Sporting Kansas City (3-9-4, 13 points) reach the midpoint of the 2022 MLS regular season with Game 17 of 34 scheduled for this Sunday at Nashville SC (6-4-5, 23 points). Sunday’s match kicks off at 5.25pm CT from GEODIS Park, the country’s newest and largest football stadium which opened last month with a capacity of 30,109 spectators, as Sporting play for the first time in Nashville SC.
The Western Conference clash will be nationally televised on FS1 and FOX Deportes with Sporting’s Nate Bukaty play-by-play voice on the FS1 call. Local radio coverage will also air on Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM. Additionally, Sporting KC partner pubs across the Midwest will broadcast the game, including an enhanced watch party at the International Tap House (403 E. 18th St., Kansas City, MO), with specials on the food and beverages as well as tickets to Sporting KC.
Both clubs will wear shirts with Juneteenth-inspired numbers as part of a league-wide initiative in partnership with Black Players for Change. Game-worn and player-signed jerseys, presented in commemorative boxes, will be available to fans via an online auction from June 20 through July 5, and auction proceeds will benefit Kansas City GIFT among other organizations supporting and building up black communities.
After three straight home games, Sporting hit the road again in the Music City as the club embark on a part of the schedule which includes five of the team’s next six MLS away games. Sporting have struggled on the road this season (0-6-2) – conceding a league-high 20 goals in road matches – and will look to end a 10-game winless streak on the road with the team’s first away win since October 2021.
Meanwhile, Nashville SC are unbeaten in 25 straight home games in all competitions. The team have recorded just two defeats in 35 competitive home matches (16-2-17) since their Major League Soccer debut as an expansion club in 2020, including a record 2-0- 3 in their new home at GEODIS Park.
Since the start of 2021, Nashville’s eight regular season losses are the fewest in MLS. The team’s recipe for success has been strong defense – anchored by United States Men’s National Team centre-back Walker Zimmerman, who was named MLS Defender of the Year in 2020 and 2021, and goalkeeper Joe Willis, who has led MLS in clean sheets since the start of 2020 – and a dynamic attack led by Hany Mukhtar. The 27-year-old German playmaker not only leads the team with six goals and five assists this year, but also leads MLS with 39 combined regular season goals (22) and assists (17) since the start of the season. last season.
After a scoreless draw with San Jose last weekend that ended a 19-game home streak, Nashville enters a five-game unbeaten streak (3-0-2) in all competitions on Sunday. Conversely, Sporting have just suffered back-to-back losses. Manager Peter Vermes’ side recently suffered a 2-1 setback against defending MLS Supporters’ Shield winners New England in a game which saw Sporting concede in the 87th minute after playing a man during almost the entire second half.
Captain Johnny Russell scored from a sensational free-kick in the loss for his fourth goal in his last four games and now leads the team with seven goals in all competitions this season. The 32-year-old Scottish winger has a combined 76 regular-season goals (45) and assists (31) since joining MLS in 2018 – the third in MLS in that span – and his five direct free-kick goals since the start of 2019 are second-best in MLS.
Sporting’s attack – which ranks last in the league for the number of goals per game – will be reinforced by the return of Daniel Salloi (Hungary) and Marinos Tzionis (Cyprus) in selection. Salloi’s next start will be his 100th for Sporting in MLS competitions and could come on Sunday in a game against Mukhtar as the 2021 MLS MVP runners-up face off.
Salloi is one of Major League Soccer’s most successful homegrown players, coming through Sporting KC Academy with midfielders Cam Duke and Felipe Hernandez, who are tied for the team lead with three assists this season. Hernandez, 24, grew up in the Nashville area before joining Sporting KC Academy at age 15 in 2014.
Sporting Kansas City and Nashville SC will meet for the second time this season on Sunday as each team also prepares for the upcoming US Open Cup quarter-final. Sporting prevailed in the inaugural match between the two teams in October 2020, but Nashville rallied for a victory from behind on April 9, 2022 as Dave Romney and former Sporting KC striker CJ Sapong scored goals in second half to tie the series at one win each.
Remi Walter scored the game’s first goal in the previous encounter and had played every minute for Sporting this season – leading the league in distance covered – before going out with an ankle injury in the first half at the weekend last. The 27-year-old Frenchman is doubtful for Sunday with midfielder Jake Davis (adductor) and Nikola Vujnovic (calf), while Sporting will be without Ozzie Cisneros (hamstring), Gadi Kinda (knee), Alan Pulido (knee) and Uri Rosell (suspension).
Three Nashville SC players will be injured, including former Sporting KC forward Teal Bunbury (knee), and Zimmerman is questionable with a foot injury suffered with the United States men’s national team during the international window. Midfielder Anibal Godoy, who started three matches at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, returned to the club after playing for Panama in the 2022-23 Concacaf Nations League group stage .
Following Sunday’s game, The Final Whistle post-game show will air live on Sports Radio 810 WHB with hosts Chad Reynolds and Dave Borchardt. Listeners can tune in through the Sporting KC mobile app or online at 810WHB.com.