, 11:30am||Real Madrid vs. Leganes||Spanish La Liga||beIN SPORTS|
|Saturday, 1:45pm||Inter Milan vs. Juventus||Italian Serie A||beIN SPORTS|
|Saturday, 2:30pm||Philadelphia Union vs. D.C. United||MLS||Twitter & UDN|
|Saturday, 6:30pm||Sporting KC at New England Revolution||MLS||FSKC Plus, FS Midwest Plus|
|Saturday, 7:30pm||Rangers vs. Saint Louis FC||MLS||ESPN+|
|Sunday, 8:15am||West Ham United vs. Manchester City||English Premier League||NBCSN|
|Sunday, 10:30am||Manchester United vs. Arsenal||English Premier League||NBCSN|
|Sunday, 11am||Fiorentina vs. Napoli||Italian Serie A||beIN SPORTS|
|Sunday, 11am||Werder Bremen vs. Borussia Dortmund||German Bundesliga||FS2|
|Sunday, 1:45pm||Deportivo La Coruna vs. Barcelona||Spanish La Liga||beIN SPORTS|
|Sunday, 3pm||Colorado Rapids vs. Orlando City SC||MLS||ESPN|
|Sunday, 8pm||LAFC vs. Seattle Sounders FC||MLS||FS1|