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.
Two teams looking to bounce back from narrow cross-conference defeats will square off Saturday as Sporting Kansas City (2-4-4, 10 points) hosts Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Children’s Mercy Park. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. CT and tickets are available at SeatGeek.com.
FOX Sports Kansas City Plus, FOX Sports Midwest Plus and FOX Sports GO will carry three hours of live coverage on Saturday beginning at 7 p.m. CT, while local radio calls will air on Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM. As Sporting and Vancouver prepare for battle, here are five prominent narratives surrounding the matchup.
1. Faith & Family Night
While supplies last, supporters can click here to purchase a $25 package that includes a South Stand general admission ticket to Saturday’s match plus access to the Leaders in Faith Pre-Match Panel featuring Kansas City Chiefs Pro Bowl punter Dustin Colquitt, former Kansas basketball star and NBA champion Wayne Simien, and local Pastor Ryan Darrow.
Beginning at 6 p.m. CT, Colquitt and Simien will share faith-based testimony inside the Ameritas Shield Club while interacting with fans in attendance. At the conclusion of the panel, Colquitt and Simien will be available for autographs and photo opportunities with fans on the Toyota Plaza.
2. Home Sweet Home
Saturday marks the start of a crucial three-game homestand for Sporting. With that comes an opportunity for Manager Peter Vermes’ men to begin their climb up the Western Conference standings. The club is mired in a six-game MLS winless run, its longest since May 2016, but plenty of points are up for grabs with home fixtures against Vancouver, Seattle and LA Galaxy to round out the month.
Moreover, captain Matt Besler told Sports Radio 810 WHB this week that he is nearing full recovery from a hamstring injury that has sidelined him for the last four weeks. Should Besler return on Saturday, Sporting’s backline will receive a welcome lift.
3. No Rest for Vancouver
Sporting might be fighting an injury bug at the moment, but it’s the Whitecaps who will enter Saturday on short rest. Vancouver slipped to a 1-0 home defeat against Atlanta United FC on Wednesday night, conceding a first-half penalty kick to Josef Martinez. The subsequent trip from British Columbia to Kansas City isn’t a short one, and the travel demands combined with just two days’ rest won’t do the Caps any good in their bid for a road result.
4. Marc’s Reunion
Sporting fans might recognize the name of first-year Vancouver head coach Marc Dos Santos. After all, the Montreal-born manager was the first head coach in Swope Park Rangers history, guiding the side to the 2016 USL Western Conference championship and a run to the USL Cup Final.
Since leaving Kansas City at the end of 2016, Dos Santos has experienced nothing but success. He coached the San Francisco Deltas to an NASL title in 2017, then joined Los Angeles Football Club in 2018 to serve as an assistant to Bob Bradley in what became one of the best seasons for an MLS expansion side. Dos Santos is now the main man in charge, and his well-organized Vancouver team has gone a respectable 3-2-1 since mid-April.
5. Favorable History
Sporting are 8-3-3 all-time against Vancouver in MLS competition, including a 5-1-1 record at Children's Mercy Park. Vermes’ side swept the 2018 series with a pair of lopsided wins, prevailing 6-0 at Children's Mercy Park and cruising 4-1 at BC Place. Johnny Russell bagged a hat-trick in the six-goal smackdown, which equaled the largest margin of victory in club history.
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