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
Sixteen-year-old Gianluca Busio notched a dramatic equalizer on Sunday night as Sporting Kansas City (2-1-3, 9 points) battled the reigning Supporters’ Shield champion New York Red Bulls (1-3-2, 5 points) to an enthralling 2-2 draw at Children’s Mercy Park.
Johnny Russell had fired Sporting ahead in the 24th minute with his fourth goal of the season, but New York flipped the script after halftime through Daniel Royer’s 52nd-minute strike and Brian White’s 75th-minute header. Busio then marked his second-half introduction with a crucial goal two minutes from full time, scoring in his third straight MLS appearance to produce a share of the spoils and help Sporting extend their unbeaten run to five league matches.
2. Brilliant Busio
Sporting midfielder Gianluca Busio made full use of his 24-minute substitute appearance on Sunday night at Children's Mercy Park. With the hosts down 2-1 to the New York Red Bulls in the dying embers of the match, Busio pulled his side level with a close-range finish that gave both teams a share of the spoils.
The blossoming 16-year-old was recognized for his late-game heroics with a spot on the MLS Team of the Week bench for Week 7. It's merely another feather in the cap for the U.S. youth international, who has made a habit of rewriting the history books since last October when he opened his Sporting KC scoring account.
3. The Way to San Jose
With Sunday's tie in the bag, Sporting will now prepare for Saturday's Western Conference clash against the San Jose Earthquakes (1-5-0, 3 points), set for 9 p.m. CT at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California. FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports Midwest Plus will provide three hours of live coverage beginning at 8:30 p.m. CT, while Sports Radio 810 WHB (English) and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM (Spanish) will air live radio broadcasts with The Final Whistle postgame show immediately following on 810 WHB.
4. Block Party
On the same day that Manager Peter Vermes' side faces San Jose, Sporting Kansas City will holds its annual Block Party celebration from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. CT on the north side of Town Center Plaza in Leawood, Kansas (5000 W. 119th St.). Saturday's family-friendly event will be free and open to the public, featuring yard games, music from an on-site DJ, appearances from mascot Blue and much more.
5. Rangers Double-Dip
The Swope Park Rangers (0-2-1, 1 point) will take the field twice this week, first hosting Indy Eleven (2-1-0, 6 points) in an Eastern Conference battle tonight at 7 p.m. CT at Children's Mercy Park. Tickets are available at SeatGeek.com or at the stadium box office beginning at 5:30 p.m. CT. Head coach Paulo Nagamura's side will then hit the road for a Saturday matchup against Birmingham Legion FC (2-2-0, 6 points) with kickoff at 4 p.m. CT. Both matches will stream live on ESPN+.
6. GA Cup
The Sporting Kansas City Academy U-17s will conclude their 2019 Generation adidas Cup campaign this week, competing in the high-profile tournament alongside 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.
7. Another Galaxy
While the U-17s participate in the Generation adidas Cup, the Sporting KC U-13s, U-14s and U-15s will take part in the LA Galaxy Cup from Wednesday to Sunday at Irvine Great Park in Irvine, California. Follow @SKCAcademy on Twitter for updates.
8. Weekly Rundown
While Sporting were unable to gain maximum points in their fixture with the Red Bulls, a slew of other Western Conference sides took care of business to continue their strong starts in 2019. That includes first-place LAFC, second-place Seattle, third-place LA Galaxy and fourth-place FC Dallas, all of whom prevailed on home turf in Week 7.
9. Tuesday Tune-In
A new episode of The Sporting KC Show Podcast will debut at 7 p.m. CT Tuesday on Sports Radio 810 WHB. Host Nate Bukaty will hear from a Sporting KC guest, recap a busy week that included two home games and preview Saturday's showdown in San Jose.
10. Greener Goals
MLS WORKS announced on late last week that the fourth annual Greener Goals Week of Service will run Earth Day next Monday, April 22, 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. 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. Sporting will wear their new Parley jersey on Saturday night against the Earthquakes.
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.