Preview: Sporting Begins Homestand Saturday vs. Vancouver
A three-game homestand for Sporting Kansas City (2-4-4, 10 points) kicks off Saturday when Vancouver Whitecaps FC (3-6-3, 12 points) ventures across the border for a 7:30 p.m. CT showdown at Children's Mercy Park.
Tickets for the Faith and Family Night matchup are available at SeatGeek.com while supplies last, including a $25 package that consists of a South Stand general admission ticket plus admission to the Leaders in Faith Pre-Match Panel inside the Ameritas Shield Club featuring Kansas City Chiefs Pro Bowl punter Dustin Colquitt, former University of Kansas basketball star and NBA champion Wayne Simien, and local Pastor Ryan Darrow. In addition, the first 5,000 fans through the Children's Mercy Park gates will receive a clear stadium bag courtesy of Children's Mercy.
Saturday's contest will be televised live on FOX Sports Kansas City Plus and FOX Sports Midwest Plus with 30 minutes of pregame and postgame coverage, while Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM will carry local radio broadcasts. Streamers can also catch the live action on FOX Sports GO within the FOX Sports Midwest footprint or on ESPN+ elsewhere across the U.S. The Final Whistle postgame show will air immediately afterward on 810 WHB.
With three consecutive home fixtures on the horizon, Sporting will aim to snap a six-match winless run in MLS that began April 7. Manager Peter Vermes' men were short-handed in a 1-0 defeat at D.C. United last Sunday, traveling just 15 players due to widespread injuries across the roster. Influential veterans Matt Besler (hamstring), Andreu Fontas (calf), Graham Zusi (oblique), Roger Espinoza (knee) and Gerso Fernandes (wrist) are among those who have missed action, although Besler is no longer listed on the club's official injury report heading into Saturday.
While Sporting must grind through the challenges of a depleted squad, it's the Whitecaps who enter the weekend on short rest. Vancouver took a 1-0 home loss to Atlanta United FC on Wednesday night, conceding a first-half penalty kick to Josef Martinez. The shutout loss marked a continuation of Vancouver's offensive struggles, as the club ranks second-to-last in MLS with 0.92 goals per game. Forward Fredy Montero is the lone Whitecaps player with three or more goals this season, having amassed 63 goals and 41 assists in his heralded six-year MLS career.
Saturday will serve as a reunion of sorts for first-year Vancouver manager Marc Dos Santos. In 2016, the Montreal native was the first head coach for the Swope Park Rangers, the USL Championship affiliate of Sporting Kansas City. Dos Santos guided SPR to the USL Western Conference championship that year and an appearance in the USL Cup Final.
Since leaving Kansas City at the end of 2016, Dos Santos has continued an impressive run of success. He coached the San Francisco Deltas to an NASL title in 2017, then joined Los Angeles Football Club in 2018 to serve as an assistant to Bob Bradley in what became one of the best seasons for an MLS expansion side. Dos Santos is now the main man in charge, and his Vancouver team has gone a respectable 3-2-1 since mid-April after starting 0-4-2.
The decade-long history between the clubs paints a positive picture for Sporting. Vermes' side is 8-3-3 all-time against Vancouver in MLS competition, including a 5-1-1 record at Children's Mercy Park. Sporting swept the 2018 series with a pair of lopsided wins, prevailing 6-0 at Children's Mercy Park and cruising 4-1 at BC Place. Johnny Russell bagged a hat-trick in the six-goal smackdown, which equaled the largest margin of victory in club history.
Sporting currently occupies 11th place in the West, three points below the playoff line with at least one game in hand on most of their conference rivals. Vancouver sits a point below the seventh and final playoff spot in eighth place, knowing a win could lift them as high as sixth. Sporting is riding a club-record eight-year postseason streak, the third-longest active run in MLS, while Vancouver is hoping for a return to the MLS Cup Playoffs after missing out in 2018.
Sporting Kansas City vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Saturday, May 18, 2019 | 7:30 p.m. CT
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
2019 MLS Regular Season | Match 11 of 34
English TV | FOX Sports Kansas City Plus
English TV | FOX Sports Midwest Plus
English Radio | Sports Radio 810 WHB
Spanish Radio | ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM
Mobile | Sporting KC App, FOX Sports GO
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