"This Week in Sporting," presented by The Smile Generation, is a weekly series that highlights the biggest storylines and news updates from Sporting Kansas City. To visit the series archive, click here.
1. MLS SuperDraft
Players eligible for selection in MLS SuperDraft 2021 presented by adidas include college seniors, Generation adidas players, and players that have waived their college eligibility by signing to play in a domestic professional league since the conclusion of the 2019 college soccer season. Expansion club Austin FC will have the No. 1 overall pick.
Sporting Kansas City currently holds three picks in the draft at No. 50, 77 and 82 overall. More information on MLS SuperDraft, including the selection order, is available here.
2. SeatGeek Extended
SeatGeek announced last week a multi-year renewal of its partnership with Sporting Kansas City as the club’s official ticketing partner. Since launching the partnership in 2016, SeatGeek and Sporting have worked together to innovate the matchday experience through forward-thinking strategies like mobile ticketing and custom ticket management.
This is SeatGeek’s first renewal announcement since breaking into the primary ticketing market in 2017. After partnering with Sporting, SeatGeek announced ticketing partnerships with five additional MLS clubs as well teams across the NFL, NBA and English Premier League.
3. Hall of Fame Hopefuls
The National Soccer Hall of Fame at Toyota Stadium announced last week the names of all candidates eligible for election in 2021, including 13 former members of Sporting Kansas City. The Hall of Fame’s new Selection Committee has begun deliberations to select a three- or four-member Class of 2021 from the 245 candidates who appear on the Player, Veteran and Builder ballots. The 2021 Hall of Fame ceremony is scheduled for May 22 and will enshrine both the 2020 class (Carlos Bocanegra and Colin Jose Media Award Winner Andrés Cantor) and the 2021 class.
4. Out in the Quarters
Sporting Kansas City's FIFA gamer suffered a last-gasp loss on Saturday in the eMLS League Series One quarterfinals. Alekzandur went wire to wire with top-seeded Austin FC's xbLeU in a two-legged, win-or-go-home battle that wasn't decided until the final seconds of the decisive second match.
After losing the first leg by a 1-0 scoreline, Alekzandur responded with a strong second-leg performance that saw the Kansas City native take the lead on three separate occasions. Trailing 3-2 in stoppage time, xbLeU showed his quality by scoring an equalizer to seal a 4-3 aggregate victory and eliminate Alekzandur from the competition.
New York City FC's Didychrislito was crowned the eMLS League Series One champion on Sunday.
5. CBA Negotiations
Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber provided an update on plans for the start of the 2021 season and negotiations over a Collective Bargaining Agreement with the MLS Players Association during a conference call with media members last week.
As a result of fan attendance at MLS stadiums expected to be heavily restricted for most — if not all – of 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the continued financial impact on the league and its clubs, on Dec. 29 MLS invoked a Force Majeure clause as provided for in the CBA negotiated last year.
The league subsequently announced that in order to reduce the impact on players, it had proposed extending the current CBA by two years, rather than requesting any reduction in player salaries for 2021. The agreement, said Garber, provides a window of time in order to successfully negotiate changes to the CBA.
6. SKC II on the Move
Led by head coach Paulo Nagamura, Sporting Kansas City II has been busy at work piecing together its USL Championship roster ahead of the 2021 campaign. Last Monday, the club re-signed 22-year-old center back Danny Barbir to a new contract after the defender started regularly for Sporting II last year. On Wednesday, the club added 21-year-old forward Preston Judd, a senior standout out of the University of Denver. On Friday, Sporting II signed 21-year-old U.S. youth international and Duke University product Aedan Stanley, who spent 2020 playing every single minute for Portland Timbers 2 as a left back.