Sporting Kansas City will open on the road when the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League swings into action next month.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
Making its inaugural Champions League appearance under the new format, which started in 2008, Sporting KC kicks off Group 2 play Aug. 7 against Real Esteli FC at Estadio Independencia in Esteli, Nicaragua.
Sporting KC’s first match against CD Olimpia also will be on the road Aug. 27 at Estadio Tiburcio Carias Andino in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
“I like the fact that we have to go and play a difficult spell right off the bat,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said. “We know that both places are going to provide their challenges, but we’re going to have to get our mentality around it and get ready to play.”
Real Esteli plays the return leg at Sporting Park on Sept. 17, while CD Olimpia arrives Oct. 23.
“That tournament really is about taking care of your results in group play,” Vermes said. “We’ve really got to be ready for that first game on the road in Nicaragua.”
The top team among the three in the round-robin group stage will advance to the knockout round of the 24-team tournament, which includes league champions and national cup winners from throughout North American, Central America and the Carribean.
Sporting KC, which reached the Champions’ Cup semifinals in 2002 and the Cup quarterfinals in 2005, qualified for the Champions League by winning the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
Olimpia has won 27 domestic championships in Honduras and qualified for the sixth consecutive Champions League, while Real Esteli owns 13 championships in Nicaragua and has made the Champions League four times.
“We’re getting excited,” Vermes said. “It’s going to be tremendous. We’re looking forward to it.”
Tickets for Sporting KC’s home matches go on sale July 10 at Ticketmaster.com or the Sporting Park box office.
Both games are included in season-ticket member packages and season-ticket members wishing to purchase additional tickets will have access to a special presale beginning at 10 a.m. July 8 through Ticketmaster.com.