Starting XI: On the March

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. On the March

Another breakneck run of matches begins for Sporting KC on Saturday when the team welcomes the Montreal Impact to Children’s Mercy Park. Tickets remain available at SeatGeek.com or by calling 888-4KC-GOAL for a Coca-Cola Family 4 Pack.

Saturday’s cross-conference clash will kick off at 2 p.m. CT with live coverage on FOX Sports Kansas City Plus, FOX Sports Midwest Plus, FOX Sports GO, Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM. The new Sporting KC app will provide additional in-game updates and exclusive offers, including a digital coupon for free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream at Price Chopper.

2. Champions League Countdown

Saturday’s cross-conference clash will kick off at 2 p.m. CT with live coverage on FOX Sports Kansas City Plus, FOX Sports Midwest Plus, FOX Sports GO, Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM. The new Sporting KC app will provide additional in-game updates and exclusive offers, including a digital coupon for free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream at Price Chopper. 

The most important series in Sporting’s international history is just around the corner. On April 4 and 11, Manager Peter Vermes’ side will battle Mexican giants CF Monterrey in the 2019 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Semifinals. The second leg is slated for 8 p.m. CT on April 11 at Children’s Mercy Park, with tickets now on sale at SeatGeek.com. In the buildup to this titanic clash, SportingKC.com is relaunching the Champions League Countdown to give readers a comprehensive look at Sporting’s semifinal opponent.

3. The Field is Set

Concacaf confirmed this week the 16 teams that will participate in the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup. Children's Mercy Park will host the United States Men's National Team in a 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup doubleheader on June 26. Tickets are now on sale to the general public at SeatGeek.com and the tournament's full schedule, including the other three Group D teams coming to Kansas City, will be unveiled on April 10.

4. Schedule Drop

Sporting has announced the match schedule for the inaugural Patterson Cup, an elite U-12 boys tournament featuring six of the top youth academies from MLS. The Patterson Cup will take place in conjunction with the first-ever Sporting Next-Gen Invitational, taking place Saturday and Sunday at the world-class Wyandotte Sporting Fields in Kansas City, Kansas. The marquee event will see six U-12 academy clubs square off, including Sporting Kansas City, Atlanta United FC, Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids, Real Salt Lake and Toronto FC.

5. eMLS Madness

The 2019 edition of eMLS Cup presented by PlayStation, the premier eMLS event of the year, is slated to take place on Saturday. After last year's tournament, which took place during the convention, this year's edition will feature a new PAX After Hours format, with the games set to take place at The Castle at Park Plaza in Boston following the conclusion of the day's activities at PAX East. Here's everything you need to know about the competition.

6. Beat the Lines

SportingStyle has opened matchday pre-orders for pickup at Saturday's match at Children's Mercy Park. Fans can shop a limited assortment of items between now and Saturday, including the new Sporting Club and Vineyard Vines collections as well as the "We Are Sporting" scarf of the match. The SportingStyle Pop-In Store in the Budweiser Brew House at Children's Mercy Park will also be open today through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Follow @SportingStyle on Twitter and Instagram for sneak peeks of all the latest club apparel.

7. Social Takeover

In the buildup to Saturday's game, Sporting will conduct H&R Block Social Takeovers with players, allowing fans to follow the club's Instagram stories and Snapchat account for a behind-the-scenes look at the team. Forward Daniel Salloi will take over the club's Instagram account this afternoon, while 16-year-old Gianluca Busio will give matchday updates on Snapchat as Sporting squares off with Montreal.

8. Know the Foe

The United States and Canada men's national teams have played some heated matchups over the years, and that rivalry is about to take a new twist after the inaugural Concacaf Nations League draw was held in Las Vegas on Wednesday. Gregg Berhalter's U.S. squad was drawn against Canada and Cuba in Group A of the competition's top tier. Only the four group winners in League A will advance to the Concacaf Nations League championship. The bottom team in each group will be relegated to League B.

9. Wahl Speaks with PV

In a compelling podcast that dropped last week, Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl had a wide-ranging conversation with Sporting Manager Peter Vermes. An insightful discussion touched on the special preparations that Sporting made to get ready for Champions League (including hyperbaric chambers and a special dispensation from the MLS Players Union), the advantages of Vermes controlling the entire soccer side for Sporting, and his thoughts on the U.S. national team under new coach Gregg Berhalter.

10. Good Samaritan

Sporting and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City are teaming up once again in 2019 to recognize Blue KC Sporting Samaritans, honoring students and teachers who make the Kansas City community a better place to live, work and play. Once a month, a Samaritan will be recognized on the pitch at Children's Mercy Park before a Sporting KC home game. The Samaritan and a limited number of guests will receive a behind the scenes VIP experience with a wide variety of all-inclusive perks. Supporters can nominate members of their community to be the next Blue KC Sporting Samaritan at SportingKC.com/bluekc.

11. Soccer for All

MLS is dedicated to supporting the communities where we live and play our games, and to providing an environment in which our staff, players, partners and fans are treated with dignity and respect. Soccer For All, which is returning in 2019, signifies that everyone is welcome to MLS, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status. Sporting will announce the club's Soccer for All initiatives in the near term, headlined by a title night on May 29 when Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the LA Galaxy visit Children's Mercy Park.

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