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. Monterrey Madness
Concacaf has announced the dates and kickoff times for the 2019 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Semifinals between Sporting Kansas City and Mexican club CF Monterrey. Sporting will visit Monterrey for the first leg at Estadio BBVA Bancomer on Thursday, April 4, with kickoff set for 9 p.m. CT. Manager Peter Vermes’ side will then host Los Rayados in the decisive second leg at 8 p.m. CT on Thursday, April 11, at Children’s Mercy Park.
Both matches will stream live in English on YahooSports.com and the Yahoo Sports app while airing live in Spanish on Univision Deportes. Tickets for the monumental second-leg matchup at Children’s Mercy Park are included in Season Ticket Member packages and remain on sale at SeatGeek.com.
2. Succesful Surgery
Sporting Kansas City forward Erik Hurtado will be sidelined for two to three months after undergoing successful arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. The surgery was performed Tuesday under the care of Sporting KC’s chief medical officer Dr. Scott Luallin at Truman Medical Center – Lakewood Hospital in Lee’s Summit, Missouri.
3. Sporting Sustainability
Sporting Kansas City will host the club’s inaugural Sporting Sustainability theme night on April 14 when the New York Red Bulls visit Children’s Mercy Park for a marquee matchup between two teams that finished atop their respective conferences in 2018.
Launched last year, Sporting Sustainability aims to raise awareness around the impact of food waste prevention, including greenhouse gas emissions and agricultural land use, while utilizing educational tools to encourage the adoption of sustainable practices amongst consumers. The Sporting Sustainability initiative will be showcased on April 14 through a variety of unique offers to supporters, emphasizing the message that “The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for.” Fans can purchase tickets to the match at SeatGeek.com.
4. Study Abroad
Fresh off Sunday's game-saving performance in a 1-1 road draw against the Colorado Rapids, Sporting Kansas City forward Johnny Russell has joined the Scotland Men’s National Team for the start of UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying. Russell and Scotland will begin their Group I qualifying campaign today, visiting Kazakhstan at 10 a.m. CT at Astana Arena in the Kazakh capital of Astana, before continuing their road trip to San Marino for noon CT kickoff on Sunday in Serravalle’s San Marino Stadium. Both matches will stream live on ESPN3 and WatchESPN.
5. Hungary for More
Sporting defender Botond Barath and forward Krisztian Nemeth have joined the Hungary Men’s National Team for the start of UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying, as well. Barath, Nemeth and the Magyars will begin their Group E qualifying campaign this afternoon, 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. Thursday's game will stream live on ESPN3 and WatchESPN, while Sunday's contest will be televised on ESPNEWS and Univision Deportes.
6. Abdul in Africa
Elsewhere, Sporting defender Abdul Rwatubyaye has been selected to 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 air live on beIN SPORTS at noon CT as Rwanda concludes its Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign, having already been eliminated from Group H contention.
7. Jaylin's Jaunt
Sporting defender and 18-year-old Academy product Jaylin Lindsey has joined the United States U-20 Men’s National Team for a training camp in Spain. Lindsey links up with a 20-player squad for a camp highlighted by friendly matches against the France U-20s on Friday (9 a.m. CT) and Japan U-20s on Monday (6 a.m. CT). Both games will take place at the Pinatar Arena in San Pedro del Pinatar, Spain.
8. Rangers Return
Sporting are off this weekend, allowing the Swope Park Rangers to take the spotlight on Saturday when they host Pittsburgh Riverhounds FC in their USL Championship home opener at world-class Children's Mercy Park. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. CT with general admission tickets available at SeatGeek.com or at the stadium box office on matchday. The matchup will also stream live on ESPN+ as the Rangers, led by head coach and former Sporting KC midfielder Paulo Nagamura, contend for their third conference title in four seasons.
9. Academy in Action
The Sporting KC Academy U-19s, U-17s and U-15s will put a combined 12-game winning streak on the line against one of the country’s best academies on Saturday. A high-profile tripleheader against FC Dallas will take place at Toyota Soccer Center in Frisco, Texas, with the U-15s kicking off at noon CT followed by the U-17s at 2 p.m. and the U-19s at 4 p.m. Follow @SKCAcademy on Twitter for live updates on Saturday and throughout the season.
10. Sustainability Sweepstakes
The Sporting Sustainability Sweepstakes launched on Wednesday, providing an opportunity for fans to engage with the platform by taking the pledge to commit to reducing food waste. As an incentive to taking the pledge—utilizing the resources listed on the platform’s webpage and completing the food waste logbook—Sporting Kansas City and partners of Sporting Sustainability are offering the chance for a select winner to enjoy a trip to see Sporting play away from home in 2019.
11. Seven on the Ballot
Seven former Kansas City players are on the final ballots for the National Soccer Hall of Fame Class of 2019 elections, U.S. Soccer announced Tuesday. Sporting Legend Chris Klein, goalkeeper Kevin Hartman and prolific goal scorers Josh Wolff and Eddie Johnson are among the 44 names on the Player ballot, while former midfielders Mike Burns, Chris Henderson and Mike Sorber are three of 14 available selections on the Veteran ballot. Voting begins today for the Player, Veteran and Builder categories, with results to be announced at a later date.
Matches to Watch (March 21-24, 2019)
|Today, 10am||Scotland at Kazakhstan||UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying||ESPN3, WatchESPN|
|Today, 2:45pm||Hungary at Slovakia||UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying||ESPN3, WatchESPN|
|Tonight, 7pm||U.S. MNT vs. Ecuador||International Friendly||ESPN2|
|Friday, 2:45pm||England vs. Czech Republic||UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying||ESPNEWS|
|Friday, 3pm||Argentina vs. Venezuela||International Friendly||beIN SPORTS|
|Friday, 9pm||Mexico vs. Chile||International Friendly||UDN, UniMas|
|Saturday, 12pm||Rwanda at Ivory Coast||AFCON Qualifying||beIN SPORTS|
|Saturday, 4pm||Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC||USL Championship||ESPN+|
|Saturday, 4:55pm||FC Dallas vs. Colorado Rapids||MLS||Twitter, UDN, UniMas|
|Sunday, 12pm||Hungary vs. Croatia||UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying||ESPNEWS, WatchESPN|
|Sunday, 12pm||Scotland at San Marino||UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying||ESPN3, WatchESPN|
|Sunday, 2:45pm||Netherlands vs. Germany||UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying||ESPN+|