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. Night at the Museum
Sporting KC supporters are invited to attend the 2019 Season Kickoff and Kit Launch Party presented by Ivy Investments on Monday, Feb. 4, at the iconic Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri (4525 Oak St.).
Held in partnership with adidas and Bud Light, the Season Kickoff and Kit Launch Party is free and open to the public. Fans planning to attend must secure a free ticket via SeatGeek.com, the official ticketing partner of Sporting KC. Guests will gain entry through mobile ticketing only and can obtain their tickets through the SeatGeek app, available for download on the App Store and Google Play.
2. Warehouse Sale
Sporting KC fans are encouraged to stop by the grand re-opening of the SportingStyle Pop-In Store this Saturday at Children's Mercy Park. To kick off the 2019 season in style, the SportingStyle Warehouse Sale is offering 25 percent off full-priced items and up to 50 percent off sale items. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT at the Budweiser Brew House inside Children's Mercy Park.
3. Winning Start
Sporting KC strolled to a 4-0 win over Sporting Arizona FC on Friday to open the club’s 2019 preseason, presented by Children’s Mercy. Johnny Russell and Yohan Croizet gave Sporting a 2-0 lead at Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex before Swope Park Rangers duo Justin Bilyeu and Felipe Hernandez struck late to round out the victory in Scottsdale, Arizona.
4. Academy Reps
Of the 39 players on Sporting’s preseason roster, exactly one-third have direct Sporting KC Academy ties. Eight Academy products and five current Academy members, all under the age of 23, are competing in Arizona ahead of the 2019 campaign.
Among those 13 players, 10 featured in Sporting’s 4-0 preseason victory over Sporting Arizona FC on Friday. That includes the first-team quintet of Salloi, Busio, Lindsey, Kuzain and Tyler Freeman; Rangers trio Felipe Hernandez, Wilson Harris and Will Little; and current Academy standouts Mo Abualnadi and Jake Davis.
5. Midweek Matchup
Sporting will continue their preseason campaign on Wednesday against a team of Phoenix Rising FC trialists, with kickoff slated for 11:30 a.m. CT at Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex. Follow @SportingKC on Twitter to find out the best way to receive in-game updates throughout the scrimmage.
6. Game Time
Sporting KC’s 2019 MLS season opener at Los Angeles Football Club on March 3 will kick off at 7:30 p.m. CT. The high-profile curtain raiser at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles was originally slated for 7 p.m. CT.
Complimentary away tickets for Sporting’s trip to LA are now available at SportingKC.com. Sporting is proud to be the only club in Major League Soccer to provide its traveling supporters with complimentary tickets for away matches.
7. 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 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.
8. Job Fair
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 today and tomorrow, 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.
9. That’s the Weah
Tim Weah, considered one of the rising stars on the United States Men’s National Team, scored in his debut for Celtic FC on Saturday. The 18-year-old son of former Ballon d'Or winner George Weah joined the Scottish side on Jan. 7 on loan from PSG, and he quickly made a great impression in the Scottish Cup with a fine strike in a 3-0 win over Airdrieonians.
10. Around the Block
Ben Olsen signed a contract extension with D.C. United on Thursday, with the second-longest tenured head coach in MLS right now looking set to remain at Audi Field for years to come.
In fact, Olsen and the manager currently in charge of a team the longest, Sporting KC's Peter Vermes, have been at the helm far longer than any other coach in the league. Vermes started coaching Kansas City way back in 2009, and Olsen took over at D.C. in 2010. The next closest managers in terms of tenure didn't begin until 2014.
11. Berhalter’s Debut
The United States Men’s National Team will kick off a new era under freshly minted head coach Gregg Berhalter on Sunday, opening their 2019 match slate with a friendly against Panama at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The contest is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT on ESPN2 and UniMas.
Games to Watch (Jan. 21-24, 2019)
|Today, 1:30pm||Juventus vs. Chievo||Italian Serie A||ESPN+|
|Tuesday, 2:30pm||Getafe vs. Valencia||Spanish Copa del Rey||beIN SPORTS|
|Wednesday, 11:30am||Sporting KC vs. Sporting Arizona FC||Preseason Friendly||@SportingKC on Twitter|
|Wednesday, 2:30pm||Sevilla vs. Barcelona||Spanish Copa del Rey||beIN SPORTS|
|Thursday, 1:45pm||Chelsea vs. Tottenham||English Carabao Cup||ESPN+|
|Thursday, 2:30pm||Real Madrid vs. Girona||Spanish Copa del Rey||beIN SPORTS|