Peter Vermes - serious

In the immediate aftermath of the Concacaf Champions League draw last month, Peter Vermes started formulating his plan on preparing to take on Deportivo Toluca in the Round of 16.

That plan is being outlined now, as shared with the Kansas City Star's Sam McDowell.

Sporting Kansas City will start its preseason in Phoenix, Ariz. and play three scrimmages over the course of three weeks before returning to Kansas City on Jan. 31.

Instead of the usual split of starters and reserves during the scrimmages, Vermes plans on mixing up the group with both receiving equal time with the idea that Sporting will need a deep roster if they make a deep run in the tournament, which coincides with the start of the MLS season.

SKC will spend five days home — with three days off and two more training sessions at Pinnacle — before returning to Phoenix for two additional scrimmages.

“It’s a challenge for all of us and something we have to figure out how to manage, but we have a plan,” Vermes told the Star. “I think the players are up for it. They’re excited. Whatever word you want to use — fresh, new, challenging — it’s something they haven’t faced before. And you add in some new players to the mix, and there’s some hunger there.”

Sporting host Toluca in the first leg on Feb. 21 and will head to Albuquerque two days later to train at altitude in preparation for the second leg at Estadio Nemesio Diez on Feb. 28.

From Mexico, SKC flies directly to Los Angeles for their MLS opener on March 3 against LAFC. Their home opener is March 10 against the Philadelphia Union, but they would play the opening leg of the CCL quarterfinals first if they advance.

“It’s a heck of a turnaround,” Vermes said. “We’ll be busy.”