Manchester City begin their preparation for the International Champions Cup with a friendly against MLS outfit Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday, looking to build some momentum ahead of the star-studded tournament around the U.S.
Currently sitting top of the MLS Eastern Conference, Sporting KC are the ideal opponents for City to kick off their U.S. tour, and they’ll fancy their chances of producing a scalp against the Premier League champions.
Here, we look ahead to what’s set to be a mouth-watering affair at Sporting Park, as the champions of America and the champions of England lock horns.
Venue: Sporting Park, Kansas
Date: Thursday, July 24 (UK) / Wednesday, July 23 (US)
Time: 2 a.m. BST/9 p.m. ET
TV Info: ESPN (U.S. only)
Live Stream: ESPN Player (U.S. only)
World Cup Stars Won’t be Shining at Sporting Park
Though City harbour one of the best squads in world football, some of their best and brightest won’t be featuring against Sporting on Wednesday.
As the club’s official website revealed, players that took part in the World Cup in Brazil won’t be touching down in the States until July 24, leaving City to field a weakened side against the MLS champions.
The most notable absentees include City’s Argentinian contingent, Sergio Aguero, Pablo Zabaleta and Martin Demichelis. Additionally, Brazil midfielder Fernandinho, new signing Bacary Sagna and captain Vincent Kompany will be absent throughout City’s entire time in America.
Those that exited the World Cup at the group stage—Joe Hart, James Milner, David Silva, Yaya Toure and Edin Dzeko—will join up with City on tour, but it won’t be until after Wednesday’s friendly.
However, manager Manuel Pellegrini still has a star-studded squad at his disposal at Sporting Park, with the likes of Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy, Jesus Navas and summer signings Fernando and Willy Caballero all set to play a part.
One man that won’t be flying stateside, though, is striker Alvaro Negredo, who faces time on the sidelines with a broken foot, according to BBC Sport.
The Spaniard took to Instagram to deliver a message to City fans regarding his injury, saying:
"I want to let you know that its going to be hard for the next few months. I fractured my 5th metatarsal and will be out a few months. I will be back stronger than ever."
With Negredo out and City’s firepower incredibly limited, Sporting KC can really go for it on Wednesday, and they’ll be sure to do just that.
They’re certainly coming into the match in the right form to do so, too, with SoccerWay revealing that Kansas City have lost just one of their last eight matches, winning six during that spell.
Victory over LA Galaxy on Saturday rather summed up how SKC have been playing lately, holding firm to win 2-1 in a closely fought encounter.
Midfielder Benny Feilhaber was the star of the show against the Galaxy, scoring the opening goal and putting together a sublime performance to boot.
After winning the MLS’ Player of the Week award for his exploits, Feilhaber spoke to Sporting KC’s official website and reflected on both his and the team’s strong form:
“It is exciting, because the recipients of the award usually means their team won that week. Obviously it is more important that almost all of our players are back and healthy. We are in good form and it feels great to contribute to the team.”
Feilhaber and Co. will be looking to continue their promising run at Sporting Park on Wednesday, and it would be far from surprising to see them do the business against a weakened City side.
If they do find a way past Pellegrini’s men, they’ll claim the Champions’ Shield, giving them the momentum and confidence they need to push for domestic silverware in the MLS.