Five road games in three different countries. Two on the West Coast, one on the East Coast, one in the oppressive Texas heat and one on a tropical island off the South American coast.
Between now and the end of August, Sporting Kansas City will have traveled more than 14,000 miles. That's more than half a lap around the earth. Let that sink in for a moment, then take a whirlwind look below at the gauntlet that lies before Peter Vermes' men. It's an unforgiving stretch that will see the club juggle two equally important competitions and seemingly cover the whole of North America.
Sunday, Aug. 7: Sporting KC at Portland Timbers
Travel: Kansas City to Portland, round trip (1,500 miles x 2)
Running total: 3,000 miles
No trip to the Pacific Northwest is an easy one. Providence Park in Portland may be the toughest of the lot, boasting one of the best atmospheres in MLS and a shutout streak that dates back to 2011. However, history is on Sporting Kansas City's side heading into Sunday's 3 p.m. CT kickoff on ESPN. The Timbers have failed to score in five straight regular season meetings against Sporting KC, including three goose eggs at Providence Park. Vermes' team is 3-0-2 during the spell and will have extra incentive to exorcise the demons of the 2015 Western Conference Knockout Round, a 2-2 draw that ended with Portland winning an 11-round penalty kick shootout on their home turf.
Oh, and did we mention that Sporting Kansas City is unbeaten in six straight regular season fixtures at Cascadia clubs (Portland, Seattle and Vancouver) since the start of 2015?
Saturday, Aug. 13: Sporting KC at FC Dallas
Travel: Kansas City to Dallas (475 miles)
Running total: 3,475 miles
The trip itself is an easy one, as FC Dallas is one of Sporitng Kansas City's closest geographical neighbors in MLS. Yet this just might be the toughest test of the month. Oscar Pareja's side sits atop the Supporters' Shield standings and owns a 9-0-3 record at Toyota Stadium, outscoring opponents 25-7 at home. Throw in the fact that it's Texas in August, and Sporting KC could be facing arguably the league's best team in temperatures north of 90 degrees.
Tuesday, Aug. 16: Sporting KC at Central FC
Travel: Dallas to Miami; Miami to Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago (1,120 miles; 1,600 miles)
Running total: 6,195 miles
Alas, Sporting Kansas City's furthest competitive match away from home since the club visited Trinidadian outfit W Connection in 2002. Just 72 hours after dueling FC Dallas, the team will venture another 2,700 miles to meet Trinidad and Tobago's most dominant club over the last four years.
Central FC took a 1-0 home loss to Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League on Tuesday, providing a stern test against their MLS counterparts at the 10,000-seat Ato Boldon Stadium. If Sporting Kansas City learned anything from its 2014 CCL trips to Cruz Azul, Real Esteli and Deportivo Saprissa, it's that road wins are awfully hard to come by. Their 2016-17 group stage opener will be no different.
Saturday, Aug. 20: Sporting KC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Travel: Port of Spain to Miami; Miami to Kansas City (1,600 miles; 1,250 miles)
Running total: 9,045 miles
Breathe in, breathe out. A brief respite in Kansas City will see Whitecaps FC make their second of three visits to Children's Mercy Park this year. Dom Dwyer bagged a brace in a 2-1 home win over Vancouver on March 12 before the clubs battled to a 1-1 draw on April 27 at BC Place. This will be the only chance for SKC Nation to see their club play at home during the month of August. The match will almost certainly carry significant playoff implications, as fourth-place Sporting KC and sixth-place Vancouver sit narrowly above the red line. Tickets for the 9 p.m. CT kickoff are available at Ticketmaster.com or by calling 888-4KC-GOAL.
Tuesday, Aug. 23: Sporting KC at Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Trip: Kansas City to Denver; Denver to Vancouver (600 miles; 1,000 miles)
Running total: 10,645 miles
As previously mentioned, Sporting Kansas City has faired well in recent trips to the Pacific Northwest. This midweek rematch at BC Place will be just pivotal as the regular season meeting three days earlier, but for different reasons. Instead of jockeying for playoff position, Sporting KC and Vancouver will try to seize control of Group C in the CONCACAF Champions League. Only one team from the group will advance to the knockout stage next February, and the result of this match could go a long way in deciding which team that is.
Saturday, Aug. 27: Sporting KC at Philadelphia Union
Trip: Vancouver to Denver; Denver to Philadelphia; Philadelphia to KC (1,000 miles; 1,600 miles; 1,100 miles)
Running total: 14,345 miles
And down the stretch they come. Having played in the southern U.S., Trinidad and Tobago and Canada over the previous fortnight, Sporting KC will embark on a cross-country trek to the East Coast for an interconference clash with the Philadelphia Union. If the team is feeling heavy-legged by the end of their globe-trotting expedition, they may be buoyed by revisiting the site of the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final, a gripping affair that Sporting KC won on penalties. Thing is, Philadelphia is one of the league's most improved teams from last year. And with U.S. international Alejandro Bedoya joining the ranks, Jim Curtin's men will provide an appropriately difficult challenge to end the daunting month of August.
When Sporting Kansas City finally returns home on Aug. 28, they will be greeted by a week-long international break during the FIFA window. Having traveled more than 14,000 miles over the previous 24 days, said break appears to come at the most opportune time.