The draw for the 2014/15 CONCACAF Champions League hasn’t been very kind to the MLS champs as Sporting KC was drawn with Central American powerhouse Deportivo Saprissa (Costa Rica) as well as Real Esteli FC (Nicaragua).
Saprissa, winners of three CONCACAF Champions Cups and four-time runners-up, was the Pot 2 team most MLS and Liga MX teams were looking to avoid. Per CONCACAF rules, “two or more teams from the same member association will not play in the same group, and the four USA and four Mexican teams will be drawn into separate groups.”
Their stadium, Estadio Ricardo Saprissa Ayma, is one of the most fearsome cauldrons in the CONCACAF region.
Esteli, the Nicaraguan champions, will be a familiar foe for KC — the two met in the group stage of the 2013/14 tournament. Kansas City beat Esteli 2-0 in Nicaragua and drew 1-1 at Sporting Park.
The CONCACAF Champions League features the 24 top teams from North and Central American and the Caribbean. The group stage, featuring eight groups of three teams each played during the summer and fall, is followed by a knockout round in 2015.
Four MLS teams are entered in this year’s tournament: Kansas City (MLS Cup winners), New York Red Bulls (Supporters’ Shield winners), Portland Timbers (Supporters’ Shield runner up) and D.C. United (U.S. Open Cup winner). The winner of the Canadian Championship between Montreal and Toronto will earn a fifth spot for the league. The first leg was a 1-1 draw on Wednesday night.
New York was drawn into Group 3 with Montreal/Toronto and Club Deportivo FAS (El Salvador). D.C. United was slotted into Group 4 with Tauro FC (Panama) and Waterhouse FC (Jamaica). Portland, Group 5, will accrue a lot of travel miles with trips to CD Olimpia (Honduras) and Alpha United FC (Guyana).
Sporting KC to host Minnesota United in Open Cup
The Champions League isn’t the only summer competition awaiting Sporting KC — the team will enter the U.S. Open Cup in the fourth round on June 18.
On Wednesday, KC learned its first opponent: The NASL’s Minnesota United FC, who beat the Des Moines Menace (United States Adult Soccer Association) 1-0.
The Wednesday-night match is scheduled for 7:30 p.m at Sporting Park. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster or by calling 888-4KC-GOAL.
Eight Sporting KC players nominated for MLS All-Star Game
Major League Soccer announced the fan ballot for the 2014 AT&T MLS All-Star Game on Wednesday, with eight representatives from all 19 teams on the ballot.
Kansas City’s nominees: Goalkeeper Eric Kronberg, defenders Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin and Seth Sinovic, midfielders Benny Feilhaber, Oriol Rosell and Graham Zusi, and forward Dom Dwyer.
Besler, Collin and Zusi have been all-stars twice before.
Fan voting is available at MLSsoccer.com through July 11. Additional votes from Twitter will be tallied from July 2-6.
The MLS stars will face German champions Bayern Munich at Portland’s Providence Park on Aug. 6