Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sporting Kansas City announces 2013 schedule

Sporting Kansas City released the club's 34-game regular season schedule on Wednesday for the 2013 Major League Soccer season, highlighted by 13 matches that will be carried on national television networks across the United States.

Sporting Kansas City, a charter member of Major League Soccer and first place finishers in the Eastern Conference each of the last two years, will begin its 18th season on Saturday, March 2 at Philadelphia with the earliest regular season match in club history.

Sporting KC boasts an MLS-best 11-4-2 record all-time in season openers and has suffered just one loss to start the season in the last 11 years.

Two weeks later, the team opens its home schedule on Saturday, March 16 by welcoming the Chicago Fire live on the NBC Sports Network as part of Major League Soccer's Rivalry Week.

The match-up will mark the fifth time in club history that the two teams have met in Kansas City's regular season home opener. Sporting Kansas City is 11-2-4 in home openers in club history with only one loss in a home opener in the last 13 years.

Sporting Kansas City's home opener is the first of eight games in which the team will be showcased on the NBC Sports Network, including five home fixtures.

ESPN will broadcast two of Sporting Kansas City's most anticipated road rivalries - at Houston on May 12 and at Chicago on July 7 - while UniMas has three telecasts featuring Sporting KC in 2013, including the team's visit to Supporter's Shield holders San Jose on Aug. 18.

Every Sporting Kansas City regular season MLS match will be shown live in 2013. KSMO-TV, the team's official broadcast partner, will again carry all non-nationally televised regular season matches and will provide a 30-minute pre-game show prior to each of its matches.

The 2013 regular season schedule sees Sporting Kansas City play all nine teams in the Western Conference once, with five of those fixtures coming in front of a home crowd.

In Eastern Conference competition, Sporting KC will play the New England Revolution and New York Red Bulls twice, coupled with three meetings scheduled against all other clubs in the East.

Sporting Kansas City will play 20 of their 34 regular season matches on Saturday's in 2013, including 10 home dates that fall on a Saturday. Of the remaining 14 MLS matches, six will be played on Sunday's, four on Friday's and four on Wednesday's.

Sporting Kansas City, who boasted the best road record in MLS last season, plays no more than two consecutive road MLS matches at any point during the regular season, but will start and end the campaign with three of four games away from home.

On two occasions in 2013, the team will play a pair of games in a four-day span; a cross-country road trip taking the team from New York (April 17) to LA (April 20) to play the reigning MLS Cup champions live on the NBC Sports Network and then as part of a three-game homestand that ends with Chivas USA (May 5) and Seattle Sounders FC (May 8) in a rematch of the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final.

In addition to the MLS regular season, Sporting Kansas City will defend it's U.S. Open Cup title in 2013 and are expected to enter this year's centennial tournament in the third round of the competition.

The club will also participate in the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League, which has group stage match dates tentatively scheduled for Aug. 6-8, Aug. 20-22, Aug. 27-29, Sept. 17-19, Sept. 24-26 and Oct. 22-24.

At the international level, Major League Soccer has scheduled no matches in 2013 that directly overlap with FIFA World Cup Qualifying. In July, the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup will take place throughout the United States.

Sporting Kansas City is coming off one of the most successful regular seasons in team history in 2012 with 18 wins and a first place finish in the Eastern Conference.

The team is led by captain and reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Jimmy Nielsen, who holds the all-time team records for winning percentage and goals against average. In 2013, Nielsen is within reach of the club's all-time goalkeeping records for games played, victories and shutouts.

Manager Peter Vermes' roster returns MLS MVP finalist Graham Zusi, MLS Defender of the Year Matt Besler and the team's top scorer Kei Kamara alongside new additions that include Designated Player Claudio Bieler and U.S. Men's National Team midfielder Benny Feilhaber.

Sporting Kansas City will travel to Tucson, Ariz. and Orlando, Fla. for the team's 2013 pre-season. The team will arrive in Tucson on Jan. 20 for a two-week stay and will participate in The Desert Friendlies presented by FC Tucson at the Kino Sports Complex.

After returning home to Kansas City on Feb. 2, the club will depart for the second leg of the 2013 pre-season in Orlando on Feb. 7.

Sporting Kansas City will be one of several MLS teams once again competing in the 2013 Disney Pro Soccer Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex from Feb. 9-23.