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. Johnny on the Spot
Sporting KC forward Johnny Russell scored his first goal for the Scotland Men's National Team on Sunday, finding the back of the net in the 74th minute of a 2-0 win over San Marino at San Marino Stadium in Serravalle.
Russell finished off a flowing move to clinch an important victory in Group I of UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying. With Scotland leading 1-0 in the late stages, the winger settled a low cross from James Forrest, rounded San Marino goalkeeper Elia Benedettini and fired home from from seven yards to seal an important win in Group I of UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying.
2. Big Boti
Sporting KC defender Botond Barath earned his fourth cap for the Hungary Men's National Team on Sunday, playing the full 90 minutes to help the Magyars secure a huge 2-1 win over 2018 FIFA World Cup finalists Croatia at Groupama Arena in Budapest, Hungary. Barath anchored a backline that limited Croatia to just two shots on target throughout the night as the Magyars atoned for Thursday's 2-0 loss at Slovakia with a momentous victory in the nation's capital.
3. Abdul in Africa
Sporting KC defender Abdul Rwatubyaye earned his 23rd cap for the Rwanda Men’s National Team on Saturday, playing the full 90 minutes in a 3-0 loss to the Ivory Coast at Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny in the Ivorian capital of Abidjan. Rwatubyaye helped Rwanda stay within striking distance of the Ivory Coast for most of the night as the Wasps fell short of reaching the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in the final qualifying match of Group H.
4. Late Show
The Swope Park Rangers earned their first point of the 2019 USL Championship season on Saturday, scrapping to a 2-2 draw with Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC that saw both sides strike twice in a breathless final 20 minutes at Children’s Mercy Park.
Tobi Adewole gave Pittsburgh (0-1-1, 1 point) a 71st-minute lead, only for the Rangers (0-1-1, 1 point) to roar back with two unanswered goals from Sporting Kansas City loanees Rodney Wallace and Kelyn Rowe in the 83rd and 88th minutes. SPR were denied victory in the dying embers of the match, however, as Anthony Velarde’s penalty kick in the 91st minute restored parity and gave both sides their first result of the campaign.
5. Back in the Blue Hell
Sporting's international contingent will return to the United States this week ahead of Saturday's MLS home match against the Montreal Impact. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. CT at Children’s Mercy Park with tickets available at SeatGeek.com. Fans may also call 888-4KC-GOAL to secure a Family 4 Pack, consisting of four tickets, four hot dogs, four Coke products and four bags of chips.
6. Fab 15s
In a wild game punctuated by eight goals and three lightning delays, the Sporting KC Academy U-15s pushed their winning streak to five games with a thrilling 5-3 comeback victory over perennial powerhouse FC Dallas on Saturday morning in Frisco, Texas. The U-15s kept hold of second place in the Central Conference’s Frontier Division with the gutsy result, but not before overcoming the odds as inclement weather and an early deficit worked against them. Dalton Visconti scored a hat-trick to spur the late rally.
7. Run for a Cause
Fans and families of all ages are welcome to participate in The Victory Lap 5K Run & Walk on Saturday, June 8, at Children’s Mercy Park. All funds raised from the inaugural event will go directly to The Victory Project, the philanthropic arm of Sporting KC that helps children fighting cancer and all of life’s challenges.
Registration for The Victory Lap 5K Run & Walk is now open and includes a race T-shirt, a finisher scarf and a complimentary ticket to the Swope Park Rangers home match vs. Charlotte Independence at 4 p.m. CT that afternoon at Children’s Mercy Park. The Run & Walk will begin at 8:30 a.m. CT, with participants starting and finishing inside the world-class stadium.
8. Rising Stars
Major League Soccer last week announced the details for the 2019 Generation adidas Cup, an elite youth tournament featuring top clubs from North America and across the globe. The tournament will feature U-17 and U-15 competitions at the Toyota Soccer Center at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, from April 13-20.
The future stars of the sport will be on display as 21 MLS Academy teams participate in an expanded U-17 competition that includes 15 premier international clubs, the largest field in the 12-year history of the tournament. International clubs competing in the Generation adidas Cup will be announced in the weeks leading up to the tournament.
9. Sustainability Sweepstakes
The Sporting Sustainability Sweepstakes is now open for fans of all ages, providing an opportunity 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.
10. Yanks in Action
Following a 1-0 friendly win over Ecuador last Thursday, the U.S. Men's National Team will close out the March FIFA window on Tuesday with another friendly against Chile at 7 p.m. CT. The match at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston will be televised live on ESPN2, UniMas and Univision Deportes.
11. Week 4 Recap
An abbreviated Week 4 saw just five MLS matches unfold across the United States, including two from the Western Conference. FC Dallas rode their homegrowns to a 2-1 home win over the Colorado Rapids, while LAFC secured a 2-1 home victory of their own after receiving a stoppage-time winner from Walker Zimmerman to sink Real Salt Lake.