The Kansas View Of Our 'Soccer' Team

20 July 2011 10:29
Newcastle Utd play Sporting Kansas City tonight . without three players the Yanks wouldn't let into the country. By PETE GRATHOFFThe Kansas City Star Newcastle United players, who face Sporting KC tonight, did their best to cool off during a workout Tuesday night at Livestrong Sporting Park. The soccer team from that city in England plays Sporting Kansas City at 7:30 tonight in an exhibition game at Livestrong Sporting Park. Here, it’s supposed to be somewhere in the neighborhood of a thousand degrees today. That’s an exaggeration of course, but Newcastle United has taken note of the heat. “We’re not used to these kinds of temperatures back home,” said forward Shola Ameobi. “It’s come as kind of a shock to us.” That’s why tonight’s game will be a little different from the usual soccer contest, where each side has three substitutions. Sporting coach Peter Vermes said the teams will use between eight and 10 subs. Sporting is in the middle of its season, playing three games in eight days, and that’s not including a reserve game that was played Tuesday. Meanwhile, Newcastle is in the United States on a preseason tour. So while Sporting doesn’t want to push too hard, Newcastle is trying to build into form. “We both have something to protect,” Sporting coach Peter Vermes said. “They are just starting out, and we are in the middle and we have to make sure that we have enough to make a continued run to the end of the season. I think that’s how we’ll manage it.” It should be an entertaining game. Sporting has been unbeaten in its last 11 MLS games (4-0-7). Just playing in the English Premier League, the world’s best soccer division, makes Newcastle a formidable opponent. Newcastle has some deadly scorers in Ameobi and the newly signed Demba Ba. The team, which changed coaches in the middle of last season and finished 12th in a 20-team league, has a rich tradition, dating to its formation in 1892. Nicknamed the Magpies, Newcastle has won 11 trophies, including six FA Cups and four league championships. That’s the sixth-most of trophies in English soccer history, trailing only the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal. And it has a fervent fan base. “(It’s) 52,000 fans every weekend who work hard just to get their tickets,” said defender Steve Taylor. “… Everyone lives, eats and breathes football, that’s how Newcastle is.” Newcastle is the second English team to visit Kansas City in two years. Last season, Manchester United lost 2-1 to Sporting, then known as the Wizards, at Arrowhead Stadium. That Manchester United game is a big reason why Newcastle is playing tonight. Coach Alan Pardew said he chose a preseason trip to the United States based on the recommendation of Manchester United coach Alex Ferguson, who had nothing but good things to say about Kansas City. Pardew added that it was important to find playing fields that were in tip-top shape, which is not always the case in Europe at this time of year. But he raved about Sporting’s practice facility at Swope Park, where the teams trained Tuesday. So Kansas City has almost everything a visiting European team could want. Almost. “We’d like to turn the temperature down a notch or two,” Pardew joked, “but unfortunately Peter couldn’t manage to reach those heights.”