"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. Schedule Drop
Sporting Kansas City has released the club’s 34-match schedule for the 2021 MLS regular season, which will kick off with a visit to the New York Red Bulls on April 17 and conclude with a Decision Day home game against rivals Real Salt Lake on Nov. 7 at Children’s Mercy Park.
Sporting Kansas City Season Ticket Members have access to an exclusive pre-sale through Tuesday, for tickets to the club’s first four regular season home matches. Tickets to Sporting’s first four home matches will then go on sale to the general public via SeatGeek.com on Wednesday.
2. Schedule Structure
Major League Soccer’s 26th season will feature 27 clubs, with Sporting among the nine active charter members from the inaugural 1996 campaign. Each team will play 34 matches—17 at home and 17 away—over the course of 32 weeks. Sporting will face their 12 fellow Western Conference opponents two or three times each for a total of 31 matches. The remaining three games will come against Eastern Conference foes—New York and Orlando in the first two weeks of the season and Chicago Fire FC on Sept. 11.
2021 Home Opponents: Austin FC (2), Colorado Rapids (2), Houston Dynamo FC (2), Chicago Fire FC, FC Dallas, LA Galaxy, LAFC, Minnesota United FC, Orlando City SC, Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders FC, Vancouver Whitecaps FC
2021 Away Opponents: FC Dallas (2), LAFC (2), Minnesota United FC (2), Seattle Sounders FC (2), Austin FC, Colorado Rapids, Houston Dynamo, LA Galaxy, New York Red Bulls, Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes, Vancouver Whitecaps FC
At the end of the regular season, the top seven teams from each conference will qualify for the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs, set to begin on Nov. 19. MLS Cup will be played on Dec. 11 at 2 p.m. CT and air live on ABC and UniMas. More information about postseason schedule will be announce at a later date.
3. Limited Capacity
In conjunction with the schedule release, Sporting Kansas City has also announced that Children’s Mercy Park will begin the season with a reduced capacity of approximately 6,500 fans. Sporting will continue to implement comprehensive health and safety protocols at all home matches, including a limited-capacity seating plan and mandatory face coverings for supporters.
4. Leagues Cup
Sporting Kansas City is one of eight premier North American clubs that will compete in the second edition of Leagues Cup this summer, Major League Soccer and LIGA MX announced last week. Leagues Cup will see MLS clubs Sporting, Seattle Sounders FC, Orlando City SC and New York City FC join four LIGA MX clubs in a high-level international competition that builds on the growing rivalry between the leagues and gives Sporting the opportunity to claim its first major international trophy in team history.
After debuting in 2019, Leagues Cup will return this year after a hiatus in 2020 due to the pandemic. The tournament will unfold in a single-game, single-elimination format with MLS teams welcoming four Liga MX sides in the opening round. Sporting will host a LIGA MX opponent in the Leagues Cup quarterfinals on the week of Aug. 9 at Children’s Mercy Park and ticket information for the match will be announced at a later date. Leagues Cup will be played entirely in the United States, with the semifinals on the week of Sept. 13, and the Leagues Cup Final—which will take place in a neutral venue—slated for the week of Sept. 20.
5. Preseason Draw
Sporting Kansas City earned an entertaining 3-3 draw against the Portland Timbers last Wednesday at the Kino North Complex in Tucson, Arizona. Khiry Shelton, Wilson Harris and Roger Espinoza all got on the scoresheet as Sporting moved to 1-1-1 during the 2021 preseason, presented by Children's Mercy.
Sporting will continue their preseason campaign at 2 p.m. CT Saturday, facing the Galaxy in Tucson. For live updates, follow @SKCMatchday on Twitter.
6. Countdown to Kickoff
As Sporting Kansas City prepares for its 26th season as a charter member of Major League Soccer, SportingKC.com is rolling out a 26-day countdown to the start of the 2021 campaign. A mouthwatering opening weekend of MLS action will see Sporting Kansas City visit the New York Red Bulls at 7 p.m. CT on April 17, giving supporters their first look at Manager Peter Vermes’ side since last December.
The 2021 Preseason Countdown, presented by Children’s Mercy, will serve as the comprehensive, go-to preview of everything that awaits Sporting Kansas City in the weeks and months to come. From key storylines and bold predictions to statistical breakdowns and players to watch, the 2021 Preseason Countdown will highlight the many reasons to be excited for what’s ahead. To visit the series homepage as it expands, visit SportingKC.com/2021countdown.
7. Pulido with Mexico
Sporting Kansas City striker Alan Pulido has joined the Mexico Men’s National Team for matches in Europe as El Tri prepares for a pivotal 2021 campaign highlighted by the Concacaf Nations League Finals and the Concacaf Gold Cup, and FIFA World Cup qualifying.
Pulido was an unused substitute on Saturday as Mexico took a 1-0 loss to Wales in the Welsh capital of Cardiff. Mexico will now prepare for a friendly against Costa Rica on Tuesday, slated for 3 p.m. CT in Wiener Neustadt, Austria. Following the game, Pulido will adhere to mandated health and safety protocols in accordance with international travel before rejoining Sporting for the start of the 2021 MLS regular season on April 17 at the New York Red Bulls.
8. SKC II Openers
Sporting Kansas City II will host USL Championship rivals OKC Energy FC on May 7 in the club’s 2021 home opener at Children’s Mercy Park. The USL Championship announced last week the home openers for all 31 clubs, including Sporting KC II’s visit to FC Tulsa on May 1 at ONEOK Field. The league will announce the full 2021 regular season schedule—including kickoff times and broadcast details—as well as the postseason structure in the near term.
Children’s Mercy Park will host Sporting Kansas City II home games in 2021. USL Championship matches at the venue will be held without fans in attendance until further notice.