For the third game in the Desert Diamond Cup for Sporting Kansas City they would start off with a backup heavy lineup and the Revs mirrored that approach.
#SportingKC Starting XI: Dykstra, SAS, Didic, Ellis, Pasher, Mustivar, Joya, Medranda, Porter, Blessing, Saad. They will probably go 75 min.— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) February 22, 2017
The game got off to about as bad of a start as is humanly possible. A long shot (or maybe it was a cross) got sent in by the New England Revolution and new backup goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra spilled it right to Daigo Kobayashi who easily put the Revs up one to zero.
After the early trouble Sporting Kansas City started to take over the game and possession. Sporting fans had an early scare when Latif Blessing took an arm to the face and laid on the grass for a bit. Luckly he bounced back up and didn’t seem much worse for the wear.
Things really started turning around in the 21st minute when Jimmy Medranda gathered the ball just outside the box, cut to his right and drilled a beautiful curling ball past the keeper to level the game at one apiece.
Sporting would generate several more opportunities over the new few minutes. Soony Saad got behind the defense and went down in the box, but no foul was called. Porter got in behind the defense but sent his shot WAAAAY wide right. Then a corner kick ended with what I believe was a back heel shot that was saved by the keeper.
New England would get a bit more of the possession as the half came to an end, but Sporting continued to threaten as well. Both teams would ultimately be content with a 1-1 tie at the half.
Igor Juliao would come on for Saad Abdul-Salaam before the half and just after the half Cameron Porter made way for Christian Volesky. The Revolution would go with full scale changes to start the second, including most of their starters. Early in the second it showed as the Revs definitely had the majority of the possession. That didn’t stop Sporting from behind dangerous at times.
Juan Agudelo got in all alone on goal and was one-on-one with the keeper by Andrew Dykstra aggressively came off his line to steal the ball and ensure Kei Kamara didn’t gather the spilled ball.
In the 54th minute the disparity in talent really came through as the combination passing of Lee Nguyen and Juan Agudelo showed through when they sliced through the defense and left Agudelo wide open to drill home a shot. New England took a 2-1 lead.
Things didn’t get better from there as the New England starters continued to dominate the Sporting KC backups. In the 60th minute Kamara sent a cross through the box on the ground Agudelo would get his second goal as he connected to make it 3-1 for New England.
When it rains it poors (well it was actually beautiful and sunny in Tucson today) and New England just kept pooring it on. Hard work from Kamara and Nguyen led to a very easy finished for Diego Fagundez. Bring the score to 4-1.
The downward spiral continued just minutes later when Kevin Ellis was called for a penalty when he made contact with Kei Kamara in the box. Lee Nguyen would take and bury the subsequent penalty kick making it a astonishing 5-1. Shortly after, near the 75th minute, Sporting finally put a good chunk of their starters onto the field.
SKC brings on Zendejas, Sinovic, Besler, Opara, Zusi, Espinoza, Feilhaber, Gerso and Dwyer. Salloi and Mustivar stay on. #SportingKC— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) February 22, 2017
Even with most of the starters on the field New England continued their dominance. Lee Nguyen got in all by himself on the right side of the defense (Lee’s left), danced around Adrian Zendejas and put him the teams 6th goal.
After that things would get a bit chippy. Dom Dwyer was needlessly shoved down from behind while off the ball by Josh Smith. Dwyer then got up, being as feisty as he is, and shoved Smith back. Both players would be given yellow cards. It was the first yellow cards that weren’t from fouls against Latif Blessing.
It wasn’t all sour in the second half for Sporting KC as Graham Zusi officially scored his first goal from right back. This may prove to be a better position for Zusi as he’ll be able to uncork more shots from distance where historically are were a chunk of his goals come from.
In the end, it is just preseason and the starters would end 1-1 against the Revs. The backups... well let’s not talk about that. The final preseason game will be on Saturday and Sporting KC will officially not be playing for the Desert Diamond Cup Championship (unless, like last year, the teams that earned it pass as SKC did).