Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Sporting KC Kick off Champions League

Sporting Kansas City will make their first trip into the premier CONCACAF competition since 2005 when they faced Deportivo Saprissa under the old CONCACAF Champions' Cup format. Tomorrow they'll take on Real Esteli of Nicaragua in their first game of Group 2 of this year's CONCACAF Champions' League. Overall this is KC's 4th trip into international competitions after the 2001 Copa Mercanorte where KC finished 1-1-4 finishing 3rd in their group. Then in 2002 KC played in the CONCACAF Champions' Cup, advancing to the semifinals where they lost to Morelia. In that run KC became the first MLS team to win a home-home series with a Mexican side. KC's trip to the Champions' Cup in 2005 saw them fall in the first round to Saprissa. KC's final international experience was the 2009 Superliga, where KC finished bottom of their group with a 0-2-1 record.

It's hard to know what exactly to expect from Esteli. The Nicaraguan side has technically qualified for each edition of the Champions' League since the new format was set up. Unfortunately for most of that time, Nicaragua didn't have a FIFA approved stadium and therefore couldn't host games and did not participate. They've actually only played in three years of the competitions, being eliminated in the preliminary rounds in 2008 and 2011 versions, and were eliminated in the group stage in the 2012 version. Esteli just kicked off their new season, winning their season opener 2-1. They have also brought in a few new players, including Yader Balladares, a Nicaraguan/Costa Rican who has previously played Saprissa.

With injuries and Orlando City loans, Sporting KC will have a thinner roster to choose from ahead of the game. Many times a game like this would be considered a good chance to get a number of bench players time. But more starters than expected could see time tomorrow. That will be a little rough heading into this weekend when Sporting KC will take on New England in a league game at Sporting Park. So while the lineup may not be totally the same from Saturday's game against New York, I'd expect to see a few of the starters get time in the game.

Jerome - Opara - Collin - Sinovic
Olum - Joseph
Bunbury - Dwyer - Saad

Number to remember - 0 - That's the number of wins that Real Esteli have in the Champions League. They are 0-6-2 in the tournament since the format changed.

PREDICTION - I know very little about Esteli other than what I've read and the few highlights I've seen of their games from the last two years in the CCL.  That really doesn't tell me a whole lot. But even with KC's struggles the last two games, a loss to a team that has yet to win in this competition would be disappointing. Even if it is the first international game for many of these players, or their first game in a Central American environment, with the oh so consistent CONCACAF officiating. This is a game that KC should be able to win, and really if they want to advance from the group, a game they must win. Olimpia on the road is going to be especially tough, so getting points against the "easier" of their two opponents is needed.

SKC - 3 (Dwyer, Saad, Joseph)
RE - 1

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can't wait.

I could see Collin sitting since he's played a full 90 twice in the last week and see Besler playing ... Collin playing with those refs SCREAMS RED CARD!

I also think they'll play Lopez next to Olum and Feilharber will be on the bench. I think Jacob Peterson gets the start on the wing opposite of Saad. Bunbury and Feilharber will be offensive subs if we're needing a goal.

Either way, can't wait!