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. Locker Room Sale
Want to be the first to snag Johnny Russell's boots or Tim Melia's goalkeeper gloves? Sporting Kansas City fans of all ages will have the opportunity to do just that at the 2019 Locker Room Sale on Friday at Children's Mercy Park.
The can't-miss Locker Room Sale will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT on Black Friday inside the Budweiser Brew House, offering 25% off full-price items, up to 50% off sale items and select Sporting jerseys for just $20. Better yet, supporters will be able to shop a variety of game-worn and autographed gear from Sporting players.
For more information about the Locker Room Sale, email Stylist@SportingKC.com or call 913-912-7563.
2. Young Stud
Sporting Kansas City midfielder Gianluca Busio is one of five finalists for the 2019 U.S. Soccer Young Male Player of the Year. U.S. Soccer announced Wednesday the nominees for the 2019 Young Male, Young Female and Player of the Year with a Disability awards. Voting for the candidates began today and will close on Dec. 6, with the winner to be announced during the second week of December.
3. Bar K
Sporting Kansas City and Bar K have announced a new, multifaceted partnership that will create unique and interactive experiences for fans of all ages beginning in 2020. Located at Berkley Riverfront Park in Kansas City, Missouri, Bar K is a one-of-a-kind destination featuring a restaurant, bar and coffeehouse surrounded by a two-acre dog park with play structures, comfortable seating areas and a dedicated staff of dog-care professionals. Click here for more details about the partnership.
4. Sanchez Selected
Sporting Kansas City announced Tuesday that the club has selected former Chicago Fire goalkeeper Richard Sanchez in Stage 1 of the 2019 MLS Re-Entry Draft. At age 25, Sanchez already has nine seasons of professional experience under his belt after developing in the FC Dallas Academy and competing in the United States and Mexico. He has spent the last three seasons in MLS with the Chicago Fire, where he totaled 90 saves across 27 league appearances.
5. Free Agency Begins
As of 2 p.m. CT on Tuesday, Free Agents can engage in negotiations with Major League Soccer teams outside of their previous club. Players 28 years of age and older with eight MLS service years who are out of contract, or have had their option declined, are eligible for Free Agency, allowing them the freedom to negotiate a new contract with any MLS club, including their previous club, subject to certain restrictions. Click here for the full list of MLS Free Agents.
6. Hard Pass
Sporting Kansas City passed on its pick in the 2019 MLS End-of-Year Waiver Draft on Monday. Twenty-two of 26 MLS clubs elected to pass during the End-of-Year Waiver Draft, which consisted of players who had been waived by their teams but didn’t meet the minimum years of service requirement for the Re-Entry Draft or Free Agency.
7. Rising Stars
MLSsoccer.com's annual ranking showcasing the top young players in MLS returns on Dec. 3. The series will once again count down the top 22 players under the age of 22, as voted on by an expert panel.
The top 22 players in MLS under the age of 22 as of the end of the 2018 regular season (i.e. 21 or younger before October 6), will be revealed on Dec. 3 on Twitter (Nos. 11-22) and Dec. 4 (Nos. 1-10). The top 10 reveal on Dec. 4 will take place on the 22 Under 22 Top 10 reveal show at 1 p.m. CT.
8. Roster Moves
For those who might have missed it, Sporting Kansas City announced last week that the club has exercised contract options on the following five players ahead of the 2020 MLS season: goalkeeper Eric Dick, defender Graham Smith and forwards Gerso Fernandes, Erik Hurtado and Daniel Salloi.
Sporting has declined contract options for defender Seth Sinovic and midfielders Benny Feilhaber and Gedion Zelalem. Forward Krisztian Nemeth and defenders Nico Hasler and Rodney Wallace are also out of contract with the club.
9. Holiday Tournaments
A busy holiday period beckons for all six Sporting KC Academy teams at the U-12 through U-19 levels. The U-13s, U-14s and U-15s will spend Thanksgiving in Houston, competing at the annual Copa Rayados tournament through Sunday, while the U-12s will travel to Atlanta for the Generation adidas Cup from Friday to Sunday.
The following week, the Sporting KC U-17s and U-19s will visit Premier Sports Campus in Bradenton, Florida, between Dec. 4-8. The U-17s will battle in Group H of the inaugural DA Winter Cup, facing Baltimore Armour, Real Salt Lake and Florida club Weston FC. The U-19s, meanwhile, will play friendly matches against Atlanta United FC, Sacramento Republic FC and D.C. United.
10. Welcome to WinterFest
Worlds of Fun and Sporting are teaming up this holiday season with a new charitable partnership. During WinterFest, the Kansas City amusement park is raising awareness and funds in support of The Victory Project, the club’s foundation that unites players, staff and fans to help children battling cancer and all of life’s challenges. Throughout WinterFest, guests will be able to “Kick to Victory” in Worlds of Fun’s new soccer-themed game near the entrance of Planet Snoopy, where 100% of the proceeds will go towards the cause. The park is also accepting donations from guests in the park and through any online ticket purchases.
11. 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.