Second-place Sporting Kansas City (9-3-3, 30 points) will put a five-game unbeaten streak on the line Saturday when it plays longtime Western Conference foe FC Dallas (3-7-5, 14 points) at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.
Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. and a limited number of tickets for the match are available at SeatGeek.com.
Bally Sports Kansas City Plus, Bally Sports Midwest Plus, BallySports.com and the Bally Sports app will provide three hours of live coverage on Saturday beginning at 7 p.m. The contest will also air locally on Sports Radio 810 WHB (English) and La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish), with The Final Whistle postgame show immediately following on 810 WHB. The Sporting KC app will give additional in-game updates.
Sporting will recognize the service and sacrifice of military members and their families on Saturday when the club celebrates its fourth annual Sporting Salutes, held in partnership with match sponsor Hallmark.
Five military medical personnel will be honored during an on-field ceremony before kickoff, featuring representation from the U.S. Navy, the Kansas National Guard and the U.S. Air Force’s 303rd Fighter Squadron.
Also, COVID vaccines will be given at 7:30 p.m. through halftime at the Mazuma Plaza at Children’s Mercy Park, in partnership with the Unified Government. All fans who have tickets and are eligible for the shot may get a vaccine, and will receive a Sporting KC scarf.
Riding a wave of momentum, Sporting is 7-1-2 in its last 10 matches and posted a statement 3-1 road victory over West Seattle Sounders FC last weekend.
Manager Peter Vermes’ men are three points shy of first place in the Supporters’ Shield race, owning a game in hand on leaders New England Revolution, and haven’t lost at Children’s Mercy Park since September 2020. Sporting’s 11-game home unbeaten run in the regular season is the third longest in club history, one shy of moving into a tie for second longest.
Red-hot forward Daniel Salloi has led the way for a Sporting attack that tops MLS with 1.87 goals per match. The 25-year-old Sporting KC Academy product has a league-best 12 combined goals (nine) and primary assists (three) as well as five game-winning goals.
Captain Johnny Russell has also caught fire in recent weeks, tallying two goals and three assists during the month of July, while center back Andreu Fontas, goalkeeper Tim Melia and emerging 20-year-old midfielder Cam Duke — who opened his MLS scoring account in Seattle — have also given Sporting major lifts.
Saturday’s showdown will feature a pair of MLS originals that take pride in developing homegrown talent.
On the Sporting sideline, Salloi, Duke, Gianluca Busio, Jaylin Lindsey, Kaveh Rad, Wilson Harris and Felipe Hernandez have together accounted for 15 of Sporting’s 28 goals and nine of 23 assists this year.
Remarkably enough, Sporting KC Academy products have scored or assisted in 10 consecutive matches dating back to May 16.
Dallas, meanwhile, has seen 18-year-old forward Ricardo Pepi blossom into one of the best teenage attackers in American soccer. The U.S. youth international ranks fifth in MLS with eight goals and erupted for a hat trick in a 4-0 home triumph against the LA Galaxy last Saturday.
Busio is one of five Sporting players ruled out for Saturday’s game. The 19-year-old midfielder has helped the U.S. Men’s National Team reach the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup Final, where they will square off against Sporting striker Alan Pulido and archrivals Mexico on Sunday night in Las Vegas.
While Busio and Pulido are out for international duty, Hernandez will be absent for personal reasons and Amadou Dia and Grayson Barber won’t be available due to health and safety protocols.
Led by head coach Luchi Gonzalez, FC Dallas boasts a strong record against Sporting in recent meetings. The Texas side has four wins and a draw in the last five head-to-head matchups and wields an impressive 3-0-1 record in its last four visits to Children’s Mercy Park.
Dallas has lost all seven away matches this season and its eight-game road losing streak dating back to the end of 2020 is the longest in team history. Dallas has gone unbeaten at home in 2021, collecting three wins and five draws at Toyota Stadium, but its seven defeats on the road have condemned the club to 10th place in the West.
After missing each of the last two matches due to health and safety protocols, Vermes will return to the sidelines this weekend. Should he lead his team to victory on Saturday, it would be his 200th coaching win for the club in all competitions.
Vermes’ men are on pace to collect 68 points in the regular season, which would eclipse the club record of 63 points set in 2012.