"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. Strengthening the Squad
Sporting Kansas City announced last week that the club has signed 29-year-old French defender Nicolas Isimat-Mirin. The center back has signed a two-year MLS contract through 2022 with an option for 2023.
Isimat-Mirin has played over 250 professional matches since 2010, featuring in the top divisions of France, the Netherlands and Turkey. He has logged 93 appearances each in France’s Ligue 1 and the Dutch Eredivisie, where he won three league titles as an integral member of PSV Eindhoven. Boasting experience in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, Isimat-Mirin arrives at Sporting following a stint with Turkish powerhouse Besiktas.
2. Tentative Agreement
Major League Soccer announced Friday that the league and the MLS Players Association have reached a tentative agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
"Major League Soccer and the Major League Soccer Players Association today reached a tentative agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement," MLS said in a statement. "The agreement, covering the next seven years from 2021 through 2027, is subject to the approval of the MLS Board of Governors and the membership of the MLSPA."
3. Black History Month
Sporting Kansas City has joined Major League Soccer and the rest of the country for a monthlong celebration of Black History Month. Over the next several days, Sporting will highlight and reflect upon the athletes, community leaders and fellow Kansas Citians who have pushed the club, the city and the entire nation forward. The club kickstarted its efforts last week, shining the spotlight on a number of local Black-owned businesses.
4. Revamped Champions League
Concacaf has announced a new expanded format for Concacaf Champions League that will take effect in 2023-24. Staring in 2023, the tournament will feature a regionalized group stage that will be played in the fall and feature 20 clubs from Canada, Mexico and the US, as well as 20 from Central America and 10 from the Caribbean. A 16-team knockout stage will follow in the spring, featuring 11 qualifiers from the North American group stage, four from Central America and one from the Caribbean. The round of 16, quarterfinals and semifinals will be two-legged series, followed by a single-game final.
5. Hall of Fame Balloters
The National Soccer Hall of Fame at Toyota Stadium announced last week that Sporting Legend Josh Wolff and former Kansas City goalkeeper Kevin Hartman are among the finalists for election to the Class of 2021.
Wolff and Hartman are two of 20 finalists listed on the Player Ballot. The Hall of Fame’s new selection committees will vote Friday through Feb. 10 to select a class of two to four members total from the Player Ballot as well as the 10-person Veteran Ballot and 10-person Builder Ballot.
6. SKC II Signing
Sporting Kansas City II has signed 23-year-old Ghana Under-23 international Ropapa Mensah, the club announced last week. Mensah will officially be added to the Sporting II roster pending league and federation approval.
Mensah has spent the last four years in the USL Championship, representing Penn FC (2017), Nashville SC (2018-2019) and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (2020). In total, Mensah has played 103 games, including 61 starts, while tallying 26 goals and 14 assists across all competitions for USL Championship teams.