Last Time at Children’s Mercy Park…
The Lions last traveled to Kansas City on Sept. 23, 2020, taking a 2-1 victory at Children’s Mercy Park on the night. Tesho Akindele started things off for City with a finish in the 36th minute followed by Benji Michel doubling the advantage just two minutes later. Sporting would go on to halve the deficit with a goal from Johnny Russell in the 53rd, but the Lions held on to take all three points from the contest and set a new Club-record at seven matches unbeaten at the time.
Facing the West
Friday night will serve as one of just two matches for the Lions against Western Conference opposition and the only one on the road in the 2021 regular season. In just two months time, City will play host to its only other interconference opponent for the year, welcoming the San Jose Earthquakes to Exploria Stadium on Tuesday, June 22.
Goalkeeper Pedro Gallese registered three saves on Saturday en route to his first clean sheet of the campaign and his fourth in regular-season action since joining the Lions ahead of the 2020 MLS slate. One of those four also came on opening weekend when “El Pulpo” had to record just one save in his MLS debut on Feb. 29, 2020 to maintain the shutout against Real Salt Lake to open the Lions’ 2020 campaign.
Head Coach Oscar Pareja debuted a starting lineup on Saturday comprised mostly of familiar faces, with 10 of his 11 starters being returners from a year ago. Forward Alexandre Pato marked the only new addition to begin the match for City, with forward Silvester van der Water serving as the other debutant on the afternoon, entering the match in the 80th minute. The Lions made just six additions this offseason, highlighted by Saturday’s debutants up top.
The Point Man
Forward Tesho Akindele has enjoyed success against Friday’s opposition since joining the Lions ahead of the 2019 MLS campaign, finding the back of the net in each of his two appearances for Orlando against SKC. Akindele scored the eventual game-winner at Exploria Stadium on Aug. 14, 2019 before opening the scoring at Children’s Mercy Park a year ago to add to his total. With his two finishes, Akindele sits tied with former Lions midfielder Adrian Winter and former Sporting KC midfielder Latif Blessing for the all-time regular season lead in goals scored between the two clubs.