KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Mikey Lopez's first competitive minutes with his club are likely to be on hold until the young midfielder competes for his country on the world stage.
Lopez (above, left), Sporting Kansas City's first-round pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, is in United States Under-20 national team training camp this week, in preparation for the U-20 World Cup that runs from June 21 to July 13 in Turkey.
And once that tournament is over, manager Peter Vermes said, Sporting will be counting on Lopez to help them defend their US Open Cup title and show well in their CONCACAF Champions League group-stage matches.
“He should get a lot of good time for us in the summertime,” Vermes told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. “He's just got to get through the World Cup first.”
Lopez, the 14th overall SuperDraft pick, has been a regular call-up for U-20 coach Tab Ramos, and his international experience can only help him when he finally suits up for his club, Vermes said.
“He's a gamer. He's a winner. He finds a way,” he said. “This kid's got a bright future ahead of him.”
Lopez won't be the only young player Vermes will rely upon in Cup and CCL play, especially with those matches falling at midweek.
“We are going to have to make big changes in the lineups,” Vermes said. “Have to. No other way to do it. Guys are going to take their opportunity and have to do well with it. It's what the season's going to bring.
“I think it's going to be good for a lot of those players,” he added, “because they're going to get great games to play. For us it's going to be great because we have a chance to evaluate where we are. We have a lot of guys who don't have a lot of experience, and we have a chance to get them a lot of experience in a short period of time, and that's only going to bode well for us for our future.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.