For the third year in a row, Sporting Kansas City will finish up its preseason in the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic. The team leaves Friday to begin its two-week trip to Orlando.
The Kansas City Star
This year's tournament, for Sporting, begins on Feb. 19 against the Supporters' Shield winners New York Red Bulls (2 p.m.)
After that, SKC will face Brazilian club Fluminense FC's U-23 team (Feb. 22, 2 p.m.) and the Montreal Impact (Feb. 26, 7 p.m.).
A mostly reserve team will face Eastern Florida State College (Feb. 19, 10 a.m.) and Florida Gulf Coast University (Feb. 22, 10 a.m.). Those matches aren't part of the Disney Classic.
The consolation/championship games for the Disney Pro Soccer Classic will be held on March 1.
Try to keep in mind that results in this particular tournament really aren't that important. Fitness, match experience and the rigors of playing three games in a week matter a lot more.
In the previous two trips, SKC's record in the friendly tournament is fairly mixed (3-2-2 and never reached the championship game). But, Sporting has followed up this trip with two extremely successful seasons. (Odd stat: Following Orlando preseason trips, Kansas City has lost just one match against Toronto of all teams in the month of March the last two years.)
In 2012, Kansas City failed to win a match and finished with just two draws (0-0 against Houston, 1-1 against Montreal). KC also lost 3-0 to eventual trophy winners Vancouver. The team didn't qualify for the consolation round.
Soony Saad scored the team's only goal for the entire tournament.
Did the poor showing really matter? Nope.
Once the regular season arrived, Kansas City played like they had been shot out of a cannon, rolling out seven wins in a row on the way to finishing atop the Eastern Conference.
In 2013, the team fared much better in the land of Mickey Mouse, finishing second the round-robin stage and advancing to the consolation round.
After an opening 2-1 loss to eventual winners Montreal, Kansas City won its next three games without allowing a goal. Of course, the three teams KC faced were D.C. United (2-0 win), NASL side Tampa Bay Rowdies (1-0) and Toronto FC (1-0) in the consolation round. Neither exactly
Four players scored for KC: Saad, Bobby Convey, Graham Zusi and Claudio Bieler.
Last year turned out all right, too. Sporting KC started the year with just one loss in its first seven matches and would go on to finish second in the Supporters' Shield standings and win the MLS Cup.
So, it's not exactly how KC performs in the tournament that matters, it's how Peter Vermes and company can set the team up for the start of the year.