Preview: First-place Sporting KC hosts Atlanta United FC on Sunday

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Kickoff set for 7 p.m. CT on FS1, FOX Deportes,
Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM;

Match will take place in conjunction with Sporting Salutes,
an immersive military appreciation night at Children’s Mercy Park

Sporting Kansas City vs. Atlanta United FC
Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017 – 7 p.m. CT
Children’s Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
2017 MLS Regular Season | Game 23 of 34

Broadcast Schedule:
English TV | FS1
Spanish TV | FOX Deportes
English Radio | Sports Radio 810 WHB
Spanish Radio | La Grande 1340 AM
Mobile | FOX Sports GO, Sporting KC Uphoria

Kansas City – A star-studded showdown awaits on Sunday when Western Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City (9-4-9, 36 points) and high-scoring expansion side Atlanta United FC (10-7-4, 34 points)  meet for the first time at world-class Children’s Mercy Park. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. CT with national television coverage on FS1 and FOX Deportes and local broadcasts on Sports Radio 810 WHB (English) and La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish). The match will also stream live on FOX Sports GO, while the  Sporting KC Uphoria mobile app will provide live stats, updates and exclusive matchday offers.

Tickets for the marquee interconference clash are on sale at SeatGeek.com , and the first 5,000 fans in attendance will receive a camouflage lunch box courtesy of match sponsor Dairy Farmers of America. In addition, service personnel across all branches of the United States military will be honored Sunday during Sporting Salutes , an immersive military appreciation night that will run in conjunction with the match. As part of Sporting Salutes programming, the game will be broadcast globally on the Armed Forces Network, giving American servicemen and servicewomen the opportunity to watch from across the world.

This weekend also marks the introduction of  Video Review in all MLS regular season and playoff matches for the remainder of the year. Every game, a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) will serve as the new fifth member of the officiating crew. The role of the VAR is to alert the head referee to potential clear and obvious errors or serious missed incidents in the following four game-changing situations: goals, penalty kicks, straight red cards and cases of mistaken identity.

Peter Vermes on Atlanta:
“They’ve put together a very dynamic team”

Sunday’s battle will pit Atlanta’s high-octane offense against a stingy Sporting Kansas City defense. Under the guidance of decorated Argentine head coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino, Atlanta leads MLS with 1.95 goals scored per game and has failed to score just twice in 21 league matches. Meanwhile, Manager Peter Vermes’ men have conceded a miserly 17 goals through 22 matches – five fewer than any other team. Sporting Kansas City reclaimed top spot in the West last Saturday with a pulsating 3-2 home win over the Chicago Fire, extending their club-record home unbeaten run to 20 regular season matches. Daniel Salloi and Benny Feilhaber bagged first-half goals before Latif Blessing’s 51st-minute strike secured all three points. Sporting KC is amidst an 11-game undefeated streak in all competitions dating back to the start of June – the fourth-longest stretch without a loss in club history.

Daniel Salloi discusses ATL challenge, partnership with Diego Rubio

With Wednesday’s pivotal Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinal looming against the San Jose Earthquakes, Sporting Kansas City faces the task of playing twice in four days. Vermes will have a strong squad at his disposal, as the club’s top scorer Gerso is set to return after serving a one-game suspension last weekend. Forward Cameron Porter is the only player on Sporting KC’s injury report, having suffered a season-ending ankle injury during training on Tuesday. Atlanta United FC has utilized a multifaceted offensive juggernaut throughout 2017, paced by MLS All-Star Miguel Almiron (eight goals, nine assists) and Hector Villalba (10 goals, four assists). The Five Stripes currently occupy fifth place in the Eastern Conference and own four wins and a draw across their last five league fixtures, including a 1-1 stalemate with Orlando City SC last Saturday in the team’s final appearance at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The club is set to move into the new, $1.6 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium next month.

Drive Time presented by Toyota: Ilie talks soccer, Spain and KC

Even without prolific striker Josef Martinez – who has scored nine goals in as many MLS appearances during an injury-plagued campaign – Atlanta will present a stern test for a Sporting Kansas City side that has conceded just seven goals in 14 home games this season across all competitions. United have faired well on their travels thus far, securing two straight road wins and four overall, tied for second-most in MLS. The team also boasts a 4-1-2 record against Western Conference opposition, averaging 2.7 goals per game in those seven meetings. Atlanta will likely have to cope with the absence of a normal backline starter on Sunday. All-Star defender Greg Garza separated his shoulder just seven minutes into Wednesday’s MLS All-Star game, which will leave mainstays Michael Parkhurst and Leandro Gonzalez Pirez responsible of anchoring a defense alongside U.S. international goalkeeper Brad Guzan.

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