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Sporting to Visit Vancouver on Sunday

October 15, 2021 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Sporting Kansas City News Release

Following a restful week off, second-place Sporting Kansas City (15-6-7, 52 points) will continue their push to the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs on Sunday night when the club visits eighth-place Vancouver Whitecaps FC (9-9-10, 37 points) at BC Place.

The Western Conference clash will kick off at 9:08 p.m. CT with three hours of live coverage beginning at 8:30 p.m. CT on Bally Sports Kansas City, Bally Sports Midwest, and the Bally Sports app. Supporters can also catch the action locally on ESPN 94.5 FM (English) and La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish) and access the Sporting KC mobile app for in-game updates and exclusive offers. Additionally, Austin's Bar and Grill in Olathe, Kansas (2103 E. 151st St.) will host the official watch party for Sunday's match with programming and specials starting at 8:30 p.m. CT.

Winners in four of their last five matches and trailing first-place Seattle Sounders FC by five points in the Western Conference table, Sporting can secure a spot in the 2021 MLS postseason with a win or a draw on Sunday. However, Manager Peter Vermes' side may have its playoff berth locked up even before they take the field in Vancouver. If Minnesota United FC loses or ties at Austin FC or the LA Galaxy lose to the Portland Timbers on Saturday night, Sporting will punch their ticket to the postseason.

Sporting has reached the playoffs in nine of the last 10 seasons and will look to improve upon that mark by ousting a hungry Vancouver team that sits just one point below the playoff line. While Vermes' men have been regular postseason contenders and won four major championships over the last decade, the Whitecaps are seeking a return to the playoffs for the first time since 2017 after enduring three straight losing campaigns.

Sporting most recently took the field on Oct. 3, posting a 4-2 home win over Houston Dynamo FC as captain Johnny Russell bagged a brace to go with goals from MLS MVP candidate Daniel Salloi and midfielder Gadi Kinda. Salloi and Kinda have returned to Kansas City this week after representing Hungary and Israel, respectively, during the international window and will aim to continue their scoring ways as Sporting looks to keep pace with Seattle at the top of the division.

Salloi leads MLS with 23 combined goals (16) and assists (seven) and his 16 non-penalty goals are three more than any other MLS player. Kinda, meanwhile, has five goals of his own this year and notably scored in Sporting's last visit to Vancouver, sparking an away win on the opening day of the 2020 season.

Sunday's contest will feature two of Major League Soccer's hottest attacking players in Russell and Vancouver striker Brian White. Russell has tied a club record by scoring in five consecutive regular season matches, bagging six goals during that run, while White has notched nine goals in 10 appearances dating back to Aug. 18.

Russell's productivity since arriving in Kansas City in 2018 is almost unmatched. He is one of two MLS players alongside Carlos Vela with at least 30 goals and 30 assists in the regular season over the last four years and one of only five MLS players with 10 goals and seven assists in 2021. White, on the other hand, scored once in his first 16 games this season but has found his form under interim head coach Vanni Sartini, who took over on an interim basis in late August after Marc Dos Santos was relieved of his duties.

The Whitecaps were among the Western Conference bottom feeders from 2018-2020 but have found their footing this season, especially over the last three months. From July 17 to Oct. 2, Vancouver lost just once in 15 MLS matches before taking a 4-1 defeat at Seattle last Saturday. Sartini has posted a 4-2-2 record as the interim boss, getting the most out of White and fellow attacker Cristian Dajome, who has eight goals and four assists.

Vancouver have been equally strong defensively: prior to conceding four against Seattle last weekend, goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau and the Whitecaps went on a 337-minute shutout streak, the fifth-longest in MLS this season. Vancouver has been particularly tough at home, winning five of their last six at BC Place while outscoring opponents 12-4 during that stretch.

Recent history in the head-to-head series has favored Sporting, who are 5-0-1 in the last six regular season meetings and own wins in each of their last three trips to BC Place. During their six-game unbeaten run against the Whitecaps, Sporting have scored 20 goals and conceded only three.

The teams last met on May 16 at Children's Mercy Park when Salloi scored and Alan Pulido bagged a brace to spark a 3-0 home win. The most recent meeting at BC Place took place on Feb. 29, 2020, a few weeks before MLS paused due to COVID-19, as Sporting secured a 3-1 victory with goals from Pulido, Kinda and now-departed Erik Hurtado.

Pulido, Sporting's club-record signing who has eight goals and three assists this season, will miss Sunday's match through injury and is expected to return near playoff time. Defender Jaylin Lindsey will also be absent as he recovers from a long-term hamstring issue.

Sporting Kansas City at Vancouver Whitecaps FC

2021 MLS Regular Season | Match 29

Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021 | 9 p.m. CT

BC Place | Vancouver, Canada

Broadcast Schedule:

English TV | Bally Sports KC, Bally Sports Midwest

Streaming |, Bally Sports app

English Radio | ESPN 94.5 FM

Spanish Radio | La Grande 1340 AM

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