Starting XI: We're Not Done Yet

1. What’s on Tap?

Fans looking for a comprehensive preview of tonight’s match can look no further. SKCTV trio Carter Augustine, Nate Bukaty and Matt Lawrence cover all the relevant talking points surrounding #SKCvPOR at the top of this page.

2. We’re Not Done Yet

Tonight is the night, folks. The Western Conference champion will be decided at Children’s Mercy Park when Sporting KC hosts the Portland Timbers in the decisive leg of the conference finals, slated for 8:30 p.m. CT on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM. A limited number of tickets remain available at SeatGeek.com as Sporting KC aim to punch their ticket to MLS Cup 2018 against either Atlanta United FC or the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, Dec. 8.

3. Know the Scenarios

After battling to a scoreless draw in the first leg of the Western Conference Championship on Sunday, Sporting KC and the Portland know exactly what they must do in tonight’s decisive second leg at Children's Mercy Park. The overall scenario here is simple: a win for either side would result in an aggregate victory, a conference title and a trip to MLS Cup 2018.

A score-draw of any kind after 90 minutes (1-1, 2-2, 3-3, etc.) would see the Timbers advance on the away goals tiebreaker. If the teams are level at 0-0 after 90 minutes, two 15-minute periods of extra time will be played in which the away goals tiebreaker no longer counts. If still deadlocked after 120 minutes, a penalty shootout will decide the winner. For example, if the match is tied at 0-0 through regulation, then finishes 1-1 after extra time, Sporting KC and Portland will go to a penalty shootout. Keep in mind: the away goals rule no longer applies if the match goes to extra time.

4. Light Show

All fans attending tonight’s match at Children’s Mercy Park are encouraged to download the Human Video Board app from the App Store or Google Play for a special pregame light show inside the stadium. Click here for full details.

5. The Best He’s Ever Had

Sporting KC underwent a bit of a cosmetic makeover in 2018. For a team so often lauded for stout defending – they only conceded 29 goals last season – Sporting KC twisted the attacking knob this year to maximum levels. They scored 65 goals this season, a new club record. The goals didn't come from one superstar striker, but a collective effort from the team, underlying the depth of quality. Nine players scored three or more goals; five players scored five or more. 

“By far, this is the most talented group since I’ve been here as coach," head coach Peter Vermes told Sam Mellinger of The Kansas City Star. Click here for the full column.

6. Russell’s Revelation

Sporting KC winger Johnny Russell has been a perfect fit in Kansas City. He’s transitioned into the setup almost seamlessly, contributing 10 goals and 10 assists in his inaugural MLS campaign. Now his new club is a game away from MLS Cup. And as MLSsoccer.com’s Daniel Sperry writes, the move from Derby County this past January helped him fulfill his own ambitions and rekindle his love for the sport after nearing burnout.

7. Freeman a Finalist

Sporting KC forward Tyler Freeman is one of five finalists for the 2018 U.S. Soccer Young Male Player of the Year. U.S. Soccer announced Wednesday the nominees for the 2018 Young Male, Young Female and Player of the Year with a Disability awards. Voting for the candidates began today and will close on Dec. 6, with the winner to be announced during the first week of December.

Votes for U.S. Soccer Player of the Year awards are collected from respective U.S. National Team coaches, players who have earned a cap in 2018, members of the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors, U.S. Soccer Athletes’ Council, select media members and former players and administrators.

8. Player’s Perspective

A new episode of the Sporting KC Show Podcast dropped Tuesday as hosts Nate Bukaty, Carter Augustine and Matt Lawrence were joined by Sporting KC forwards Johnny Russell and Diego Rubio to preview the decisive second leg of the Western Conference Championship against Portland. Click here to take in the full podcast.

9. Captain’s Confidence

After delivering a man of the match performance in Sunday’s first leg, Sporting KC captain Matt Besler joined The Border Patrol hosts Nate Bukaty and Nate Bukaty on Tuesday morning for a preview of what will be the club’s biggest home game of the year. Besler anchored a backline that kept Portland off the scoresheet in the 0-0 draw, leaving all to play for when the sides rematch at Children’s Mercy Park. And while the Timbers would advance with a score-draw of any kind (1-1, 2-2, etc.) due to the away goals tiebreaker, Besler is confident in Sporting KC’s ability to get the job done.

10. Kuzain’s Cracker

The 2018 USL campaign featured a whopping 1,655 goals, and arguably none were better than Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal’s stunning free kick in the Swope Park Rangers’ 2-1 win over Tulsa Roughnecks FC on Aug. 29 at Children’s Mercy Park.

Voting for the 2018 USL Fans’ Choice Goal of the Year kicked off Monday with Kuzain’s belter among the 12 strikes vying for the top prize in a knockout format that will be decided entirely by a fan vote on USLChampionship.com. The opening two rounds of voting will trim the field to three, before a fourth semifinalist will be chosen from the nine losing strikes in "The Rebound" vote.

11. Kids Cruise

The Sporting KC Academy U-13s, U-14s and U-15s enjoyed a successful Thanksgiving competing against premier teams from across the United States and Mexico last week at the 2018 Copa Rayados Internacional in The Woodlands, Texas.

The Sporting KC U-13s and U-15s earned first-place finishes in the group stage, playing twice each last Wednesday and Thursday at the Bear Branch Sports Fields. Both sides would fall to the eventual tournament champion in Saturday's semifinals, with the U-13s taking a 2-1 loss to FC Dallas and the U-15s losing a 5-4 thriller to the San Diego Surf. The U-15s amassed 14 goals across five tournament matches and were led by Jayvin Van Deventer, who received Copa Rayados Internacional MVP honors at the U-15 level.

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