KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes and captain Johnny Russell greeted Sporting KC fans who arrived in St. Louis Friday for the inaugural match between Sporting and St. Louis City SC Saturday.
Russell was joined by teammates Andreu Fontas, Felipe Hernandez, Kendall McIntosh and Jake Davis in welcoming Sporting KC fans who made the trip on board Amtrak’s River Runner service between the state’s two largest cities.
Whether you call it the Heartland Derby or the River Runner Cup, the first match between the two clubs have drawn out the most-creative thinkers from each side of the state.
Fan bases of the two teams have been trading corner kicks since Saturday’s game was first announced. Legal debates over who gets to use Soccer Capital of America, to who was the First Soccer City have been part of the discourse the last several days.
Earlier this month, Missouri legislators signed off on a $2 billion plan to expand Interstate 70 in parts of the state, but the two soccer clubs seem intent on leaving the highway rivalry between the Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals and taking the high rail instead.
Sporting KC put money in the game with the welcome party Friday afternoon. Missouri’s River Runner takes passengers from Kansas City’s Union Station to St. Louis’ Gateway Station, giving close access to St. Louis’ Citypark.
Sporting KC says hundreds of fans took advantage of the route Friday. The number of fans could grow with additional runnings of the service between KC and STL Friday night and Saturday afternoon.
Recent results on the pitch suggest the match could might prove befitting a rivalry. Sporting KC has steadied itself over the last several matches, while STL City FS has cooled after a blistering start.
Saturday’s match is set for 8:30 p.m. CT. Fox Sports 1 will broadcast the match nationally. The match is also available without the paywall on Apple TV.