Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes joined 610 Sports Radio hosts Cody Tapp and Alex Gold this morning to preview the MLS is Back Tournament, which begins July 8 and will see Sporting take the field for their Group D opener on July 12 against Minnesota United FC at 7 p.m. CT.
Vermes told 610 Sports that Sporting will travel to Orlando this Sunday, July 5, adhering to the MLS rule that clubs must arrive at least seven days before their opening game in the competition. Sporting players, coaches and traveling staff have undergone regular COVID-19 testing over the last several weeks at Compass Minerals National Performance Center, with no positive tests among club personnel thus far.
As for the opponents Sporting will face in Group D, Vermes expects a stern test to say the least.
“It seems (that) when the smaller market teams—us, Minnesota, Real Salt Lake, Colorado—when we play against each other, those tend to be very competitive matches and battles, just because we’re cut from the same cloth. They wind up being really good tests for us.”
Sporting’s opener on July 12 will be followed by matchups with Colorado on July 17 and Real Salt Lake on July 22. All three contests will be shown live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and the ESPN app.
“I see it being a really tough game,” Vermes said of his team’s curtain raiser against the Loons. “Minnesota’s a really good team. I know the coach (Adrian Heath) very well. He gets his team ready and they play with a free-flowing style, which is sometimes hard to plan for.
“At the same time for us, we realize that we’re going to have to play all the teams in the West at some point this year, so here’s our games against them now. We’re really looking forward to our group. From a points point of view through the first two games of the year, it’s the toughest group that’s been put together.”
Among the several unique challenges the MLS is Back Tournament will pose is an 8 a.m. CT kickoff between Sporting and RSL—good for the earliest game in club history.
“I’ve never coached a legitimate professional game at 8 o’clock in the morning, so that’ll be interesting,” Vermes said. “It’s going to be different. The guys are going have to get good sleep, get up early, get their pregame meal. For both teams, the first 10 or 15 minutes of the game is probably going to be a strange environment until we really get going.”