Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen directs his team during the first half against the Colorado Rapids in an MLS soccer playoff game Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011, in Commerce City, Colo.. (AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez)
(March 15, 2013) -- Sporting Kansas City hosts the Chicago Fire in the team's 2013 MLS home opener at Sporting Park on Saturday at 2 p.m. CT during Major League Soccer's Rivalry Week. A limited number of tickets for the match are still available, including recently released standing-room only tickets online at Ticketmaster.com or at the Sporting Park box offices.
Sporting Kansas City is 11-2-4 when opening the club's home schedule with just one loss in a home opener in the last 13 years. The match, presented by Kickstart by Mountain Dew, will be broadcast live nationally on NBC Sports and can be heard live on Sports Radio 810 WHB starting at 1:30 p.m. CT and La Gran D 1340 AM.
Saturday's match marks the lone meeting between the two clubs at Sporting Park during the 2013 MLS regular season before two additional encounters at Toyota Park. Sporting KC and the Fire also met three times during the 2012 MLS regular season with Sporting KC earning a 2-0 victory in the last meeting.
Sporting Kansas City returns both goal scorers from the 2012 regular season series in Graham Zusi (2) and Bobby Convey. However, Chicago does not return any of the team's three goal scorers from the series a year ago as Sebastian Grazzini was sent on loan, Marco Pappa was transferred to Dutch side SC Heerenveen and Dominic Oduro was traded to Columbus.
Sporting Kansas City has opened their home schedule against the Chicago Fire on four previous occasions, yielding a 1-1-2 record in those meetings.
Chicago Fire head coach Frank Klopas has started the same lineup, with the exception of Sherjill MacDonald for Maicon Santos last week, in each of the team's first two matches of the 2013 MLS regular season, suffering a pair of defeats against the LA Galaxy and the New England Revolution. The Fire have now suffered back-to-back losses to open a season for the second time in club history and for the first time since the 2000 season, when they lost their second straight in a 4-3 setback at Kansas City. The teams would meet again that year in the 2000 MLS Cup, with Kansas City earning a 1-0 victory at RFK Stadium.
Santos was picked up in the Re-Entry Draft Stage 1 during the offseason along with fellow striker Quincy Amarikwa through a trade with Toronto FC. The team's midfield has also added ample reinforcements with the acquisitions of Joel Lindpere, Jeff Larentowicz, Brendan King and Dilly Duka.
Sporting Kansas City enters Saturday's showdown coming off a 2-1 loss at Toronto FC last weekend. Designated Player Claudio Bieler scored in his second straight match, becoming the second DP in MLS history to score in his first two MLS matches along with D.C. United's Luciano Emilio.
All fans are encouraged to arrive early on Saturday and parking lots open three hours prior to kick off. Parking maps and directions are available at SportingKC.com/Parking.
The Boulevard Members Club, opening at 12 p.m. CT to all Members Stand ticket holders, will feature a pre-game special for $3 Boulevard Pilsners. The Boulevard Members Club will be open to the public after the conclusion to the match.
Sporting Kansas City supporters can also follow the match online via @SKCGameday, SportingKC.com/GameOn and the MLSSoccer.com MatchCenter or on mobile devices with the MLS MatchDay app.