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. Late Loss in La La Land
Sporting suffered a last-gasp 2-1 defeat to Los Angeles Football Club on Sunday night in the team’s MLS season opener at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles. Krisztian Nemeth gave Sporting (0-1-0, 0 points) an early lead with his third goal in as many matches, but LAFC (1-0-0, 3 points) rallied in the second half behind a 47th-minute strike from Diego Rossi and a 94th-minute winner from substitute Adama Diomande to hand Manager Peter Vermes’ side its first loss in eight trips to the state of California.
2. The Page Turns to Panama
Manager Peter Vermes' side will now travel from Los Angeles to Panama ahead of Wednesday's first leg of the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals against Independiente at Estadio Agustin Sanchez in La Chorrera, Panama.
Kickoff on Wednesday is set for 7 p.m. CT with an English-language live stream on YahooSports.com and the Yahoo Sports app as well as a Spanish telecast on Univision Deportes. Local radio broadcasts will also air live on Sports Radio 810 WHB (English) and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM (Spanish), with The Final Whistle postgame show immediately following on 810 WHB. Fans are welcome to the official watch party for the contest at No Other Pub in the Kansas City Power & Light District, where multiple drink specials will be served from 6:30 p.m. CT until full time.
3. Champions League Tickets
Single-game tickets for the second leg of the 2019 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals between Sporting and Panamanian club Independiente are now on sale at SeatGeek.com. The match at Children’s Mercy Park is included in Sporting Kansas City Season Ticket Member packages and will kick off at 7 p.m. CT on Thursday, March 14.
4. Get to Know Independiente
Sporting made a statement of intent in the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Round of 16, brushing aside Mexican outfit Deportivo Toluca FC to reach the quarterfinal stage for the second time ever. But don’t expect Manager Peter Vermes’ side to bask in the limelight of such an achievement.
After all, Sporting face a wildly quick turnaround with Sunday’s narrow loss at LAFC followed by Wednesday’s first leg of the Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals, which will take place 3,000 miles southeast of Los Angeles in an isthmus nation that connects North and South America. Sporting fans, meet Club Atletico Independiente de La Chorrera, our Cinderella opponent in the next round of North America’s most prestigious club competition.
5. Mexican in Charge
Wednesday’s first leg of the 2019 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals between Sporting and Independiente will feature one of Mexico’s top referees in charge. Liga MX and FIFA veteran Fernando Guerrero will lead an all-Mexican crew alongside assistants Pablo Hernandez, Ibrahim Martinez and fourth official Luis Enrique Santander at Estadio Agustin Sanchez. The 37-year-old, a Liga MX referee since 2010, has served as a FIFA international referee since 2014.
6. Philly on the Horizon
After facing Independiente, Sporting will return to Kansas City for Sunday's MLS home opener against the Philadelphia Union at Children's Mercy Park. The highly anticipated matchup will kick off at 2 p.m. CT and tickets remain available at SeatGeek.com. FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports Midwest Plus will provide three hours of live coverage beginning with Sporting KC Live presented by Bud Light at 1:30 p.m. CT, while local radio broadcasts will also air on Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM. Postgame programming will include The Final Whistle show on 810 WHB and Sporting KC Live presented by Sprint on FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports Midwest Plus.
7. Young Studs
Top Drawer Soccer unveiled its annual list of the top 50 MLS prospects last week, including three Sporting KC Academy products on the list. Sixteen-year-old midfielder Gianluca Busio, the highest Sporting KC representative in the rankings, came in at No. 4. Further down the line, 20-year-old midfielder Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal was ranked 24th and 16-year-old forward Tyler Freeman was 27th.
8. Rangers Roll
The Swope Park Rangers completed their preseason schedule with a 4-0 victory over USL League Two side Texas United FC at Swope Soccer Village on Saturday. Sporting KC Academy product Wilson Harris bagged a brace and Ayyoub Allach and Sean Karani added goals on either side of halftime.
The focus now shifts to the USL Championship regular season, which opens Saturday with a visit to MSU Soccer Park to take on New York Red Bulls II at noon CT. The Rangers' home opener is set for March 23 against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Children's Mercy Park. All USL Championship games are available via ESPN+.
9. Fresh Faces
The Swope Park Rangers have announced two additions to the club’s technical staff, welcoming Goalkeeper Coach Ross Cain and Strength and Conditioning Coach Mike Steidle ahead of the 2019 USL Championship season. Cain and Steidle round out the Rangers technical staff alongside second-year head coach Paulo Nagamura and second-year assistant coach Chris Martinez.
10. Perfect Six
The Sporting KC Academy showed no signs of rust this weekend, combining for six wins in as many matches as the 2018-19 U.S. Soccer Development Academy season continued after a three-month winter break. The U-19s, U-17s and U-15s combined to go a perfect 6-0 against the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros Academy, sweeping a pair of doubleheaders at HEB Park in Edinburg, Texas, to get the second half of the Development Academy campaign started on the right foot.
11. Happy Hour
Sporting Club Events will host a Women in the Business of Sports Happy Hour at 5:30 p.m. CT Tuesday in the Three Points Club, located at the top of the historic Lowe & Campbell Building at 1511 Baltimore Ave. in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. The event welcomes all professionals in the sports industry for an evening of drinks, snacks and networking.
Matches to Watch (March 5-6, 2019)
|Tuesday, 2pm||Real Madrid vs. Ajax||UEFA Champions League||TNT|
|Tuesday, 7pm||U.S. WNT vs. Brazil||SheBelieves Cup||FS1|
|Tuesday, 7pm||New York Red Bulls vs. Santos Laguna||Concacaf Champions League||YahooSports.com, UDN|
|Tuesday, 9pm||Houston Dynamo vs. Tigres UANL||Concacaf Champions League||YahooSports.com, UDN|
|Wednesday, 2pm||PSG vs. Manchester United||UEFA Champions League||TNT|
|Wednesday, 7pm||Sporting KC at Independiente||Concacaf Champions League||YahooSports.com, UDN|
|Wednesday, 9pm||Monterrey vs. Atlanta United FC||Concacaf Champions League||YahooSports.com, UDN|