Sporting KC’s final exhibition match is also for a trophy

02/28/2014 2:23 PM

02/28/2014 2:24 PM

The last regular-season tuneup for Sporting Kansas City comes with a bit more prestige and possibly even a trophy. But it’s still only an exhibition.

Sporting KC can claim its first prize of 2014 when it faces the Columbus Crew at 7 p.m. Saturday in the championship game of the Disney Pro Soccer Classic in Kissimmee, Fla.

While Sporting remains unbeaten in exhibition matches and scrimmages, 8-0-1, coming off its MLS Cup championship in December, manager Peter Vermes has emphasized that wasn’t the goal. Nor will winning be the primary objective Saturday.

Instead, only seven days from its season opener in Seattle on March 8, Sporting KC will look to implement its final physical and mental preparations for a busy opening month.

That could mean a full 90 minutes Saturday for the bulk of the starters.

“To put in 90 minutes, it’s not an easy task at this point,” Vermes said. “There are other things that go into it, but I feel confident that their gas tanks are building and getting stronger. And they need to be in a place that we can play at a high tempo next week.”

And then rebound quickly, of course.

Four days after the MLS season opener in Seattle, Sporting KC will return to Sporting Park to play host to Cruz Azul in the first leg of their two-game CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals series.

Sporting KC is scheduled to play five matches in the first 15 days of the season

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