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's five-game unbeaten run in MLS play was snapped on Saturday with a 4-1 loss at the San Jose Earthquakes. Felipe Gutierrez provided Sporting's lone goal from the penalty spot as San Jose turned the tables from Sporting's 5-1 victory at Avaya Stadium in 2018.
2. Turn the Page
Sporting Kansas City (2-2-3, 9 points) will celebrate community ties and civic pride on Saturday when the club hosts Kansas City Night in conjunction with a home match against the New England Revolution (2-5-1, 7 points) at Children’s Mercy Park. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. CT and tickets are on sale at SeatGeek.com, including a $31 T-shirt and ticket package in partnership with the Kansas City Clothing Company. Additionally, the first 5,000 fans through the stadium gates will receive a free, reusable grocery tote bag courtesy of match sponsor Price Chopper.
FOX Sports Kansas City Plus and FOX Sports Midwest Plus will provide three hours of live coverage on Saturday beginning at 7 p.m. CT. Sports Radio 810 WHB, SiriusXM FC (English) and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM (Spanish) will air live radio broadcasts with The Final Whistle postgame show immediately following on 810 WHB. Fans within the FOX Sports Midwest television footprint can also stream the game live on FOX Sports GO, while viewers elsewhere across the U.S. can catch the action on ESPN+.
3. Beat the Lines
SportingStyle has opened matchday pre-orders for pickup at Saturday's match between Sporting and New England. Fans can shop for a limited assortment of items between now and then, including the men’s navy short sleeve SPORTING Hoodie, the women’s navy Vineyard Vines quarter zip and the KNS CTY scarf of the match.
4. Two's Company
Sporting KC midfielder Gianluca Busio and forward Tyler Freeman were named to the United States U-17 Men’s National Team roster today for the 2019 Concacaf U-17 Championship, running from May 1-16 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
The 16-year-old Sporting KC Academy products are two of 20 players on head coach Raphael Wicky’s roster for the tournament, which will see 20 nations compete for the continental crown. The four semifinalists will qualify for the 2019 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Brazil as representatives of Concacaf.
5. Radio Rewind
Sporting midfielder Gianluca Busio made an in-studio appearance on The Border Patrol this morning, joining hosts Nate Bukaty, Steven St. John and Jake Gutierrez for a wide-ranging interview on Sports Radio 810 WHB. Click here to listen to the full podcast.
6. Rangers Review
The Swope Park Rangers (0-3-2, 2 points) secured their first shutout of the season on Saturday in a scoreless stalemate at Birmingham Legion FC (2-2-1, 7 points). Head coach Paulo Nagamura's men will hit the road again this weekend, traveling to meet cross-state rivals Saint Louis FC (4-1-2, 14 points) on Saturday. Kickoff at Toyota Stadium in Fenton, Missouri, is slated for 7:30 p.m. CT with a live stream on ESPN+.
7. Fab Fourteens
The Sporting KC Academy U-14s were crowned champions of the second annual LA Galaxy Cup this weekend, defeating the San Diego Surf 3-2 in Sunday's championship at Irvine Great Park in Irvine, California.
Led by head coach Declan Jogi, the U-14s were one of four Sporting KC Academy sides competing in the elite youth tournament alongside the U-12s, U-13s and U-15s. Sporting's contingent went a combined 10-4-1 during the five-day tournament, with the U-15s and U-13s enjoying strong performances of their own en route to identical 3-1-0 records.
8. Finished in Frisco
This weekend also marked the end of the 2019 Generation adidas Cup in Frisco, Texas, where the Sporting KC U-17s went 1-3-3 over the course of seven matches. Sporting's tournament campaign was highlighted by a 2-0 win over Jamaican side Mount Pleasant and included three penalty shootouts (counted as draws) against the Colorado Rapids, D.C. United and Portland Timbers.
9. Saturday at Swope
On the same day that the MLS clubs square off at Children's Mercy Park, the Sporting Kansas City Academy will host the New England Revolution Academy in a Saturday tripleheader at Swope Soccer Village. The U-15s and U-17s will take the field at noon CT before the U-19s kick off at 2 p.m. CT. All matches are free and open to the public, and fans can follow @SKCAcademy on Twitter for live updates.
10. Tune In Tuesday
A new episode of The Sporting KC Show Podcast will debut at 6 p.m. CT Tuesday on Sports Radio 810 WHB. Hosts Nate Bukaty and Carter Augustine will hear from a Sporting KC guest, recap a busy weekend of MLS action and look ahead to Saturday's showdown between Sporting and New England.
11. Up to Thirty
Last Thursday, Major League Soccer unveiled plans to expand to 30 teams in the coming years, up from the previous target of 28 clubs that the league had established in December 2015. The decision was made by owners at Board of Governors meetings held in Los Angeles. No official decision was made on future expansion markets, but the Commissioner’s office was authorized to advance discussions with Sacramento and St. Louis ownership groups regarding their bids.