Roger Espinoza - 2019 preseason entrance physicals
Sporting KC's Roger Espinoza at 2019 entrance physicals

Sporting KC to begin preseason training today in Scottsdale, Arizona

And so it begins.

With entrance physicals at Pinnacle done and dusted, Sporting Kansas City departed Sunday for the start of an all-important 2019 preseason, presented by Children's Mercy.

The club will take the field today for their very first training session of 2019, highlighted by the infamous beep test. This multi-stage fitness challenge will measure each player's aerobic fitness levels, providing a reference point as the squad aims to reach peak condition by the time they face Deportivo Toluca FC in the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 on Feb. 21 at Children's Mercy Park.

Sporting will spend both phases of preseason in Scottsdale, Arizona, practicing in the warm sunshine until Jan. 31 and again from Feb. 6-19. The side will then return to Kansas City for their Champions League showdown with Toluca, hosting the first leg before venturing to Central Mexico for the decisive second leg on Feb. 28. Toluca's Estadio Nemesio Diez is perched at a remarkable 8,750 feet above sea level, which only underlines the importance of getting "Sporting Fit" as soon as possible.

Tickets for Sporting's first home game on Feb. 21 are available via Vermes' men are looking to become the first MLS club to win the Champions League in its current format, but their journey towards the title will be daunting. Toluca currently sit atop the Liga MX Clausura standings with convincing wins in their first two games.

Sporting will play seven friendlies in Arizona, including a doubleheader against USL Championship outfit Phoenix Rising FC on Feb. 7 and split-squad fixtures against the Houston Dynamo and FC Tucson, respectively on Feb. 13. Their first preseason tune-up is slated for Friday against Sporting Arizona FC.

Sporting KC 2019 Preseason Schedule

Friday, Jan. 18 Sporting Arizona FC 11:30am Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex (Scottsdale)
Wednesday, Jan. 23 Phoenix Rising FC Trialists 11:30am Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex (Scottsdale)
Wednesday, Jan. 30 FC Tucson Trialists 12pm Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex (Scottsdale)
Thursday, Feb. 7 Phoenix Rising FC
(two 75-minute matches)
7pm Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex (Scottsdale)
Wednesday, Feb. 13 Houston Dynamo * 5pm Kino Sports Complex (Tucson)
Wednesday, Feb. 13 FC Tucson * 5pm Kino Sports Complex (Tucson)

* Matches to be played concurrently