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. Down to Business
It may have been a short offseason, but Sporting KC players, coaches and fans won’t be complaining about that any time soon.
After coming within one victory of a Western Conference Championship and an MLS Cup appearance in late 2018, Sporting will take the field at Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex on Friday for their first tune-up of the 2019 preseason, presented by Children's Mercy. The curtain-raising scrimmage comes against Sporting Arizona FC, with kickoff slated for 11:30 a.m. CT and live updates available via @SKCMatchday on Twitter.
2. Sizable Squad
Ahead of Friday's scrimmage, Sporting KC has unveiled the club's 39-man preseason roster. The group includes the 26 players signed to MLS contracts, four members of the Swope Park Rangers, five Sporting KC Academy players, three unsigned MLS SuperDraft selections and one trialist.
The Rangers quartet joining Sporting KC in Arizona consists of Justin Bilyeu and Academy products Felipe Hernandez, Wilson Harris and Will Little. The five other current Academy players on the trip include Mo Abualnadi, Jake Davis, Sean Karani, Tucker Lepley and Brooks Thompson. Kamar Marriott, Franky Martinez and Camden Riley represent the MLS SuperDraft contingent, while Daniel Johnson — a midfielder who has spent the last two seasons with the Chicago Fire — has joined the group as a trialist.
3. Road Trip
Away tickets for Sporting KC’s MLS season opener at Los Angeles Football Club on Sunday, March 3, are now available. Click here to request your tickets to the highly anticipated showdown, slated for 7 p.m. CT at state-of-the-art Banc of California Stadium in downtown Los Angeles.
Sporting is proud to be the only club in Major League Soccer to provide its traveling supporters with complimentary tickets for away matches. The club actively monitors away ticket requests submitted through SportingKC.com and strives to accommodate as many of them as possible. Tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, visit the Away Ticket Policies and FAQ.
4. Frequent Flyers
Make no mistake about it. Sporting KC will be racking up the frequent flyer miles during the 2019 preseason, presented by Children's Mercy, and into the early stages of the competitive campaign.
The Kansas City Star's Sam McDowell dug into the club's preseason itinerary on Wednesday, detailing an arduous travel schedule that will see Manager Peter Vermes' side make two trips to Phoenix, return to Kansas City for their Concacaf Champions League opener against Deportivo Toluca FC, then make stops in Albuquerque, Mexico City and Los Angeles over the next seven weeks.
Phoenix. Kansas City. Back to Phoenix. Back to Kansas City. Albuquerque, N.M. Toluca, Mexico. Los Angeles. And back to Kansas City once more. All in seven weeks’ time.https://t.co/lLZMTfk65E— Sam McDowell (@SamMcDowell11) January 16, 2019
5. Wolff Pack
On Wednesday, former Sporting KC forward Josh Wolff was named to the U.S. Soccer technical staff that will work under new U.S. MNT head coach Gregg Berhalter. Wolff will serve as Berhalter’s first assistant, just as he did at Columbus Crew SC from 2013-2018.
6. Onward in Austin
Austin FC is set to begin play in MLS in 2021 as the league's 27th club, commissioner Don Garber announced Tuesday. The club will become the city's first team in a major professional sports league.
The announcement was made at Rustic Tap in Austin’s West Sixth district, with Garber alongside Austin FC chairman/CEO Anthony Precourt and Austin mayor Steve Adler. The club will soon build a privately funded, $225 million soccer stadium at McKalla Place. Groundbreaking will begin this year on the 20,000-seat stadium, which planned to be completed in time for the club's first match.
7. Join the Club
Want to be a part of the team at Children's Mercy Park? The state-of-the-art home of Sporting KC is hosting a job fair on Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 21-22, to hire a variety of associates for the 2019 season. Job opportunities available include part-time roles and seasonal matchday roles in the following departments: Fan Services, Food and Beverage, Parking and Ticket Operations.
- Location: Children's Mercy Park (1 Sporting Way, Kansas City, KS 66111)
- Dates: Monday, Jan. 21 (3-6 p.m.) and Tuesday, Jan. 22 (4-7 p.m.)
- Parking: Nebraska Furniture Mart across the street from Children's Mercy Park. Please enter through the Budweiser Brew House on the northeast side of the stadium.
8. Known Commodity
Sporting KC forward Daniel Salloi finished with a team-leading 11 goals after scoring four in the club's final three regular season games, and then hit the net thrice more in the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs. Yet after helping his side post a team-record 65 league goals, the 22-year-old has told MLSsoccer.com's Daniel Sperry that he feels no major burden to repeat his success as a known commodity in 2019.
9. Game On
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 Los Angeles on Tuesday. 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.
10. Big Tickets
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.
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. Tonight through Sunday, 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. 18-20, 2019)
|Friday, 11:30am||Sporting KC vs. Sporting Arizona FC||Preseason Friendly||@SKCMatchday on Twitter|
|Friday, 1:30pm||Hoffenheim vs. Bayern Munich||German Bundesliga||FS1|
|Saturday, 9am||Liverpool vs. Crystal Palace||English Premier League||NBCSN|
|Saturday, 9:15am||Real Madrid vs. Sevilla||Spanish La Liga||beIN SPORTS|
|Saturday, 11:30am||Arsenal vs. Chelsea||English Premier League||NBC|
|Saturday, 11:30am||RB Leipzig vs. Borussia Dortmund||German Bundesliga||FS1|
|Sunday, 7:30am||Huddersfield vs. Manchester City||English Premier League||NBCSN|
|Sunday, 10am||Fulham vs. Tottenham||English Premier League||NBCSN|
|Sunday, 1:45pm||Barcelona vs. Leganes||Spanish La Liga||beIN SPORTS|