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. Badges of Honor
Sporting KC earned multiple honors on Thursday during Major League Soccer’s 2018 Executive Awards Ceremony in Chicago. The year-end accolades recognize individuals and clubs for their outstanding contributions off the field. Sporting garnered the following awards for strong performance throughout the 2018 Major League Soccer season.
- Sporting Executive of the Year: Peter Vermes, Manager and Technical Director
- Corporate Sponsorships Executive of the Year: Justin Compton, Vice President, Corporate Sponsorships
- Academy of the Year
- Athletic Training Staff of the Year
In addition, members of Sporting’s ticket sales staff were recipients of six awards collectively.
2. Peter the Great
Sporting KC Manager and Technical Director Peter Vermes was named the MLS Sporting Executive of the Year on Thursday, becoming the inaugural recipient of the award for his exemplary leadership, dedication and strategic vision in guiding Sporting KC to success.
In his 10th season as manager and 13th season as technical director, Vermes propelled Sporting to a first-place finish in the Western Conference and oversaw one of the best regular seasons in club history. He was one of three finalists for 2018 MLS Coach of the Year while maintaining oversight of all soccer operations at Sporting, including roster management, scouting and the development of the Sporting KC Academy and the Swope Park Rangers.
3. Best Breeding Ground
The Sporting KC Academy received 2018 MLS Academy of the Year honors on Thursday, winning the inaugural award for its exemplary player development under Academy Director Jon Parry and a dedicated team of coaches and support staff at the U-12 through U-19 levels.
With an experienced coaching and leadership staff, outstanding player care, a large network of Academy Affiliates spanning the Midwest and continued investment in first-class facilities, the Sporting KC Academy is committed the growth and improvement of all players within a professional pathway that bridges from the Academy to Swope Park Rangers to Sporting KC.
4. Three's Company
Sporting KC has selected 23-year-old center back Franky Martinez with the No. 69 overall pick in the third round of the 2019 MLS SuperDraft. Martinez, a product of the University of Massachusetts Lowell, joins 22-year-old midfielders Kamar Marriott and Camden Riley to round out Sporting’s 2019 SuperDraft class. Sporting passed on its fourth-round pick as the third and fourth rounds of the MLS SuperDraft were conducted today via conference call.
Martinez, Marriott and Riley will join Sporting KC for the start of the 2019 preseason, presented by Children’s Mercy. Manager Peter Vermes’ side will train in Scottsdale, Arizona, from Jan. 14-31 and Feb. 6-19 before hosting Deportivo Toluca FC in the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 on Feb. 21 at Children’s Mercy Park.
5. On Your Marks
And so it begins. With entrance physicals at Pinnacle done and dusted, Sporting KC departed Sunday for the start of an all-important 2019 preseason, presented by Children's Mercy.
The club takes the field today for their very first training session of 2019, highlighted by the infamous beep test. This multi-stage fitness challenge will measure each player's aerobic fitness levels, providing a reference point as the squad aims to reach peak condition by the time they face Deportivo Toluca FC in the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 on Feb. 21 at Children's Mercy Park.
6. Toluca Triumphs
On the same day that Sporting KC traveled to Arizona for the start of their 2019 preseason, presented by Children's Mercy, Deportivo Toluca FC grabbed an early lead atop the Liga MX Clausura standings with a 2-0 home win over Puebla at Estadio Nemesio Diez. SportingKC.com has provided another update on Sporting's Concacaf Champions League opponents in the newest edition of Tracking Toluca.
7. Honoring a Hero
Major League Soccer announced Friday it has renamed its Coach of the Year award after coaching icon Sigi Schmid who recently passed away. The Sigi Schmid Coach of the Year Award honors the league’s all-time leader in victories who served as the head coach of the LA Galaxy, Columbus Crew SC and Seattle Sounders during his 20 years in MLS.
8. Ticket to Paradise
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.
9. All the Picks
10. Cissé Steps Up
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 next Tuesday, 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.
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. 15-17, 2019)
|Tuesday, 2:30pm||Valencia vs. Sporting Gijon||Spanish Copa del Rey||beIN SPORTS|
|Wednesday, 11:30am||Juventus vs. AC Milan||Italian Super Cup||ESPN2|
|Wednesday, 2:30pm||Leganes vs. Real Madrid||Spanish Copa del Rey||beIN SPORTS|
|Thursday, 2:30pm||Barcelona vs. Levante||Spanish Copa del Rey||beIN SPORTS|