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. Back to the 90s
Children’s Mercy Park will turn back the clocks on Sunday when Sporting Kansas City hosts reigning MLS Cup champion Atlanta United FC on Retro Night. The star-studded showdown will kick off at 8 p.m. CT with live coverage on FS1, FOX Deportes, FOX Sports GO, Sports Radio 810 WHB, SiriusXM FC and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM.
Tickets for the Retro Night clash remain available at SeatGeek.com, including a limited-time $40 Cinco de Mayo Tailgate Package, as Sporting pays homage to the club’s early days with a comprehensive throwback experience for fans in attendance. For the players on the field, however, it’s all business: Sporting and Atlanta have no intentions of remaining below the playoff line, and Sunday gives both sides the opportunity to regain momentum as the calendar flips from April to May.
2. Post Up Early
It was a photo so great, they shot it again. Twenty years after the Kansas City Wizards took their team picture at The Kansas City Zoo, the 2019 Sporting Kansas City squad has replicated the photo to a tee. That brings us to Sunday, where the first 10,000 fans through the Children's Mercy Park gates will receive a free Retro Night poster courtesy of The Kansas City Zoo. The 1999 Wizards are featured on one side, with the 2019 Sporting team on the other.
3. Retro Tops
Whether you’re headed to Sunday’s match or watching from somewhere else, now is the time to snap up the new retro jersey. Fans can visit MLSstore.com to purchase the club’s fresh retro top, which debuted last month with photographs of MLS All-Star defender Graham Zusi taken at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. Rest assured, supporters will also have the chance to purchase the retro top at SportingStyle locations inside Children's Mercy Park on Sunday.
4. Successful Surgery
Sporting announced today that forward Gerso Fernandes has undergone successful surgery to repair a broken left wrist and will be sidelined for four to six weeks. He suffered the injury in the second half of Saturday’s 4-4 draw against the New England Revolution at Children’s Mercy Park.
5. Salloi's Sequel
If Sporting forward Daniel Salloi is looking for a fallback career, he just might have found it in filmmaking. The 22-year-old has published his second behind-the-scenes vlog, featuring some excellent behind-the-scenes footage of him and his teammates at Pinnacle. So grab your popcorn, settle in and prepare for laughs as Salloi shows the humorous side of a team that gels quite well in the locker room.
6. Atletico Awaits
Major League Soccer announced today that Spanish giants Club Atletico de Madrid will face the best in MLS in the 2019 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target, set for Orlando City Stadium on Wednesday, July 31.
Ten-time champions of La Liga, most recently in 2014, Atletico are one of the most tradition-laden clubs in Europe with a history dating back to 1903. The current squad features stars like Antoine Griezmann, the silver boot winner for 2018 FIFA World Cup champions France and a 2016 finalist for the FIFA Men’s Player of the Year Award, Spanish internationals Alvaro Morata and Diego Costa, and Jan Oblak, winner of the last three awards for La Liga’s best goalkeeper.
7. Dynamic Duo
Sporting Kansas City midfielder Gianluca Busio and forward Tyler Freeman have joined the United States U-17 Men’s National Team for the 2019 Concacaf U-17 Championship, which kicks off this week and concludes May 16 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. The 16-year-old Sporting KC Academy products are two of 20 players on the U.S. roster, assembled by newly appointed head coach Raphael Wicky. The four teams that reach the tournament semifinals will also qualify for the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil as representatives of Concacaf.
8. Felipe Takes Flight
Felipe Gutierrez has been an integral part of Sporting’s midfield since his arrival ahead of the 2018 season. Over the course of several months since then, the Chilean has become increasingly comfortable with his English, raising a family in Kansas City and the demands of Major League Soccer.
With that contentment comes a palpable relaxation and charisma, which Gutierrez demonstrated in abundance during a wide-ranging discussion on The Sporting KC Show Podcast with hosts Nate Bukaty and Carter Augustine.
9. National Spotlight
Sporting's Retro Night tilt with Atlanta will air live on FS1, serving as one of three nationally televised MLS matches to headline Week 10. The action starts at 1 p.m. CT Saturday on ESPN when the defending Supporters' Shield champion New York Red Bulls welcome Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the high-flying LA Galaxy to Red Bull Arena. Shortly thereafter, the first 2019 installment of the Texas Derby will see the Houston Dynamo host FC Dallas on Twitter and Univision.
10. Trek to Toronto
How does an early-summer getaway to see Sporting battle star-studded Toronto FC in Canada sound? Away tickets for Sporting’s match in Toronto on Friday, June 7, are now available. Click here to request your tickets to the contest, slated for 7 p.m. CT at BMO Field (8 p.m. local time).
11. Indy in the End
The Swope Park Rangers announced today that the club’s 2019 USL Championship regular season finale at Indy Eleven has been rescheduled for 6 p.m. CT on Wednesday, Oct. 16. SPR and Indy Eleven were originally scheduled to meet on Oct. 19 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The date change was necessitated after the National Football League released the Indianapolis Colts’ home schedule last month.