The opening stages of Sporting Kansas City’s MLS Cup title defense are beginning to take shape.
By SAM McDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
For the third straight year, the club will travel to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Fla., to compete in the annual Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic. The preseason tournament will once again offer noteworthy competition.
Sporting KC opens with a match Feb. 19 against the New York Red Bulls, the reigning Supporters’ Shield winner. Three days later, it will face Brazilian club Fluminense FC U23 before concluding pool play Feb. 26 against the Montreal Impact.
Championship and consolation matches are scheduled for March 1.
“Preseason is an extremely important time for us, especially this year as we enter the quarterfinals of the (CONCACAF) Champions League in March and look to defend our MLS Cup title,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said. “Playing in highly competitive games in the Pro Soccer Classic and in the tremendous facilities at the Walt Disney World Resort offers us the perfect environment to prepare for our seasons. Our experience the last two years in Florida has been top-notch.”
Sporting KC will arrive in Kissimmee on Feb. 14 to begin training for the preseason tournament.
Prior to that, the club will travel to Tucson, Ariz., on Jan. 24. It will face the Portland Timbers on Feb. 1 in an exhibition match in Tucson, along with two additional exhibition matches, which are slated to be announced Wednesday.
Five SKC players head to Brazil
In what Jurgen Klinsmann is calling a practice run for the 2014 World Cup, the United States men’s national team is headed to Brazil for two weeks of training.
Five Sporting Kansas City players will make the trip.
Defenders Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic and Chance Myers, along with midfielders Graham Zusi and Benny Feilhaber, will take part in the training in Sao Paulo, Brazil. All five participated in the 26-player camp in Carson, Calif., over the past week.
Klinsmann initially planned to trim that roster to 23 players before the team headed to Brazil, but he elected to take all 26 players instead.
“We have been extremely pleased with the performance of the group in the first week,” Klinsmann said. “The players came in very fit and have done really well in training. Therefore, we believe they have all earned a chance to go to Brazil for these next 12 days.”