Sporting regular season to start Feb. 25

Sporting Kansas City will play a full 34-match schedule for the 2023 MLS regular season.

The season will kick off in Portland with the earliest regular season match in club history on Saturday, Feb. 25, during opening weekend and will end 34 weeks later at home on Saturday, Oct. 21, at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

Sporting Kansas City’s regular season home schedule in 2023 begins with the club’s home opener at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 11, against five-time MLS Cup champions LA Galaxy and features a total of 17 matches, highlighted by 13 Saturday dates – including visits from reigning MLS Cup champions Los Angeles FC on June 17 and MLS newcomers St. Louis City SC on Sept. 2.

The league’s 29th club, St. Louis joins the Western Conference and will twice welcome Sporting KC for matches at City Park: first on Saturday, May 20, in the inaugural meeting between the regional rivals with a national television audience on FS1 and again on Saturday, Sept. 30, in a late-season showdown. Sporting’s 2023 road schedule also includes a first-ever match against Inter Miami CF on Saturday, Sept. 9.

Season tickets are available by calling 888-4KC-GOAL or visiting Sporting also offers a variety of ticket packages and promotions including the Home Opener Pack and Captain’s Flex Pack, as well as the My Five ticket contest .

In addition, single-match tickets for Sporting Kansas City’s first eight regular season home matches at Children’s Mercy Park in 2023 are now on sale via SeatGeek. Single-match tickets for the remaining regular season home matches will be released at a later date.

The season will see the debut of MLS Season Pass, the new subscription service from Apple and Major League Soccer that will have every match of the MLS regular season, Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs and Leagues Cup with no blackouts. With MLS Season Pass, fans can enjoy every MLS match – as well as a weekly five-hour live whip-around show from 6:30-11:30 p.m. – through the Apple TV app on Apple devices, smart TVs, streaming devices, set-top boxes, game consoles and the web at The launch of MLS Season Pass on Feb. 1, 2023, marks the official kickoff of the 10-year partnership and all matches during the MLS is Back opening weekend will be available to watch for free on the Apple TV app.

Led by Manager Peter Vermes and captain Johnny Russell, Sporting will face 11 clubs in the Western Conference twice – once home and once away – while having the opportunity to play the team’s two closest geographic rivals, Minnesota United FC and St. Louis City SC, three times each in 2023. The remaining fixtures come against six of the Eastern Conference’s 15 teams with match-ups against Philadelphia, New England, Montreal, Chicago, Miami and Nashville – who re-join the East after a year in the West.

Beyond the MLS regular season, MLS will be host to the 2023 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target on July 19 at Audi Field in Washington, D.C., and Sporting KC will compete for trophies – as well as a berth in the Concacaf Champions League – during the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and the reimagined Leagues Cup. Sporting’s participation in the U.S. Open Cup will begin in the Third Round (April 18-19) with the single-elimination competition to continue with the Round of 32 (May 9-10), Round of 16 (May 23-24), Quarterfinals (June 6), Semifinals (Aug. 23) and Final (Sept. 27) as the winner secures entry into the Concacaf Champions League.

In a new chapter for North American soccer, all 47 MLS and LIGA MX clubs will compete in Leagues Cup 2023 and the MLS regular season will pause following matches on July 15 for the annual World Cup-style tournament from July 21 to Aug. 19. The Leagues Cup champion, as well as the second and third place finishers, will qualify for the Concacaf Champions League.

In preparation for the upcoming campaign, Sporting will begin the club’s 2023 preseason presented by Children’s Mercy on Jan. 6 when players report to Kansas City for entrance physicals, testing and meetings. The team will travel to Arizona from Jan. 9 to Feb. 8 and from Feb. 15 to Feb. 24 with Sporting’s schedule of preseason matches set to be announced in early January.

The schedule:

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Zusi, Espinoza and Fontas sign again with Sporting KC

Graham Zusi, Roger Espinoza and Andreu Fontas have signed contracts again with Sporting Kansas City, according to an announcement Friday from the club.

One-year contracts went to Zusi and Espinoza, while Fontas received a two-year contract, according to a Sporting KC spokesman.

Sporting KC now has a roster of 26 players heading into 2023 competition, which begins the last weekend of February, a spokesman stated.

Graham Zusi (File Sporting KC photo)

Zusi has spent his 14-year career at Sporting and won four major championships for Kansas City, including the 2013 MLS Cup and three U.S. Open Cup titles. He is Sporting’s all-time appearance leader with 395 matches played in all competitions, including 341 in the MLS regular season and 20 in the MLS Cup Playoffs.

He was the first MLS player in history to play all 14 seasons with one club.

Roger Espinoza (File Sporting photo)

A 13-season veteran at Sporting, Espinoza is one of the league’s longest-serving midfielders. He helped lead the club to three U.S. Open Cup championships and nine playoff appearances.

A 2012 MLS All-Star, Espinoza has logged 316 regular season appearances since joining KC in 2008, the third most all-time among one club MLS players behind Zusi and Portland midfielder Diego Chara.

Espinoza leads Sporting with 24 appearances in the U.S. Open Cup. Espinoza began his professional career in Kansas City as a 2008 MLS SuperDraft selection out of Ohio State University.

Andreu Fontas (Sporting KC photo)

Fontas, who arrived in Kansas City in 2018, has been a backline staple for Sporting over the last two seasons. The Spanish center back has started in 62 of the club’s 70 MLS matches since 2021, flourishing as one of the league’s best ball-playing defenders.

