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. Here's Johnny
Sporting Kansas City's frenetic stretch of six games in 18 days, highlighted by road matches in four different time zones across three countries, came to a climactic close on Sunday as Scottish international Johnny Russell buried a sensational free kick in the 88th minute to earn his side a 1-1 draw in dramatic fashion against the Colorado Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
2. Champions League Tickets
Single-game tickets for the second leg of the 2019 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Semifinals between Sporting and Mexican giants Monterrey at Children’s Mercy Park are now on sale at SeatGeek.com. Tickets for the monumental showdown, which will take place between April 9-11, are included in Sporting Kansas City Season Ticket Member packages.
Sporting will visit Monterrey for the first leg at Estadio BBVA Bancomer between April 2-4 before hosting the Mexican side in the decisive return fixture the following week. Concacaf will announce exact dates, kickoff times, streaming and broadcast details for both semifinal matches in the near term.
3. T-Minus 100
Only 100 days remain until a 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup doubleheader featuring the United States Men’s National Team hits Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas. Tickets for the highly anticipated Gold Cup doubleheader on June 26 are now on sale to the general public at SeatGeek.com. Children’s Mercy Park is set to host the final two matches of the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup group stage, with the United States among the four teams in Group D taking the field for the summer showcase. The Gold Cup schedule and complete group assignments will be announced this spring when the tournament’s 16-team field is finalized.
4. Staying Hot
Four Sporting Kansas City Academy teams posted victories on Saturday at sunny Swope Soccer Village, continuing an excellent run of form during the month of March. The Sporting KC U-19s, U-17s and U-15s swept Lonestar SC in a U.S. Soccer Development Academy tripleheader and have combined to go a perfect 12-0-0 since the league campaign resumed on March 2 following a lengthy winter break. The Sporting KC U-14s also entered the win column as they kicked off the 2019 Heartland spring season.
5. Monitoring Monterrey
Sporting Kansas City and Club de Futbol Monterrey will meet in the 2019 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League semifinals. Sporting will travel to Mexico for the first leg of the aggregate-goal series before hosting the decisive second leg at Children's Mercy Park (tickets on sale now). In the buildup to this continental clash, SportingKC.com is providing updates on the Rayados as part of the site’s Monitoring Monterrey series.
6. Show Your Scarves
After navigating the strenuous stretch of six matches in 18 days, Sporting will now have 12 days to prepare for the team's next regular season match against the Montreal Impact at 2 p.m. CT on Saturday, March 30, at Children's Mercy Park. Tickets are available on SeatGeek.com, including special ticket packages featuring limited edition scarves co-branded with local colleges (Kansas, Mizzou, K-State, UMKC and JCCC).
7. Hungary for More
Sporting Kansas City defender Botond Barath and forward Krisztian Nemeth have joined the Hungary Men’s National Team for the start of UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying during FIFA’s international window. Barath, Nemeth and the Magyars will begin their Group E qualifying campaign on Thursday, visiting Slovakia at 2:45 p.m. CT inside Anton Malatinsky Stadium in Trnava, Slovakia. Hungary will then host 2018 FIFA World Cup finalist Croatia on Sunday in a noon CT matchup at Groupama Arena in Budapest.
8. Johnny's Jaunt
Sporting Kansas City forward Johnny Russell has joined the Scotland Men’s National Team for the start of UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying. Led by head coach Alex McLeish, Russell and Scotland will begin their Group I qualifying campaign on Thursday, visiting Kazakhstan at 10 a.m. CT at Astana Arena in the Kazakh capital of Astana. Scotland will continue their road trip on Sunday, traveling to face San Marino at noon CT in Serravalle’s San Marino Stadium.
9. Abdul Abroad
Sporting Kansas City defender Abdul Rwatubyaye has joined the Rwanda Men’s National Team for a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Ivory Coast on Saturday at Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny in the Ivorian capital of Abidjan. The match will kick off at noon CT as Rwanda concludes its Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign, having already been eliminated from Group H contention.
10. Lindsey Overseas
Sporting Kansas City defender Jaylin Lindsey has joined the United States U-20 Men’s National Team for a training camp in Spain during the international break. Lindsey links up with a 20-player squad assembled by head coach Tab Ramos for a camp highlighted by friendly matches against the France U-20s on Friday (9 a.m. CT) and Japan U-20s next Monday (6 a.m. CT). Both games will take place at the Pinatar Arena in San Pedro del Pinatar, Spain.
11. Fantastic Four
Four Sporting Kansas City players were named to the Concacaf Champions League Team of the Week on Friday, less than 24 hours after helping the team to a dominant 3-0 quarterfinal victory over Independiente at Children's Mercy Park. Midfielder Roger Espinoza and defender Graham Zusi joined forwards Gerso Fernandes and Krisztian Nemeth among Concacaf's best performers in the second-leg stage of the quarterfinals.