Final phase kicked off for 2026 FIFA World Cup bidding

The Kansas City 2026 FIFA World Cup Bid Executive Committee officially has kicked off the final phase of bidding to be named one of 10 United States host cities for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, the world’s largest single sport event.

Kansas City is one of 17 U.S. cities currently in contention to be named a host city, a decision that is targeted to be made in late 2020.

Each U.S. host city anticipates holding between five to seven matches, which is estimated to generate up to $620 million in incremental economic activity according to a 2018 study done by leading global management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group.

A powerhouse group of Kansas City leaders have united to form the KC 2026 Bid Executive Committee. They include:

• Clark Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs Chairman and CEO (Honorary Co-Chair)
• Cliff Illig, Sporting Kansas City principal owner (Honorary Co-Chair)
• Doug Bach, Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas County Administrator
• Lynn Berling-Manuel, United Soccer Coaches CEO
• Jason Fulvi, VisitKC President and CEO
• Shane Hackett, Heartland Soccer Association Executive Director
• Matt Kenny, Kansas City Chiefs Vice President of Stadium Services and Events
• Donna Maize, Kansas City, Missouri Assistant City Manager
• Kathy Nelson, Kansas City Sports Commission and Foundation President and CEO
• Joe Reardon, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce President and CEO
• Jake Reid, Sporting Kansas City President and CEO

“We are extremely excited for the opportunity to bring the world’s biggest sporting event to Kansas City,” said Sporting Kansas City President and CEO Jake Reid. “Through a powerful and strategic partnership that involves local leaders impassioned by soccer, the Bid Committee looks forward to showcasing why Kansas City is a can’t-miss destination for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

“Boasting first-class facilities, premium hospitality, an advantageous position in the heart of North America and a commitment to providing unforgettable experiences for guests, Kansas City is ready to shine on the global stage and positively impact the regional community like never before. Over the next several months, the Bid Committee will act upon a shared vision with great togetherness as we pursue the goal of bringing this prized event to our city.”

Veteran sports executive David Ficklin has been named executive director of the KC 2026 Bid. Ficklin has dedicated the past 24 years of his career to growing soccer in the United States. Most recently, he spent 11 years as vice president of development for Sporting Kansas City, where he led the development of more than $300 million of world-class soccer facilities in the region and ran the successful initial phase of Kansas City’s 2026 bid.

Previously, Ficklin worked on multiple international bids for the FIFA World Cup and Olympic Games, including the winning 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games bid. He began his soccer career as a part of the San Francisco Bay Host Committee for the 1994 FIFA World Cup and was then part of the inaugural front office staff of Major League Soccer’s San Jose Clash (now San Jose Earthquakes) from 1995 to 1998. He then served as venue director at two venues for the groundbreaking 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

“The Kansas City metropolitan area has built over $400 million in soccer facilities over the past decade. But even more importantly, we have really been the thought leaders in innovative ways to grow the game of soccer,” Ficklin said. “With that background, we look forward to using the excitement of our bid to continue to implement new and creative ways to bring the sport to thousands of new players and fans of all ages.”

Kansas City’s bid features one of the nation’s finest collection of soccer facilities, one of the primary reasons the city is known as the “Soccer Capital of America.” Arrowhead Stadium, the world’s loudest stadium, is the proposed competition venue. Sporting KC’s awarding winning Children’s Mercy Park and Pinnacle National Development Center offer unparalleled team facilities. Swope Soccer Village, The University of Kansas Health System Training Complex and Julian Field at Park University round out the proposed training sites.

Kansas City has held many of soccer’s most prestigious matches at the club, college and international levels.

The Concacaf Gold Cup will return to Kansas City this June for a third time (2011, 2015, 2019) and other high-profile events held in Kansas City include FIFA World Cup qualifying (1968, 2001, 2012, 2013 2014), 2013 MLS Cup, 2013 MLS All-Star Game, 2014 Concacaf Women’s Championship, 2015 NCAA College Cup, Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying (2012, 2015), Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup finals (2004, 2012, 2017) and the 2018 Tournament of Nations.

