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. Hat-Trick Johnny
Johnny Russell’s sensational hat-trick lifted Sporting Kansas City to a 3-2 win over Seattle Sounders FC in an absorbing five-goal thriller on Sunday at Children’s Mercy Park. The Scottish forward became the second player in club history to record multiple regular-season hat-tricks in a Kansas City uniform, striking twice in the first half and slotting home the 68th-minute winner as Sporting secured their first victory since March 30 and snapped second-place Seattle’s six-game unbeaten streak in a Western Conference clash that entertained from beginning to end before a nationally televised audience on FS1.
2. Best of the Bunch
In thoroughly deserving fashion, Russell has been voted Major League Soccer Player of the Week for Week 13 of the 2019 MLS season. Russell, one of Sporting’s eight MLS All-Star nominees, scored all three goals in Sporting's win over Seattle, becoming the second player in team history to record multiple regular-season hat tricks for the club and the second player in MLS to do so since the start of the 2018 season.
3. Solo Stunner
Russell provided a flashbulb moment Sunday on the stroke of halftime, dicing through multiple Seattle defenders and slotting low past goalkeeper Stefan Frei to make the score 2-0. The jaw-dropping solo effort is one of five nominees for AT&T MLS Goal of the Week in Week 13. His strike is up against Vancouver's Ali Adnan, LA Galaxy's Jonathan dos Santos, Colorado's Nicolas Mezquida and Real Salt Lake's Jefferson Savarino. Fan voting is open at MLSsoccer.com through Thursday morning at 2 a.m. CT.
4. Jubilant Jimmy
After more than a year on the sidelines with a knee injury, do-it-all midfielder/defender Jimmy Medranda entered as an 89th-minute substitute on Sunday to the deafening roar of a capacity crowd. The 25-year-old Colombian last stepped between the white lines on May 20, 2018, in a 1-1 draw at Minnesota United FC. After an intensive knee operation and several months of rehabilitation, Medranda made his long-awaited comeback Sunday. Needless to say, the emotional occasion brought a smile to his face and delighted the thousands of supporters in attendance.
5. Rule the Galaxy
Manager Peter Vermes' men will have little time to rest with two more MLS matches this week, including a highly anticipated home tilt with the third-place LA Galaxy (8-5-1, 25 points) at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets for Wednesday's match at Children's Mercy Park are on sale at SeatGeek.com as Sporting celebrates Soccer For All, signifying that all fans are welcome to the club regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status. The contest will also air live on FOX Sports Kansas City Plus, FOX Sports Midwest Plus, FOX Sports GO, Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM, with The Final Whistle postgame show immediately following on 810 WHB.
6. Vote Sporting
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 1:59 a.m. CT on June 14. 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; and forwards Krisztian Nemeth and Johnny Russell.
7. Beat the Lines
SportingStyle has opened matchday pre-orders for pickup at Wednesday's match versus LA. Fans can shop a limited assortment of items between now and then, including the newly launched adidas Pride training top. The SportingStyle Pop-In Store in the Budweiser Brew House at Children's Mercy Park will also be open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Follow @SportingStyle on Twitter and Instagram for sneak peeks of all the latest club apparel.
8. Know the Foe
Four-time Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup champion Sporting KC will learn their first opponent of the 2019 tournament on Thursday when U.S. Soccer announces all pairings for the U.S. Open Cup Fourth Round. The official draw will take place at Soccer House in Chicago, with 16 fourth-round matches tentatively set to take place Wednesday, June 12.
9. Tune In Tuesday
A new episode of The Sporting KC Show Podcast will debut at 7 p.m. CT Tuesday on Sports Radio 810 WHB with hosts Nate Bukaty and Carter Augustine. The duo will hear from a Sporting KC guest, recap Sunday's wild win over Seattle and look ahead to a pivotal slate of matches against LA and Houston.
10. SPR Slips
The Swope Park Rangers fell to a heartbreaking 1-0 defeat against the first-place Tampa Bay Rowdies at Al Lang Stadium in Florida on Saturday night. A late Leo Fernandes penalty was enough to see the unbeaten league-leaders claim all three points on home soil and move the Rangers to 1-6-4 on the season.
11. King of the Court
Players of all ages are invited to join Sporting for the club's annual King of the Court Futsal Tournament series presented by Raising Caines. Registration is now open at SportingKC.com for the first tournament on Saturday at Wyandotte High School in Kansas City, Kansas (2501 Minnesota Ave.). The family-friendly event is free of charge and will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. CT. Tournaments will be split into two age groups (13 and under, 14 and over) and the winning teams from each weekend in June will square off at Children’s Mercy Park before a Sporting Kansas City home game later this year.