Five Things, presented by Keith + Associates Dentistry, is a weekly series on SportingKC.com that highlights the top storylines, players to watch and matchday programming ahead of each game throughout the season.
A pivotal three-game homestand for Sporting Kansas City begins Saturday when the San Jose Earthquakes visit Children’s Mercy Park for a 7:30 p.m. CT kickoff. Tickets for the all-important Western Conference clash are on sale at SeatGeek.com, and the first 7,500 supporters through the stadium gates will receive a free wall decal courtesy of Dairy Farmers of America. Fans can also catch the action live on FOX Sports Kansas City Plus, FOX Sports Midwest Plus, FOX Sports GO, Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM.
Let's jump straight into five things you should know about the matchup.
1. Call It When You See It
Sporting Kansas City and Children’s Mercy will partner on Saturday to champion the anti-bullying initiative Red Card: Call It When You See It. Established last summer, the program unites local communities in taking a stance to end bullying, one of the most significant social issues impacting children and teens nationwide.
Fans in attendance can support the initiative by visiting the Red Card activation area on the Toyota Plaza before kickoff, capturing photos in the Red Card photo booth and posting to social media using the hashtag #RedCardKC to spread campaign awareness. Supporters can also access Snapchat and the Sporting KC App to take images using Red Card photo filters.
Inside the stadium, select fans and Children’s Mercy Volunteers will take the field and unfurl a giant Red Card banner, showcasing Sporting’s commitment to end bullying in the community.
2. Backs Against the Wall
Make no mistake, Sporting has no margin for error entering this decisive three-game home swing. Manager Peter Vermes’ men occupy 10th place in the Western Conference, nine points shy of the seventh and final playoff spot with nine matches remaining. Sporting have been one of Major League Soccer’s most successful clubs of the decade, reaching the MLS Cup Playoffs every year since 2011 and winning four major championships since 2012. But for the postseason streak to continue, the team has to catch fire starting this weekend.
3. Extreme Makeover
First-year head coach Matias Almeyda has worked wonders this season in Northern California. The Quakes stumbled out of the gates, losing five of their first six games, but have skyrocketed since then as one of Major League Soccer’s most impressive sides. San Jose are 10-3-5 in their last 18 games, a stretch that began with a 4-1 home win over Sporting on April 20. Ranking among the league leaders in shots, possession and passing accuracy, the Quakes have received strong production from the likes of influential playmakers Vako (eight goals, three assists) and Cristian Espinoza (two goals, nine assists) as well as evergreen striker Chris Wondolowski, the all-time leading goal scorer in MLS history who has a team-best nine strikes in 2019.
4. History Lesson
Sporting’s outlook in the West may be bleak at the moment, but recent history against San Jose paints a fairly positive picture. Vermes’ side is 5-1-1 in its last seven meetings with the Quakes, and Kansas City has won 11 of its last 12 regular season home games against San Jose dating back to 2004.
5. Mobile Ordering Perks
Ticket holders who take advantage of mobile ordering via the Sporting KC App on Saturday will enjoy a few added perks. All SportingStyle merchandise purchases of $50 or more made by halftime will come with a free mini soccer ball, with pickup on the Toyota Plaza remaining open until after the game. On the concessions side, mobile orders on 25-oz. Bud Light cans will be discounted to $5 until kickoff (two-beer limit per transaction).
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