"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. April Kickoff
Major League Soccer announced today that the 2021 MLS season will begin on Saturday, April 3, and feature 34 matches for each of the league’s 27 clubs. MLS’ 26th regular season will conclude on MLS Decision Day, Nov. 7, and the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs will begin Nov. 19. MLS Cup will be played on Saturday, Dec. 11.
Clubs will be permitted to open preseason training on Feb. 22, six weeks prior to opening weekend. In accordance with MLS health and safety protocols, players will be required to quarantine and conduct individual trainings upon reporting back to their clubs.
2. Three's Company
Sporting Kansas City announced last week that the club has signed 20-year-old midfielder Grayson Barber, 16-year-old forward Ozzie Cisneros and 18-year-old goalkeeper Brooks Thompson as Homegrown Players. All three players have signed multi-year MLS contracts with options.
With the additions of Barber, Cisneros and Thompson, 10 of the 26 players on Sporting Kansas City’s current MLS roster have developed in the club’s academy. The squad's average age entering the 2021 season is exactly 25 years old.
3. Draft Duo
Sporting Kansas City selected a pair of 22-year-old college seniors in MLS SuperDraft 2021 presented by adidas on Thursday, taking center back Matt Constant from the University of North Carolina and winger Jamil Roberts from Marshall University. Constant, a 6-foot-6 center back who represented both the U.S. and Canada at the youth international level, spent two years at the University of New Mexico before playing two seasons as a Tar Heel. Roberts, a native of England, developed in Plymouth Argyle's academy before moving stateside and starring collegiately at Marshall University in West Virginia.
4. Warehouse Sale
Sporting Kansas City fans can kick off 2021 in style when Children's Mercy Park hosts the annual SportingStyle Warehouse Sale on Saturday, Feb. 6. In addition to stocking up on a variety of Sporting Kansas City merchandise at up to 50% off, guests will have the opportunity to shop a wide range of Children's Mercy Park furniture, decor and more.
The SportingStyle Warehouse Sale will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. inside the Sporting Bay on the west side of the stadium. Parking will be available in the Red Lot. For a parking map and directions, click here. As an added bonus, supporters who RSVP to the event will receive a free tour of Children's Mercy Park on the day of the sale. Tours will take place at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
5. In Loving Memory
Children’s Mercy Park was one of several Kansas City landmarks to light up in amber last Tuesday during a National Day of Remembrance honoring frontline workers and remembering those lost to COVID-19. As part of the nationwide COVID-19 Memorial, Kansas City’s National World War I Museum and Memorial raised 1,665 white flags, representing every life lost in the city due to the pandemic.
6. USL Championship Update
The USL Championship announced last Thursday that the 2021 regular season will begin on or around May 1, consisting of a 32-game slate running across 27 weeks through the end of October with playoffs scheduled for November. Clubs will be split into four divisions.
Further announcements on scheduling, divisional alignment and playoff structure will be made in the coming months and the league will continue to monitor the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in the event that alterations to the format need to be made.