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 in Kansas City, Kansas.
Sporting Kansas City season ticket members will have access to an exclusive pre-sale from March 26 to March 30 for tickets to the club’s first four regular season home matches and will receive more information from their membership service executives. Tickets to Sporting’s first four home matches will then go on sale to the public via SeatGeek.com on Wednesday, March 31.
The latest regular season start date in team history will see Sporting open the campaign at Red Bull Arena on April 17.
Six days later, Sporting will play host to Orlando City SC in the club’s Children’s Mercy Park home opener at 6:30 p.m., to be shown on FS1 and FOX Deportes. The Friday night showdown is one of seven nationally televised games on Sporting’s regular season docket — three on FS1 and FOX Deportes, three on ESPN and ESPN Deportes and one on UniMas.
Bally Sports Kansas City will serve as the local television home of Sporting in 2021 with play-by-play announcer Nate Bukaty, color commentator Jacob Peterson and sideline reporter Carter Augustine on the call. Broadcast details for all regional telecasts will be announced soon.
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.
“We are excited to welcome supporters back to Children’s Mercy Park this year,” Sporting KC President and CEO Jake Reid said. “With assistance and guidance from local officials, we were permitted to host matches at a larger capacity to begin the season but will start with a more limited number of approximately 6,500 fans. The safety and well-being of supporters remains our top priority. To that end, we will utilize the detailed safety protocols in place at the stadium and continue to adapt in accordance with the changing landscape.”
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 its 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 MLS Cup Playoffs, set to begin on Nov. 19. MLS Cup will be played on Dec. 11 at 2 p.m. and air live on ABC and UniMas. More information about postseason schedule will be announced at a later date.
The month of May is highlighted by two meetings with rivals Houston Dynamo FC and an inaugural battle against MLS expansion club Austin FC on May 9 in an FS1 match. The teams will meet once more at Children’s Mercy Park on July 17 before Sporting makes its first trip to Austin on Nov. 3.
Led by 13th-year manager Peter Vermes, the longest tenured head coach in MLS history, Sporting will observe a three-week international break during the first half of June before taking the field in Portland on June 19.
One week later, Children’s Mercy Park will play host to its lone ESPN broadcast as Western Conference heavyweights LAFC visit Kansas City. Sporting’s two other ESPN appearances will come against regional rivals Minnesota United FC at Allianz Field — first on Aug. 21 as part of MLS Rivalry Week and later on Oct. 31 in the penultimate weekend of the regular season.
After traveling to face LA Galaxy on the Fourth of July, Sporting will have another bye weekend in conjunction with the start of the Concacaf Gold Cup.
A marquee matchup at two-time defending Western Conference champion Seattle Sounders FC on July 25 is bookended by two milestone home fixtures — Sporting’s 800th regular season match versus San Jose on July 21 and the club’s 400th regular season home game against FC Dallas on July 31.
The meeting with San Jose marks the start of a stretch that sees Sporting play 10 consecutive games against teams that reached the 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs — including two trips to LAFC’s Banc of California Stadium on Aug. 4 and Sept. 3.
Sporting will enjoy a three-game homestand from Sept. 11-26, welcoming Chicago and Minnesota before playing host to an FS1 national audience for the third time versus Seattle. Five of the club’s next seven fixtures are on the road, including back-to-back visits west to Vancouver and Seattle on Oct. 17 and 23.
After playing host to the Galaxy on Oct. 27 and venturing to Minnesota and Austin on Oct. 31 and Nov. 3, Sporting will hold its regular season finale for the first time since 2018 when Real Salt Lake comes to Children’s Mercy Park on Nov. 7 for one of six Western Conference matches that will kick off simultaneously on Decision Day. This marks the second straight year that Sporting will close out the regular season against RSL after Vermes’ side claimed a 2-0 road win last November to clinch first place in the West.
Sporting’s regular season home slate will feature the return of several promotions and theme nights, including Retro Night, Sporting Salutes, Sporting Legends, Kick Childhood Cancer Night and more.
In addition to navigating a 34-game regular season that includes 22 matches over the final 17 weeks, Sporting will also compete in Leagues Cup, a premier international competition featuring four MLS clubs and four teams from LIGA MX. The high-profile, single-elimination tournament will see Sporting play host to a LIGA MX opponent in the quarterfinals on the week of Aug. 9, with the semifinals slated for the week of Sept. 13 and the final on the week of Sept. 20.
The 2021 season will also mark the return of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, U.S. Soccer’s National Championship, after the revered competition was canceled in 2020. Only eight of the 24 American MLS clubs will compete in this year’s tournament, which is scheduled to conclude by June 30. The mechanisms used to determine the participating MLS clubs for the 2021 Open Cup will be announced later.
Led by captain Johnny Russell, Mexican international striker Alan Pulido, former MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Tim Melia and MLS All-Stars Roger Espinoza, Ilie Sanchez and Graham Zusi, Sporting will look to build upon a successful 2020 campaign that saw the team finish first in the Western Conference for the second time in three years.
Vermes’ side has won four major championships over the last decade — hoisting the 2013 MLS Cup and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles in 2012, 2015 and 2017 — in addition to making nine playoff appearances since 2011.
Sporting KC 2021 MLS regular season schedule
Home matches in capital letters; all details subject to change.
Date – Opponent – Time CT (TV) – Theme Night
Saturday, April 17 at New York Red Bulls 7:00
Friday, April 23 ORLANDO CITY SC 6:30 (FS1)
Saturday, May 1 at Real Salt Lake 1:00
Sunday, May 9 AUSTIN FC 6:30 (FS1)
Wednesday, May 12 at Houston Dynamo 7:30
Sunday, May 16 VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC 1:00 Soccer For All
Saturday, May 22 at San Jose Earthquakes 9:00
Saturday, May 29 HOUSTON DYNAMO FC 7:30 Sporting Sustainability
Saturday, June 19 at Portland Timbers 9:30
Wednesday, June 23 COLORADO RAPIDS 7:30
Saturday, June 26 LAFC 4:00 (ESPN)
Sunday, July 4 at LA Galaxy 9:30
Saturday, July 17 AUSTIN FC 7:30
Wednesday, July 21 SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES 7:30
Sunday, July 25 at Seattle Sounders FC 8:00
Saturday, July 31 FC DALLAS 7:30 Sporting Salutes
Wednesday, Aug. 4 at LAFC 9:30
Saturday, Aug. 7 at Colorado Rapids 8:00
Saturday, Aug. 14 at FC Dallas 7:30
Wednesday, Aug. 18 PORTLAND TIMBERS 7:30
Saturday, Aug. 21 at Minnesota United FC 2:30 (ESPN)
Saturday, Aug. 28 COLORADO RAPIDS 7:30 Retro Night
Friday, Sept. 3 at LAFC 9:00 (UniMas)
Saturday, Sept. 11 CHICAGO FIRE FC 7:30
Wednesday, Sept. 15 MINNESOTA UNITED FC 7:30
Sunday, Sept. 26 SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC 5:00 (FS1) Kick Childhood Cancer
Wednesday, Sept. 29 at FC Dallas 7:00
Sunday, Oct. 3 HOUSTON DYNAMO TBD
Sunday, Oct. 17 at Vancouver Whitecaps FC 9:00
Saturday, Oct. 23 at Seattle Sounders FC 8:00
Wednesday, Oct. 27 LA GALAXY 7:30 Fan Appreciation
Sunday, Oct. 31 at Minnesota United FC TBD (ESPN)
Wednesday, Nov. 3 at Austin FC 8:00
Sunday, Nov. 7 REAL SALT LAKE 5:00