Sporting Kansas City started the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League campaign with a 2-0 victory over Real Esteli Wednesday night in Nicaragua. Goals by Opara and Dwyer secured the win at Estadio Independencia in Esteli and put SKC atop of Group 2 of the CCL for the time being.
Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes was obviously happy with the result and credited it to the focus the team maintained throughout the long travel.
"From start to finish, from our travel to going and getting the job done, they were very, very focused," Vermes explained. "It wasn't an easy trip, there were a lot of moving parts and they could have gotten distracted but they kept their concentration. They knew what they were there for and stayed very focused to it. It was a great result for being our first Champions League game."
While it was not midfielder Beny Feilhaber's first trip to central America, it was his first as part of a club team instead of a national team. Benny agreed the team kept focused on the task at hand. "Part of the reason that we are so mentally focused in those games is that travel is part of it, you look at it that we are coming here to do a job. When we are doing this much traveling and it is not an easy thing to do, you take into consideration that you don't want to do all of that for nothing."
Defender Seth Sinovic downplayed the travel but acknowledged it was a good experience. "Obviously it was a different atmosphere, a good crowd a different type of field; we really had to be on point for the entire game."
"It was different but that is something we have got to be ready for and we were prepared for it," Sinovic continued. "It wasn't just the game, it was preparing for everything all the way through, meals and everything like that."
Vermes pleased with the result
Sporting Kansas City controlled much of the match, more than doubling up on shots and shots on goal than Real Esteli but those stats do not always guarantee victory. "I thought the result was very fair, I also thought that the reasons why we played so well is that we were very balanced in the way that we went forward and we were really disciplined as well. We didn't leave ourselves exposed at all and we defended every roll of the ball."
A good result and some rest
Vermes had to leave several injured players at home, most notably Graham Zusi but he also left two healthy players at home that have experience in traveling to other countries to play. Both Kei Kamara who has competed for his native Sierra Leone and Matt Besler who has some experience with the U.S. National Team stayed in Kansas City.
"It was just a chance to get them some rest," explained Vermes. "Those guys have had a lot of games and travel with their national teams. I thought it was a good time to give some other guys a chance to play as well and give us an opportunity to get them some rest, we have a game this weekend."
Vermes was able to rest some starters who made the trip but were not needed in the match as well. Bieler, Myers and Nielsen all made the trip but should be reasonably fresh and available for Saturday's match with New England.