(Sept. 22, 2020) — Children’s Mercy Park will host a compelling cross-conference battle on Wednesday when Sporting Kansas City (6-4-2, 20 points) and Orlando City SC (6-2-4, 22 points) square off at 6:30 p.m. CT. The contest will be shown nationally on FS1, FOX Deportes and the FOX Sports app in addition to airing locally on Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM, with The Final Whistle postgame show immediately following on 810 WHB.
Tickets for Wednesday’s showdown are available online at SeatGeek.com and all fans in attendance will receive a free pop socket courtesy of match sponsor Price Chopper. Furthermore, supporters who spend $25 or more on concessions or merchandise via mobile order in the Sporting KC app will be treated to a free Sporting KC face covering. The Sporting KC app will also provide a matchday offer for a free Coca-Cola six-pack at any Kansas City area Price Chopper location (valid Sept. 23-25 with rewards card) as well as a digital scratcher in which every participant is guaranteed a Price Chopper reward.
Currently a point behind first-place Seattle Sounders FC in the ultra-competitive West, Sporting will seek a bounce-back performance after slipping to a narrow 3-2 loss on Saturday against FC Dallas at Children’s Mercy Park. The hosts fell into a 2-0 hole before Scottish international Johnny Russell bagged a second-half brace to move atop the club’s scoring charts with five goals on the season. However, Dallas hit back in the 86th minute through Ryan Hollingshead to take all three points and deliver Manager Peter Vermes’ men a frustrating defeat.
Despite Saturday’s setback, Sporting remains in the thick of a wild Western Conference race, as just seven points separate leaders Seattle from 11th-place Real Salt Lake. Vermes’ side has also scored in 12 straight league matches to start the year — tied for the longest such streak in club history — and is the only MLS team yet to be shut out in the 2020 regular season. Sitting behind Russell with four goals apiece are midfielder Gadi Kinda and forward Khiry Shelton, while Mexican striker Alan Pulido has added three goals and four assists. Pulido has missed four straight games with a knock, but Vermes indicated last week that the club’s record signing was on the brink of returning to the pitch. Additionally, Sporting’s midfield received a lift on Saturday when Ilie Sanchez made his first appearance since the MLS is Back Tournament.
On the opposite sideline, head coach Oscar Pareja has Orlando enjoying its best season to date. The Lions currently occupy third place in the Eastern Conference, five points back of Supporters’ Shield leaders Columbus Crew SC, and boast a 4-0-2 record in their last six games. Orlando has gone 8-2-4 since MLS resumed with the MLS is Back Tournament in July, including a run to the finals of the historic competition in Walt Disney World.
Orlando has ridden a balanced and explosive attack toward the top of the East. Forward Chris Mueller is the only MLS player with at least seven goals and five assists, while fellow attacker Daryl Dike has three goals and three assists in the club’s last seven games. Portuguese star Nani, who had a team-best 12 goals and 10 assists last season, has six goals and five assists this time around, including two goals and an assist in the MLS is Back Tournament knockout rounds. The Lions are coming off an emphatic 4-1 victory over Chicago Fire FC on Saturday that saw Mueller, Nani, Junior Urso and Benji Michel find the back of the net.
Sporting has gone 2-2-1 in five previous regular season meetings against Orlando, having won both previous matchups at Children’s Mercy Park. In Orlando’s inaugural visit to the stadium in May 2016, Sporting outshot the Lions 34-7 en route to a 2-1 comeback triumph. The most recent meeting in Kansas City took place in September 2018 when Felipe Gutierrez sealed the 1-0 result with a 53rd-minute strike.
Vermes, who took the managerial helm in Kansas City in August 2009, is notably one shy of his 150th regular season coaching win. Should Sporting prevail on Wednesday, he would become just the fifth head coach in league history to reach the 150-win milestone behind Sigi Schmid (240), Bruce Arena (213), Dominic Kinnear (169) and Bob Bradley (165).
For the fourth straight home game, SportingStyle locations will offer a variety of Kick Childhood Cancer retail items, including limited-edition scarves and beanies, in support of The Victory Project and Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. For every beanie sold, Sporting will donate a beanie to Children’s Mercy Hospital for patients fighting cancer.