Starting XI - July 26, 2018
Olivia Brestal

Starting XI: Pumped for Primetime

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. Bounce Back

Sporting KC’s regular season home match against FC Dallas this Saturday at Children’s Mercy Park is now scheduled for 8 p.m. CT and will be nationally televised on ESPN, Major League Soccer announced on Tuesday.

Tickets for the match, originally slated to kick off at 7:30 p.m. CT, are available online at SeatGeek.com and the first 10,000 fans in attendance will receive Sporting Kansas City cooling headbands courtesy of match sponsor Dairy Farmers of America. Parking lots will open at 5 p.m. on Saturday around Children's Mercy Park. Fans can begin entering the Toyota Plaza and Budweiser Brew House at 6 p.m. prior to the seating bowl opening at 6:30 p.m.

Sporting KC is unbeaten in the team’s past 10 home matches (8-0-2) against FC Dallas dating back to 2011 and will enter Saturday’s match with a 10-game unbeaten run (7-0-3) at Children’s Mercy Park this season. Sporting Kansas City (Weeks 4-18) and FC Dallas (Weeks 19-21) have led the Western Conference since March and will meet twice in the final three months of the MLS regular season campaign.

2. A League of Their Own

The best women's team on the planet will take the field tonight in Kansas City.

Children’s Mercy Park will host the United States Women’s National Team today in a 2018 Tournament of Nations doubleheader. Ranked No. 1 in the latest FIFA rankings, the U.S. WNT will battle rivals Japan at 6 p.m. CT on the opening matchday of an elite tournament that showcases four of the best women's national teams in the world. The first game of the Children’s Mercy Park double-feature will see Brazil face Australia at 3:15 p.m. CT. Tickets for the doubleheader are on sale through ussoccer.comticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000.

3. Midweek Review

Three MLS matches took place Wednesday night, including a pair of battles featuring some of Sporting KC's Western Conference counterparts. The Houston Dynamo slipped to a 3-1 home loss against the Philadelphia Union, missing the opportunity to pull level with Real Salt Lake for the sixth and final playoff position, while Seattle Sounders FC heaped misery on the last-place San Jose Earthquakes with a 1-0 road win. In the nation's capital, Bradley Wright-Phillips became the fastest player to reach 100 career regular season goals by scoring the match-winner in the New York Red Bulls' 1-0 defeat of D.C. United at the brand-new Audi Stadium. Wright-Phillips hit the century mark in his 159th appearance, besting Taylor Twellman's mark of 173 games to reach 100 goals.

4. Thursday Thrills

ESPN will broadcast a high-profile MLS doubleheader this evening, with Orlando City SC hosting New York City FC at 7 p.m. CT and LAFC welcoming the LA Galaxy for Round 2 of El Trafico at 9:30 p.m. CT.

Orlando has suffered through an anemic run of 10 losses in 11 games, and in order to make the playoffs for the first time in their history, they'll need to start collecting maximum points at home. The task will be far from easy, however, as NYCFC are among the genuine contenders for the Supporters' Shield.

On the opposite side of the country, Banc of California Stadium will host the second installment of the cross-city rivalry between LAFC and the Galaxy, who occupy second and fourth place in the Western Conference, respectively. The first meeting between the sides was arguably the greatest game in league history: LAFC took a 3-0 lead before the Galaxy staged a wild rally at StubHub Center, cutting the deficit to 3-2 before Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice in his MLS debut — including an otherwordly strike from near midfield — to cap a stunning 4-3 comeback victory.

5. Radio Rewind

A new episode of The Sporting KC Show aired Wednesday on Sports Radio 810 WHB with hosts Nate Bukaty and Carter Augustine, providing a comprehensive preview of the high-level soccer that beckons at Children's Mercy Park.

The duo looked ahead to Saturday's pivotal Western Conference clash between third-place Sporting KC and first-place FC Dallas — set to kick off at 8 p.m. CT on ESPN — before casting anticipatory light on the Tournament of Nations doubleheader featuring the U.S. Women's National Team, which will unfold tonight as Children's Mercy Park welcomes four of the best women's national teams on the planet. Bukaty and Augustine also heard from a trio of U.S. WNT members, including head coach Jill Ellis and veteran players Becky Sauerbrunn and Amy Rodriguez, both of whom formerly played for FC Kansas City at the club level.

