Sporting Kansas City (pictured) needs only a draw against visiting Olimpia on October 23, 2013, to progress to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals. (Photo: Jamila St. Ann)
KANSAS CITY, Kansas -- Entering their final Group 2 match of the CONCACAF Champions League Wednesday night, Sporting Kansas City and Olimpia can take different paths to next year's quarterfinals. For Sporting Kansas City v Olimpia game notes, please click here.
Sporting (2-1-0, 7 points) leads the group and need only a draw to clinch a knockout round berth, while the Honduran side (2-0-1, 6 points) must win to progress.
While it registered a 2-0 win at Olimpia on August 27, Sporting knows it cannot afford to look ahead, even though an important domestic game looms on the horizon.
On Saturday, Kansas City will try to secure three points in its quest to win Major League Soccer’s Supporters Shield in its regular-season finale at the Philadelphia Union. The Supporters Shield is awarded to the MLS team that obtains the most points during the regular season, which also would ensure a spot in the 2014-2015 CCL competition.
Sporting head coach Peter Vermes, however, stated that his team was not looking ahead to the weekend.
"It’s all about the Champions League now," said the former U.S. national team standout. "That’s a huge game for us here at home. We’ve got to be ready to play."
Vermes felt that having an important mid-week game before his team's final regular-season match was perfect for his team.
"I think it’s great because [back-to-back important games] mimics what the playoffs could be like," the 46-year-old added. "It keeps us in form because we get a chance to turn around and play again right away. We’re also coming off our [international] break here. We need games going into the final push of the season."
Sporting is led by two U.S. internationals -- defender Matt Besler and midfielder Graham Zusi, who have featured extensively during the recent World Cup Qualifying campaign. Soony Saad, a U.S.-born Lebanon international struck for both goals in KC's in its first encounter against Olimpia and leads his team with as many goals.
Olimpia, which is second in the Honduran Apertura table behind Real España on goal difference, is coming off a thrilling 4-3 win over Parrillas One on Sunday. Antony Lozano, who has two career CCL goals, scored twice in the victory.
The Lions are looking for their second-ever CCL quarterfinal berth in six attempts.