Vancouver visits Sporting KC on Saturday

Vancouver visits Sporting KC at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

Tickets are available at SeatGeek.com. The first 5,000 fans through the gates will receive a clear stadium bag.

The match will be televised live on Fox Sports KC Plus and Fox Sports Midwest Plus, with local radio broadcasts from Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM.

It will be Faith and Family Night at the match, with special tickets available for purchase. A Leaders in Faith Pre-Match Panel inside the Ameritas Shield Club featuring Kansas City Chiefs Pro Bowl punter Dustin Colquitt, former University of Kansas basketball star and NBA champion Wayne Simien, and Pastor Ryan Darrow.

With three consecutive home fixtures on the horizon, Sporting will aim to snap a six-match winless run in MLS that began April 7.

Manager Peter Vermes’ men were short-handed in a 1-0 defeat at D.C. United last Sunday, traveling just 15 players due to widespread injuries across the roster. Andreu Fontas (calf), Graham Zusi (oblique), Roger Espinoza (knee) and Gerso Fernandes (wrist) are among those who have missed action. Daniel Salloi recently was added to the injury list. Matt Besler just came off the injured list for a hamstring injury.

Sporting KC just signed 19-year-old Swope Park Rangers forward Wilson Harris to a short-term agreement, making him available for the club’s MLS home match against Vancouver. The club is able to sign him for this match because of extreme hardship due to injuries.

Harris, 19, joined the Sporting KC Academy in 2017 and began his professional career with the Rangers in May 2018. He has tallied four goals in 22 USL Championship appearances for the club, including the final strike in a 5-1 win over LA Galaxy II last October that vaulted SPR into the USL Cup Playoffs for the third straight year.

While Sporting must grind through the challenges of a depleted squad, it’s the Whitecaps who enter the weekend on short rest.

Vancouver took a 1-0 home loss to Atlanta United FC on Wednesday night, conceding a first-half penalty kick to Josef Martinez. The shutout loss marked a continuation of Vancouver’s offensive struggles, as the club ranks second-to-last in MLS with 0.92 goals per game. Forward Fredy Montero is the lone Whitecaps player with three or more goals this season, having amassed 63 goals and 41 assists in his heralded six-year MLS career.

Saturday will serve as a reunion of sorts for first-year Vancouver manager Marc Dos Santos. In 2016, the Montreal native was the first head coach for the Swope Park Rangers, the USL Championship affiliate of Sporting Kansas City. Dos Santos guided SPR to the USL Western Conference championship that year and an appearance in the USL Cup Final.

Since leaving Kansas City at the end of 2016, Dos Santos has continued an impressive run of success. He coached the San Francisco Deltas to an NASL title in 2017, then joined Los Angeles Football Club in 2018 to serve as an assistant to Bob Bradley in what became one of the best seasons for an MLS expansion side. Dos Santos is now the main man in charge, and his Vancouver team has gone a respectable 3-2-1 since mid-April after starting 0-4-2.

The decade-long history between the clubs paints a positive picture for Sporting. Vermes’ side is 8-3-3 all-time against Vancouver in MLS competition, including a 5-1-1 record at Children’s Mercy Park. Sporting swept the 2018 series with a pair of lopsided wins, prevailing 6-0 at Children’s Mercy Park and cruising 4-1 at BC Place. Johnny Russell bagged a hat-trick in the six-goal smackdown, which equaled the largest margin of victory in club history.

Sporting currently occupies 11th place in the West, three points below the playoff line with at least one game in hand on most of their conference rivals. Vancouver sits a point below the seventh and final playoff spot in eighth place, knowing a win could lift them as high as sixth.

Sporting is riding a club-record eight-year postseason streak, the third-longest active run in MLS, while Vancouver is hoping for a return to the MLS Cup Playoffs after missing out in 2018.

There is a possibility of rain and thunderstorms Saturday night. Keep up with the latest about the match by visiting https://www.sportingkc.com/.

