Starting XI, presented by StorageMart, 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. Save the Dates
Sporting KC announced today the club’s 34-game schedule for the 2019 MLS regular season, which will kick off March 3 and conclude Oct. 6. First-place finishers in the Western Conference last year, Sporting will open the 2019 MLS campaign against LAFC on Sunday, March 3, at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles. Manager Peter Vermes’ side will host Philadelphia a week later in their first of 17 home dates, which consist of nine Saturday matches, five Sunday fixtures, two Wednesday contests and one Thursday game at world-class Children’s Mercy Park.
Sporting’s home slate will once again feature a variety of exciting theme nights and promotions, including the return of Fan Appreciation Night, Retro Night, Local Night, Sporting Salutes and more. The club will unveil its full promotional schedule on Thursday.
2. Pick Your Tix
Single-game tickets to Sporting KC’s first eight home matches at Children’s Mercy Park — beginning with their 2019 home opener against the Philadelphia Union on March 10 and ending with a marquee matchup versus LA Galaxy on May 29 — will go on sale to the general public this Thursday, Jan. 10, at 10 a.m. CT via SeatGeek.com.
In addition, Sporting KC Season Ticket Members will have access to an exclusive single-game pre-sale for all 17 MLS home games beginning this Tuesday, Jan. 8, at 10 a.m. CT. For ticket inquiries and more information, supporters can call 888-4KC-GOAL.
3. Rapid Fire
The anticipatory wait is over and the dates are finally set. Sporting KC has released its 2019 MLS regular season schedule, allowing players, coaches and fans alike to map out the year ahead. While a handful of matchups pop out on paper, compelling stats and storylines surround all 34 games. We blaze through each fixture in our rapid-fire rundown — all in a maximum of 140 characters.
4. Feeling a Draft
The first two rounds of the 2019 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas will take place Friday from McCormick Place in Chicago. The SuperDraft will begin at 12 p.m. CT, with Sporting KC holding the No. 21 overall pick in the first round and the No. 45 overall pick in the second round. Fans can watch live coverage of the SuperDraft on MLSsoccer.com and on MLS social media platforms (YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook) for exclusive first interviews with draft picks and expert analysis.
5. Young Studs
Sporting KC midfielder Gianluca Busio and defender Jaylin Lindsey have joined a crop of United States youth national team players for a training camp that runs through Sunday at the Premier Sports Complex in Lakewood Ranch, Florida. Busio has been named to the U.S. U-17 squad led by head coach Dave Van den Bergh, while Lindsey has been selected to the U.S. U-20 roster under head coach Tab Ramos.
6. Tracking Toluca
Sporting KC and Deportivo Toluca FC are on a collision course, the outcome of which will be decided when the clubs meet in the 2019 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Round of 16. Sporting will host the first leg of the aggregate-goal series on Feb. 21 at Children’s Mercy Park before venturing to Mexico for the decisive second leg on Feb. 28. In the buildup to this titanic battle, SportingKC.com will provide weekly updates on Los Diablos Rojos as part of the site’s Tracking Toluca series. Click here for the first installment.
7. Rangers Add Two
The Swope Park Rangers have signed 20-year-old midfielders Ayyoub Allach and Jerome Ngom Mbekeli, the club announced Friday. Allach joins the Rangers after spending his professional career to date in Belgium with Lierse SK, while Ngom spent most of his career playing for Apejes FC de Mfou in his native Cameroon. Both signings are pending league and federation approval.
8. Restaurant Week
Sporting Club Events and Sporting KC are showcasing what their in-house culinary team has to offer during KC Restaurant Week 2019. This Friday through Sunday and Jan. 17-20, guests are invited to a premium dining experience at Three Points, the premier rooftop event space in Kansas City. The indoor and outdoor lounge will serve as a pop-up restaurant during Restaurant Week, offering a delectable three-course menu as well as breathtaking views of the city’s most scenic landmarks. Individuals can book 5:30 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. reservations by calling 913-912-7506.
9. Martino Joins Mexico
Gerardo “Tata” Martino was officially named as the new head coach of the Mexican Men's National Team on Monday. Last month Martino led Atlanta United to the 2018 MLS Cup championship in just the club’s second year of existence, though he had already confirmed his offseason departure from the Five Stripes in October.
The third round of the 2018-19 English FA Cup packed numerous upsets as Premier League sides Leicester City, Fulham, Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town and even leaders Liverpool suffered unforeseen defeats over the last three days.
11. PV on Tap
In preparation for the world’s largest annual gathering of soccer coaches and administrators, MLS has continued its commitment to coaching education by announcing a slate of MLS-led programming for the United Soccer Coaches Convention at McCormick Place West in Chicago this week. Headlining the featured MLS programming will be an exclusive, 1-on-1 spotlight session with MLS Cup-winning manager and technical director Peter Vermes of Sporting KC. Vermes, who remains the only person ever to win MLS Cup as both a player and a coach with the same team, has created a proven model of vertical integration from academy development to first team production. He is also among the top candidates for MLS Sporting Executive of the Year.
Games to Watch (Jan. 8-10, 2019)
|Tuesday, 2pm||Tottenham vs. Chelsea||English League Cup||ESPN+|
|Wednesday, 1:45pm||Manchester City vs. Burton Albion||English League Cup||ESPN+|
|Wednesday, 2:30pm||Real Madrid vs. Leganes||Spanish Copa del Rey||beIN SPORTS|
|Thursday, 2:30pm||Levante vs. Barcelona||Spanish Copa del Rey||beIN SPORTS|