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. High Risers
Sporting KC earned a 3-2 aggregate victory over Phoenix Rising FC last Thursday, prevailing over the course of two 75-minute scrimmages at Phoenix Rising FC Soccer Complex in Tempe, Arizona. Johnny Russell tucked home in the 56th minute to give Sporting KC a 1-0 advantage before Graham Zusi’s exquisite free kick on 72 minutes made the score 2-1. Sixteen-year-old Tyler Freeman rounded out the scoring early in the second scrimmage to ensure that Sporting stayed perfect during its 2019 preseason, presented by Children’s Mercy.
2. Preseason Finale
Manager Peter Vermes' side will conclude its preseason campaign on Wednesday, facing MLS rivals Houston Dynamo in a pair of split-squad matches kicking off concurrently at 5 p.m. CT at Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Arizona. One of the two contests will stream live on SportingKC.com, while @SKCmatchday on Twitter will provide additional in-game updates.
3. Turn on the Tele
FOX Sports Kansas City will serve as the exclusive television home of Sporting Kansas City for the third straight year, televising 25 MLS regular season matches in 2019. A detailed television schedule was released Friday.
4. Tracking Toluca
Deportivo Toluca FC, Sporting KC's opponent in the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 later this month, snapped a three-game losing skid and a 345-minute scoreless streak in a tense 1-1 home draw with Apertura 2018 Copa MX champions Cruz Azul on Sunday afternoon at Estadio Nemesio Diez. Orbelin Pineda nodded Cruz Azul into a 26th-minute lead to heap pressure on the slumping hosts, but Adrian Mora's header with 66 minutes on the clock stopped the bleeding and salvaged a much-needed result for los Diablos Rojos ahead of a three-match road swing.
5. Tune In Tuesday
A new episode of the Sporting KC Show will air at 7 p.m. CT Tuesday on Sports Radio 810 WHB. Nate Bukaty will join co-host Carter Augustine, who will provide a comprehensive preseason report from Sporting KC's camp in Arizona. The duo will also be joined by multiple Sporting KC players as preparations continue for the team's first home match on Feb. 21 against Toluca.
The Swope Park Rangers will continue their preseason preparations on the road this week, visiting North Texas SC of USL League One at 11 a.m. CT Wednesday at Toyota Soccer Center in Frisco, Texas. SPR will then travel to face Tulsa Roughnecks FC on Saturday with kickoff slated for 1 p.m. CT at Titan Sports and Performance Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Follow @SwopeRangers on Twitter for updates.
7. Open the Window
Major League Soccer's Primary Transfer Window opens on Wednesday, permitting official trades that involve domestic and international players. During the primary transfer window, MLS clubs can request International Transfer Certificates (ITCs) from players' former clubs to complete signings, loans and transfer deals. The window also allows player trades between the 24 MLS teams.
8. Radio Rewind
Sporting KC CEO and President Jake Reid joined 610 Sports Radio last Thursday, discussing a variety of exciting topics on the Jillian Carroll and Chris Uno Cero Show. Click here to listen to the full podcast.
9. Next Generation
The Sporting KC Academy U-15s and U-17s will venture to Houston this weekend for the resumption of 2019 Generation adidas Cup Qualifying at Houston Sports Park. The U-17s will take the field at 3 p.m. CT on Friday and Saturday, facing the Chicago Fire and Houston Dynamo, respectively, while the U-15s will meet the Chicago Fire at 12:30 p.m. CT on Friday and Minnesota United FC at 10 a.m. CT on Saturday. Follow @SKCAcademy on Twitter for updates throughout the weekend.
10. Futsal Phenoms
While the U-15s and U-17s compete in Houston, the Sporting KC U-12s, U-13s and U-14s will take the courts at multiple indoor soccer facilities across Kansas City for the 2019 U.S. Youth Futsal National Championships. The tournament, taking place Friday through next Monday, Feb. 18, boasts a record 161 teams from across the United States at the boys and girls U-9 through U-19 levels.
11. Cisse Season
The second event of the 2019 eMLS season will take place on Sunday at the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Frisco, Texas, starting at 4:30 p.m. CT. Macisse Diop will represent Sporting KC in eMLS League Series Two, featuring some of the top EA SPORTS FIFA players from across the country. Fans can follow the @eSportingKC Twitter account for the latest eMLS news and updates over the course of 2019.
Matches to Watch (Feb. 11-13, 2019)
|Today, 2pm||Wolverhampton vs. Newcastle||English Premier League||NBCSN|
|Tuesday, 2pm||Manchester United vs. PSG||UEFA Champions League||TNT|
|Wednesday, 2pm||Tottenham vs. Borussia Dortmund||UEFA Champions League||TNT|
|Wednesday, 5pm||Sporting KC vs. Houston Dynamo||Preseason Friendly||SportingKC.com|