Preview: Second-Place Sporting Hosts Colorado on Wednesday
A pair of MLS originals will renew their longstanding rivalry in a mouthwatering Western Conference matchup on Wednesday night when second-place Sporting Kansas City (5-3-2, 17 points) hosts the third-place Colorado Rapids (5-2-1, 16 points) at Children's Mercy Park. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. CT and tickets for the match are available at SeatGeek.com as former captain and goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen is inducted into the Sporting Legends hall of honor during a pregame ceremony on the field.
Wednesday's encounter will be shown live on Bally Sports Kansas City Plus, Bally Sports Midwest Plus, BallySports.com and the Bally Sports app with three hours of live coverage starting at 7 p.m. CT. 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 provide additional in-game updates and unique offers, including an exclusive digital coupon courtesy of Price Chopper.
Nielsen's induction into Sporting Legends is one of several reasons for fans to arrive early on Wednesday night. Beginning at 6 p.m. CT on the Mazuma Plaza, Nielsen will sign copies of the commemorative hardback book "One Club ," which will be available to purchase at all SportingStyle locations. SportingStyle will also offer a 30% discount to all supporters who show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, with limitations applied to jerseys, The Victory Project T-shirt and the newly launched Negro Leagues Baseball Museum capsule collection. The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas will administer COVID-19 vaccinations on the Mazuma Plaza starting at 6 p.m. CT.
Despite slipping to a narrow 2-1 road loss against the Portland Timbers on Saturday, Sporting enters a pivotal double matchweek within striking distance of first place in the Supporters' Shield table. Manager Peter Vermes' side leads MLS with 17 goals scored, having shown a penchant for turning deficits into positive results. Sporting's 13 points from losing positions this season are a remarkable nine more than any other team.
Sporting's high-octane attack has seen striker Alan Pulido (five goals, one assist), winger Daniel Salloi (four goals, two assists) and midfielder Gadi Kinda (three goals, one assist) play leading roles, while 19-year-old talisman Gianluca Busio has garnered additional headlines for his influential performances at multiple positions within Vermes' 4-3-3 formation. Sporting have been particularly effective in the friendly confines of Children's Mercy Park, where they are unbeaten at 3-0-2 this season and boast a club-record 20-game regular season scoring streak that began on Aug. 10, 2019.
The red-hot Rapids, meanwhile, have won five of their last six matches after opening the season with a draw and a loss. Colorado suffered a 4-0 loss to Sporting in their most recent visit to Children's Mercy Park on Oct. 24, 2020 -- a one-sided affair in which Pulido, Kinda and Andreu Fontas found the back of the net -- but early returns in 2021 suggest Wednesday's clash will be far more competitive. Colorado has a formidable 2-1-1 road record this year, having conceded just two goals in four away fixtures.
Under the guidance of head coach and MLS legend Robin Fraser, the Rapids have taken 15 of a possible 18 points since the start of May. Former Sporting striker Diego Rubio leads the team with three goals and midfielder Jack Price is tied for third in MLS with four assists. Wide midfielders Michael Barrios (two goals, three assists) and Cole Bassett (two goals, two assists) have also made palpable impacts in attack, while goalkeeper William Yarbrough and a stout back line of Auston Trusty, Danny Wilson, Keegan Rosenberry and Sam Vines have contributed to four clean sheets in eight games.
A longtime Sporting star is poised to reach a major milestone on Wednesday as goalkeeper Tim Melia approaches his 200th start and appearance for the club across all competitions. The two-time Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup champion and 2017 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year has five wins and a draw in his last six regular season outings at Children's Mercy Park, where Sporting haven't lost since Sept. 23, 2020.
Sporting Kansas City vs. Colorado Rapids
2021 MLS Regular Season | Match 11
Wednesday, June 23, 2021 | 7:30 p.m. CT
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
English TV | Bally Sports Kansas City Plus
English TV | Bally Sports Midwest Plus
Streaming | BallySports.com and Bally Sports app
English Radio | Sports Radio 810 WHB
Spanish Radio | La Grande 1340 AM
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