Preview: Sporting continues race for first place Saturday vs. Colorado at Children's Mercy Park

Sporting Kansas City vs. Colorado Rapids
2020 MLS Regular Season | Match 19 of 23
Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020 | 7:30 p.m. CT
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas

Broadcast Schedule:
English TV | FOX Sports Kansas City
English TV | FOX Sports Midwest
Streaming | FOX Sports GO or ESPN Plus
English Radio | ESPN 94.5 FM
Spanish Radio | La Grande 1340 AM

StandingsHow to Watch | Five Things to Know | By The Numbers
Playoff MathMatchCenter | Match Notes | Media Assets

The dramatic final stretch of the 2020 MLS regular season will continue Saturday night when Western Conference contenders Sporting Kansas City (9-6-3, 30 points) host the Colorado Rapids (5-4-4, 19 points) at world-class Children’s Mercy Park.

Tickets for the high-stakes encounter are available at SeatGeek.com with stadium capacity limited to 18% and comprehensive health and safety protocols in place. Supporters in attendance who utilize mobile ordering via the Sporting KC app will have exclusive access to purchasing the Sporting KC Championships scarf, and all fans using the app will have the opportunity to redeem a digital coupon for free Coca-Cola one-liters at Kansas City area Price Chopper locations through Oct. 26.

Saturday’s showdown will kick off at 7:30 p.m. CT with three hours of live coverage beginning at 7 p.m. CT on FOX Sports Kansas City, FOX Sports Midwest and FOX Sports GO. Listeners can catch the action locally on ESPN 94.5 FM and La Grande 1340 AM—with The Final Whistle postgame show immediately following on 94.5 FM—and viewers outside of the FOX Sports Midwest footprint can stream the contest on ESPN Plus.

Sporting were left frustrated by a pair of controversial outcomes last week, falling 1-0 at FC Dallas and claiming a 2-2 draw at Chicago FC. Manager Peter Vermes’ men are just two points behind Western Conference co-leaders Seattle Sounders FC and Portland Timbers, however, and a win over Colorado would vault Sporting into first place. Saturday will notably serve as the club’s penultimate home match of the regular season, with fixtures at FC Cincinnati (Oct. 28), versus Minnesota United FC (Nov. 1) and at Real Salt Lake (Nov. 8) still on the docket.

Last Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to FC Dallas drew an end to Sporting’s 16-game scoring streak, tied for the third-longest in club history. Indeed, Vermes has plenty of firepower and one of the most balanced attacks in MLS at his disposal. Of the 26 clubs across the league, only Sporting has five players with at least four regular season goals this year. Johnny Russell has six, newcomers Alan Pulido and Gadi Kinda have five each, and forwards Khiry Shelton and Erik Hurtado have four apiece. Pulido has missed Sporting’s last four games due to international commitments with Mexico, but the 29-year-old star could make his return on Saturday evening.

The Rapids were enjoying a strong run of form during the month of September, having lost just once in seven games, before a COVID-19 outbreak within the team prompted several matches to be postponed or rescheduled. Head coach Robin Fraser’s men haven’t played since Sept. 23, a 5-0 thrashing of the San Jose Earthquakes, and face a formidable run-in of five matches over the next 16 days.

Saturday will showcase some of the finest young talent in MLS. Sporting Kansas City Academy products Gianluca Busio, Jaylin Lindsey, Felipe Hernandez and Cam Duke have all made strong impressions in recent weeks, and with newly signed 20-year-old forward Wilson Harris joining the ranks, Sporting has another promising youngster to call upon. On the opposite sideline, Rapids midfielder Cole Bassett is the only player with four goals and four assists in less than 10 regular season appearances this year. Outside back Sam Vines, meanwhile, has played every minute for the club and looks to be a U.S. Men’s National Team contributor for the foreseeable future.

Sporting has faced Colorado 80 times in all competitions dating back to the inaugural 1996 MLS campaign, making the Rapids the most frequent opponent in Kansas City history. Two of those meetings have taken place this year, including a five-goal thriller on July 17 at the MLS is Back Tournament in which Sporting received second-half goals from Shelton, Pulido and Graham Zusi to prevail 3-2.

The most recent meeting on Aug. 29 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park saw Bassett and Busio trade second-half strikes. On Thursday, Bassett and Busio were tabbed No. 7 and No. 9, respectively, in MLSsoccer.com’s annual “22 Under 22” rankings.

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