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. Silicon Valley Showdown
Sporting Kansas City (2-1-3, 9 points) will take a five-game MLS unbeaten streak on the road this weekend, visiting the San Jose Earthquakes (1-5-0, 3 points) on Saturday night at Avaya Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 9 p.m. CT with live coverage on FOX Sports Kansas City, FOX Sports Midwest Plus, FOX Sports GO, Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM.
Manager Peter Vermes' side has owned the recent series with San Jose, who are coming off a disastrous 2018 campaign and have endured a slow start to the new season under first-year head coach Matias Almeyda. The Quakes have nevertheless shown signs of improvement over the last few weeks, notably smashing the Portland Timbers earlier this month, and the hosts will be eager to build on that result at Sporting's expense.
2. Saturday Celebration
Sporting Kansas City will holds its annual Block Party celebration on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. CT on the north side of Town Center Plaza in Leawood, Kansas (5000 W. 119th St.). The family-friendly event will be free and open to the public, featuring yard games, music from an on-site DJ, an appearance from Sporting defender Jaylin Lindsey and more.
3. Taking the Throne
Sporting forward Johnny Russell saves baby turtles, loves Game of Thrones, lauds Gianluca Busio and likes the direction his team is headed as the calendar approaches May. That’s the CliffsNotes version of Russell’s appearance on The Sporting KC Show Podcast, which dropped a new episode Tuesday night on Sports Radio 810 WHB.
4. Captain's Comments
Sporting captain Matt Besler made his customary appearance on The Border Patrol with hosts Nate Bukaty and Steven St. John on Tuesday morning. The defender reflected on his experience tossing the first pitch at the Kansas City Royals game last weekend before remarking on the recent performances of 16-year-old Gianluca Busio, who has become the youngest player in MLS history to score in consecutive matches. The conversation then shifted to Saturday's showdown with the Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium.
5. Ranger Danger
The Swope Park Rangers took a 3-1 home loss to Indy Eleven on Monday night at Children's Mercy Park, receiving a first-half goal from Sporting KC Academy product Wilson Harris. Head coach Paulo Nagamura's side will now hit the road for a matchup against Birmingham Legion FC (2-2-0, 6 points), slated for 4 p.m. CT Saturday on ESPN+.
6. Academy in Action
The Sporting Kansas City Academy U-17s will conclude their 2019 Generation adidas Cup campaign over the next two days, 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 at Toyota Soccer Center in Frisco, Texas.
7. A Galaxy Not So Far Away
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 through Sunday at Irvine Great Park in Irvine, California. Follow @SKCAcademy on Twitter for updates.
8. Party at the Pub
Fans are welcome to the official watch parties for Sporting's match at any of the club's new pub partners. Among them, No Other Pub in the Kansas City Power & Light District will offer a variety of food and drink specials beginning at 8:30 p.m. CT on Saturday, including $4 Bud Light drafts, $5 Coronas and an all-you-can-eat buffet with bottomless domestic draft beers.
9. Texas Road Trip
Sporting won't play a single MLS home match during the month of June, but fans can begin making plans to see the side in enemy territory on the first of the month. Away tickets for Sporting’s match versus rivals Houston Dynamo on Saturday, June 1, are now available. Click here to request your tickets to the contest, slated for 7:30 p.m. CT at BBVA Compass Stadium near downtown Houston.
10. Greener Goals
MLS WORKS has launched the fourth annual Greener Goals Week of Service as MLS clubs and league office staff members 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.