Sporting Kansas City and Colorado Rapids drew 1-1 in the first match of the Desert Diamond Cup in Tucson. It was the first game for Sporting KC in the second half of preseason and the first time several Sporting KC players saw the field.
Head coach Peter Vermes opted for what may be the opening day starting lineup for the first half. Tim Melia in goal with Seth Sinovic at left back, Matt Besler and Ike Opara in the center and newly converted to right back was Graham Zusi.
Ilie Sanchez started at defensive mid with veterans Roger Espinoza and Benny Feilhaber rounding out the midfield. The young Latif Blessing and Gerso Fernandes at left and right wing with Dom Dwyer at center forward completed the starting lineup.
In many ways the match looked like a typical Sporting Kansas City game with lots of possession for Vermes’ squad with no goals. The boys in blue did create a number of scoring opportunities that narrowly missed.
With it being Dwyer’s’ first match, Soony Saad replaced him after just 30 minutes.
Despite several threatening chances, the half ended with no goals.
Vermes switched out the team for the second half, leaving only Saad on the field.
Adrian Zendejas came in at keeper with Tyler Pasher at left back, Kevin Ellis and Amer Didic in the middle and Igor Juliao at right back. Soni Mustivar came in at his familiar d-mid spot with Benji Joya and Jimmy Medranda at attacking mid. Daniel Salloi and Christian Volesky flanked Saad on the front line.
While it was not as dominating possession wise, the second group still controlled most of the play and creating some dangerous opportunities.
One of those chances paid off when Tyler Pasher drove the ball deep to the end line and crossed it back across for Didic who curved a header over the opposing keeper and under the cross bar. Didic is the lone Swope Park Ranger still in Sporting KC camp.
After 15 minutes in the first half and 30 in the second, Saad was replaced by Cameron Porter in the 75th minute.
The first VAR
In the 86th minute, the Rapids were awarded a free kick from outside the box. On the ensuing play the Rapids could be heard to be calling for a handball in the box but play continued. A couple minutes later at the first stoppage in play, the Video Assistant Referee called the center referee Alan Chapman to “the booth” to review the earlier play.
When Chapman emerged from the VAR booth (tent), he pointed to the spot and awarded Colorado a penalty on Cameron Porter’s handball.
Manager Peter Vermes told reporters after the game that he had problem with the call, “I think they got the call right, I thought it was a handball when it actually happened.” At the time he was not sure if the process went correctly but it does appear that the established process was followed.
Colorado’s Dillon Powers stepped to the spot and put it home to level the match at 1-1.
- It was the first preseason action for Felhaber and Zusi after returning from U.S. National team camp.
- Dwyer also saw his first action of preseason. The forward has been recovering from ankle surgery.
- Tyler Pasher and Amer Didic combined for the goal. Both were with the Swope Park Rangers last season. The Rangers are Sporting KC’s USL team. Pasher signed with Sporting KC for 2017.
- The only other goal scored by SKC this preseason also had a Swope Park Rangers connection. Christian Duke fed Nansel Selbol for the loan goal in a 1-2 loss to New England. Both played with the Rangers last season and are on the roster for 2017.