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. Saturday Showtime
Sporting Kansas City will battle for their third straight victory on Saturday, hosting longtime rival FC Dallas at 7:30 p.m. CT in a pivotal Western Conference clash at Children's Mercy Park.
Tickets for the match 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. Former great Josh Wolff will be inducted as the newest Sporting Legend in a pregame ceremony and the annual Sporting KC Media Game will take place at halftime, adding gloss to what will likely be a compelling contest on the pitch.
For fans who won't be in attendance, FOX Sports Kansas City Plus and FOX Sports Midwest Plus have you covered. Three straight hours of live television programming will begin at 7 p.m. CT, including 30 minutes of pregame and postgame coverage.
2. 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.
3. Just Because with Kelyn Rowe
You may keep up with Sporting Kansas City on the pitch, but what about away from the field? Just Because, presented by Hallmark, is a feature series on SportingKC.com that provides an exclusive look into the lives of players outside of soccer—because everyday moments are sometimes worth celebrating just like a game-winning goal. In the third edition of Just Because, we catch up with midfielder Kelyn Rowe, who joined Sporting Kansas City ahead of the 2019 campaign.
4. Gerso Welcomes Newborn Son
Two days after leading Sporting Kansas City to a 3-0 win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC with a goal and an assist, Gerso Fernandes experienced something far greater than success on the soccer field. He became a father.
A healthy Gerso Jr. was born Monday night in Kansas City, much to the delight of Gerso, his wife Emmy Fernandes and the entire Sporting family.
Little "GJ" will see his dad in action for the first time Saturday when Gerso and Sporting host FC Dallas at Children's Mercy Park.
5. MLS Expansion Update
Major League Soccer provided updates on several expansion bids on Monday, including the news that the prospective MLS expansion bid from St. Louis made a formal presentation to the league's expansion committee.
The St. Louis ownership group, led by led by Andy Taylor and Carolyn Kindle Betz of Enterprise Holdings and Jim Kavanaugh, CEO of World Wide Technology, is one of several vying to join MLS as the league expands to 30 teams. In April, the group revealed renderings for a planned 22,500-capacity stadium in the West Downtown neighborhood of the city, and was one of two groups — along with Sacramento — with which the Commissioner's office was authorized to advance discussions.
6. Rangers Roll
The Swope Park Rangers (3-9-6, 15 points) secured their third victory of 2019 on Wednesday night, edging Hartford Athletic (3-13-4, 13 points) in a 4-3 thriller at Children’s Mercy Park.
Felipe Hernandez dispatched his team-leading eighth goal of the year, Kelyn Rowe bagged a quickfire brace in the first half and 16-year-old Tyler Freeman opened his professional scoring account as SPR held off a late Hartford rally in a USL Championship Eastern Conference barnburner played amidst scorching conditions.
7. SPR visits Ottawa
A quick turnaround awaits the Rangers, who will travel north of the border this weekend to meet Ottawa Fury (7-3-8, 29 points) in a 6 p.m. CT kickoff at TD Place Stadium. The Eastern Conference clash will stream live from the Canadian capital on ESPN Plus.
8. Benny and Sal Podcast
Episode 7 of BS The Podcast dropped Wednesday as Benny Feilhaber and Sal Zizzo caught up with former Sporting player and current Austin Bold FC defender Amobi Okugo.
9. Get to Know Gavin McInerney
Throughout the summer, SportingKCAcademy.com is publishing a series of Q&A interviews with each member of the Academy's technical staff. In the third installment, we catch up with Sporting KC Goalkeeper Coach Gavin McInerney.
10. Sign Up for Trivia Night
Sports fans will have the opportunity to play for prizes and test their trivia knowledge against Sporting Kansas City 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 at 6 p.m. CT, competing for a variety of great prizes including VIP experiences at Children’s Mercy Park, match tickets, autographed SportingStyle merchandise and more. A group of Sporting players will also compete in the interactive event, emceed by Sporting KC commentator and Sports Radio 810 WHB host Nate Bukaty.
11. Meet & Greet with 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.