Sporting Kansas City draws Portland 1-1: Thoughts and Reactions

Al Messerschmidt

Some quick thoughts and reactions from Sporting Kansas City's second preseason match, a 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers.

Sporting Kansas City led Portland for most of the game after a Sal Zizzo goal in the 31st minute but Portland scored late to bring the match to a 1-1 draw. Here are some insta-reactions and thoughts following Sporting KC's second preseason match.

On Claudio Bieler....

Bieler continues to be the most interesting man on the pitch for me this preseason. Playing once again as a withdrawn forward/center attacking midfielder, Bieler was surprisingly competent in the middle of the pitch. He had some nice touches, did well in advancing the ball and his passes to the wings were really good. He was also in charge of corners and free kicks, getting his second assist in as many games after his free kick was headed in by Zizzo. I'm loving this experiment that Vermes is doing with Bieler and I'll be interested to see what they do with him once Zusi and Feilhaber come back from the National Team.

On Eric Kronberg and Andy Gruenebaum....

It's really hard to judge Kronberg's performance because, well, he didn't have to do anything. He really wasn't pressured too often and didn't have to make any saves. Being behind the the first team defense is going to be really good for Kronberg this season, as long as he can make the saves when he needs to. Gruenebaum gave us a little more to work with in the second half, making some dynamite saves and keeping Sporting Kansas City in the lead until late in the game. The Portland goal was just a brilliant pass followed by a nice chip-in. Gruenebaum made the right move and almost blocked it anyways. He looked good and should continue to look good when he gets his minutes in US Open Cup and Champions League.

On Aurelien Collin....

The two yellow cards that Aurelien Collin earned in this match brought mixed reactions from me. In one sense, I can see where the referee is coming from and I can defend his decision. On the other hand, I think that both of the cards were rather soft and I also believe that if the fouls were committed by anyone other than Collin then one of the cards wouldn't have been shown. Collin has a reputation now and refs are going to be watching for him. He needs to be more careful in his play, otherwise we'll be seeing more double yellows throughout the season.

On Sal Zizzo...

Zizzo is making me really excited to see him in the regular season. The way he has been playing this preseason has impressed me and makes me think that he will be a great fit. He has good speed down the side and a good touch getting into the box. He scored yesterday off of a really good header but that's not what is getting me interested. If he can keep playing at this level during the regular season then I would have no problem starting him over Soony Saad or CJ Sapong. Let's see what Vermes does with him when Zusi comes back and whether he has Zizzo or Sapong sit.

On the team overall....

It's foolish to judge a team's future based on a couple of preseason matches but it is possible to look at some things that are consistent or inconsistent with last season. The back line is still very strong and Kronberg should have no problem getting good defense in front of him. The midfield is tough to decipher since Feilhaber and Rosell are still gone but I like the way that Duke and Nagamura have been playing. Dwyer looks to be the starting center forward going into the regular season but the wings are still up for grabs, plus the role of Claudio Bieler is still a mystery.

Sporting Kansas City finishes their stint in Arizona by taking on Indy Eleven Friday at 3 pm. From there, they go to Orlando for three matches before the regular season starts. 33 days and counting...

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