Match Preview: Sporting back home Sunday to host Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Sporting Kansas City vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC
2021 MLS Regular Season | Match 6
Sunday, May 16, 2021 | 1 p.m. CT
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas

Broadcast Schedule:
English TV
| Bally Sports Kansas City Plus
English TV | Bally Sports Midwest Plus
Streaming | BallySports.com and Bally Sports app
English Radio | Sports Radio 810 WHB
Spanish Radio | La Grande 1340 AM

How to Watch | Five Things to Know | By the Numbers | Match Notes
BallySports.com | MatchCenter | Media Assets

Playing their third match in eight days, Sporting Kansas City (2-2-1, 7 points) will return to Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday to host Vancouver Whitecaps FC (2-2-1, 7 points) in a festive Soccer For All celebration. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. CT and a limited number of tickets for the contest are available at SeatGeek.com while supplies last.

Sunday's encounter will be shown live on Bally Sports Kansas City Plus and Bally Sports Midwest Plus with three hours of live coverage beginning at 12:30 p.m. CT. The game will also stream live on BallySports.com and the new Bally Sports app, while listeners can follow the action on Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM. The Sporting KC app will provide additional in-game updates and exclusive offers, including a digital coupon for free Coca-Cola two-liters at Price Chopper locations in the Kansas City area.

Sporting will join a league-wide effort on Sunday to foster more inclusive and equitable communities by celebrating Soccer For All, signifying that everyone is welcome to the club regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation or economic status. The initiative is linked to “A Force for Good,” a community campaign launched by Sporting in which The Victory Project joins community partners to meet crucial needs across the region and make the sport of soccer accessible to everyone.

At the forefront of Soccer For all, Sporting will launch its new Pride top at all SportingStyle locations inside the stadium. The Victory Project will also welcome four local partners to the match in Variety KCSpecial OlympicsBoys & Girls Club of Greater Kansas City and The Whole Person.

Sporting and Vancouver enter Sunday with 2-2-1 records and have opened the 2021 campaign in identical fashion. Just as Sporting won, tied, lost, won and lost in their first five matches, so too did the Whitecaps.

Led by Manager Peter Vermes, Sporting enjoyed the better of play against Houston Dynamo FC on Wednesday only to fall short in a 1-0 loss. The visitors outshot Houston 16-5 on the night, including a 14-2 advantage in the second half, but the Dynamo emerged victorious behind a 56th-minute goal from Maxi Urruti.

On the opposite touchline, third-year head coach Marc Dos Santos has guided Vancouver to impressive shutout home wins over the Portland Timbers and CF Montreal despite the fact that the Whitecaps have been forced to operate out of Salt Lake City due to COVID-related travel restrictions in Canada. Like Sporting, Vancouver took a 1-0 road loss Wednesday in a tightly contested game against Minnesota United FC.

Sporting have collected four wins and a draw in their last five regular season matches at Children's Mercy Park dating back to 2020 and boast a 17-game regular season home scoring streak since August 2019, tied for the second-longest run in club history. The most recent home fixture treated supporters to a thriller last Sunday as Sporting overturned a late deficit against Austin FC with goals from Kinda and Ilie Sanchez to prevail 2-1. It marked just the seventh time ever that Sporting had won a regular season match after trailing past the 80th minute.

The Whitecaps have missed the playoffs in three straight seasons, but early returns in 2021 suggest the Canadian outfit is capable of bouncing back into the upper half of the Western Conference. Vancouver is one of just five MLS teams to average less than a goal conceded per game, boasting a 0.8 goals against average through five matches. On the attacking side, Cristian Dajome has a team-best three goals and center forward Lucas Cavallini leads MLS in both duels won and fouls suffered.

Sporting has held an upper hand in the regular season series with Vancouver, posting a 10-3-4 record in 17 meetings. Since falling to the Whitecaps on Sept. 30, 2017, Sporting have gone 4-0-1 in the fixture with 17 goals scored and only three conceded. That run includes a 6-0 thumping in April 2018, highlighted by captain Johnny Russell’s hat trick, as well as a season-opening 3-1 away win in February 2020 that saw Gadi Kinda and Alan Pulido score on their MLS debuts.

Sporting and Vancouver also met in the MLS is Back Tournament Round of 16 last July. Vermes’ side outshot Vancouver 36-8 but the match was ultimately decided in penalty kicks after a scoreless draw, with goalkeeper Tim Melia making two saves to propel Sporting to a 3-1 shootout win.

In accordance with updated health protocols issued by the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, Sporting Kansas City announced earlier this week that home matches at Children’s Mercy Park will return to full capacity beginning May 29 when the club hosts Houston. Capacity for Sunday’s contest against Vancouver will remain limited to approximately 6,500 fans with current health and safety protocols in place. Additionally, single-game tickets for all of Sporting's remaining MLS home matches in 2021 are now available at SeatGeek.com.

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