Sporting Kansas City is gearing up for their first game of the Disney Pro Soccer Classic against the Montreal Impact at 2 p.m. CT on Saturday.
Last season, Sporting Kansas City lost only three of their 17 MLS regular season home matches and it was the Montreal Impact who handed SKC it’s first regular season home loss last season. Sporting KC returned the favor when the two teams played in Montreal, defeating the Impact 3-1, before ending the 2012 series (1-1-1) with a 0-0 draw at Stade Saputo.
Both teams have made big moves in the offseason with Montreal acquiring a couple of players on loan and Sporting KC adding USMNT midfielder Benny Feilhaber, Designated Player Claudio Bieler and a handful of other new players. With the history between Sporting KC and Montreal building, the new guys are looking to prove themselves by leaving a mark on the game tomorrow at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic.
Let’s take a look at a few of the new faces that will be on the pitch for Sporting Kansas City…
Gardner will be among the new guys in Sporting Blue trying to prove himself in tomorrow's match. You can bet he’ll be playing with extra intensity against the Impact considering Montreal traded Gardner to Sporting KC at the end of last year in return for a second round pick in this year's SuperDraft. In 2012, Gardner started five matches in Montreal after starting 21 of 22 matches for the Columbus Crew in 2011. He can play as both a defender and a midfielder but he made his preseason debut as a substitute at left back against FC Tucson. Both teams will keep a keene eye on Gardner throughout this match.
Feilhaber will be looking to leave a good impression with his teammates tomorrow as this will be Feilhaber’s first showing with Sporting KC this year as he has recently joined up with the team following a call from the U.S. Men’s National Team. Sporting Kansas City acquired Feilhaber from the New England Revolution in exchange for a couple of draft picks. Feilhaber is an experienced player that can play on either flank or centrally in the midfield. He has a knack for drawing fouls as well. Last season he suffered 70 fouls to tie for third most whistles drawn in MLS.
Bieler got his feet wet in Sporting KC's last preseason match against the Portland Timbers. The Argentine forward started and played a solid 30 minutes for his new team before Soony Saad relieved him. Bieler is a goal scorer. In 2012, he scored 20 goals in 36 matches for LDU Quinto. Look for Bieler to be on the end of some dangerous plays against the Impact.
Opara has seen action in all three preseason games to date. He entered as a sub at center back for Aurelien Collin against FC Tucson and then moved up to start beside Collin on the back line against the Timbers. Opara is a young defender at 23 years old, but he comes to Sporting KC from the San Jose Earthquakes where he has spent the last three years, appearing in a total of 35 games for the Earthquakes. Opara might see his playing time go down against the Impact due to Matt Besler’s return from the U.S. Men’s National Team.
Now a look at the new players that Montreal brings to the pitch…
Romero is an Argentine forward that has spent the last year playing in both the first and second division in Brazil. Tombense FC loaned the young forward to the Impact for the duration of the 2013 season. The 23-year-old is a versatile player that likes to attack. This game will be his first with his new team.
The Italian midfielder joins the Impact on loan from Bologna FC this season. The 31-year-old has played with several teams throughout his career and has made 37 appearances in Serie B with three different teams.
The Impact selected Smith as the eighth overall pick in this year's MLS SuperDraft. Smith is a 22-year-old midfielder coming off of a college career at the University of New Mexico. He recorded 13 goals and nine assists in 68 games at the collegiate level.
Watch Sporting Kansas City take on the Montreal Impact in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic at www.Sportingkc.com/live and take a look at the new guys yourself.