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. Reporting for Duty
Sporting Kansas City Academy products Tyler Freeman, Jake Davis and Tucker Lepley are set to compete at the 19th annual Nike International Friendlies over the next five days at the Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch, Florida. The prestigious four-team tournament will feature the Netherlands, Turkey, and two U.S. squads as Freeman joins the U-16 Boys’ National Team while Davis and Lepley both join the U-17 Men’s National Team for the first time.
2. Holiday Sale
SportingStyle will host its Friends + Family Holiday Sale this Saturday at the Budweiser Brew House inside Children's Mercy Park. The club's premier holiday sale of the season will feature 30% off full-price items, up to 50% off sale items and select jerseys for just $20. The Friends + Family Holiday Sale will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT, and fans can follow @SportingStyle on Twitter for updates.
3. Hungary for More
Sporting Kansas City defender Botond Barath has been selected to the Hungary Men’s National Team for two matches during the November FIFA window, including the Magyars’ pivotal UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying finale against Wales.
Barath and the Magyars will first host South American power Uruguay in a friendly on Friday at the brand-new Puskas Arena in Budapest. The inaugural match at the world-class, 67,889-seat stadium is slated for noon CT. Hungary will then prepare for an all-important UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier at Wales next Tuesday at Cardiff City Stadium, kicking off at 1:45 p.m. CT with live streams on ESPN3 and the ESPN App.
4. Leading Liechtenstein
Sporting Kansas City defender Nico Hasler has joined the Liechtenstein Men’s National Team for its final two matches in Group J of UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying during the November FIFA window. Liechtenstein will visit Finland at 11 a.m. CT on Friday at Telia 5G Arena in Helsinki before hosting Bosnia and Herzegovina at 1:45 p.m. CT next Monday at Rheinpark Stadion in Vaduz. Both games will stream live on ESPN3 and the ESPN App.
5. Fab Felipe
Sporting Kansas City midfielder Felipe Hernandez has been named a finalist for the USL Championship’s 2019 Young Player of the Year award, the league announced Wednesday. The annual USL Championship Awards were voted on by club management and a league-wide media panel that included representation from every USL market.
Hernandez, 21, is one of three Young Player of the Year finalists alongside Real Monarchs forward Douglas Martinez and San Antonio FC attacking midfielder Cristian Parano. The USL Championship will announce the award recipient next Wednesday, Nov. 20.
6. Z You Later, Zlatan
Zlatan Ibrahimovic's time with the LA Galaxy is up. The LA Galaxy announced Wednesday that the Swedish superstar will not be returning to the club in 2020 by mutual consent. Ibrahimovic himself posted a farewell message on his social media channels featuring artwork of one of his trademark celebrations looking down from on high at El Trafico rival LAFC's Banc of California Stadium and the city of Los Angeles.
7. Bienvenue, Thierry Henry
One of Major League Soccer's all-time greats has returned to this side of the Atlantic. The Montreal Impact announced today that the club has hired French soccer legend Thierry Henry as their new head coach. Henry signed a two-year deal, with an option for 2022.
8. Nats in Action
Exactly one month to the day following the United States Men's National Team's disappointing 2-0 defeat to Canada in Toronto, the side will get a chance at payback when it hosts Les Rouges in a Concacaf Nations League A, Group A rematch on Friday night at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida. Live coverage begins at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN2 and UniMas.
9. Sporting Brookside
Kansas City, Missouri Parks and Recreation and Brookside Soccer Club (BSC) have partnered to launch a new youth soccer league in collaboration with Sporting Kansas City that will provide more recreational soccer opportunities and benefits to residents throughout Kansas City and surrounding areas. Set to begin play in early 2020, Sporting Brookside welcomes boys and girls from Pre-K through high school to Swope Soccer Village to participate in this one-of-a-kind recreation league in Kansas City, Missouri.
10. The Truce
In celebration of a long-standing Boxing Day tradition, the National World War I Museum, The Soccer Lot and Sporting Kansas City will host the seventh annual Truce 3v3 Soccer Tournament on Thursday, Dec. 26, with festivities beginning at 8 a.m. CT.
11. Retro Balling
Major League Soccer and adidas have revealed the official match ball for the league’s milestone 25th season, the 2020 MLS NATIVO XXV. Newly constructed with enhanced materials and tested by the world’s top players, this reimagined NATIVO pulls inspiration from the first MLS ball in 1996 to celebrate the 25th MLS season and kickoff a new decade of soccer in North America. The ball will go on sale online and in stores on Jan. 2, 2020.