As Sporting KC welcomes the Manchester City FC to Sporting Park on Wednesday, I caught up with Manchester Evening News reporter Paul Handler to preview the match. The match will kick off at 8 p.m. CT with live coverage available on ESPN2, WatchESPN, ESPN Deportes, Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Gran D 1340 AM.
JF: What do you expect to see from Manchester City Wednesday night?
PH: It's always a bit funny in preseason. There will be a lot of experimenting and getting players back up to fitness. [Manager Manuel Pellegrini] might take a look at a few of his striking options with Alvaro Negredo out. But when you have a team with as many quality players as Man City have, you expect a good performance every time they play.
JF: What do you expect to see from Manchester City this upcoming Premier League season?
PH: They should be favorites for the title because they won it last year. But I think the big aspect of City's season is going to be the Champions League. If you look at the signings, they are pretty much all pointing toward the Champions League - [Bacary] Sagna and [Willy] Caballero - those are all European experienced players. Ultimately, that is what the club and owners want, which is to get further than the Round of 16. They won the Premier League and know they can do that, but they need to show the world that they are one of the true heavyweights, so that is what they will be focusing on.
JF: Why do so many Premier League teams come to the United States for preseason training?
PH: I think all of the facilities are fantastic and the training facilities are great. You are also guaranteed good weather. I just walked out around 6 p.m. at the airport and was faced with 30 degree Centigrade heat, which you see once in a blue moon in Manchester. So you are guaranteed nice, warm weather here for training to help get the fitness up. There is also a growing interest. City is looking grow the fan base and America had a great World Cup. Soccer is on the rise and they are looking to capitalize on that.
JF: How familiar are you with Sporting KC and what do you expect to see from them on Wednesday?
PH: I know they are doing well in the League so they are obviously one of the better teams in Major League Soccer. I also read the story about the goalscorer doing a selfie. They are playing well and with what we have seen from the United States in the World Cup, i think the days of England looking down their noses at the USA are gone, or at least they should be anyway, because they obviously have a lot of talented players and a huge pool to pull from.