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. Johnny and the Scots
Sporting Kansas City forward Johnny Russell and the Scotland Men’s National Team cruised to a 6-0 home win over San Marino on Sunday at Hampden Park in Glasgow. Collecting his 14th career cap at the senior international level, Russell entered as a 70th-minute substitute to help Scotland put the finishing touches on a routine victory in Group I of UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying.
2. Big Win for Barath
Sporting Kansas City center back Botond Barath earned his ninth career cap for the Hungary Men’s National Team on Sunday, helping the Magyars to an all-important 1-0 home win over Azerbaijan at Groupama Arena in Budapest. Playing the full 90 minutes in a pivotal UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier, Barath spearheaded a stout defensive effort that saw Hungary limit Azerbaijan to just two shots on goal.
3. Points for Nico
Making his 64th appearance at the senior international level, Sporting Kansas City defender Nico Hasler helped Liechtenstein to a hard-earned 1-1 home draw versus Armenia on Saturday at Rheinpark Stadion in Vaduz. Hasler started and logged the full 90 minutes in an advanced midfield position as Liechtenstein claimed a second straight result in Group J of UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying.
4. Top Tenner
Two days after being selected to Goal.com’s MLS Team of the Decade, Sporting Kansas City captain Matt Besler was named a top-10 MLS center back of all-time by MLSsoccer.com. In a list compiled by MLSsoccer.com contributor Greg Seltzer, Besler ranked No. 9 among the league's greatest central defenders dating back to 1996.
5. Louisville Slugged
Ze Pedro, Gianluca Busio and Ethan Vanacore-Decker fired the Swope Park Rangers (6-19-8, 26 points) into a three-goal lead before Louisville City FC (16-8-9, 57 points) rallied to claim an 8-3 home victory on Saturday night at Louisville Slugger Field. The Rangers will conclude their 2019 USL Championship campaign on Wednesday, traveling to face playoff-bound Indy Eleven (18-9-6, 60 points) at Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the National Football League's Indianapolis Colts. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. CT with a live stream on ESPN Plus.
6. Saturday Shootouts
The Sporting Kansas City Academy U-15s and U-17s continued their 2019-20 Generation adidas Cup qualifying campaigns on Saturday at Swope Soccer Village, with the two sides experiencing different fortunes in penalty shootouts following a pair of draws. The U-15s played out an enthralling 2-2 tie with Seattle Sounders FC before claiming a 4-2 victory in the penalty shootout, while the U-17s battled to a testy 0-0 stalemate with the Sounders but succumbed to a 4-2 defeat on penalties to close out the day.
7. Class in Session
The U-15s and U-17s will continue their Generation adidas Cup qualifying campaigns against the San Jose Earthquakes on Monday. The U-17s will kick off at 11 a.m. CT, followed by the U-15s at 1 p.m. CT. Both contests are free and open to the public and fans can follow @SKCAcademy on Twitter for live updates. Visit SportingKC.com/GA-Cup for schedules, standings and box scores from this weekend’s Generation adidas Cup action at Swope Soccer Village.
8. Busio to Brazil
Sporting Kansas City midfielder Gianluca Busio was named to the United States roster last week for the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil from Oct. 26 to Nov. 17. The United States will kick off their world championship campaign when Group D play opens on Sunday, Oct. 27 vs. Senegal (2:50 p.m. CT; FS1, Telemundo), then faces Japan on Wednesday, Oct. 30 (5:50 p.m. CT; FS2, Universo) and finishes the group stage on Saturday, Nov. 2 vs. Netherlands (5:50 p.m. CT; FS2, Universo).
9. Magical Melia
Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia is one of 16 finalists for MLS Save of the Year, presented by Allstate. Fan voting is open online at MLSsoccer.com through 11:59 p.m. PT on Tuesday, Oct. 22. Melia recorded a career-high 111 saves in 2019, including three penalty stops, and earned his Save of the Year nomination on June 7 against Toronto FC. With the game scoreless in the 12th minute, Melia reacted quickly to keep out Eriq Zavaleta's header from the top of the six-yard box with a sprawling, two-handed stop to his right.
10. Academy Wins Big
Sporting Kansas City was recognized last week as the winner of the 2019 Audi Fan Faceoff. The Sporting KC Academy will be awarded a $50,000 grand prize from Audi, in addition to the funds the club will receive from the Audi Goals Drive Progress initiative.
Starting on July 31, Major League Soccer and Audi launched the Audi Fan Faceoff by encouraging fans to celebrate goals scored by their team in MLS matches on Twitter and Instagram with a designated club hashtag. Sporting Kansas City supporters lifted Sporting atop the Audi Fan Faceoff standings as the club with the highest average number of fan posts per game.
11. Wilson Wins It
Swope Park Rangers striker Wilson Harris sealed USL Championship Fans' Choice Goal of the Week honors last Thursday, taking home 43 percent of the fan vote with a brilliant back-heel flick on Sept. 30 that paced SPR to a 3-1 home win over Birmingham Legion FC at Children's Mercy Park. Harris' sublime bit of skill beat out four other finalists in the fan vote for Week 31, which saw USL Championship clubs combine for over 60 goals.