Preview: Sporting Back Home Saturday to Host San Jose
A pivotal three-game homestand for Sporting Kansas City (7-11-7, 28 points) begins Saturday when the San Jose Earthquakes (11-8-5, 38 points) visit Children's Mercy Park at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets for the Western Conference encounter are on sale at SeatGeek.com and the first 7,500 supporters through the stadium gates will receive a free wall decal courtesy of Dairy Farmers of America.
FOX Sports Kansas City Plus, FOX Sports Midwest Plus and FOX Sports GO will provide three hours of live coverage beginning at 7 p.m. CT, while Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM will carry the game locally. Additional in-game updates and exclusive offers-including a digital coupon for a free box of frozen desserts at Price Chopper-will be available via the Sporting KC App.
Just three days removed from a 1-0 midweek loss at Orlando City SC, Sporting approaches the weekend with a palpable sense of urgency. Manager Peter Vermes' side occupies 10th place in the Western Conference, nine points shy of the seventh and final playoff spot with nine regular season matches remaining. A victory on Saturday would mark the first important step toward extending the third-longest active postseason streak in MLS-a run that began in 2011 when the club moved into Children's Mercy Park.
On the injury front, forward Gerso Fernandes (ankle) and Hungarian duo Botond Barath (back) and Krisztian Nemeth (abdomen) have been upgraded to questionable. All three missed Wednesday's clash in Orlando, prompting Vermes to flex his squad depth with the introduction of Jimmy Medranda at center forward and Graham Smith in central defense.
First-year head coach Matias Almeyda has orchestrated an eye-opening turnaround at the San Jose helm. The Earthquakes stumbled out of the gates, losing five of their first six games, but have skyrocketed since then as one of Major League Soccer's most impressive sides. San Jose are 10-3-5 in their last 18 games, a stretch that began with a 4-1 home win over Sporting on April 20 highlighted by a Danny Hoesen brace and additional strikes from Shea Salinas and Magnus Eriksson. Currently sixth place in the West, San Jose could climb as high as second with a win this weekend.
Ranking among the league leaders in shots, possession and passing accuracy, the Earthquakes have received strong production from the likes of influential playmakers Vako (eight goals, three assists) and Cristian Espinoza (two goals, nine assists) as well as 36-year-old evergreen striker Chris Wondolowski, the all-time leading goal scorer in MLS history who has a team-best nine strikes in 2019.
Despite their three-goal defeat in San Jose in April, recent history in the head-to-head series paints a fairly positive picture for Sporting. Vermes' men are 5-1-1 in their last seven meetings with the Quakes, a stretch that includes three straight home triumphs. Perhaps more impressively, Sporting are 11-1-0 in their last 12 regular season home games against San Jose dating back to 2004.
Ticket holders who take advantage of mobile ordering on the Sporting KC App on Saturday will enjoy a few added perks. All SportingStyle merchandise purchases of $50 or more made by halftime will come with a free mini soccer ball, with pickup on the Toyota Plaza remaining open until after the game. On the concessions side, mobile orders on 25-oz. Bud Light cans will be discounted to $5 until kickoff (two-beer limit per transaction).
Sporting Kansas City and Children's Mercy will partner on Saturday to champion the anti-bullying initiative Red Card: Call It When You See It. Established last summer, the program unites local communities in taking a stance to end bullying, one of the most significant social issues impacting children and teens nationwide.
Fans in attendance can support the initiative by visiting the Red Card activation area on the Toyota Plaza before kickoff, capturing photos in the Red Card photo booth and posting to social media using the hashtag #RedCardKC to spread campaign awareness. Supporters can also access Snapchat and the Sporting KC App to take images using Red Card photo filters. Inside the stadium, select fans and Children's Mercy Volunteers will take the field and unfurl a giant Red Card banner, showcasing Sporting's commitment to end bullying in the community.
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