For the first time in the 25-year history of Major League Soccer, the month of February will mark the start of regular season play. On Feb. 29, clubs across the United States and Canada will step between the white lines with hopes of collecting three points to begin 2020.
A delectable opening day of MLS action will see Sporting Kansas City visit Vancouver Whitecaps FC at 9:30 p.m. CT, giving supporters their first real look at Manager Peter Vermes’ side since last October.
As the anticipated date approaches, SportingKC.com will roll out a 28-day countdown to first kick, offering a comprehensive preview of the season ahead. From key storylines and positional breakdowns to new fan initiatives and perks at Children’s Mercy Park, our Countdown to Kickoff series will highlight the many reasons to be pumped for Sporting’s 2020 campaign. To visit the series homepage as it expands, head to SportingKC.com/countdown.
News flash, folks: Friday is a very big day for Sporting Kansas City fans. At noon CT, supporters will have the opportunity to snap up single-game tickets to the first 10 MLS regular season home matches at Children's Mercy Park.
That brings us conveniently to today's topic in the Countdown to Kickoff—all the reasons fans should attend not just the first 10 home fixtures of 2020, but all 17 MLS matchups at world-class Children's Mercy Park.
To begin, let's rattle off the evergreen perks that Children's Mercy Park will offer on an every-game basis. At the forefront, Sporting has partnered with several local favorites to deliver an astounding concessions refresh, bringing the likes of BRGR Kitchen + Bar, Taco Republic, Parisi Coffee, Port Fonda and American Royal Barbecue to the stadium, not to mention five other original concession stand concepts throughout the concourse.
Throw in the Kansas City advent of Alan Pulido and a host of other Sporting newcomers, the arrival of J. Rieger & Co. products, forthcoming stadium technology enhancements, and the fact that Children's Mercy Park routinely boasts one of the greatest atmospheres in North American soccer, and excitement surrounding the new campaign becomes distinctly palpable.
But we're only starting to scratch the surface. In the space below, we explain why every single home match is a must-see in 2020.
|DATE||OPPONENT||REASONS TO ATTEND|
|Saturday, March 7||HOUSTON DYNAMO||Sporting knows how to throw an Opening Night party, and what better way to lift the curtains than with a rivalry match. If all goes to plan, Alan Pulido will be in line for his highly anticipated home debut.|
|Saturday, March 28||REAL SALT LAKE||The first springtime fixture of the season treats us to another chapter of an intense Western Conference rivalry. Keep in mind that the next home game won't come for another three weeks.|
|Saturday, April 18||COLORADO RAPIDS||On Sporting Sustainability and Royals Night, former Sporting players Kei Kamara and Diego Rubio will return to Kansas City in Colorado colors. The Rapids ended 2019 on a red-hot run of form and won't be taken lightly.|
|Saturday, April 25||MINNESOTA UNITED FC||Sporting owns a perfect 5-0-0 home record against Minnesota in all competitions. But the Loons were one of the most improved teams in 2019 and former Sporting player Ike Opara is the reigning MLS Defender of the Year.|
|Saturday, May 9||TORONTO FC||Toronto has never won at Children's Mercy Park. But with the likes of Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley and talismanic playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo at their disposal, the Reds are an undeniable MLS Cup contender.|
|Saturday, May 23||SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC||If you're reading this, chances are you hate the Sounders and love beating them. Sporting will celebrate Soccer For All against the reigning MLS Cup champions on Memorial Day Weekend.|
|Saturday, June 6||ORLANDO CITY SC||Former Sporting striker Dom Dwyer returns to Kansas City in the first of four June home matches. Portuguese World Cup veteran Nani is probably the Lions' biggest attacking threat.|
|Wednesday, June 17||LA GALAXY||Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, perhaps the most popular Mexican player of his generation, will make his Children's Mercy Park debut. It's always fun to play, and beat, the Galaxy.|
|Saturday, June 20||VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC||The 2020 Sporting Legend inductee will be recognized during pregame, providing a moment that is sure to delight fans. At halftime, the annual Media Game will unfold on the field.|
|Sunday, June 28||PORTLAND TIMBERS||The first nationally televised home match (shouts to FS1) will see Sporting battle a Portland side that has become increasingly unlikable among Kansas Citians in recent years.|
|Sunday, July 5||LAFC||A Fourth of July celebration against Carlos Vela and the reigning Supporters' Shield champions? Talk about fireworks.|
|Saturday, July 11||FC CINCINNATI||FC Cincinnati will make their first visit to Children's Mercy Park after enduring a tough inaugural season in 2019. Cincy just acquired English Premier League forward Jurgen Locadia on loan and looks to be on the up.|
|Saturday, July 25||FC DALLAS||With rising U.S. internationals Paxton Pomykal, Jesus Ferreira and Reggie Cannon in the mix, FC Dallas boasts as much young talent as any other team in MLS.|
|Saturday, Aug. 15||SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES||Two words: Retro Night. The annual celebration of Sporting's proud history will be billed as Founding Club Night, and this 25th-season throwback celebration is sure to entertain.|
|Saturday, Aug. 29||COLUMBUS CREW SC||The annual Sporting Salutes will see players, coaches and fans pay tribute to the U.S. Armed Forces. Columbus looks like a vastly improved side with Darlington Nagbe, Fanendo Adi and former Tigres attacker Lucas Zelarayan arriving this offseason.|
|Saturday, Sept. 19||NASHVILLE SC||The only MLS expansion team to win its inaugural game at Children's Mercy Park was the Montreal Impact in 2012. This will serve as Sporting's annual Kick Childhood Cancer Night with The Victory Project stepping into the spotlight.|
|Sunday, Oct. 4||NEW YORK CITY FC||A dramatic Decision Day finale against one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference? Sign us up.|