New York Red Bulls visit Sporting KC on Sunday

Two perennial playoff contenders and founding members of Major League Soccer will square off Sunday at Children’s Mercy Park when Sporting Kansas City (2-1-2, 8 points) duels the reigning Supporters’ Shield champion New York Red Bulls (1-3-1, 4 points).

Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. and tickets remain available at SeatGeek.com .

The contest will be televised nationally on FS1 and FOX Deportes, while ESPN 94.5 FM (English) and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM (Spanish) will air local radio broadcasts with The Final Whistle postgame show immediately following on Sports Radio 810 WHB.

It will be Sporting Sustainability day, with green initiatives encouraged. There will be a game T-shirt package, with an offer for an organic T-shirt made of recycled material. Fans also may bring new or used soccer gear to recycle to local youth.

Fans are encouraged to stay in their seats afterwards for a Special Olympics Unified Soccer exchange game between Special Olympics Sporting Kansas City and Special Olympics New York Red Bulls.

Sporting’s run in the 2019 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League came to a halt Thursday night in a semifinal home defeat to CF Monterrey.

Having navigated a crowded fixture list through the first month and a half of the campaign, Sporting can now direct its full attention on the MLS regular season. Sunday marks the start of a six-week stretch that will see manager Peter Vermes’ side play six of eight league matches on home soil.

Sunday’s primetime battle features two teams who have made a habit of reaching the postseason over the last decade.

New York’s nine-year playoff run is the second-longest active streak in MLS, while Sporting’s eight-year run ranks third. Both teams are also coming off historic 2018 regular season campaigns.

The Red Bulls set an MLS record for most wins (22) and points (71) in a 34-game regular season, while Sporting set a slew of scoring records en route to a first-place finish in the West.

Led by head coach Chris Armas, the Red Bulls will hope to overcome their last trip to Children’s Mercy Park in September 2017. Sporting defeated New York by a 2-1 score in the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final, receiving the game-winning goal from forward Daniel Salloi, to win the tournament for the third time in six years and deny the Red Bulls their first major cup trophy.

Despite their consistently stellar performances over the course of 2018, the Red Bulls fell short of reaching MLS Cup last winter and have started the new season slowly.

The reigning Supporters’ Shield winners have lost three straight league games for the first time in two years and have lost five of six in all competitions, including a quarterfinal defeat to Santos Laguna in the Concacaf Champions League.

New York’s recent slide doesn’t detract from the fact that Bradley Wright-Phillips, Kaku and Daniel Royer spearhead a formidable attack.

Wright-Phillips has scored 106 regular-season goals since 2014, 40 more than any other player, while Kaku amassed six goals and 14 assists in his debut MLS season last year. Royer has led the way thus far in 2019 with a team-best four goals and two assists in all competitions.

Facing a Red Bulls outfit that has failed to keep a clean sheet in seven straight matches, Sporting will look to cash in and extend their regular-season home unbeaten run to nine.

Krisztian Nemeth (eight goals), Gerso Fernandes (four goals, four assists) and Johnny Russell (three goals, four assists) have all shown solid productivity in front of goal, and on an even brighter note, Salloi returned Thursday after missing almost a month with an ankle injury.

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