The CONCACAF Champions League schedule has been revealed for Sporting Kansas City as they get set to start the competition in about a month.
Sporting KC will travel down to Nicaragua to open up against Real Esteli for the second straight year on August 19th. This is in between two home MLS matches on the 16th and the 23rd. This will involve a lot of travel but the two home matches help with that.
Real Esteli has a neat little stadium that was recently renovated and provides a small but intense atmosphere, as evidenced by the highlights from last year's match.
They will then have two straight home Champions League matches in a row in September. They welcome Costa Rican powerhouse Saprissa to Sporting Park on September 18th. They'll have a week to prepare for this match after their away fixture at Chivas USA six days previous. Five days later, Real Esteli comes to Kansas City for the final home match of the group stage. Real Esteli was briefly ahead and settled for a 1-1 draw last year at Sporting Park, so it'll be interesting to see how that match goes in 2014.
The group stage will wrap up with Sporting Kansas City traveling to arguably the most formidable stadium in the entire tournament, the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa. The stadium is famous for the proximity of the fans to the pitch and having the entire stadium built so that it feels like the whole crowd is right on top of the game. This game will be on October 23rd. This will be five days after Sporting KC's away match in Philadelphia and three days before their regular season closer against New York at home.
This video below shows how the architecture and the mass of fans feels like when you're in the middle of it.
With Saprissa being a much better team than Olimpia from last year, it makes the two matches against Real Esteli must wins and the home match against Saprissa vitally important. Sporting KC does not want to have to wager their spot in the knockout rounds during their trip to Costa Rica.
The other matches of the group will take place on August 6th in Nicaragua and August 26th in Costa Rica. This means those two matches will be out of the way first, so Sporting KC is going to have to control their own fate after these matches.