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. Seattle on Sunday
Sporting Kansas City's Western Conference clash against Seattle Sounders FC is set for Sunday at Children's Mercy Park, highlighting a busy slate of MLS action on Memorial Day Weekend. Tickets for the contest are available now at SeatGeek.com as Manager Peter Vermes' men look to knock off one of the league's premier clubs on home turf.
Sunday's contest kicks off at 5 p.m. CT with national television coverage on FS1 and FOX Deportes. Fans can also stream the action live on the FOX Sports app. Radio broadcasts will be transmitted locally on Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM and nationally on SiriusXM FC. The Final Whistle postgame show will air immediately afterward on 810 WHB.
2. Pregame at Hollywood Casino
Sporting Kansas City fans are invited to Hollywood Casino for a Memorial Day Weekend celebration prior to Sunday's MLS showdown between Sporting Kansas City and Seattle Sounders FC at Children's Mercy Park. Sporting KC play-by-play announcer Nate Bukaty and analyst Carter Augustine will be live from Hollywood Casino beginning at 3 p.m. CT Sunday, two hours before #SKCvSEA is scheduled to kick off on FS1. The Sporting KC Pre-Match Show will stream live on the Sporting KC Facebook page.
Sporting midfielder Roger Espinoza will also be in attendance, joining the show on Facebook Live and holding a meet and greet with visiting fans. Hollywood Casino will offer food and drink specials at the Turn 2 Lounge, gameplay all day long, free parking and a shuttle that transports supporters between the casino and Children's Mercy Park before and after the match.
3. Soccer For All
Sporting Kansas City will showcase community support and inclusivity next Wednesday when the club celebrates Soccer For All in conjunction with a highly anticipated matchup against the LA Galaxy at Children’s Mercy Park. Tickets for the Western Conference clash are now available at SeatGeek.com with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. CT.
4. Watch Parties in P&L
The Kansas City 2026 FIFA World Cup Bid has announced it has partnered with the Kansas City Power & Light District to host free Women’s World Cup watch parties in June and July at KC Live! and No Other Pub in the Power & Light District. The Kansas City Sports Commission and Foundation, FOX4, the Kansas City Chiefs, and Sporting Kansas City are the co-presenters for the month-long series of events this summer.
5. All-Star Voting
Major League Soccer today unveiled the fan ballot for the 2019 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target, featuring eight players from all 24 clubs as nominated by national media. The following Sporting players are eligible for fan voting:
- Goalkeeper: Tim Melia
- Defenders: Matt Besler and Graham Zusi
- Midfielders: Gianluca Busio, Felipe Gutierrez and Ilie Sanchez
- Forwards: Krisztian Nemeth and Johnny Russell
Fan Voting for the 2019 MLS All-Star Game Fan XI presented by Target is now available online at SportingKC.com, through the free MLS app, and via the EA SPORTS “More Than a Vote” Challenge. Fan voting will run until 11:59 p.m. PT on June 13.
6. Radio Rewind with Matt Besler
Sporting Kansas City captain Matt Besler returned to the starting lineup in last Saturday’s game against Vancouver Whitecaps FC after battling a hamstring injury. Besler discussed with The Border Patrol host Nate Bukaty on Sports Radio 810 WHB Tuesday morning what it was like coming back, the frustrations from last Saturday’s game with Vancouver and the positives moving forward to take on Seattle.
7. Busio Reflects on USA Stint
One of the most dominant players at the 2019 Concacaf U-17 Championship was the star the Sporting Kansas City Show Podcast on Tuesday night. Less than a week removed from leading the United States U-17 Men's National Team to a second-place finish at he tournament with five goals and three assists in six appearances, midfielder Gianluca Busio joined hosts Nate Bukaty and Carter Augustine for a catch-up interview.
8. The Call Up with Peter Vermes
On the second episode of MLSsoccer.com's new podcast series The Call Up, hosts Susannah Collins and Jillian Sakovits caught up with Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes. In a fast-paced and candid 15-minute discussion, Vermes reflected on the impressive development of 16-year-old Academy product Gianluca Busio, the positive impact of Benny Feilhaber since his return to the club, and how Sporting almost brought LA Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Kansas City.
9. Rangers Draw with Memphis
The Swope Park Rangers (1-5-4, 7 points) and expansion side Memphis 901 FC (2-6-4, 10 points) battled to an entertaining 2-2 draw on Wednesday at Children’s Mercy Park. Four different players opened their 2019 USL Championship scoring accounts as SPR received a first-half penalty from captain Camden Riley and a second-half goal from Mark Segbers, while Memphis struck early and late through Dan Metzger and Tristan Hodge, respectively. The draw extends SPR’s home unbeaten run to three matches and gives the club its third result in four games.
10. SPR Visits Tampa Bay
The Swope Park Rangers will travel to Florida for their third league fixture in seven days when they meet Eastern Conference front-runners Tampa Bay Rowdies (6-0-5, 26 points) at Al Lang Stadium. Kickoff on Saturday is set for 6:30 p.m. CT with a live stream on ESPN+.
11. Sal Zizzo Retires
Former Sporting Kansas City winger Sal Zizzo officially announced his retirement from professional soccer on Tuesday, ending an 11-year professional career that included 174 MLS appearances and a 2018 MLS Cup title in his final season with Atlanta United FC. Zizzo leaves the game as an MLS champion and a 2015 Supporters' Shield winner with the Red Bulls. He also left an indelible mark as Benny Feilhaber's savvy sidekick in the epic Benny Feilhaber Show YouTube series.