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. Conquering the Caps
Sporting Kansas City (6-7-7, 25 points) secured a second straight shutout and second straight victory with a 3-0 road win over the Vancouver Whitecaps FC (4-9-8, 20 points) on Saturday at BC Place in Canada. Gerso Fernandes gave Sporting the lead in the first half and capped off the scoring with a goal in the 90th minute, in addition to assisting Felipe Gutierrez’s team-leading eighth goal of the season.
2. Melia Makes History
Sporting Kansas City’s 3-0 victory over Vancouver made Tim Melia the team’s winningest goalkeeper ever. Saturday’s victory gave Melia win No. 58 in the regular season and vaulting him to the summit of the club’s all-time charts ahead of Jimmy Nielsen. Melia had to work for his 43rd career clean sheet, making a season-high six saves, as Sporting secured their second straight shutout victory and moved within four points of playoff positioning in the Western Conference.
3. All Eyes on Dallas
Manager Peter Vermes' men will look to continue their winning ways this Saturday when FC Dallas (8-8-5, 29 points) visits Children's Mercy Park for a 7:30 p.m. CT kickoff. Tickets for the pivotal matchup remain available at SeatGeek.com, and the first 7,500 fans through the stadium gates will receive a free pair of sunglasses courtesy of Mark One Electric. Fans are encouraged to arrive early as former Kansas City great and current U.S. Men's National Team assistant coach Josh Wolff will be inducted into the Sporting Legends hall of honor during a pre-match ceremony. The annual Sporting KC Media Game will also take place at halftime, featuring media members from across the Kansas City area.
FOX Sports Kansas City Plus, FOX Sports Midwest Plus and FOX Sports GO will provide three hours of live coverage on Saturday beginning at 7 p.m. CT, while Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM will air live radio broadcasts. The Final Whistle postgame show will also air immediately afterward on 810 WHB.
4. Rangers Return Home
The Swope Park Rangers (2-9-6, 12 points) will commence the second half of their 2019 USL Championship campaign with two matches this week, first hosting expansion side Hartford Athletic (3-12-4, 13 points) at 7 p.m. CT Wednesday at Children's Mercy Park. Tickets for the game are available at SeatGeek.com as former Sporting KC captain Jimmy Nielsen returns to Kansas City as Hartford's head coach. The Rangers will then travel north of the border to visit Ottawa Fury FC (7-3-8, 29 points) at 6 p.m. CT Saturday at TD Place Stadium. Both SPR contests will stream live on ESPN Plus.
5. International Champions Cup
German champions FC Bayern and Italian powerhouse AC Milan will square off in a 2019 International Champions Cup showdown next Tuesday, July 23, at Children's Mercy Park. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. CT and tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com as two of the most storied clubs in the world go head-to-head in Kansas City, Kansas.
6. Trivia Night
Sports fans will have the opportunity to play for prizes and test their trivia knowledge against Sporting players on Wednesday, July 31, when No Other Pub hosts Sports Trivia Night in conjunction with the 2019 MLS All-Star Game. Teams of 2-4 players will go head-to-head, competing for a variety of great prizes including VIP experiences at Children’s Mercy Park, match tickets, autographed SportingStyle merchandise and more. Sports Trivia Night participants will be quizzed on a wide range of sports topics, not just soccer. Team registration is now open for players of all ages at SportingKC.com/TriviaNight.
7. Tune In Tuesday
A new episode of The Sporting KC Show Podcast will debut Tuesday at 7 p.m. CT on Sports Radio 810 WHB. Hosts Nate Bukaty and Carter Augustine will recap the victory in Vancouver, hear from a Sporting KC guest and preview Saturday's showdown against FC Dallas.
8. Community MVP
Voting for the 2019 MLS WORKS Community MVP will open Thursday, featuring 24 finalists representing the 24 clubs in Major League Soccer. Fans can visit MLSworkscmvp.com starting Thursday to learn about each of the finalists and cast their vote.
9. Fantasy Experience
The inaugural Sporting Kansas City Fantasy Experience, a two-day adult camp created by Sporting Manager Peter Vermes, will take place Saturday and Sunday at Pinnacle and Children's Mercy Park. The Fantasy Experience will treat participants to a comprehensive professional soccer excursion, including a scrimmage at world-class Children’s Mercy Park, training and recovery sessions at Pinnacle, happy hour celebrations and exclusive tours of Sporting’s world-class facilities. Campers will also spend time in Sporting players’ private quarters within Pinnacle, receiving a personal locker and access to spaces such as the Children’s Mercy Sports Medicine gymnasium. For more information, visit SportingKC.com/fantasyexperience.
10. Meet Gianluca Busio
Sporting midfielder Gianluca Busio will participate in a meet and greet at Price Chopper in Overland Park, Kansas (7201 W. 151st St.) from 1:30-3 p.m. CT on Sunday. The appearance includes photo and autograph opportunities with the 17-year-old U.S. youth international, who earlier this season became the youngest player in MLS history to score in consecutive league matches.
11. Campeones Cup is Set
In the 2019 edition of the Campeones Cup, Atlanta United will host powerful Liga MX team Club America on Aug. 14 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. First played in 2018, the Campeones Cup puts the reigning MLS Cup winners against the winner of the Campeon de Campeones.