Sporting KC takes 2-1 loss in first leg of Champions League quarterfinals

Sporting Kansas City slipped to a 2-1 loss at Independiente in the first leg of the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals on Wednesday at Estadio Agustin Sanchez in La Chorrera, Panama.

Ilie Sanchez buried a 51st-minute penalty kick to give Sporting an all-important away goal, but an upstart Independiente side took the lead on 39 minutes through Romeesh Ivey and pulled ahead for good when Alexis Corpas unleashed a long-range stunner near the hour mark.

The result gives Sporting a 2-1 aggregate deficit going into the decisive second leg next Thursday, March 14, at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas, slated for 7 p.m. CT. Tickets for the pivotal matchup are included in Sporting KC Season Ticket Member packages and are on sale now at SeatGeek.com.

With his team playing an unprecedented third away match in seven days-each taking place in a different country and time zone – manager Peter Vermes made eight changes to his lineup from Sporting’s 2-1 loss at LAFC in the MLS season opener on Sunday.

Veterans Ilie, Matt Besler and Roger Espinoza reprised their starting roles, while a host of fresh faces took the field.

Goalkeeper Adrian Zendejas was shielded by a backline of Besler, Rodney Wallace, Botond Barath and Jaylin Lindsey. Kelyn Rowe landed his first Sporting start in midfield, and wingers Yohan Croizet and Daniel Salloi flanked striker Erik Hurtado in a three-pronged attack.

After a cagey start to proceedings, Sporting threatened twice in quick succession at the 20-minute mark.

Wallace dashed onto a looping diagonal ball from Rowe and delivered a cross from the left side that deflected narrowly wide of the near post into the side netting. On the ensuing corner, Barath rose above the rest to head Yohan Croizet’s corner kick straight at goalkeeper Jose Guerra.

Independiente responded by exploiting their pace at the opposite end.

Zendejas was forced to produce two saves from close range, the first of which coming in the 23rd minute to deny Omar Browne from a tight angle.

Three minutes later, Ivey was played through on goal by Juan Gonzalez only to see his low strike saved by Sporting’s 23-year-old keeper.

Zendejas thwarted Ivey again in the 33rd minute before Browne’s dipping effort from distance missed by a matter of inches.

Both chances foreshadowed Independiente’s 39th-minute opener, which saw Browne race down the right side of the box and cut back to an open Ivey near the penalty spot for his third goal of the tournament.

Having weathered the first-half storm, Sporting bounced back and restored parity six minutes into the second half.

An excellent passing sequence that originated deep in the visitors’ own half culminated with Lindsey drawing a foul on Gerardo Negrete along the endline of the box. Mexican referee Fernando Guerrero wasted no time pointing to the spot, and Ilie promptly dispatched the penalty into the left corner for his second Champions League goal of the campaign.

The hosts landed an impressive counterpunch in the 59th minute when Corpas, who had entered the game just three minutes earlier, picked out the top left corner with a 30-yard Wurlitzer to reignite celebrations at Estadio Agustin Sanchez.

Both sides traded half-chances over the final 20 minutes, as a counter-attack goal from Ivey was disallowed for offsides before substitute Johnny Russell’s bending attempt curled marginally wide of the far post.

Sixteen-year-old Sporting midfielder Gianluca Busio entered the fray in the late stage, making a noticeable impact as the club’s youngest player to appear in an international match, but Independiente kept their 2-1 cushion to the full-time whistle.

Having logged nearly 6,000 travel miles over the last week, Sporting will finally return to Kansas City ahead of Sunday’s MLS home opener against the Philadelphia Union at Children’s Mercy Park.

Tickets for the Fan Appreciation Day showdown are available at SeatGeek.com with kickoff set for 2 p.m. CT. FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports Midwest Plus will televise three hours of live coverage beginning at 1:30 p.m. CT, while local radio broadcasts will air on Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM.

