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. Fight to the Finish
Sporting will host a Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League semifinal match for the first time when Mexican side CF Monterrey visits Children’s Mercy Park for an all-important second-leg showdown tonight at 8 p.m. CT. Tickets for the matchup are included in Season Ticket Member packages and remain available at SeatGeek.com as Sporting welcomes the three-time Champions League winners with hopes of overturning a 5-0 deficit on aggregate.
Tonight's contest will stream live in English on YahooSports.com and the Yahoo Sports app while airing live in Spanish on Univision Deportes. Listeners can also catch the action live locally on Sports Radio 810 WHB (English) and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM (Spanish), with The Final Whistle postgame show immediately following on 810 WHB.
2. Grab the Bull
After hosting Rayados, Sporting will resume their MLS regular season campaign on Sunday by welcoming the defending MLS Supporters' Shield champion New York Red Bulls in a nationally televised showdown on FS1 and FOX Deportes. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. CT with radio broadcasts airing live on Sports Radio 810 WHB, SiriusXM FC (English) and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM (Spanish), followed by The Final Whistle postgame show on 810 WHB.
Tickets for Sunday's fixture are on sale at SeatGeek.com, including a limited-time ticket package consisting of a ticket and a Sporting/Kansas City Royals co-branded scarf. Sunday also serves as the Sporting Sustainability theme night, featuring a variety of unique offers to supporters in conjunction with the MLS WORKS Greener Goals campaign. For the first time, fans will have the opportunity to purchase Sporting’s new Parley jersey, a kit created with
3. Special Occasion
Sporting has signed 14 players from Special Olympics Kansas and Special Olympics Missouri to two-game contracts, the club announced today. The unified team will take the field Sunday night at Children's Mercy Park immediately after Sporting's MLS match against the New York Red Bulls.
Once the MLS teams exit the pitch on Sunday night, supporters are encouraged to stay in their seats for a Special Olympics Unified Soccer exchange game between Special Olympics Sporting Kansas City and Special Olympics New York Red Bulls.
4. Recycle Your Game
One component of the Sporting Sustainability theme night involves the Recycle Your Game program, inviting all supporters to bring new or gently used soccer equipment to drop off at the stadium gates on Sunday. All gear will go to underserved local youth, who will gather on May 23 for a soccer clinic at the Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center in Kansas City, Missouri.
5. The Yanks are Coming
The 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup group stage schedule was announced Thursday and will conclude in Kansas City on June 26 with a doubleheader at Children’s Mercy Park. The double-dip features a matchup between the reigning champion U.S. Men’s National Team and 2018 FIFA World Cup participant Panama, as well as Gold Cup debutant Guyana against Caribbean rival Trinidad and Tobago. Tickets are now on sale to the general public at SeatGeek.com and fans can also visit Primesport.com for information on pre-game hospitality and travel packages.
6. What a Weekend
The Kansas City Royals and Sporting Kansas City are teaming up to offer co-branded apparel as part of special ticket packages for local fans to support their hometown teams on Saturday at Kauffman Stadium and Sunday at Children’s Mercy Park. Through this joint initiative, both teams will combine an exclusive collector’s item with a discounted ticket as Sporting and the Royals each take on opponents which finished in first place in 2018.
- Saturday, April 13: KC Royals vs. Cleveland Indians at 6:15 p.m. CT
- Sunday, April 14: Sporting KC vs. New York Red Bulls at 6 p.m. CT
7. Coveted Cup
The Sporting Kansas City Academy U-17s will travel to Frisco, Texas, this weekend for the start of the 2019 Generation adidas Cup, a high-profile tournament running from April 13-20 that features elite professional club academies from North America, Asia, Europe and South America. Click here for the full Generation adidas Cup schedule and follow @SKCAcademy on Twitter for live updates throughout the tournament.
8. Mbekeli Shines
Swope Park Rangers winger Jerome Ngom Mbekeli made quite the impact in last weekend's 4-3 loss to Bethlehem Steel FC at Children's Mercy Park. The 20-year-old delivered a stellar offensive performance in the seven-goal thriller, and the league took notice by giving Mbekeli a spot on the Team of the Week bench for Week 5.
9. Monday Night Football
The Rangers will conclude their three-game homestand on Monday, hosting Indy Eleven in a 7 p.m. CT kickoff at Children’s Mercy Park. Tickets for the inaugural regular-season meeting between the clubs are available now at SeatGeek.com.
10. Greener Goals
MLS WORKS announced on Thursday that the fourth annual Greener Goals Week of Service will begin this week, and continue through Earth Day as MLS clubs and league office staff volunteer their time and give back in partnership with local charitable organizations.
For the third consecutive year, all 24 MLS clubs will be wearing special adidas x Parley eco-friendly kits during Earth Day weekend (April 19-21). These innovative Climalite kits are made from technical yarns comprised of Parley Ocean Plastic, plastic waste collected on beaches and in coastal communities and transformed into high-performance sportswear.
11. Good Samaritan
Sporting and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City are teaming up throughout 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.