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. Rivalry Renewed
Children’s Mercy Park will host a pivotal Western Conference clash on Saturday when Sporting Kansas City (7-9-7, 28 points) and Real Salt Lake (10-9-4, 34 points) write the next chapter of their bubbling rivalry. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. CT and tickets remain available at SeatGeek.com as Sporting hosts its third annual Sporting Salutes, an immersive military appreciation night for past and present members of the United States Armed Forces.
FOX Sports Kansas City Plus, FOX Sports Midwest Plus and FOX Sports GO will provide three hours of live match coverage beginning at 7 p.m. CT, while Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM will air live radio broadcasts with The Final Whistle postgame show immediately following on 810 WHB. Fans can also utilize the Sporting KC app for in-game updates, a digital coupon offering free Oreos at Price Chopper, and in-stadium mobile ordering for food, beverage and merchandise.
2. Saturday Salute
An annual tradition will continue Saturday as the Sporting community tips its hat to military members and their families. This year, Sporting Salutes will welcome 12 Purple Heart recipients to Children’s Mercy Park, all of whom were wounded during wartime. The venerated Purple Heart has been awarded since 1917 and remains a timeless symbol of service to the country. The 12 Purple Heart recipients to be honored before kickoff include local servicemen and servicewomen who were wounded during combat operations spanning from the Korean War to the present.
Fans in attendance can visit SportingStyle locations to purchase a variety of camo merchandise while supplies last, including the limited-edition Sporting Salutes Camo Training Top and Scarf of the Match. In addition to being available on matchday at Children’s Mercy Park, the new Sporting Salutes Camo Training Top and Scarf of the Match can be purchased at SportingStyle.com and picked up at the stadium on Saturday. The training top is also on sale now at MLSstore.com.
3. Rowe Departs
Sporting announced Wednesday that the club has traded midfielder Kelyn Rowe to Real Salt Lake in exchange for $75,000 in Targeted Allocation Money and a 2019 international roster spot. Sporting will retain $171,856 of Rowe’s 2019 budget charge. Real Salt Lake will be responsible for the remaining $100,000 of his budget charge this season. Rowe, 27, joined Sporting ahead of the 2019 campaign after spending seven seasons with the New England Revolution. He has started eight of 19 appearances this season in all competitions, recording two assists.
4. Analyst's Corner
A new episode of The Sporting KC Show Podcast debuted Tuesday night on Sports Radio 810 WHB with hosts Nate Bukaty and Carter Augustine, serving as the perfect recap of a momentous road win at Seattle Sounders FC and a primer for Saturday's momentous battle between Sporting and Real Salt Lake at Children's Mercy Park. Joining the show were a pair of accomplished soccer analysts in Sporting KC color commentator Matt Lawrence and national pundit Brian Dunseth, who touched on a variety of compelling topics surrounding the sport.
5. Young Studs
Sporting KC Academy forward Osvaldo Cisneros and midfielder Rokas Pukstas have helped the United States finish atop Group B and advance to the semifinals of the 2019 Concacaf U-15 Championship in Bradenton, Florida. Cisneros, Pukstas and the U.S. rolled to three consecutive shutout victories over Haiti (2-0), Guatemala (3-0) and Suriname (4-0) before Cisneros bagged both goals in a 2-0 quarterfinal win over Costa Rica on Thursday.
6. Rangers and Riverhounds
The Swope Park Rangers (3-11-6, 15 points) will begin a two-game road swing on Saturday, visiting Eastern Conference contenders Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (9-3-8, 35 points) at Highmark Stadium. The contest will kick off at 6 p.m. CT and stream live on ESPN Plus, with additional in-game updates available via @SwopeRangers on Twitter and the USL Championship Match Center.
7. Make the Pitch
Multiple Sporting Kansas City nominees are on the fan voting ballot for The Pitch's annual Best of Kansas City awards. Voting kicked off Monday and continues through Friday, Aug. 30, giving Kansas Citians the opportunity to select their favorite experiences, people, places and things across 370 categories. Sporting Kansas City and No Other Pub, the club's home away from home for watch parties throughout the season, adorn the ballot with a combined five nominees.
8. Wondo Onboard
Episode 10 of BS The Podcast debuted Wednesday as Benny Feilhaber and Sal Zizzo caught up with Chris Wondolowski, the all-time leading goal scorer in MLS regular season history whose San Jose Earthquakes side has ascended the Western Conference table as one of the biggest surprises of the year. The episode packs the perfect combination of fun banter and fascinating insight, so be sure to give it a listen.
9. Kick It with Sporting
Supporters of all ages are invited to Academy Sports + Outdoors in Olathe, Kansas (14405 W. 135th St.) for the Kick It with Sporting fan event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. CT on Saturday. Fans will have the opportunity to meet a Sporting player, participate in giant lawn games, explore No Other Bus, win a variety of door prizes and more.
10. Back in Session
The Sporting Kansas City Academy U-15s will travel west this week to compete in the 2019 RSL Academy Cup at Zions Bank Real Academy in Herriman, Utah. The U-15s will meet Mexican side Tijuana at 5 p.m. CT Wednesday, hosts Real Salt Lake at 2 p.m. CT Thursday and Napa United at 10 a.m. CT Friday before taking the field for a placement match on Saturday. Follow @SKCAcademy on Twitter for updates throughout the competition.
11. Meet and Greet
Sporting forward Krisztian Nemeth will participate in a meet and greet at Price Chopper in Lenexa, Kansas (19601 W. 101st St.) from 1:30-3 p.m. CT on Sunday. The appearance includes photo and autograph opportunities with the Hungarian international, who leads Sporting with 11 goals this season across all competitions.