Running throughout the season on Sports Radio 810 WHB, the Sporting Kansas City Show is available on several podcast hubs including Spotify and iTunes as well as SportingKC.com/SportingKCShow. With Nate Bukaty, Carter Augustine and Aly Trost hosting the weekly program, Sporting fans have a place to go to catch up on club storylines, guest interviews and more.
It may not be a coincidence that Sporting Kansas City's red-hot finish to the 2020 regular season has coincided with an uptick in form for skillful defensive midfielder Ilie Sanchez.
Sporting went 6-0-1 in Ilie's last seven starts of the campaign, the cerebral Spaniard serving as an all-important fulcrum in the middle of the park. He was particularly influential in a snowy 2-0 road victory over Real Salt Lake last weekend as Manager Peter Vermes' side claimed first place in the Western Conference on MLS Decision Day 2020 presented by AT&T.
In the newest episode of the Sporting Kansas City Show, Ilie joined hosts Nate Bukaty, Carter Augustine and Aly Trost to reflect on the first snow game of his professional career, his role in both of Sporting's goals and the qualities of goal scorers Khiry Shelton and Erik Hurtado, who stepped up in the absence of injured striker Alan Pulido.
Ilie also shared his thoughts on the single-elimination playoff format and Sporting's homefield advantage in the Western Conference, the impressive depth of his team's roster and the eye-opening development of 18-year-old Sporting KC Academy product Gianluca Busio, who deputized as the club's holding midfielder when Ilie missed a month of action while visiting his father in Barcelona.
Ilie's father passed away from cancer in September, and although the loss has been extremely difficult for Ilie and his family, he believes he has returned to Kansas City with a renewed focus on the field and a greater outlook on life.
"Yes I do," Ilie answered when asked if he has been a different player since returning from Spain. "There are some things that have maybe affected my game since I have been back. If I can do my job and do it well, I feel that the whole team can take advantage of the situation and what I'm doing on the field.
"Right now, I'm feeling really good on the field and around my teammates. Maybe one of the reasons why is that when I was in Barcelona, I watched five of our games there with my family. From the outside, seeing someone else like Busio playing my position, I could learn from that. I could understand what I was not doing right or what I could do better to help the team in every situation.
"Seeing Busio doing a really good job in that position and also understanding what he was doing differently on the field, I could compare that with my performances. That helped me to see what this team needs from a defensive midfielder and what I can add to that position."
With a brilliant regular season in the rearview mirror, Ilie and Sporting will begin their journey in the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs on Sunday, Nov. 22, hosting the No. 8 seed San Jose Earthquakes at Children's Mercy Park. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. CT with tickets available to the general public on SeatGeek.com beginning at noon CT Thursday. The contest will also be shown live nationally on FS1, FOX Deportes and the FOX Sports app.