In the previous two seasons combined, Fontas leads MLS in total passes, successful passes and touches while also leading the team in interceptions and clearances. He has finished back-to-back campaigns ranking in the top 10 of MLS in goals added, an advanced metric that measures a player’s total on-ball contribution in attack and defense.

Fontas earned Sporting’s Defender of the Year award for the second straight season in 2022, finishing the campaign with starts in 31 of 32 appearances across all competitions.

He helped the club reach the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinals, starting in all four matches of the tournament run, and bagged goals in consecutive matches for the first time in his professional career by scoring at Austin FC on Aug. 13 and against the Portland Timbers on Aug. 21.

A native of Banyoles, Spain, Fontas developed in FC Barcelona’s famed La Masia youth academy.

Sporting loses final match of season

Sporting Kansas City (11-16-7, 40 points) saw its seven-match unbeaten run and three-game winning streak snapped in a 2-1 loss to FC Dallas (14-9-11, 53 points) on Sunday afternoon in the 2022 season finale at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

Making the 341st regular season appearance of his career, Sporting defender Graham Zusi buried a 51st-minute equalizer after Dallas had taken a first-half lead through Sebastian Lletget, but the hosts clinched third place in the Western Conference and a home playoff game thanks to Paul Arriola’s match-winner in the 65th minute.

The result cemented a 12th-place finish in the West for Sporting, which was already assured of missing the MLS Cup Playoffs for just the second time in the last 12 years.

Boasting a 5-0-2 record since Aug. 21, Sporting fielded a formidable lineup that featured a single change from last weekend’s 1-0 home win over Seattle Sounders FC as goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh—who ended the day with an impressive six saves—stepped between the posts for his second career MLS appearance.

McIntosh and Sporting thought they were breached in the seventh minute when Dallas cashed in on a bounce of the ball. Arriola poked home from close range after fellow U.S. international Jesus Ferreira pinged a probing ball into the penalty area, but VAR intervened and referee Victor Rivas wiped away the goal for offside after taking a second look at the play.

The teams traded early chances on either side of Arriola’s disallowed strike, with red-hot Sporting striker Willy Agada nodding marginally high off Ben Sweat’s cross and Dallas winger Jader Obrian having a header comfortably saved by McIntosh. The playoff-bound hosts had a flurry of set piece opportunities in the first quarter-hour and McIntosh showcased his shot-stopping prowess with an acrobatic save to deny Jose Antonio Martinez at point-blank range following a free kick, though the Dallas center back was flagged offside and the goal would not have counted.

Midway through the first half, Sporting forward Daniel Salloi tried his luck with an audacious 25-yard belter that screamed narrowly wide of the target. Ten minutes later, Sporting’s patient buildup in the attacking third culminated with Remi Walter smashing a 20-yard shot over the crossbar.

The visitors were victims of bad luck in the 33rd minute when Lletget’s shot from just outside the penalty area took a wicked deflection into the back of the net past a helpless McIntosh, giving Dallas a 1-0 lead to protect. It marked only the third time in the last 10 MLS matches that Sporting has faced a deficit.

Four minutes after the restart, Espinoza tested Dallas goalkeeper Maarten Paes with a low, curling strike from the top of the box that the Dutch gloveman dove to cast aside. The promising look was a harbinger of things to come, however, as Sporting would restore parity shortly thereafter.

With 51 minutes on the clock, Paes leaped high to punch away Sweat’s teasing delivery, but Erik Thommy was first to react inside the box to Zusi, who finished low across the keeper to make the score 1-1. Zusi now has 31 goals in his heralded regular season career, tying Benny Feilhaber and Mo Johnston for ninth on Sporting’s all-time charts.

Buzzing with momentum, Sporting almost surged ahead a few minutes later. A well-orchestrated counterattack involving Agada and Salloi led to an open look from Thommy on the edge of the box, and the German midfielder forced Paes into another diving stop. The Dallas keeper was increasingly busy as Sporting continued to dictate terms, reacting quickly at the near post to get his mitts on Roger Espinoza’s snap header from a pinpoint Thommy cross.

As the game began to open up in the midfield, Sporting paid for a costly giveaway by conceding its second goal in the 65th minute. Dallas midfielder Facundo Quignon pounced on a stray ball in his team’s attacking half and spread the ball down the left channel to substitute Alan Velasco, whose low cross was slotted home on the doorstep by Arriola for his 10th goal of the season.

Sporting captain Johnny Russell went agonizingly close to leveling terms in the 73rd minute, cutting inside from the right wing and curling a brilliantly hit strike inches wide of the far left post. Not long later at the opposite end, McIntosh did well to spring low and save Ferreira’s shot on the breakaway.

Thommy was next to be denied a glorious goal in the 76th minute, performing multiple shot fakes at the top of the box before unleashing a curler that was bound for the right corner, only for Paes to produce an outstanding stop. The hosts would then create danger of their own, with Velasco’s bending effort smacking off the woodwork.

The final moments of the contest delivered breathless end-to-end action, offering players plenty of space to exploit in the center of the park, and McIntosh bagged another great save on the cusp of second-half stoppage time to thwart Ferreira.

Sporting will now enter an important offseason ahead of a banner 2023 campaign, which will begin the final weekend of February with the commencement of Major League Soccer’s 28th season and feature the newly expanded Leagues Cup, a one-of-a-kind tournament involving all clubs from MLS and Mexico’s Liga MX that will unfold next summer from July 21 to Aug. 19. Manager Peter Vermes’ men will also compete in the 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and set their sights on a return to the MLS Cup Playoffs.

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