6. Herrera Heroic

Swope Park Rangers goalkeeper Christian Herrera enjoyed a career day on Sunday, making seven saves to help his side snap a three-game losing skid in a 0-0 stalemate with Rio Grande Valley FC at Children's Mercy Park. The 21-year-old Herrera was recognized for his standout performance on Tuesday, landing USL Team of the Week honors for the first time as one of Week 19's best players.

7. Fly to the Hall of Fame

Fans can enter the National Soccer Hall of Fame Fly Away Sweepstakes for the chance to win an all-inclusive prize package, provided in partnership with the National Soccer Hall of Fame and Visit Frisco. The trip will take place in conjunction with Sporting KC's road match at FC Dallas on Oct. 21.

  • One three-night stay for two at Omni Frisco (Oct. 19-22, 2018)
  • Roundtrip airfare for two
  • Two tickets to the National Soccer Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 20
  • Two tickets to the Imagine Dragons concert on Saturday, Oct. 20
  • Two tickets to the Sporting KC vs. FC Dallas match on Sunday, Oct. 21
  • $100 to the British Lion Pub and $100 to City Works at The Star

8. Meet 'n' Greet

Sporting KC will host an AT&T Meet 'n' Greet with Ike Opara, Eric Dick, Jaylin Lindsey and Khiry Shelton on Sunday at the AT&T Store at Zona Rosa Town Center (8454 NW Prairie View Rd, Kansas City, MO). Opara and Dick will be on-site for photos and autographs from 1-2:30 p.m. CT, followed by Lindsey and Shelton from 2:30-4 p.m. CT. The event will also feature a Sporting KC futsal court and an enter-to-win sweepstakes consisting of tickets to a future game, a Children's Mercy Park tour and a SportingStyle gift card.

9. Take the Sweeps

Fans can enter the Westlake Ace Hardware Ultimate Sporting KC Matchday Sweepstakes to win an all-inclusive prize package courtesy of Westlake Ace Hardware. The limited-time opportunity will see all participants entered for the chance to win 10 Bud Light Landing tickets to Sporting KC's game against Orlando City SC on Sept. 8, one customized replica jersey, a postgame photo on the pitch, a $250 Westlake gift card and a wide array of tailgating gear.

10. First Fridays

Sporting KC invites all fans to the First Fridays Block Party on Friday, Aug. 3, in the Crossroads Arts District (2020 Baltimore Ave., Kansas City, MO). The free event will run from 5-9 p.m. CT, featuring yard games, free beer and a food and beverage pairing. The first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive a free Sporting KC sampling glass.

The food and beverage pairing will take place from 5-7 p.m. CT, while beverage stations and yard games will be open for the duration of the event. In addition, SportingStyle merchandise will be available for purchase. Click here to RSVP to the summer celebration, which comes on the heels of a Sporting KC First Fridays party last August that broke the record for world's longest flip cup competition.

11. Vote for Ann

Major League Soccer has announced the finalists for the 2018 MLS WORKS Community MVP Contest presented by Wells Fargo, which recognizes individuals using soccer to make a difference in their community. The Grand Prize winner, voted on by fans, will be recognized on-field during halftime of the 2018 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on August 1, and will receive a $25,000 donation for their selected charity. Sporting KC's representative on the fan voting ballot is Ann Murphy, who has served as a police officer in the Kansas City Police Department for more than a decade.

Games to Watch (July 26-29, 2018)

DAY / TIME (CT) GAME COMPETITION CHANNEL
Tonight, 6pm U.S. WNT vs. Japan WNT Tournament of Nations FS1
Tonight, 7pm Orlando City SC vs. New York City FC MLS ESPN
Tonight, 9:30pm LAFC vs. LA Galaxy MLS ESPN
Friday, 7pm Morelia vs. Santos Laguna Liga MX UDN
Saturday, 6:30am Arsenal vs. PSG International Champions Cup (Friendly) ESPN2
Saturday, 10am Benfica vs. Juventus International Champions Cup (Friendly) ESPN2
Saturday, 4pm Manchester United vs. Liverpool International Champions Cup (Friendly) ESPN
Saturday, 6pm Bayern Munich vs. Manchester City International Champions Cup (Friendly) ESPN
Saturday, 8pm Sporting KC vs. FC Dallas MLS ESPN
Saturday, 10pm Barcelona vs. Tottenham MLS ESPN
Sunday, 4pm Seattle Sounders FC vs. New York City FC MLS ESPN
Sunday, 6pm U.S. WNT vs. Australia WNT Tournament of Nations FS1
Sunday, 8:30pm LA Galaxy vs. Orlando City SC MLS FS1
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