While most MLS sides have the first weekend in March circled on their calendars, Sporting KC have a date circled almost two weeks earlier.
February 2 will kick off Sporting’s 2019 campaign, as they jump into Concacaf Champions League play against Liga MX outfit Toluca. They will play their entire Round of 16 series before they even kick off in MLS, on March 3 vs. LAFC.
With a couple preseason run-outs under their belt already Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes believes what he saw has his side on the right track.
“I like the fact that all three teams resembled how we want to play,” Vermes said in a conference call after a 4-0 win over Sporting AZ. “And there is already a good solid foundation on fitness. This early on, to be able to play thirty minutes like we did, the fact that all three teams got a clean sheet and scored a goal, from a general perspective those were positives.”
However, Vermes did admit that the fitness aspect is going to be the toughest task that Sporting face in getting ready for Toluca.
“By the time we get there, we will not have played an MLS game yet,” Vermes said. “So it’s going to be our first real competition. That’s where the difficulty is going to take place. Obviously we’re playing a very good team in Toluca, and they’re already in the middle of their season.”
Vermes continued, “So, us trying to get in form is going to be the biggest hurdle, and being ninety minutes fit to play at a very fast pace. I can tell you this, our approach is to try and get as close as we can to that 90 minute fitness and also playing at a good pace. It’s just going to be difficult.”
Sporting KC are adamant that every competition they jump into, they try to win. Even with the schedule challenges, and opponent strength on their docket ahead, nothing will really change them from that. However, they know that they have to focus on what’s in front of them before they can think “big picture,” like winning the whole thing.
“I would like to think that the motivation is just to win anything that’s out in front of you,” Vermes said. “So, I think the group is motivated to try and do very well in that competition. But obviously, that’s a far cry away. You have to get through the first series, and that’s got to be our focus at the moment.”