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Eastern Florida Men to Scrimmage MLS Champion Kansas City on Wednesday at Disney

Feb. 17, 2014 - It may be only an off-season scrimmage for the Eastern Florida State College men's soccer team but when the opponent is the defending Major League Soccer (MLS) champion Sporting Kansas City, preparations and anticipation are ratcheted up a few notches.

EFSC and Sporting Kansas City play at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Disney's Wide World of Sports soccer complex. And as expected Eastern Florida head coach Oliver Twelvetrees is stoked as are his players.

"The boys are buzzing and very excited to be on the same pitch as some of their idols," Twelvetrees said. "They want to make the most of this opportunity."

NJCAA Division I teams are allowed off-season practices and games — in soccer's case it's two play dates. And when the opportunity arose for Eastern Florida to step on the field with Sporting Kansas City — which also is holding off-season training — Twelvetrees embraced it despite the daunting opposition.

After all, the majority of Eastern Florida's players are freshmen a year out of high school while Sporting Kansas City represents the MLS, America's top level of professional soccer and a league that is being viewed more seriously on the international level.

"We wanted the game to give the players the opportunity to play against the best, for our players to see how dedicated they need to be to reach that level," Twelvetrees said.

"It will be an incredibly difficult game for us. We are talking about the MLS champions, the best team in the United States. So I am not looking for the result, but the ability of my players collectively and individually to compete and stay in the game for as long as possible, to defend with numbers and to counterattack whenever possible. It also will be a great measuring stick to see if any of my players are truly capable of moving onto the professional game."

Twelvetrees also sees a larger, big picture benefit from the game.

"This is a great chance to continue to put EFSC soccer on the map," he said. "It shows we are a serious soccer program with lofty goals and ambitions for our players and team. What young player with dreams of being a pro wouldn't want the chance the take on the MLS champions?"