Sporting Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes wants the club to do all they can to carry on winning as the team prepares to kick off their 2021 Leagues Cup campaign against Club Leon on Tuesday at Children’s Mercy Park.
The current Western Conference leaders have their eyes on the trophy, but must remain mindful to avoid an overwhelm from the ongoing Major League Soccer season.
"I think as an organization we always try to put front and center winning as our No. 1 objective," Vermes said ahead of the match. "So obviously this is a competition that we are participating in and we're going to try to give everything we have. I feel that we're going to put a team on the field that has the ability to win and we'll do our best in the game."
The newest tournament will give Sporting Kansas City the opportunity to test new players and formations after a busy transfer window saw star forward Gianluca Busio depart for Venezia FC.
"Obviously we know we're playing a very strong opponent in León, but again when you have a roster and you have players everybody has to participate at some point in the season – you saw that over the weekend against Colorado – and so we'll continue to try to manage our group the best way possible," Vermes said.
"But whatever game we're playing, the next one is the most important one and right now our game tomorrow night is the most important one in front of us."
The Leagues Cup pits MLS sides against Liga MX clubs in another attempt to unify the two North American rivals. The tournament is set to start days prior to the All-Star match between the two leagues as they bring forward their best players to face off in a set of challenges and one determining match on August 25 at Banc of California stadium.
Vermes hypothesizes that the American teams might be more in-form, but Liga MX clubs look healthier and hungrier.
“We all participate in different ways in all these competitions," said Vermes. "Some might say that they're fortunate because they're starting out in the beginning of their season, everybody's healthy, the players are hungry, they haven't spent a lot of time playing games.”
"They're something that's always indicative about a lot of Mexican teams. They have a very good sense for the game, their teams have great instincts, they're usually very well-organized and then the other piece is that they have a really good sense for when they need to step on the gas pedal in a game and when they can take their foot off the gas pedal. In so many ways they can hurt you in the game.
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for the Mexican teams and Liga MX because their competition is very difficult. They have a lot of really good foreign players also in their team and they do a really good job of adapting and adjusting to that league and they play at a very high level. So we know it's going to be a really big challenge for us in the game.