Sporting Kansas City

Sporting KC Opens 2024 Season on Saturday

February 23, 2024 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
Sporting Kansas City News Release

Sporting Kansas City will kick off the club's highly anticipated 2024 season on the road against the Houston Dynamo at 7:30 p.m. CT on Saturday at Shell Energy Stadium.

The rematch of last year's Western Conference Semifinals will stream live on Apple TV for MLS Season Pass subscribers with English and Spanish commentary available. In addition, local radio broadcasts will air on ESPN Kansas City 94.5 FM and 1510 AM, as well as Sports Radio 810 WHB (joined in progress) and La Grande 1340 AM.

Pub Partners in the Sporting Pub Network will also show all of the action, including the club's official watch party at No Other Pub (1370 Grand Blvd.) in the Kansas City Power & Light District. Food and drink specials will start at 6:30 p.m. CT on Saturday including $4 Anheuser-Busch drafts, $5 wells and 50% off select appetizers.

Sporting Kansas City has faced Houston more times in all competition (46) during the Sporting era (2011-present) than any other opponent and the club's 2024 season will start in the same stadium where the 2023 campaign came to a close in controversial fashion. Houston prevailed 1-0 in the Western Conference Semifinals of the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs last November with the Professional Referee Organization acknowledging an error on a missed penalty kick and red card late in the first half for a handball on the goalline that prevented Daniel Salloi from scoring.

Ninety days removed from the postseason defeat at the hands of the Dynamo, Sporting Kansas City returns to Houston for the earliest regular season match in club history during MLS is Back opening weekend. The Dynamo, unbeaten in the team's last 10 home matches across all competitions, are also unbeaten in their last 12 home openers (8-0-4) and boast a 10-1-7 record in 18 regular season home openers since joining MLS in 2006.

Similarly, Sporting has historically started seasons strong with an MLS-best 15 season-opening wins and a League-leading 10 victories in road openers. Sporting is also unbeaten in six straight regular season match-ups with Houston (4-0-2) and holds a narrow 14-13-15 advantage in the closely-contested all-time regular season series.

Houston is led by head coach Ben Olsen - one of four individuals to have played and/or coached in 600 matches in MLS history along with Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes - with support from assistant coach Aurelien Collin, who won the U.S. Open Cup and MLS Cup during a memorable four-year stint with Sporting KC from 2011-2014.

Person MLS Matches As Player As Coach

Peter Vermes 708 209 499

Jason Kreis 662 327 335

Ben Olsen 628 243 385

Greg Vanney 627 302 325

Vermes, starting his 16th season as the longest tenured head coach with one club in MLS history, is set to manage his 500th MLS match with Sporting on Saturday. Alongside Vermes on the technical staff, assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin begins his 25th consecutive season with the club - extending the MLS record for most seasons with one team as a player (2000-2008) or coach (2009-present).

Sporting Kansas City's roster returns 13 of the 14 players -- all except midfielder Gadi Kinda -- who started in the playoffs last season. That includes a formidable front four led by MLS Comeback Player of the Year Alan Pulido, who had a team-best 15 goals in all competitions to go along with six assists in 2023. The World Cup veteran has six goals, his most against any MLS opponent and the most by any player in the all-time HOUvSKC regular season series, in seven regular season appearances against the Dynamo.

Alongside Pulido in the attack, German playmaker Erik Thommy led Sporting last season with 13 assists in all competitions while also adding five goals. On the wings, club captain Johnny Russell ranks third in club history with 62 goals across all competitions -- his next regular season goal will tie Dom Dwyer for second most by a Sporting KC player all-time -- and new No. 10 Daniel Salloi led SKC with 22 goal contributions (10 goals, 12 assists) in 2023.

Conversely, Houston started their season on Tuesday in the first round of the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup with a 2-1 defeat in St. Louis without the club's top three scorers from last season. Club captain and MLS All-Star Hector Herrera - who finished second in MLS with 17 assists in 2023 -- is sidelined with a knee injury while Corey Baird departed the club as a free agent and French midfielder Amine Bassi is reportedly completing the green card process after leading the Dynamo with 15 goals last year in all competitions.

In addition, Paraguayan forward Sebastian Ferreira was stretchered off in the first half of Tuesday's match and 21-year-old winger Nelson Quinones suffered a season-ending knee injury earlier this month during the 2024 CONMEBOL Pre-Olympic Tournament with the Colombia Under-23 Men's National Team. In the midfield, Colombian contributor Luis Caicedo has missed preseason due to a personal family matter.

Houston have added four newcomers for the 2024 season, including Slovakian international Jan Gregus and three recent NCAA soccer products with former Stanford striker Gabriel Segal, MLS SuperDraft first round selection Stephen Annor Gyamfi and Homegrown defender Kieran Sargeant. The Dynamo will celebrate the club's home opener with the unveiling of their 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championship banner amidst a busy week at Shell Energy Stadium with eight games in a seven-day span as the venue hosts MLS regular season and Concacaf Champions Cup matches for the Dynamo as well as three international doubleheaders for the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup.

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