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. The Dawn of a New Era
Sporting Kansas City’s landmark acquisition of Alan Pulido this week is certainly a “sign of the time” in MLS. After years of touting their small-market, budget-conscious spending approach, Sporting KC pulled out the checkbook and asked: “How much?” It’s now a world head coach and sporting director Peter Vermes believes that Sporting will remain engaged in, too.
“There’s a thing called plateau negotiating,” Vermes told reporters in a conference call last Wednesday. “Sometimes when you hit the plateau, you never go down from there. I’m going to assume that we’re in this world now and we’re going to continue to be in this world. I also think that our league is in this world as well. It’s just a part of the evolution.”
2. Open Cup-date
Sporting Kansas City will kick off its 2020 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup campaign next April, entering in the Third Round of U.S. Soccer's National Championship. U.S. Soccer announced last week its first major restructuring of the U.S. Open Cup since 2012. In a significant move, the competition format for 2020 will require 11 MLS clubs—including Sporting Kansas City—to enter in the Third Round, one round earlier than in recent years. This change will see Sporting play up to six Open Cup matches in 2020, should they reach the Final.
3. Hoodies and Sweats
There is no better time to stock up on Sporting Kansas City winter gear or pick out soccer-themed gifts for friends and family. Today and Tuesday, Dec. 16-17, all Sporting fans can visit the SportingStyle Pop-In Store for 40 percent off hoodies and sweatshirts. The sale will be in effect during normal business hours from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT over the next two days.
4. The Best of the Decade
Over the last 10 years, few professional sports franchises have experienced a more transformational journey than Sporting Kansas City. From Wizards to Sporting, from minor league baseball park to world-class soccer stadium, from MLS afterthought to perennial title contender, the 2010s ushered in a Kansas City soccer renaissance as Sporting enjoyed a meteoric rise both on and off the pitch.
Throughout this decade of success, everyone tied to the club—from players and coaches to owners and fans—made priceless memories that will last a lifetime. As the 2010s come to a close, SportingKC.com is counting down the top 20 moments of the decade. The daily series will run from Dec. 12-31, looking back on the biggest matches, announcements and off-the-field developments that left lasting impacts on the club. The top 20 list was determined through voting among front office associates at Sporting. Click here to visit the top 20 as it unfolds.
5. Soccer in Charlotte?
Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber will be joined by Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper and Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles for a special announcement in Charlotte on Tuesday. The event, which will take place at the Mint Museum Uptown, will be streamed live on MLSsoccer.com at 9 a.m. CT. Media reports in Charlotte have connected the announcement to the city's bid to become MLS's 30th club.
6. Two on Tap
Sporting Kansas City will host rivals Houston Dynamo on Saturday, March 7, in the club’s 2020 home opener at Children’s Mercy Park. The match will come one week after Sporting kicks off its MLS campaign at Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday, Feb. 29—the earliest start to an MLS regular season in league history.
- Saturday, Feb. 29: at Vancouver Whitecaps FC (9:30 p.m. CT)
- Saturday, March 7: vs. Houston Dynamo (7:30 p.m. CT)
7. Tickets Available
The best way to guarantee tickets for the 2020 home opener at Children’s Mercy Park is to join the Sporting Kansas City family and become a Season Ticket Member. Several multi-game ticket packages for the 2020 season are also on sale now at SportingKC.com, including the “Mess with Texas” package that pairs the home opener versus Houston with Sporting’s home game against FC Dallas. Single-game tickets for the first half of Sporting’s home schedule will go on sale to the general public in early 2020.
8. SuperDraft Shuffle
Major League Soccer on Friday announced details for the 2020 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas, which is evolving with a new streamlined draft process and innovative opportunities for fans to engage with media partners ESPN and Twitter. The 2020 SuperDraft, scheduled for Jan. 9 at 11 a.m. CT, will be conducted during a jointly produced MLS and ESPN show streamed live on Twitter, with a Twitter event card that includes the draft livestream and real-time highlights from the event all in one comprehensive experience.
9. Gamers Unveiled
Major League Soccer has released its eMLS roster for the 2020 season, consisting of players representing 25 MLS clubs. In total, 12 of the 25 gamers signed for the 2020 eMLS season currently sit in the top 100 of their respective console leaderboards in the rankings released on Dec. 11.
eMLS is entering its third season, which will begin on Jan. 10, 2020 with eMLS League Series One presented by PlayStation in Philadelphia. That will be followed by League Series Two on Feb. 15 in Portland, and conclude with eMLS Cup on March 21 in Austin during SXSW. Each of the two League Series tournaments have their own prizes and a trophy on offer, and also allow players to accumulate points to determine seeding for eMLS Cup.
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.