-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 on Track
Sporting Kansas City (4-5-7, 19 points) earned the team's first road win of the season on Sunday with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Columbus Crew SC (5-10-2, 17 points) at MAPFRE Stadium. The win moves Sporting into a share of eighth place in the Western Conference standings, one point back of a playoff position currently held by rivals Real Salt Lake ahead of next week's showdown between the two clubs.
2. Terrific Trio
Felipe Gutierrez scored Sunday's only goal in the 48th minute, on a gem of an assist from fellow forward Gerso Fernandes, and goalkeeper Tim Melia made four saves to preserve the shutout. Gutierrez, who scored twice in a 2-2 draw at Toronto in Sporting's last MLS match, now has seven goals on the season, setting up a three-way tie for the team lead with Krisztian Nemeth and Johnny Russell. Together, the trio make Sporting KC the only team in MLS to have three players with seven goals this season. In addition, this marks the first time in club history to have three players with seven goals before the end of June.
3. Onward to RSL
Manager Peter' Vermes' side will aim to secure a second straight victory this Saturday, rounding out a five-game road swing against seventh-place Real Salt Lake (6-8-2, 20 points) at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. The contest will kick off at 9 p.m. CT, with three hours of live coverage beginning at 8:30 p.m. CT on FOX Sports Kansas City, FOX Sports Midwest Plus and FOX Sports GO. Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM will also air local radio broadcasts, with The Final Whistle postgame show immediately following the match on 810 WHB.
Fans are welcome to attend the official watch party for Saturday's match at No Other Pub in the Kansas City Power & Light District (1370 Grand Blvd.), highlighted by prize giveaways and multiple food and drink specials.
4. No Other Watch Party
Sporting has partnered with the Kansas City 2026 FIFA World Cup Bid and the Kansas City Power & Light District to host free Women’s World Cup watch parties at the KC Live! Block and No Other Pub. The reigning World Cup champion United States Women's National Team will continue their pursuit of a second straight title this morning at 11 a.m. CT, facing Spain in the tournament's Round of 16. KC Live!, the 25,000-square-foot entertainment block in the center of downtown, is the region’s premier destination for all USA matches. Game broadcasts will be shown live on the theater-sized screen and match commentary will play throughout the venue.
5. The Yanks are Coming
Children’s Mercy Park will host the final two matches of the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup group stage on Wednesday as the United States Men's National Team plays for the top spot in Group D. The highly anticipated doubleheader will see Trinidad and Tobago (0-2-0, 0 points) face Guyana (0-2-0, 0 points) at 5:30 p.m. CT, followed by the U.S. (2-0-0, 6 points) battling Panama (2-0-0, 6 points) at 8 p.m. CT. The Americans have already booked passage to the Gold Cup quarterfinals and can clinch first place in Group D with a win or a draw. Tickets for the doubleheader remain available at SeatGeek.com and both matches will be televised live on FS1, Univision Deportes and UniMas.
6. Academy on the Brink
The Sporting Kansas City U-19s have advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2018-19 U.S. Soccer Development Academy Playoffs at SoCal Sports Complex in Oceanside, California. The U-19s will look to become Sporting's first Academy team to reach the Development Academy National Championships when they battle the Saint Louis FC U-19s tonight at 6 p.m. CT in Oceanside. The match will stream live on YouTube, while additional in-game updates will be available via Twitter at @SKCAcademy.
7. Men in Blazers
Men in Blazers, a collaboration featuring English duo Roger Bennett and Michael Davies, will bring their acclaimed soccer program to Kansas City on Tuesday at The Madrid Theatre (3810 Main St.). A limited number of tickets for the show are available at Ticketmaster.com as Bennet and Davies welcome Sporting Manager Peter Vermes and discuss a variety of domestic and international soccer topics.
8. Tune In
A new episode of The Sporting KC Show Podcast will debut Tuesday at 7 p.m. CT on Sports Radio 810 WHB. In addition to hearing from a Sporting KC guest, hosts Nate Bukaty and Carter Augustine will recap Sunday's win over Columbus, preview Wednesday's Concacaf Gold Cup doubleheader at Children's Mercy Park, and look ahead to Saturday's battle between Sporting and Real Salt Lake.
9. Rangers Return
The Swope Park Rangers (1-8-6, 9 points) battled from behind to claim a 1-1 draw at the Charleston Battery on Saturday and will play for a second straight result this Sunday at Children's Mercy Park, hosting rivals Saint Louis FC (5-3-5, 20 points) at 4 p.m. CT. Tickets for the Eastern Conference clash are available at SeatGeek.com or at the stadium box office on Sunday beginning at 2 p.m. CT. Fans can also catch the game streaming live on ESPN Plus.
10. All-Star Squad
A reflection of skill and star power resonates throughout Major League Soccer’s 26-man announced roster for the 2019 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target. Comprised of Sporting defender Graham Zusi and a host of other talented standouts, the stacked roster will face 10-time La Liga champions Atletico Madrid at Exploria Stadium in Orlando on Wednesday, July 31 at 7 p.m. CT (FS1 and UniMas).
11. Good Samaritans
Sporting and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City are teaming up throughout 2019 to recognize Blue KC Sporting Samaritans, honoring students and teachers who make the Kansas City community a better place to live, work and play. Once a month, a Samaritan will be recognized on the pitch at Children's Mercy Park before a Sporting KC home game. The Samaritan and a limited number of guests will receive a behind the scenes VIP experience with a wide variety of all-inclusive perks. Supporters can nominate members of their community to be the next Blue KC Sporting Samaritan at SportingKC.com/bluekc.