Five Things: What to know ahead of Saturday's match between Sporting and New England

Five Things, presented by Keith + Associates Dentistry, is a weekly series on SportingKC.com that highlights the top storylines, players to watch and matchday programming ahead of each game throughout the season.


A pair of MLS originals hoping to bounce back from recent setbacks will square off Saturday when Sporting Kansas City (2-2-3, 9 points) hosts the New England Revolution (2-6-1, 7 points) at Children’s Mercy Park. The interconference clash will kick off at 7:30 p.m. CT with live coverage on FOX Sports Kansas City Plus, FOX Sports Midwest Plus, FOX Sports GO, Sports Radio 810 WHB, SiriusXM FC and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM.

Sporting will celebrate community ties and civic pride on Saturday during Kansas City Night, highlighted by a $31 T-Shirt and ticket package in partnership with The Kansas City Clothing Company. Tickets for the match remain available at SeatGeek.com as Sporting looks to snap a five-game winless run in all competitions at the expense of the struggling Revolution.

Without further delay, let’s rattle off five things you absolutely need to know about Saturday’s showdown.

1. Kansas City Night

As mentioned above, fans have the opportunity to snap up a special-edition Kansas City Night T-shirt and ticket package while supplies last. The Kansas City Clothing Company T-shirt can be picked up Saturday on the Toyota Plaza. The new KNS CTY Scarf of the Match will also be available at SportingStyle locations inside the stadium, featuring “KC 96” and “KNS CITY” wordmarks with imagery of the Kansas City skyline.

The first 5,000 fans through the stadium gates on Saturday will receive a free, reusable grocery tote bag courtesy of match sponsor Price Chopper. Supporters will also be treated to a variety of interactive programming on the Toyota Plaza before kickoff, including the following:

  • #KC2026 activation on the Toyota Plaza, featuring fan photos with a replica World Cup trophy
  • DJ Ashton Martin spinning tunes on the Toyota Plaza
  • Limited amounts of Sporting Cold Brew cans distributed by The Roasterie as fans exit the stadium after the match
  • Kansas City Night videoboard graphics featuring iconic Kansas City imagery
  • Recycle Your Game distribution bins at stadium entrances where fans can donate new or gently used soccer gear for underserved local youth

2. Depth on Display

It’s no secret that an injury bug has hit Sporting hard. The club announced earlier this week that captain Matt Besler (hamstring), veteran Roger Espinoza (knee) and defender Rodney Wallace (hip) will all miss significant time, joining long-term absentees Erik Hurtado (knee), Jaylin Lindsey (knee) and Jimmy Medranda (knee) on the sidelines. Defender Andreu Fontas and midfielder Gedion Zelalem were listed as questionable last week and could be set to return on Saturday.

Needless to say, Manager Peter Vermes will have no choice but to put his team’s depth to the test against New England. Injuries have opened the door for the likes of Botond Barath, Abdul Rwatubyaye, Kelyn Rowe and Gianluca Busio to rise to the challenge.

3. Reeling Revs

Sporting will have a full week to recover from last Saturday’s 4-1 road loss to the San Jose Earthquakes. New England, on the other hand, will be just 72 hours removed from a disappointing 3-0 home defeat to the Montreal Impact on Wednesday. The Revolution conceded three times in the final 11 minutes plus stoppage time, falling victim to a Shamit Shome strike and an Anthony Jackson-Hamel brace.

The result puts a bit more pressure under Revs head coach Brad Friedel, whose side has fallen to 10th place in the Eastern Conference with a 2-6-1 record. If New England is to bounce back, they’ll probably need a big game from Spanish talisman Carles Gil, who has scored or assisted on five of the club’s six goals this season.

4. No Mercy

Aside from a 3-2 triumph in August 2014, the Revs haven’t exactly enjoyed their visits to Children’s Mercy Park. In eight all-time trips to the venue, New England are 1-5-2 with all five losses coming by at least two goals. Also working against their favor is the fact that Sporting are unbeaten in nine straight regular season home games and boast a 29-3-14 regular-season record at Children’s Mercy Park dating back to June 2016.

5. Home Heavy

That leads us neatly into item No. 5. Vermes’ men will play five of their next six matches on home soil, making for one of the biggest stretches of the year. Saturday’s match is followed by a home date with Atlanta United FC (May 5), a trip to D.C. United (May 12) and a three-game homestand versus Vancouver, Seattle and LA Galaxy to round out May. Sporting will hit the road hard in June, playing four straight away matches throughout the month.

What does this mean for Sporting? Cashing in at home over the next six weeks will be absolutely crucial — especially if the team has aspirations of catching any of the top five teams in the West, all of whom have enjoyed excellent starts to 2019.

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