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. Twos in Toronto
Sporting Kansas City (3-5-7, 16 points) continued their strong form against Toronto FC (5-6-4, 19 points) on Friday with a 2-2 draw at BMO Field. Felipe Gutierrez twice converted penalties, once in the 25th minute and again in the 73rd minute, as Sporting stretched the team's unbeaten run to 10 games (6-0-4) versus the Reds and secured an eighth straight road result (4-0-4) at BMO Field.
2. Onto the Open Cup
Sporting will now prepare for their opening fixture in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, a fourth round matchup at Minnesota United FC on Wednesday. The match will kick off at 7 p.m. CT inside the new Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minnesota, and will be streamed live on ESPN+. Manager Peter Vermes' men have won the Open Cup title three times in the last seven seasons, hoisting the trophy in 2012, 2015 and 2017.
3. Magyars Roll
Sporting KC duo Botond Barath and Krisztian Nemeth helped Hungary to a 3-1 road win over Azerbaijan on Saturday to move the Magyars atop Group E of UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying. Barath played the full 90 minutes in central defense and picked up an assist in the 53rd minute during his fifth career cap, while Nemeth came off the bench in the 86th minute for his 36th international appearance. Hungary will next host Wales on Tuesday at Groupama Arena in Budapest.
4. Hasler Hits 60
Sporting KC defender Nico Hasler, making his 60th career appearance for Liechtenstein, started in a 3-0 road loss against Armenia at Vazgen Sargsyan Republican Stadium in Yerevan, playing the full 90 minutes on the right side of midfield in a 4-4-2 formation. The defeat leaves Liechtenstein at the bottom of Group J in UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying ahead of a home match in Hasler's hometown of Vaduz against Finland on Tuesday.
5. Russell Rested
Sporting KC forward Johnny Russell was an unused substitute for Scotland, who prevailed 2-1 over Cyprus on Saturday at Hampden Park in Glasgow in Steve Clarke's first match as manager. The victory lifts Scotland into a share of second place in Group I of UEFA Euro 202 qualifying heading into a matchup with Belgium, the world's top-ranked team, on Tuesday at King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels.
6. Gedion Gets the Call
Sporting KC midfielder Gedion Zelalem has been named to the United States Under-23 Men’s National Team roster for a training camp in Herriman, Utah, from June 9-16, U.S. Soccer announced Sunday. Zelalem, who signed with Sporting in March after a six-year stint with Arsenal FC of the English Premier League, returns to the United States youth national team system for the first time since suffering an injury in the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup and will be part of the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team for the first time since 2015.
7. Scoreless Stalemate
The Swope Park Rangers fought to a 0-0 draw with the Charlotte Independence at Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday afternoon. Both sides had plenty of chances, taking a total of 30 shots between them, but neither side was able to find the breakthrough as the Rangers moved to to 1-7-5 on the season.
8. Know the Foes
The Sporting KC Academy U-19s and U-17s learned their group stage opponents last week for the 2019 U.S. Soccer Development Academy Playoffs, with the group stage and quarterfinal knockout round taking place from June 17-25 at the SoCal Sports Complex in Oceanside, California. The tournament’s official draw split 32 academy clubs at each age level into eight groups of four. The group stage runs June 17-22 — consisting of a three-game round-robin — and will send every first-place finisher to the Development Academy quarterfinals, which will follow on June 24-25. The four quarterfinal winners will advance to the Development Academy semifinals, slated to take place July 8-11 at Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California.
9. Globe Trotters
MLS announced last week that more than 100 of the league's players are set to participate in international competition this summer in the most prestigious continental tournaments across the globe. A total of 103 players representing 35 national teams will play in either international friendlies or tournaments including the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup, CONMEBOL Copa América 2019, UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers, 2019 Africa Cup of Nations and the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
10. Yanks Tumble
Playing their final warm-up match before the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup, the U.S. Men's National Team suffered a 3-0 friendly loss to Venezuela on Sunday at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Yanks fell victim to a Salomon Rondon brace and another goal from Real Salt Lake winger Jefferson Savarino, taking their second straight defeat after falling 1-0 to Jamaica last Wednesday.
11. Out in the Quarters
After a thrilling 3-2 win over France last week, the U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team wai aiming to become the first U.S. team in 30 years to reach the FIFA U-20 World Cup semifinals. Unfortunately the Americans stumbled at the last hurdle, falling to Ecuador 2-1 in the quarterfinals on Saturday.