  • Information from Sporting KC

Sporting KC visits Panama tonight in Champions League contest

Two teams that dismantled their opponents in the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 will square off in the first leg of the Quarterfinals on Wednesday night at Estadio Agustin Sanchez in La Chorrera, Panama.

Sporting Kansas City and Independiente have their sights set on reaching the semifinal stage of the Champions League for the first time, but only one can advance to the next round North America’s most prestigious club tournament.

Wednesday’s showdown in Panama is slated for 7 p.m. CT with an English-language live stream on YahooSports.com and the Yahoo Sports app. Univision Deportes will broadcast the game live in Spanish, while listeners can follow the action locally on Sports Radio 810 WHB (English) and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM (Spanish). The new Sporting KC App will also provide in-game updates throughout matchday.

Sporting made history in their Round of 16 win over Toluca: the 5-0 aggregate victory was the largest by an American team over a Mexican side in the 57-year history of the Champions League and marked just the fifth time that an MLS club had prevailed on Mexican soil. The result propels Sporting into the quarterfinals for the first time since 2014, equaling the club’s best-ever showing in the tournament.

After comfortably beating Toluca last Thursday, Sporting traveled from Mexico to Los Angeles where they suffered a last-gasp 2-1 loss in Sunday’s MLS season opener at Banc of California Stadium. Krisztian Nemeth bagged his third goal in as many games for the visitors, but LAFC struck twice in the second half-including a 94th-minute winner from Adama Diomande-to snap Sporting’s seven-game unbeaten run in the state of California.

Led by 11th-year manager Peter Vermes, Sporting are braced for an unprecedented third straight away game in a third different time zone in a third separate country. A heavy fixture list, combined with nearly 6,000 air miles logged over the last week, could prompt Vermes to tweak a starting lineup that has remained unchanged through the first three matches of 2019.

The Concacaf Champions League unfolds in a fixed, knockout-style bracket through the final. Every matchup will be contested over two legs on a home-and-away basis. Just like the Round of 16, the away goals rule will be applied in the Quarterfinals if the aggregate score is tied after the second leg. If the teams are still level on away goals, extra time will not be played and a penalty shootout will determine the winner.

Making their Champions League debut, Independiente took control in the Round of 16 with a stunning 4-0 first-leg home win over Canadian giants Toronto FC on Feb. 19. Winger Romeesh Ivey bagged a brace, Panamanian international midfielder Omar Browne recorded a goal and an assist, and striker Jorman Aguilar opened the scoring as Toronto failed to register a single shot on target.

Manager Francisco Perlo’s men showed their professionalism in the return leg last week at frigid BMO Field, defending resolutely and scoring on the counter through Browne to secure a 1-1 draw. In both games, Independiente’s backline was anchored by center back pairing Gerardo Negrete and 40-year-old captain Manuel Torres, who has featured 35 times for the Panama Men’s National Team and competed at the 2007 and 2009 Concacaf Gold Cups.

Independiente’s beginnings originate with the club’s founding in 1982.

After competing in the local leagues of La Chorrera, Las Abejitas earned promotion to Panama’s second division for the first time in 1994. Independiente moved into Estadio Agustin Sanchez in 2009, shortly after the venue received a $2 million renovation, and in 2013 the club debuted in Panama’s top-flight Liga Panamena de Futbol. The team claimed its first league championship during the 2018 Clausura season, a feat that helped vault Independiente into the 2019 Champions League.

Left back Seth Sinovic is the only Sporting player who received a yellow card in the Toluca series, and would therefore serve a one-game suspension in the second leg on March 14 with another booking.

On the opposite sideline, six Independiente players would miss the return fixture at Children’s Mercy Park if they receive a yellow card on Wednesday. That list includes Browne, Ivey, Abdiel Ayarza, Ruben Barrow, Juan Gonzalez and Gerardo Negrete.

  • Story from Sporting KC