Sporting KC vs. Real Esteli | CONCACAF Champions League Match Preview

SPORTING KC vs. REAL ESTELI
SPORTING PARK, Kansas City, Kan.
September 17, 2013 (CONCACAF Champions League Group Stage)
8 pm ET (FOX Soccer Plus, Fox Soccer 2 Go)
Game notes courtesy of SportingKC.com

Sporting Kansas City return to Sporting Park after a bye weekend in MLS competition for their CONCACAF Champions League group stage match against Real Esteli FC on Tuesday.

Sporting KC enter Tuesday's match in first place in Group 2 with a 2-0-0 record including a 2-0 win in their CCL opener at Real Esteli on August 7. Sporting KC defender Ike Opara headed home a Benny Feilhaber free kick in the 32nd minute to put the visitors ahead. Forward Dom Dwyer doubled Sporting KC's lead in the 75th minute after he dribbled 45 yards and placed the ball past Real Esteli goalkeeper Justo Lorente.

Sporting KC continued their strong international form with a 2-0 road win over Honduran club CD Olimpia on August 27. Soony Saad scored twice to become the second player in club history to score multiple goals in a competitive international match.

Real Esteli come into Sporting Park having won seven of their first eight league matches, however, the club has struggled in CCL competition. Real Esteli are winless in 18 CCL matches and have been held scoreless in five of their previous six including the loss to Sporting KC and a 1-0 loss against Olimpia on August 21.

The CONCACAF Champions League consists of 24 teams separated into eight groups of three teams that play a round-robin, home-and-away format. The winner of each group will advance to the quarterfinals to be played March 2014. Sporting KC qualified for the tournament after winning the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

The 2013-14 tournament marks Sporting KC's first appearance in CONCACAF Champions League having previously competed in the CONCACAF Champions' Cup in 2002 and 2005. In 2002, Kansas City advanced to the semifinals of the Champions' Cup before falling to Mexican club Monarcas Morelia.

Real Esteli team news

There's nothing to lose for Real Esteli who are not expected to get a result from this match. They've struggled mightily in this competition (0-13-5 record) but do have some quality players. It's a team that will look to absorb Sporting KC's pressure and take their opportunities on set pieces and counterattacks. Real Esteli should have few injury concerns as the team rescheduled Saturday's league match to accomodate the travel to Kansas City.

SKC-Real Esteli in-depth stats

  • Sporting KC is currently tied for the best record and goal difference amongst first place teams (goal difference is first tiebreaker)
  • Real Esteli has not scored a goal in five of their last six CCL matches
  • Sporting KC assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin has been apart (as a player or coach) of every match the club has played in international competition
  • Real Esteli is currently top of the Nicaraguan Primera Division with wins in seven of their first eight matches