  • Information from Sporting KC

Sporting KC falls to D.C. United, 1-0

Sporting Kansas City (2-4-4, 10 points) stumbled to a narrow 1-0 defeat at D.C. United (7-3-2, 23 points) on a dreary Sunday night at Audi Field, Washington, D.C.

U.S. international midfielder Paul Arriola decided an evenly contested battle in the nation’s capital with an impressive curling strike on 78 minutes, condemning Sporting to their second straight loss and extending the club’s winless run to six league matches.

An opportunity for Sporting to reclaim its winning form presents itself Saturday as a three-game homestand begins against Vancouver Whitecaps FC (3-5-3, 12 points) at 7:30 p.m. CT.

Tickets for the Western Conference clash are available at SeatGeek.com and the first 5,000 fans through the Children’s Mercy Park gates will receive a clear Sporting bag courtesy of Children’s Mercy. The match will also air live on FOX Sports Kansas City Plus and FOX Sports Midwest Plus.

Four days after returning to Kansas City in a trade from the Colorado Rapids, midfielder Benny Feilhaber jumped straight into the starting lineup to officially begin his second stint at Sporting.

The 34-year-old playmaker was one of three lineup changes from last weekend’s home loss to Atlanta United FC, as Nicolas Hasler and Ilie Sanchez replaced Graham Zusi and Kelyn Rowe. In defense, left back Seth Sinovic reached a notable milestone with his 200th career MLS start.

With 10 players out injured – including integral veterans Matt Besler (hamstring), Roger Espinoza (knee), Andreu Fontas (calf) and Graham Zusi (oblique) – Sporting dressed just 15 players for Sunday’s match, three fewer than the standard 18.

Despite the added challenges of operating with a thin squad, Sporting kept D.C. at bay during the early stages.

Talismanic D.C. forward Wayne Rooney was the first to test Tim Melia in the 14th minute, but the Sporting goalkeeper did brilliantly to dive at full extension and push aside the Englishman’s sweetly struck free kick from 25 yards.

The visitors quickly responded with a chance of their own as Krisztian Nemeth accelerated into the attacking third and spread the ball left to an open Daniel Salloi, who dragged a left-footed shot across D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid and wide of the far post at the quarter-hour mark.

Melia stoned D.C. once more in the 32nd minute, sprawling low to block Steve Birnbaum’s snap header off a Rooney corner kick and reacting quickly to smother Frederic Brillant’s rebound attempt on the doorstep. The moment foreshadowed a wave of United pressure for the remainder of the half, but Sporting weathered the storm-evening asking questions of Hamid via Russell’s bending free kick-and the sides entered halftime scoreless.

Russell and Hasler combined intricately on the right side of the box to carve out a terrific look in the 50th minute, the latter finding Nemeth with a clever pullback pass along the endline. The Hungarian’s first-time strike was destined for the roof of the net, but a leaping Hamid touched the 12-yard piledriver over the bar.

An increasingly heavy deluge of rain made for difficult playing conditions as a physical, delicately poised affair simmered into the final half-hour. D.C. threatened on yet another Rooney corner in the 62nd minute, with Birnbaum creating separation and nodding goalward to force Melia into a reflex stop at the near post.

Birnbaum was then responsible for keeping Sporting off the scoresheet in the 67th minute, sliding heroically to block Russell’s shot following a clever give-and-go with Nemeth. On the ensuing corner kick, Graham Smith rose above the rest and steered a powerful header on target, only to see Hamid make an outstanding save to deny the Sporting center back his first career MLS goal.

Sporting fell victim to a brilliant individual effort from Arriola with 12 minutes remaining. The diminutive winger settled a diagonal pass from Rooney on the left edge of the box, cut the ball onto his favored right foot and uncorked a wicked curler into the far corner for his third goal of the campaign and the 11th of his MLS career.

Nemeth was afforded a chance to equalize instantly when he pounced on a United giveaway and carried the ball toward goal on the breakaway, but his near-post sledgehammer failed to test Hamid and skied wayward.

A final roll of the dice saw Smith nod wide after connecting with substitute Kelyn Rowe’s teasing service into a crowded box in the 95th minute.

