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. Ticket to Ride
Single-game tickets to Sporting KC’s first eight MLS home matches of 2019 — beginning with Fan Appreciation Day against the Philadelphia Union on March 10 and ending with a marquee matchup versus Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the LA Galaxy on May 29 — are now on sale via SeatGeek.com.
In addition, limited quantities of full-season ticket packages remain available for supporters looking to catch every moment of the action at world-class Children’s Mercy Park. Four home dates will also feature Family Four Packs presented by Coca-Cola — consisting of four match tickets, four hot dogs, four Coca-Cola products and four bags of chips — including a game against the Montreal Impact on March 30.
2. Prime Promos
Sporting KC unveiled the club’s promotional schedule for the 2019 MLS regular season on Thursday, offering up a variety of exciting theme nights at Children’s Mercy Park. The 2019 calendar is headlined by the return of several popular promotions as Sporting continues its quest for championships on the field.
3. Pick Two
Sporting KC holds one selection in each of the first two rounds of Friday’s 2019 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas, taking place at McCormick Place in Chicago. The club currently has the No. 21 and No. 45 overall picks, with the SuperDraft set to stream live on MLSsoccer.com beginning at noon CT.
Sporting also owns the No. 69 and No. 93 overall picks in the third and fourth rounds, respectively, which will be conducted via conference call next Monday, Jan. 14. The MLSsoccer.com Draft Tracker will provide instant updates as each draft pick is announced.
4. Heating Up
From the day following Sporting KC’s elimination from the 2018 Audi MLS Cup playoffs, the pitch at Children's Mercy Park has been undergoing improvements for 2019. Among the improvements are major field renovations: adding grow lights, synthetic turf outside of the touchlines, new sod and, perhaps most impressively, underground electrical field heat. Children’s Mercy Park will be the first professional stadium in the United States to feature this electrical heating system.
Things are heating up in #TheBlueHell! 🔥— Sporting KC (@SportingKC) January 8, 2019
State of the art electric field heating system installation is underway - the first of its kind in a professional stadium in the U.S. pic.twitter.com/wTAMlv7lIy
5. Vermes Verbatim
The 2019 MLS calendar kicks off in earnest this week with Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes traveling from Orlando, site of the 2019 adidas MLS Player Combine, to Chicago for Friday's MLS SuperDraft, before landing in Arizona for the start of the club's preseason campaign on Sunday. Veteran soccer broadcaster Dean Linke caught up with Vermes for the latest edition of the United Soccer Coaches Podcast amidst the busy week of activity in conjunction with the United Soccer Coaches Convention and annual MLS League Meetings.
6. Well Wishes
Manager Peter Vermes is in full-blown preparation mode for his 11th season at the helm of Sporting KC. Across the state line, meanwhile, the Kansas City Chiefs will begin their journey in the NFL Playoffs on Saturday with an AFC Divisional Round matchup against the Indianapolis Colts at Arrowhead Stadium.
With this weekend's gridiron battle fast approaching, Vermes took time in front of the camera to thank an individual who has made a palpable impact on his professional career: Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. Check out Vermes' message in the tweet below.
7. Preseason Dates
Sporting KC has announced the club’s full match schedule for the 2019 preseason, presented by Children’s Mercy. For the fifth straight year, Sporting will spend both legs of preseason in the state of Arizona, training in Scottsdale from Jan. 13-31 and Feb. 6-19. Manager Peter Vermes' side will play a total of seven games prior to their Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 clash against Mexican side Deportivo Toluca FC on Feb. 21 at Children's Mercy Park.
8. Series One
The first eMLS event of 2019 is just around the corner, with the eMLS League Series One presented by PlayStation officially set to take place in Southern California on Jan. 22. The competition will feature 22 of the best professional FIFA gamers from across North America, each representing an MLS team, as they kick off their quest for FIFA glory and a shot at eMLS Cup in March.
Sporting last month signed 21-year-old Macissé Diop as the club’s official eMLS competitor. Diop will represent Sporting KC in national and global EA Sports FIFA 19 events throughout the year.
SportsEngine Inc., an NBC Sports Group company and the leading youth sports technology provider, announced Thursday that it has entered a multi-year partnership with the Sporting Club Network (SCN), an affiliation program between athletic organizations and Sporting Club, the parent company of Sporting KC and Swope Park Rangers.
10. Fixture Fly-over
In case you (somehow) missed it, 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.
11. 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.
Games to Watch (Jan. 11-13, 2019)
|Friday, 12pm||2019 MLS Super Draft||MLS||MLSsoccer.com|
|Saturday, 6:30am||West Ham vs. Arsenal||English Premier League||NBCSN|
|Saturday, 9am||Brighton vs. Liverpool||English Premier League||NBCSN|
|Saturday, 10am||Amiens vs. PSG||French Ligue 1||beIN SPORTS|
|Saturday, 11:30am||Chelsea vs. Newcastle||English Premier League||NBC|
|Saturday, 1:45pm||Bologna vs. Juventus||Italian Coppa Italia||ESPN+|
|Sunday, 10:30am||Tottenham vs. Manchester United||English Premier League||NBCSN|
|Sunday, 11:30am||Barcelona vs. Eibar||Spanish La Liga||beIN SPORTS|
|Sunday, 1:45pm||Real Betis vs. Real Madrid||Spanish La Liga||beIN SPORTS|