Sporting KC

Sporting Kansas City becomes road warriors, starting with game Saturday at Dallas

Sporting Kansas City’s Sony Mustivar (left) and Roger Espinoza will be out of the liuneup Saturday at Dallas. They will serve one-game suspensions for cards they received last weekend.
Sporting Kansas City’s Sony Mustivar (left) and Roger Espinoza will be out of the liuneup Saturday at Dallas. They will serve one-game suspensions for cards they received last weekend. jledford@kcstar.com

A 12-month calendar is one of the few items pinned to the wall in Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes’ office. It serves as an organizational tool, with the team’s game, practice and travel schedules coded by color.

A unique listing was recently added to the month of August — the projection of miles traveled. The grand total will surpass 16,000 this month.

The bulk of the mileage will come over the next 15 days. Sporting KC has trips to Dallas (Saturday), Trinidad and Tobago (Tuesday), Vancouver (Aug. 23) and Philadelphia (Aug. 27) rapidly approaching as it blends the stretch run of the MLS season with the opening of the CONCACAF Champions League competition.

With the inclusion of a home match on Aug. 20, Sporting KC will play five games in the 15-day span — two of them added to the docket earlier this summer with the release of the CCL schedule.

“I don’t think we got any help from anyone on that schedule,” Vermes said, referencing the club’s CCL agenda, which represents the trips to Trinidad and Tobago and Vancouver. “I can tell you we didn’t (request) something that was only good for Sporting Kansas City. We felt it would’ve been good for the group. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any of those things. That’s not something I’m happy about, but we’ll do what we have to do to manage it.”

The trip got off to a rocky start. The team's flight to Dallas on Friday was cancelled due to weather, and it will instead travel Saturday, the day of the match.

After its date with the Western Conference leaders Saturday, Sporting KC is set to embark on CCL group play Tuesday against Central FC. It qualified for the CCL competition after winning the U.S. Open Cup last season.

With only three days separating the two games, Sporting KC will implement a twist to its normal preparations. Vermes said he has asked assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin to skip the trip to Dallas this weekend and stay in Kansas City to prepare a different set of players for the visit to Central FC in Trinidad and Tobago early next week.

“We have to find a way to keep those guys ready,” Vermes said. “And that means being a little creative.”

That creativity extends to the roster construction, too. Sporting KC would prefer to avoid starting a player in both games over the next four days. Starting midfielders Soni Mustivar and Roger Espinoza will serve one-game suspensions Saturday for cards they received last weekend. Since they will be unavailable Saturday, they are more likely to travel Tuesday.

The club is welcoming winger Graham Zusi, center back Nuno Coelho and midfielder Paulo Nagamura back into the fold, but after lengthy absences, their capacity to play 90 minutes is unknown.

“Some of (the lineup preparation) is a little bit of a shot in the dark,” Vermes said. “A lot of it is going to come off what happened in Dallas — and I don’t mean the result. I’m talking about physically where we are.”

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