  • Story from Sporting KC

Sporting KC visits the capital for match with D.C. United tonight

A marquee interconference battle beckons Sunday night in the nation’s capital as Sporting Kansas City (2-3-4, 10 points) visits fellow MLS original D.C. United (6-3-2, 20 points) in the club’s first trip to Audi Field.

Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. CT with national television coverage on FS1 and FOX Deportes. The game will also air nationally on SiriusXM FC, while Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM will transmit local radio broadcasts. Streamers can catch the action live on FOX Sports GO and receive additional in-game updates via the new Sporting KC App.

Sporting enters Week 11 one point below the playoff line with just over a quarter of the regular season played.

Manager Peter Vermes’ men are winless in seven matches across all competitions since defeating the Montreal Impact on March 31 and took a 3-0 defeat to reigning MLS Cup champion Atlanta United FC last Sunday at Children’s Mercy Park.

A growing injury list has complicated matters for Sporting, as up to 10 players could be sidelined on Sunday. Roger Espinoza (knee), Gerso Fernandes (wrist), Andreu Fontas (calf), Erik Hurtado (knee), Jaylin Lindsey (knee), Jimmy Medranda (knee), Rodney Wallace (hip) and Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal (ankle) are all out, while veterans Matt Besler (hamstring) and Graham Zusi (oblique) are questionable. Moreover, 16-year-old Academy products Gianluca Busio and Tyler Freeman are unavailable on international duty with the United States U-17 Men’s National Team.

Vermes’ shorthanded squad was nonetheless bolstered Wednesday when midfielder Benny Feilhaber sealed his return to Sporting in a trade from the Colorado Rapids. The 34-year-old playmaker previously starred in Kansas City from 2013-2017, racking up 33 goals and 56 assists while helping the side to the 2013 MLS Cup and two Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles.

Sunday will see Sporting make its inaugural visit to Audi Field, which opened as D.C. United’s new home last July. After languishing in the Eastern Conference basement for all of 2017 and the first half of 2018, United made the most of a home-heavy final stretch and climbed to fourth place by last season’s end.

The club owns a 15-4-2 regular season record at Audi Field, although two of those defeats have occurred this season-including a 4-0 humbling against LAFC on April 6 and a 2-0 setback to New York City FC on April 21.

Presently tied for first place in the East, D.C. boasts one of the best one-two punches in MLS.

English soccer legend Wayne Rooney (six goals, three assists) and diminutive Argentine Luciano Acosta (three goals, two assists) have transformed head coach Ben Olsen’s men into legitimate title contenders since forging their partnership last summer when Rooney sealed his move to MLS. In 30 regular season appearances, Rooney has 18 goals, 10 assists and an 18-7-5 win-loss record. Acosta, meanwhile, ranked second in 2018 with 17 assists to go with 10 goals.

D.C. has also tidied up in defense. Goalkeeper Bill Hamid is tied for the MLS lead with five clean sheets and center backs Frederic Brillant and Steve Birnbaum rank first and second, in clearances. Industrious midfielders Junior Moreno and Lucas Rodriguez are also among the league leaders in tackles and duels.

Sporting has just one loss in their last seven visits to D.C. since 2011, conceding three goals during that seven-game stretch (2-1-4). The last battle between the teams in D.C. resulted in a 0-0 draw as Sporting goalkeeper Tim Melia saved a penalty kick on the opening day of the 2017 campaign.

The most recent meeting at Children’s Mercy Park was decided by Felipe Gutierrez, who fired the hosts ahead after three minutes in a 1-0 win on March 31, 2018.

Matches between Sporting and D.C. have tended to be low-scoring in recent years. In 12 of the last 14 fixtures since 2010, neither team has scored more than one goal. The all-time regular season series is dead even through 55 games, with both teams owning 21 wins and 13 draws.

D.C.’s injury report is shorter than Sporting’s, but Olsen will nevertheless have to account for four absences in Antonio Bustamante (knee), Oniel Fisher (knee), Joseph Mora (broken jaw) and Donovan Pines (knee).

  • Story from Sporting KC